(Contributed photo by Matt Barnes.)

Country band Nice Horse bolts out of the starting gate

Alberta group is gearing up for Westerner Days concert

Country band Nice Horse is galloping into Westerner Days with two Central Alberta riders.

Acoustic guitarist Katie Marie (Rox) is a former Red Deer College music student who counts the late Keith Mann as one of her biggest influences, and bassist Brandi Caroline (Sidoryk) was raised near Rocky Mountain House.

Both musicians grew up on farms with a steady diet of 1980s country music, although they eventually went on to explore other genres, including rock and electronica.

Along with their band-mates, lead guitarist Kaley Debra (Bird) and drummer Krista Lee (Wodelet), who all go by just their first and middle names, they now make up a rarity — an all-girl country-pop band.

Nice Horse, which performs for fair-goers on Wednesday, July 19, with Jess Moskaluke and Hey Romeo at the Centrium, was born two years ago on a trip the four women took to Hawaii.

Katie Marie recalled they had been mostly performing around the province as solo artists. But while on vacation together, they couldn’t help jamming on songs they’d made up “over a few mai-tais…

“And they all came out as country tunes.”

They liked their new upbeat, collective sound so much, they made some demo tapes just for fun. Katie Marie said people in the music industry heard these and encouraged them to keep playing together, saying they could really go places as a country band.

So far, they bet right.

Nice Horse has since signed a management deal with Coalition Records (Our Lady Peace), completed a tour with Tom Cochrane, opened at JUNOfest for The Kentucky Headhunters, released an EP (A Little unStable), made a video (for the new single Pony Up) for CMT, and recorded a debut album that’s due out in the fall.

“Did we know, when we were in Hawaii, that a year later we’d be opening for Tom Cochrane? Definitely not,” said Katie Marie, with a laugh. “Oh my gosh! How amazing!”

The musicians look forward to releasing their first full-length album — and Katie Marie promised Westerner Days fans will get a preview.

The Airdrie-area native, who’s now based in Vancouver, feels her career in music really started with her decision to enroll at Red Deer College. She still remembers getting a big confidence boost when former RDC music instructor Mann heard her audition and told her on the spot, “Yep, you’re in, You got this…

“He was a huge influence on me. He made us feel like we could do anything, like no idea was ever too ridiculous or outlandish.”

Katie Marie said she still runs into her former RDC classmates all the time. “I’m really glad I went there.”

The 8 p.m. concert is free with gate admission to Westerner Days.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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