Brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel from the band High Vallley asked fans to decide which songs should make their latest CD

Brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel from the band High Vallley asked fans to decide which songs should make their latest CD

Country for the fans

In this interactive age, there’s no need for musicians to gamble on which songs to record and release to radio, in hopes of landing a hit. Why not just ask listeners which tunes they’d like to hear?

In this interactive age, there’s no need for musicians to gamble on which songs to record and release to radio, in hopes of landing a hit.

Why not just ask listeners which tunes they’d like to hear?

That’s the populist approach taken by Alberta country band High Valley.

When brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel were planning to record their last album, County Line, they asked fans to decide which songs should make their CD.

“I’d written so many, we went to our fan clubs. We sent a couple thousand fans a link to 20 to 30 songs that were on our list of finalists, so they could narrow it down to the Top 10,” recalled Brad Rempel.

Listeners made their selections and the songs with the highest vote counts made the album.

It was no coincidence that the top three favourites — the County Line title track, as well as Make You Mine and She’s With Me — turned into big radio hits.

“It makes sense, the way we did it,” added Brad, who doesn’t subscribe to the “I only make music for myself” philosophy embraced by some artists. “We don’t hold anything too precious about our ‘art.’ We make music for as many people as want to hear it.”

Thousands of fans are expected to fill the Centrium on Friday, July 17, when High Valley performs with The Road Hammers as part of Red Deer’s Westerner Days fair.

And Brad and Curtis look forward to putting on a high-energy concert in a dance-friendly, family-oriented setting.

“It’ll be dynamic,” promised Brad. “I think if you put people who have just attended a fair or rodeo, eating fair food, going on rides, into an arena, (the vibe) is going to be different than when people get all dressed up to go to a concert. …

“I’m not a big fan of people sitting down,” he added. “Our goal is to get people dancing. We’re going to keep everybody rockin’ with some good bluegrass tunes that will get you up on your feet.”

The best concert moments, he recalled, are when the audience is “freaking out,” cheering and singing along after the band plays the first couple bars of a familiar song. “We’re going to make sure it keeps happening.”

High Valley released its debut recording in 2001, but the Rempel brothers have actually been performing professionally since 1997 (and were a trio until brother Bryan left the group to focus on his family last year).

“I started when I was 12 years old,” said Brad, who grew up on a farm near La Crete, close to the border of Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

He has learned much about music, the industry and life in the ensuing 18 years. “We’ve had some great teachers,” said Brad — including Paul Brandt, who took the group under his wing in the early days when High Valley went on tour with him.

“We’ve also played with Emerson Drive, Doc Walker, opened for Shania Twain and Alan Jackson. …” And Ricky Skaggs recorded with the group and took the Alberta brothers to the Grand Ol’ Opry.

“People in country music are so nice,” added Brad. He tries to be similarly encouraging to younger performers, such as The Hunter Brothers, whom he’s producing for. “I try to be a good example.”

Now a married father of two and living in Nashville, Brad continues to write music on most days. When inspiration strikes, he ambles down to “music row,” a street made up of recording studios, to do some formal songwriting.

Sometimes he is introduced to another writer he’s never met before but has been “set up with” through a mutual friend. “It’s like a blind date. You start getting to know each other, you talk about your backgrounds” and you wait for something to spark.

When the partnership is successful, it’s magic, said Brad, who was recently thrilled to have one of his tunes, I Remember You (co-written with Kelly Archer and Ben Caver) recorded by Trisha Yearwood for her latest album, produced by Garth Brooks.

“It was so amazing. … It was a surprise and a real treat.”

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

House sales remain hot in central Alberta with first-quarter sales nearly double last year’s numbers. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Central Alberta real estate market hot in 2021

Residential sales nearly double 2020 in first quarter

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer gave an update on Olymel's COVID-19 situation on Wednesday. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Veer addresses rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

Red Deer has added nearly 200 cases of active COVID-19 cases in past week

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RCMP investigate culturally insensitive graffiti at Sylvan Lake school

Sylvan Lake RCMP is investigating a vandalism incident. On April 17 around… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2021 file photo State representatives gather at the Capitol, in Phoenix. Two years after Arizona lawmakers repealed a law barring any instruction on HIV or AIDS that that "promotes a homosexual lifestyle," they are close to enacting a broad remake of the state's sex education laws with a particular focus on LGBTQ issues. (AP Photo/Matt York,File)
Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

People cheer after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn. Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Tears and relief sweep intersection where George Floyd died

Tears and relief sweep intersection where George Floyd died

This photo provided by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office shows Ruben Flores, 80, who was arrested in connection to the murder of college student Kristin Smart at his Arroyo Grande home on Tuesday, April 12, 2021. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said the arrest warrants for Ruben Flores and his son Paul Flores were issued after a search of the elder Flores' home last month using ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs. He said evidence was found linked to the killing of Smart but they had not yet located her body. (San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office via AP)
Document: Kristin Smart once buried in suspect’s backyard

Document: Kristin Smart once buried in suspect’s backyard

In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listen to Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill read instructions to the jury before closing arguments, Monday, April 19, 2021, in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death

Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death

This undated image provided by Matthew Pottage shows drought-tolerant succulents in a window box in London. (Matthew Pottage via AP)
Going beyond the traditional window-box garden

Going beyond the traditional window-box garden

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. Female service members and veterans are blasting the way Canada's military police investigate allegations of sexual assault and harassment in the ranks.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Female service members blast military police over sexual misconduct investigations

Female service members blast military police over sexual misconduct investigations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is joined virtually by Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland as they talk online to a group of front-line pharmacists from across the country to discuss the ongoing vaccination efforts in the fight against COVID‑19, from the Prime Ministers office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Freeland says Liberals open to provincial child care demands, draws line around fees

Freeland says Liberals open to provincial child care demands, draws line around fees

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Trudeau, Freeland seeking AstraZeneca shots as they become age-eligible with others

Trudeau, Freeland seeking AstraZeneca shots as they become age-eligible with others

Most Read