Roots singer JJ Shiplett (photo submitted).

JJ Shiplett is planning a “killer” concert in the city of his birth

Calgary-based singer performs in Red Deer on April 30

Calgary-based roots singer JJ Shiplett is returning to where he first began.

It’s a little-known fact that the up-and-coming artist who’s been compared to Bruce Springsteen and Chris Stapleton was born in Red Deer.

Although Shiplett left when he was just one year old, moving with his preacher father and family first to Manitoba, and later to Ontario, he said he’s always felt a special connection to this city of his birth.

Now he’s coming back to perform with his five-piece band at the International Beer Haus on Sunday, April 30, on the same bill as Leeroy Stagger.

“I’m really excited to get back to Red Deer!” said Shiplett, who expects to see plenty of friends and family in the audience, especially since his brother is a Red Deerian.

He’s planning to put on a “killer” concert — a show “that you just feel in your gut” and that “leaves you feeling empowered and enriched.”

Shiplett will perform tunes from his new album, Something to Believe In, which went to the Top 10 on iTunes and to No. 1 on the Singer/Songwriter Charts. It’s made up of material he wrote over the past five or six years, and was co-produced by Shiplett’s manager Johnny Reid, the Juno-Award-winning adult contemporary singer.

Reid obviously sees something special in the rugged, raspy-voiced artist that he’s taken under his wing. And Shiplett is happy to be mentored by such a polished pro.

“I really rely on Johnny’s good advice and ideas,” said Shiplett, who’s learned, by watching Reid interacting with fans, how people react to genuine kindness with respect and appreciation.

“He’s always out there meeting people, shaking hands and looking people in the eye …”

At a time when so many relationships are online, Shiplett feels there’s a lot to be said for making personal connections with people. “You’ve got to build an audience one by one.”

While the singer has toiled for many years in the musical trenches, it all seems to be paying off lately with gigs at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin Texas, a performance on the Strombo Show on CBC Radio with George Stroumboulopoulos, and a concert at Calgary’s National Music Centre.

He’s written songs influenced by the romantic relationships he’s had, the stories he’s heard from the road, and the everyday interactions he’s had with his band members.

“When you’re driving eight hours through the Prairies, you have to form a connection with your band … they’re like your brothers.”

For more information, please contact the venue.

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