Local boy is hot stuff in France

Lacombe country singer Gord Bamford has only lately discovered he’s a big star in France.

Gord Bamford brings his appeal to Westerner Days at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Lacombe country singer Gord Bamford has only lately discovered he’s a big star in France.

He might have clued in last winter when organizers of a country music festival in Tours phoned, asking him to be the headliner. But “I thought they had the wrong number at first,” Bamford laughingly confessed.

Any lingering doubts about his place in the French music sphere were dispelled earlier this month when Bamford took the stage in the city west of Paris and the audience went wild.

So many cameras flashes went off, the Central Alberta singer said, “I felt like I was Garth Brooks.”

Bamford admitted it was one of the more surreal moments in his life — singing country music in English to a French-speaking crowd. “But they must have liked it — they gave me three encores. People were very appreciative. . . .

“It was really cool,” added Bamford, that French people love country music. More specifically, they love the title track from his latest album, Honkytonks and Heartaches, which was a No. 1 hit in Europe.

In Canada, Bamford is probably best known for charting a Top-10 hit with Blame It On That Red Dress. It garnered him a Juno Award nomination and its music video reached No. 1 on CMT Canada’s Chevy Top 20.

His 2004 album, Life Is Good, also produced the top 20 singles Heroes, My Heart’s a Genius, All About Her and I Would for You.

Bamford, who has opened shows for Tim McGraw, Kenny Rogers and Terri Clark, is looking forward on Saturday to opening for his ultimate hero, George Strait at the Calgary Stampede.

“It’s every country artist’s dream to open for George Strait. He’s an icon in our business and I can only aspire to follow in his footsteps,” said Bamford, who’s also performing with George Canyon at Westerner Days on Thursday and opening for Brooks and Dunn in Red Deer this fall.

The singer has something else to look forward to, on a more personal front ­— Bamford expects to become a daddy for the third time. His wife is to give birth in two weeks to a new sibling for their children Nash, 4, and Paisley, 2. “They’re really excited about it. They can’t wait,” he said.

Next month, Bamford will hold a charitable golf event to raise money for his foundation at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club. The second annual Charity Invitational Gala Golf Tournament on Aug. 6 and 7 will feature performances by Bamford with Canyon, Aaron Pritchett and Jessie Farrell. This year’s beneficiaries of a targeted $75,000 will be the Big Brothers and Big Sisters groups.

“I feel privileged to be able to give back to this organization that can make a difference in a child’s life and give them direction, just as it did for me as a child,” said Bamford.

He was five years old when he moved to Lacombe with his Canadian mother, Marilyn, whose marriage in Australia did not work out. While his mom remarried when Bamford was in his early teens, he feels a special affinity for groups that help children from single-parent families.

Bamford’s mother, who toured as a singer with an Australian country band, is credited with encouraging him to pursue a music career.

The George Canyon concert with Gord Bamford, starts in the Centrium at 8:30 p.m. (doors open at 7:30). It’s free with Westerner Days admission, which is $9 for adults, $7 for youths (age 13 to 18), $5 for seniors, $4 for children (age six to 12). Children five and under are free. Onsite parking is $6.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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