No slowdown for country music in this city

Damn the recession, it’s full steam ahead for a series of country music acts heading to Red Deer.

Doc Walker is just the first of several big-name country music acts coming to Red Deer this fall.

Damn the recession, it’s full steam ahead for a series of country music acts heading to Red Deer.

Doc Walker is the first country band bound for this city — and hardly the last. George Jones, Brooks and Dunn, Alan Jackson, Gord Bamford, George Canyon and Corb Lund are all set to entertain here this fall.

While fewer major rock acts are stopping in Red Deer during this tougher economic time, country acts keep a-coming because they are still finding sizable audiences, said Murray Pulver of Doc Walker, who perform at the Memorial Centre on Sept. 28.

“Even though a lot of people aren’t buying music, country fans are still willing to go see it — they still want to be entertained,” said Pulver, who’s thankful for the loyalty.

Even sales of country music CDs haven’t dropped as much as other genres. “Country fans are buying more, as a whole group. They seem to want to get the physical copy” instead of downloading music from the Internet, said Pulver, who can relate. “I’m the same way. Maybe it’s my age. . . .”

The 38-year-old guitarist spent a hectic summer performing at cross-country festivals with his fellow Doc Walker band members, Chris Thorsteinson and Dave Wasyliw. The group from Portage La Prairie, Man., has built up a solid Canadian fan base with a long list of Top 10 singles, including Driving With the Brakes On, What Do You See, Beautiful Life, and Trying to Get Back to You.

On one particularly crazy weekend, the band flew from a Prince Edward Island festival all the way to the West Coast to entertain at an outdoor music event in Merritt, B.C. As soon as that wrapped, the trio headed back to the Vancouver airport for a flight to Saskatchewan, where Doc Walker was slated to play the Craven Country Jamboree.

“We did everything — planes, trains and automobiles,” said a laughing Pulver, who remembers feeling “a bit like a zombie” until stepping on stage and getting an enthusiastic welcome. “That makes things better. You kind of feed off the fans and the crowd.”

The trio is now in Alberta promoting Doc Walker’s latest album, Go, which, interestingly enough, is also about passages. Pulver said, “It’s about coming and going, and the whole journey of life.”

The tune From Here follows a relationship from its early stages to old age. Pulver considers the traditional country-flavoured tune “my personal favourite,” because of its message: Despite trials and tribulations, love is a great trip.

The title-track is also a relationship song about never holding anyone back. Pulver said the tune came about after he, Thorsteinson and Wasyliw perused some friends’ Facebook pages and discovered that many middle-aged people are finding the courage to follow their dreams.

Pulver can also relate to this, since he recently fulfilled his long-held dream of moving to the “mecca” of songwriting creativity, Nashville.

While it was a big deal to accomplish this with a family in tow, Pulver said his wife and two kids have now settled into spending their winters in Nashville and their summers back in Winnipeg.

“It was a leap of faith, but my mantra has always been that it’s worse not knowing. If I didn’t go, I always would have wondered, what if?”

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