Injuries cut short a dream of pro hockey

As Canadian as it gets

There’s nothing better than hockey and country music for singer Chad Brownlee. Imagine his thrill at seeing his two great loves fused into the creation of an electric guitar made of 22 Sherwood-brand hockey sticks.

There’s nothing better than hockey and country music for singer Chad Brownlee.

Imagine his thrill at seeing his two great loves fused into the creation of an electric guitar made of 22 Sherwood-brand hockey sticks.

Created by Hamilton, Ont., luthier Jeff Robinson, the custom-made axe is also decorated with a cut-out from a Stompin’ Tom Connors album.

“You don’t get more Canadian than that!” said Brownlee, with a chuckle.

The Kelowna, B.C., native intends to play the unique instrument during his Canadian When the Lights Go Down tour with Jess Moskaluke and Bobby Wills. The tour stops on Tuesday, March 24, at Cowboys in Red Deer.

After the tour, Brownlee intends to auction the guitar from his website to benefit the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation.

He hopes it fetches at least $10,000 for the charity that runs camps for kids who otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy outdoors experiences.

As a singer and former professional hockey player (Brownlee was a 2003 draft pick for the Vancouver Canucks and an Idaho Steelhead before being sidelined by injuries), he takes his role-model status very seriously.

“I went to a Canucks game once when I was eight years old,” he recalled, and right-winger Trevor Linden caught his eye. “He smiled and winked at me, and from that moment on, he was my favourite player. … I know how influential something like that can be to a kid, when you’re an athlete or musician.”

Brownlee has visited five out of seven Tim Horton Children’s Foundation camps, and realizes not everyone has an easy childhood.

“I was one of the fortunate ones. I grew up in a stable family with parents who supported me,” said the singer, who’s knows some youths don’t even get three meals a day.

He’s also giving to the foundation by turning over proceeds from digital downloads of his inspirational single We Don’t Walk This Road Alone. (The video for the tune was filmed with some of the camp kids.)

He likes that the song has received a lot of different interpretations — ranging from the religious to the more secular. “The cool part is if you can relate to it in different ways.” He doesn’t care how the lyrics are heard, as long as they inspire listeners and provide comfort to those going through difficulties.

Brownlee said he’s received a lot of positive response for his album, The Fighters. Instead of fans just focusing on one or two songs, he’s heard people list a lot of favourites — from the darker breakup songs Hello and Matches to the more upbeat Just Because and Where the Party’s At?

He plans to start recording a new album soon, for an end of year or early 2016 release.

But first, he will tour from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver Island with Moskaluke and Wills. “They’re great people, with a lot of talent. I look forward to it.”

Moskaluke won her first Canadian Country Music Association Award for Female Artist of the Year in 2014. She was also crowned the CCMA New Artist Showcase winner in 2011, and won numerous Saskatchewan Country Music Awards.

Her single Cheap Wine and Cigarettes was the highest charting song on the iTunes Top 200 chart for any Canadian artist.

Alberta native Wills was the recipient of numerous accolades, including the 2013 Canadian Country Music Association Rising Star title. He also took home the Alberta Country Music Association Male Artist of the Year award in 2012 and 2013.

Wills recently performed during the Golden Globe Awards weekend in Los Angeles as part of the second-annual Oh Canada Cocktail Party, benefiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

For more information about the Cowboys show, call the venue at 403-341-6060.

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