Hands on the wheel

Aaron Pritchett called his latest album In the Driver’s Seat, because for the first time he feels like he’s calling the shots in his career.

Aaron Pritchett performs at Ponoka Summer Send Off on Friday

Aaron Pritchett performs at Ponoka Summer Send Off on Friday

Aaron Pritchett called his latest album In the Driver’s Seat, because for the first time he feels like he’s calling the shots in his career.

The Kelowna-based country singer, best known for the party anthem Hold My Beer, is no longer with Nickleback frontman Chad Kroeger’s 604 Records.

He holds the creative rights to his new CD, which will be promoted by Awesome Music and distributed by EMI Music Canada.

Pritchett, who performs with his band on Friday, Sept. 2, at the kickoff party for Ponoka Summer Send Off concert, explained that sometimes on previous CDs, it felt like too many cooks in the kitchen.

“I didn’t want to be a control freak, but I wanted to be more responsible for all aspects of the record, so if it’s good, you can pat yourself on the back. If there’s something wrong, there’s no one to blame but yourself.”

So far, reaction to In the Driver’s Seat has been pretty encouraging, said the 41-year-old.

The first single, Drive, got enough radio play to get into the Top 20 on the charts. And Pritchett is now launching the second single, Coming Clean.

The tune isn’t about rehab, Pritchett said with a chuckle. It’s based on a real-life story of a friend of a friend who wasn’t faithful to his girlfriend early in their relationship. After the couple got married, the guy felt the need to confess his indiscretions and was ultimately forgiven by his wife. “But he still felt so terrible,” said Pritchett.

The singer’s own longtime girlfriend and mother of their son later assessed the situation and came up with the line: “Why does coming clean feel so dirty?”

Pritchett recognized a good song hook when he heard it.

The singer credits his young son for inspiring what could become the album’s third single. While the seven-year-old often comes up with little sayings for potential lyrics, Pritchett said none of his previous suggestions were as intriguing as “I want to be in it with you.”

“I said, ‘What do those words mean to you?’ And my son said, ‘It can mean that I want to be in your life with you.’ . . .

“I thought that’s a really cool idea for a seven-year-old to come up with,” added Pritchett. He co-wrote the song I Want to Be In It With You with a friend and it’s since become a favourite.

Pritchett, who was the Canadian Country Music Association’s Independent Male Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year in 2007, wasn’t always a performer.

“I was a jack of all trades, master of none,” said the singer, who was raised in Kitimat, B.C. He later returned to work in Vancouver, where he pumped gas, waited on tables, laid carpet, and worked in construction before picking up a guitar professionally.

While he now makes a living by singing in front of fans across Canada — including many who holler for his Hold My Beer song, Pritchett admitted there was a time when singing would have taken a distant second to the true love of his life.

“My true passion when I was growing up was playing hockey.”

Tickets to the 8 p.m. kickoff party on Friday, Sept. 2, at the Stagecoach Saloon on the Ponoka Rodeo Grounds are $25 plus fees from Ticketmaster. Tickets to the Saturday, Sept. 3, Summer Send Off, starting at noon and featuring Dierks Bentley, Easton Corbin, Deric Ruttan, Charlie Major and others at the Ponoka Rodeo Grounds are $65 plus fees from Ticketmaster.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com