It took living in Nashville for six years for Canuck country singer Dean Brody to rediscovered his Canadian-ness.
The convoluted tale of how the B.C. musician ended up as a flag-waving nationalist on Canada’s East Coast started when he was forced out of the U.S. two years ago.
While living in Nashville, Brody became embroiled in a dispute with his former record company over management.
“It became a power struggle,” recalled the singer best known for the hit Brothers, who performs on Wednesday, July 20, at the Molson Canadian Ranch Stage at Westerner Days in Red Deer.
A company official threatened to break his contract — knowing this would effectively oust Brody from the States, since a condition of his stay was being on the payroll of Broken Bow Records.
Brody walked off the label anyway.
“I told my wife, Iris, we had to split out of the U.S. real fast, where did she want to go?”
Since Brody’s wife’s relatives live in Nova Scotia, Iris suggested they relocate there.
“We thought it would be fun to live by the ocean,” recalled Brody — and the price was right. The couple found a Cape Cod-style home on seven acres, costing just $700 a month to rent.
“It’s got an incredible view. We can see the lobster boats coming in.”
As soon as Brody and his family crossed the border back into Canada, he said he felt “an immediate peaceful feeling that’s hard to describe. . . .
“Even though I was in Nashville for six years, something inside you never feels at home there. . . . But there’s something about being in Canada — it just feels like home. I love it.”
There was a time, during Brody’s early touring days, when Nova Scotia felt a long, long way from B.C.
But everything’s relative, he now figures. “When I was in Nashville I never heard any Canadian news, you don’t hear much about Canada at all. . . . Here I felt like I belonged.”
Brody, now signed with Open Roads Records, is more concerned with having a continuing career in Canada than expanding into the U.S., where he still likes to go to write and visit some good friends.
“The U.S. is a consuming country,” he said.
To have a successful career there would involve almost constant touring.
“I wouldn’t see my family or see my kids grow up. And it’s kind of been there, done that.
“I love my time at home and I love Canada,” he explained.
But while the father of young Molly and Isaac has a particular soft spot for Atlantic Canada, there are a few things that Brody misses about not living in the West.
“I miss the mountains, and I miss fly fishing. You could fly fish here but I wouldn’t know where to go. Where I grew up, I knew all the fishing holes . . . and I wouldn’t know what kind of bait to use. . . . ”
Most of Brody’s fans are also located on this side of the country — particularly in Alberta (although small-town Ontario is also fertile ground for country music lovers).
Given his upbringing in Jaffray in the East Kootenays — where Brody started playing with a rock ’n’ roll garage band until everyone told him he had a voice like Dwight Yoakam — it probably isn’t surprising that idyllic images of the West repeatedly crop up in Brody’s songs.
Dirt Road Scholar is an anthem to fishing and the country life. Lazy Days draws on memories of his childhood, even mentioning Ernie’s General Store, where Brody would order two scoops of maple walnut ice cream.
His latest single off his new CD, Trail and Life, is People Know You By Your First Name.
It’s a song about small towns, where everybody knows your business, said Brody, “so you have to be careful how you live your life.”
The 9:30 p.m. concert is free with admission to the fair.
While the Molson Canadian Stage is in a beer garden that admits only those 18 or older, Brody’s outdoor concert can also be viewed by others from a nearby hill.