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Canadian country music salutes five St. Albert-connected artists

The Canadian Country Music Association will roll out the red carpet Friday, Nov. 26, to Monday, Nov. 29, in London, Ont., for the 39th CCMA Awards.

Once again, it is time to celebrate the vocalists, musicians, videographers, designers, and industry people who create Canada’s unique cocktail of country music. 

The Canadian Country Music Association will roll out the red carpet Friday, Nov. 26, to Monday, Nov. 29, in London, Ont. for the 39th CCMA Awards. The big ceremony takes place at an in-person, indoor bash at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont., on Monday. 

Leading the pack for artist awards is The Reklaws, a brother-sister duo from Cambridge, Ont., with six nominations. Close behind them with five nominations apiece are recording artists Dallas Smith of Langley, B.C., and Alberta artists Brett Kissel and Lindsay Ell. 

This year’s nominations also a include a handful of St. Albert-connected artists. What is significant about the local artists is the spread among various disciplines of country music.  

Once a resident of St. Albert leading a band called Fast Lane, singer-songwriter-recording artist Aaron Goodvin now lives in Nashville. The CCMA winner and two-time Juno nominee is nominated in three CCMA categories this year, including Songwriter of the Year for the single Every Time You Take Your Time

The musician awards, celebrated separately from the artist awards, are crammed with three St. Albert musicians vying for Drummer of the Year. They are Matthew Atkins, who now makes his home in Vancouver; Ben Bradley, the former drummer for Goodvin’s Fast Lane; and Greg Williamson, who continues to make St. Albert home. This is Williamson’s third CCMA nomination. 

Williamson first made a name for himself as house drummer for Tupelo Honey, performing with big acts such as Bon Jovi, Bif Naked, Theory of a Deadman, Billy Talent, Sam Roberts. He was also the drummer for Econoline Crush for seven years. When the rock band Tupelo Honey quietly disbanded and lead singer Dan Davidson successfully shifted gears to country music, he brought Williamson along for the ride. 

“It’s nice to win, but being nominated feels like a win. It’s nice to be recognized. But there’s more that goes into being a player than just beating the drums,” Williamson said. 

He has a passion for constantly developing his craft and his current portfolio includes country recording artists such as Brett Kissel, Clayton Bellamy, Shawn Austin, JoJo Mason, Jaywalker, Devin Cooper, and Andrew Hyatt. 

“The switch to country wasn’t much of a leap. It wasn’t a stretch as far as style goes,” said Williamson, who also plays rockabilly, blues, and industrial metal, along with many other styles. 

Despite his versatility in shifting seamlessly from style to style, he said it has never been tougher to achieve a dedicated, successful career in music. 

“Part of it is people are wrapped up in technology and don’t want to see live bands. But there’s always a market for people who like live music and it’s about winning over those that don’t.” 

The last St. Albert nominee is Travis Nesbitt, who received a nod for Video Director of the Year. His nominated body of work includes two videos for Dan Davidson — No Last Call and Role Models; the Road Hammers’ The Boys Are Back at It; and Tim and the Glory Boys’ Without a Prayer

This is Nesbitt’s fourth nomination and as he jokingly says, “I’m always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” 

He first achieved a degree of fame nearly 25 years ago as lead singer for rock band Social Code. Once the band dispersed, he transferred his creative juices to design and video production. 

Like Williamson, Nesbitt takes a humble approach to the nomination. 

“With this I feel included in the music community. The CCMA nomination is cool, but more importantly it makes me feel part of the music industry I’ve spent my life on. It’s awesome. It feels good,” Nesbitt said. 

The professional video director uses different techniques to tell the songs’ stories. When directing Davidson’s videos, Nesbitt pushes his quirky imagination into the stratosphere. 

“I don’t let the lyrics dictate the video. I go for the humour. I try not to overthink it.”  

However, when Nesbitt filmed The Road Hammer’s The Boys Are Back at It, he executed a more structured approach. For this rock-country band that easily fills stadiums, he went heavy on motorcycles, music, stadium lights, and fog. 

And for pop-country singers Tim and the Glory Boys’ song Without a Prayer, Nesbitt travelled to their ranch in Abbotsford, B.C., and “did a juiced-up version of their lives.” 

Tickets for CCMA events are available online at budweisergardens.com. 


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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