April 20, 2019

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A million-idea man

Country crooner discusses tour, inspirations behind latest EPs ahead of Bell MTS Place show

Paul Brandt is a man with a million ideas.

“I have a great team of people who work with me and help me do what I do, and it’s at a point now where I show up for a meeting and we’re going to talk about what’s next and I say I have an idea, they say, ‘No! No more ideas!’ But I guess that’s a good problem to have,” the Canadian country crooner jokes over the phone just a few days before he, High Valley, Jess Moskaluke and the Hunter Brothers kicked off The Journey tour that stops at the Bell MTS Place tonight.

Having that big group of artists out on tour was also one of his schemes, inspired by the time he spent on the road co-headlining a tour with fellow country star Dean Brody in 2015. Brandt considers the three acts sharing the bill with him among his best friends in the business, and though he’s got a few years on them in terms of career longevity, he says his relationship with them is not necessarily one rooted in mentorship.

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Paul Brandt is a man with a million ideas.

Concert preview

Click to Expand

Paul Brandt
w/ High Valley, Jess Moskaluke, Hunter Brothers
● Friday, 7 p.m.
● Bell MTS Place
● Tickets $53-$175, available at Ticketmaster

"I have a great team of people who work with me and help me do what I do, and it’s at a point now where I show up for a meeting and we’re going to talk about what’s next and I say I have an idea, they say, ‘No! No more ideas!’ But I guess that’s a good problem to have," the Canadian country crooner jokes over the phone just a few days before he, High Valley, Jess Moskaluke and the Hunter Brothers kicked off The Journey tour that stops at the Bell MTS Place tonight.

Having that big group of artists out on tour was also one of his schemes, inspired by the time he spent on the road co-headlining a tour with fellow country star Dean Brody in 2015. Brandt considers the three acts sharing the bill with him among his best friends in the business, and though he’s got a few years on them in terms of career longevity, he says his relationship with them is not necessarily one rooted in mentorship.

Canadian country musician Paul Brandt’s latest project tells the story — ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ — of his career. Brandt plays Bell MTS Place Friday at 7 p.m. (Supplied)

Canadian country musician Paul Brandt’s latest project tells the story — ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ — of his career. Brandt plays Bell MTS Place Friday at 7 p.m. (Supplied)

"I think sometimes people that give advice are the ones who walk up to people and say, ‘Hey I’m going to tell you how to fix all your problems. If you weren’t this dumb you’d already know this.’ And I don’t want to be that guy. I didn’t have a lot of mentors when I was coming up in music. There were a lot of people who gave me some pretty funny looks in Nashville, going, ‘What do you mean you’re from Canada and singing country music?’" Brandt, 46, says.

"And I always wanted to, if I had the opportunity to, be able to be helpful to people in that way, and I find with our friendships, you know between me and the Hunter Brothers and Jess and High Valley, we’re always learning something from each other, and that’s cool. If they can learn something from some of the things I’ve experienced over the last 20 years, then that’s great, but I think we share with each other."

Click to Expand

The Journey tour is supporting a pair of EPs — The Journey YYC: Vol. 1 and The Journey BNA: Vol. 2 — Brandt released last year. The airport codes in the titles represent Calgary and Nashville, two cities that played formative roles in Brandt’s career and life. The Alberta native spent 10 years living and working in Nashville before returning home to Calgary with his wife, Liz Peterson, to be closer to family and, eventually, to start a family of their own. They now have two children, 10-year-old Joseph and eight-year-old Lily.

"There’s a song on the project that is the centre tent pole of the whole thing. It’s the song YYC BNA, and it’s the idea of the trip from Calgary to Nashville and everything that has meant to me. It was kind of Alberta Bound in reverse, in my mind, and just tells the story — the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s been an amazing ride but there have been some tough, dark moments that you have to take a step back and look at and say, ‘OK, what am I going to do with this?’ And that song takes a look at that," Brandt says.

"The whole project, I hope, is triumphant. Yes, the journey has had its issues and it can be tough, but you keep coming back — it’s about perseverance in a lot of ways."

Brandt performs at the Canadian Country Music Awards in Hamilton, Ont. last year. (Peter Power / Canadian Press files)

Brandt performs at the Canadian Country Music Awards in Hamilton, Ont. last year. (Peter Power / Canadian Press files)

Though much of the record’s content is focused on retrospection, Brandt is not about living in the past or resting on his laurels. He’s a man with a million ideas, after all, and always keeps part of his gaze firmly focused on the future.

"I think I’m generally a reflective person anyways, but I think that you can learn a lot from the stories you end up going through and you can share those with people and hopefully share any wisdom you’ve learned. But I also try and do the best I can to be forward-looking. The things that have happened in the past and the things you’ve been through, my experience has been the future always has way more to hold, and so in this project, I wanted to dive into a bunch of those different things," Brandt says.

"I feel like, for me and my career, I’m still looking to try and best things, to do it a little bit better every single time. Like with this tour, this is the biggest tour we’ve ever done; we’ve never had so many trucks and buses on the road. It’s all about taking it a step further, and you know, you got your eye on the rear-view mirror but you’re always thinking about what’s next."

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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