| Posted: Tuesday, Sep 04, 2012 06:00 am
Canadian Country Music Association Award winner Matthew Atkins just got out of the warm water and sits in his alfresco resort office on Cozumel, Mexico. It’s about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, palm trees sway over lush green grass and in the distance a cruise ship floats across the sea.
The former St. Albert resident moved to Cozumel, an island in the Caribbean off the Mayan Riviera, after being offered a position as head instructor teaching scuba diving at a resort.
But whenever he’s offered a gig back home, the Canadian drummer hops on the airplane and flies to various parts of the country.
In fact, Atkins is returning to Canada for the Saskatoon-based CCMA week that starts tomorrow and ends with a flashy awards presentation on Sunday, Sept. 9.
He is nominated for the CCMA All-Star Band Award for his drumming with Jason Blaine and Deric Ruttan. Also nominated in the same category is Morinville drummer Chad Melchert.
Atkins has been nominated 15 times for a CCMA award and won twice. He has no idea if he’ll win and is not particularly concerned.
“In my experience, knowing how it works politically I’d be surprised if I won. But to win an award is different than to be nominated every year for 15 years. At that point it’s a career. Everybody knows you and I’m happy to be there,” Atkins noted.
Atkins’ drumming provides the beat for Blaine’s chart climbing single They Don’t Make Them Like That Anymore. And Atkins was part of Ruttan’s band at the Calgary Stampede concert where they recorded Main Street Live 1979 before taking it to Nashville for a clean up.
Ruttan is singing the Main Street Live 1979 title song at the Sunday gala award ceremony and Atkins will be part of the performing entourage.
“I’m excited. I like to play at the show. Just being at Country Week is nice. All your peers are there and it’s exciting to be with them,” added Atkins.
Just prior to CCMA week, Atkins is heading off to a gig in Toronto before vacationing for a few days at Quebec’s Mont Tremblant and then heading west to Saskatoon.
“When I was talking about moving to Cozumel, a lot of my friends said ‘You’re nuts. You’ll never work again.’” But by the end of the year, Atkins will have worked about 40 gigs throughout Canada and the United States.
The move to Cozumel was prompted after Atkins was performing non-stop. Burnout was starting to set in and music was losing its appeal.
Knowing his passion for scuba diving, his wife encouraged him to follow it. In October 2011, the couple jumped into their truck and drove down to Cozumel with the idea of making a minimum 18-month commitment.
“It’s really struck this perfect balance. It’s a different job but it’s the same in that you’re always working with people.”
Aside from the serenity of the island, Atkins is definitely excited to return to the excitement of CCMA week.
“I love going to the CCMA awards. It’s one big reunion. It’s the time you get to see your friends. And every year that I’m nominated, I’m surprised and thankful.”