Emerging country star Brett Kissel at Morinville Christmas Festival
Wednesday, Nov 21, 2012 06:00 am
Morinville Christmas Festival
Friday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m.
Morinville Community Cultural Centre
9502 – 100 Ave
Tickets: $25/adult; $20/senior; $10/student. Call 780-420-1757.
There is a boyish quality about country singer-songwriter Brett Kissel, 22, that is utterly charming. He’s articulate, the epitome of western gentlemanliness and completely genuine.
The country singer never came across as a plastic urban cowboy, in large part because he grew up on a five-generation cattle ranch in St. Paul where the work days are gritty, sweaty and rugged.
“Growing up on a cattle ranch you know what work is about. If I get swell-headed my family whips me into shape,” chuckled Kissel.
The land has sculpted Kissel’s artistic vision and he pays respect to his roots in a new album, Started With a Song, due to be released in 2013. The 16-track album was recorded at Sound Stage Studio, the venue where country legend George Strait records all his albums.
“Just to be in that building and work with the staff was a true highlight,” said Kissel.
Since he’s one of those rare young artists who deals in romance rather than sex, it’s easy to be touched by his songs. For instance, Last First Kiss, one of the numbers on the new album is a tender love ballad inspired by wife Cecilia.
Kissel hesitated about revealing too much information about Started With a Song. However, in his debut performance at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre on Friday, Nov. 23, Kissel gets a chance to trumpet his tunes.
A natural storyteller who genuinely loves to talk about family, Kissel reveals that music was always in his blood. When he was a three-year-old toddler, his dad and older brothers played hockey.
“I was too young to play. At home I’d hold up a wooden spoon or a turkey baster and sing the national anthem at the dugout and the pond,” he said.
It was Grandpa who cocooned him with country music.
“I remember sitting on the tractor with him and he’d sing Marty Robbins, George Jones and Johnny Cash. I miss those days a lot.”
But it was Grandma who took action.
“She bought me a Sears guitar for $99 one Christmas,” Kissell said.
He was about six at the time.
The young musician started taking lessons and became a self-described “sponge.” He received invitations to perform locally. Word spread and soon his parents were driving him from Fort McMurray to Medicine Hat.
“We went through two mini-vans and did 330,000 kilometres in one year. We even went to Nashville that year.”
It was 2004 and he was 14.
Two years later after releasing the Tried and True album, he was nominated as a Canadian Country Music Association Rising Star, the youngest artist ever proposed.
At the many gigs Kissel performed at, he often ran into CFCW announcer Danny Hooper and St. Albert’s own Jackie Rae Greening, program director at CFCW.
The duo saw a spark and mentored his early years. In fact, Kissel even lived in Greening’s basement for a year after graduating from high school.
Recalling fond moments between two close friends, he ribbed the Greenings saying, “Jackie isn’t much of a cook. I didn’t eat much of anything so I had to move out.”
Today, Kissel has signed a publishing contract with Major Bob Music, the publishing home of Garth Brooks and The Perry Band. He’s purchased a condo in Nashville and in the new year will migrate south and work towards receiving a green card.
In the meantime, his 90-minute Morinville concert is dedicated to fans. Having spent a large portion of the year writing and recording, Kissel limited his live concerts to 35. In 2011 he performed at 152 various venues ranging from country fairs, rodeos and concert halls.
“It’s going to be very high energy and I have a lot of pent-up emotions,” he said. “It was a strategic plan to not do many shows until the album came out. But this is one of the few and Morinville fans get a chance to hear new songs that others haven’t. I’m excited and so is my band.”
Rounding out the tight band is a Matt McKay (lead guitar), Steve Farrell (bass guitar) and Tyler Vollrath (fiddle), nephew of Morinville champion fiddler Calvin Vollrath.