Singer lives the blue collar dream
Wednesday, Apr 09, 2014 06:00 am
Morinville independent artist Darcy Hjelsvold is living every musician’s ambition.
The country singer-songwriter and founder of Ain’t No Rodeo just launched Blue Collar Dream, his first solo three-song EP on March 24.
Hjelsvold chose the EP title as a way of explaining who he is.
“I haven’t lost sight of who I am. I’m Darcy from Morinville. I’m a redneck boy who likes to sing. I don’t change to please someone else. As soon as you do, you lose who you are,” said the 35-year-old mechanic.
Up until a few years ago, he performed exclusively covers. But once the creative juices started flowing, Hjelsvold compiled a demo of originals and sent them to CCMA award winning producer Bart McKay.
His first single release, I Knew You When, came from a national publishing house.
“The story is pretty much my struggle to make it in the business. It turns out the person in the song makes it big and I feel like that a lot,” notes Hjelsvold.
“I really like to sing it and it shows off quite a bit of my range, and I love to crank through the big choruses. There’s quite a few bridges and you’ve got to go for it.”
The second song is He’s Gone written by former St. Albert resident Aaron Goodvin now residing in Nashville. As a father of three young children, Hjelsvold knew instantly that he needed to sing He’s Gone.
“Even if I can’t release it, we wanted to play it for ourselves. It has lots of emotional appeal. It tells the story of a little boy who is gone. At the end you find out he’s getting married. It takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions.”
And the third song is Mine, a project Hjelsvold undertook with the late Larry Wayne Clark. Inspired by the movie Crazy Heart, the song came pouring out one Saturday morning as he was sipping a Tim Hortons' coffee and strumming the guitar with his kids.
Hjelsvold’s first brush with fame occurred during the nationally televised 2008 CMT Karaoke Star where he was voted in as an Edmonton wildcard competitor. Although the country singer didn’t carry home the title, it launched a career that just keeps branching out.
Upon returning home, he hitched his wagon to a couple of old buddies from Morinville Community High. Together with Matt Budd (electric guitar) and Mitch Crush (drums) they formed Ain’t No Rodeo. Mike Hittinger (bass) completed the foursome.
The country rock band played a variety of venues from small pubs to capacity crowds of 1,600 at the Lamont Bull-a-Rama. They’ve opened for Derek Ruttan and performed at the Canadian Finals Rodeo.
While performing a gig in Manning, Ain’t No Rodeo was spotted by an adventure company and invited to perform on Canada Day. They will be flown north of Hay River, NWT on a DC3 to perform at a midnight beach party complete with a pig roast.
“I can’t believe this is all happening. Sometimes I don’t think I give the band or myself enough credit.”
“We’re just four buddies goofing off and having fun. I want it to be fun and when we’re having fun, it’s real. When it’s not, it’s time to make changes. We take our music seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously.”