Brett Kissel may have been crowned king of the Canadian Country Music Awards, however two Morinville musicians are feeling on top of the world after their CCMA win.
Chad Melchert received the musician award for Drummer of the Year and Travis Switzer won for Bass Player of the Year. This is Switzer’s third win and Melchert’s fourth in their respective categories.
Neither musician was in attendance to accept their award presented at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario on Sunday, Sept. 11.
That night Switzer was in Ottawa working a gig for Jason Blaine and held off on the celebrations. Meanwhile, Melchert elected to go out for a Thai dinner with bandmates. Both received congratulatory text messages within minutes of the announcements.
“I gave my ticket to a guitar player and went out for supper. I have a hard time with the attention. I think that’s why I picked drums. There’s a barrier,” said a half-joking Melchert during a later telephone interview.
Unlike singer-songwriters where the focus is on one album or one single, musicians are selected on the entire year’s body of work.
This past year both musicians had their nose to the grindstone. Melchert is a Gord Bamford regular touring and recording with him. In addition, he toured with Duane Steele, Beverly Mahood, and Brett Kissel.
And he provided studio support for Kissel, Lauren Mayell and Kym Symond in between tour breaks.
On the other hand, Switzer toured with Jason Blaine, Deric Ruttan and Trinity Bradshaw as well as filling in for Dallas Smith’s drummer on the country artist’s American tour. Aaron Pritchett also roped Switzer into recording an album.
“I did a lot of festival work this year. I’ve flown on at least 50 flights this year and racked up so many Air Miles, especially in August,” Switzer said.
He started to worry once Air Canada flight attendants kept recognizing him.
“This year is going to be a focus on balance – trying to find a balance between go-go-go and not having enough work. I’m going to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective. I want to focus on what I want to do for the next 10 years and that means possibly building a studio in my house,” Switzer noted.
In the meantime, Melchert is splitting his time between Morinville and Okotoks where his son, Morgan, 16, is attending the Okotoks Dawgs Baseball Academy.
And since 90 per cent of Melchert’s studio work is in Calgary, the temporary move is not a hardship.
“Okotoks is a small town. It’s beautiful and picturesque. It’s exactly what I like. You’re out of the hustle and bustle,” Melchert explained.
Both musicians felt honoured to receive the accolade and believe the change in the voting system provided better representation.
As Melchert explained it, in past years all CCMA members voted resulting in block industry selections. This year only artists and musicians voted for the best musicians.
“I’ve always appreciated the awards, but this year it was extra special because it came from the musicians and people you work with.”
Once a musician is a recipient of five CCMA musician awards, his/her name is retired from competition and entered into the Hall of Honour.