Blue Rodeo is a country band that has morphed into a household name in Canada. Boasting 16 studio albums, the rebel band first emerged in the early '80s as a country-rock group.
Back then hair metal and glossy pop ruled the airwaves. In 1993, when grunge rock was squeezing commercial rock, they recorded the acoustic album, Five Days in July. It shot up the charts and became their biggest-selling album.
Rob Angus, lead vocalist and guitarist for The Dungarees, attended Blue Rodeo’s original Five Days in July touring concert at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium and was blown away.
“I was a fan before I saw the concert, but seeing them live meant I was caught on the hook and became a lifetime fan. They're great performers and their songs are world-class. To see those two things together and their charisma and banter between songs created an allure I couldn’t forget. They were part of my formative years in growing and developing as a songwriter,” said Angus.
Currently he’s a powerful force in driving a newly developed project, The Dungarees. They will debut at the Arden Theatre with their celebration of the 30th anniversary of the landmark Blue Rodeo album.
Five Days in July: A Tribute to Blue Rodeo takes place Friday, Nov. 10.
“We started the concept because we’re all fans of Blue Rodeo. Our concept in doing the concert is performing the album note-for-not, solo-for-solo. It’s not just a bunch of guys singing cover songs. Our goal is to deliver it in a way that is familiar to people,” Angus said.
In addition to Angus, the core group includes James Murdoch (lead vocals), Kiron Jhass (lead guitar), and Ben Shillabeer (drums). The Arden production will also feature Brandi Sidoryk from Nice Horse (bass guitar) and Derek Anderson (pedal steel).
Capturing the iconic Blue Rodeo’s spirit note-for-note has been a challenge. However, much of The Dungarees’ enthusiasm arises from Blue Rodeo’s songwriting.
“Their songwriting is fantastic," Angus said. "They write music that is accessible and melodic. They write about the great Canadian experience. They meld country, pop and rock in their music. When you have a great album like Lost Together, you can hear it at weddings, graduations and at celebrations in memory of someone. It speaks to the power of their songwriting.”
In their 30-years plus history, Blue Rodeo have received some of Canada’s highest honours, including induction in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award. Even without prestigious awards, the band's longevity speaks for itself.
“They keep putting out quality music. They’ve written so many songs Canadians are attached to. When people hear their music, they connect with the band. Blue Rodeo has done a wonderful job of connecting with fans at important times in their life.”
The Dungarees have already put feelers out to drum up interest for their project. In fact, the band performed it last summer at the Calgary Stampede. A friend videoed the performance and sent a copy to Blue Rodeo guitarist Greg Keelor.
“It was both terrifying and exciting," Angus said. "He (Keelor) sent a text message back and said it was very cool. It was a career highlight for me.”
The Arden concert will be divided into two sets. During the first set, the band will perform every song from Five Days in July. In the second set, The Dungarees will sing a handful of their own originals and finish with additional Blue Rodeo hits.
The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $46 at 780-459-1542 or online at tickets.stalbert.ca