Whoop-Up Days kicks off with a big country night featuring Lethbridge’s own Corb Lund and his band the Hurtin’ Albertans, Aug. 20.
He will be headlining a night featuring Aaron Goodvin and rising country star Alee.
Lund is excited to play Whoop-Up Days for the first time with bandmates bassist Kurt Ciesla, drummer Brady Valgardson and lead guitarist Grant Siemens
“We’ve been trying to play Whoop-Up Days for years, but the schedule just hasn’t worked out,” said Lund, who still lives in Lethbridge.
“I live here, but I don’t spend a lot of time here and I don’t play here very often. I’m from Taber and our family ranch is in Cardston and Kurt and Brady live around here,” said Lund, who has been spending most of his time touring the United States.
He has a long-standing connection to Whoop-Up Days.
“My uncle, Tom Ivins, used to be the president of the Whoop-Up Days Exhibition,” he said.
“My mom won the barrel racing competition there in the ’50s and ’60s. My dad competed in steer wrestling at Lethbridge, and I probably rode steers there when I was a kid,” he said, adding he has a lot of Whoop-Up Days memories.
“I remember one year a bull in the bull riding competition escaped and got onto the midway. That was when they only had page wire fences and the bull got out through a hole in the fence and ran onto the midway. People were running for cover,” Lund recalled, adding that was probably in the late ’70s or early ’80s.
Lund is getting ready to release an EP of popular covers which inspired him to play including Dr. Hook and the Medicine show’s “Cover of the Rolling Stone,” with his longtime friend and collaborator Hayes Carll, a cover of AC DC’s “Ride On,” featuring Ian Tyson.
“It’s a ballad that I always considered to be a country song. Ian sings the chorus,” he said.
“We’re performing with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. (on Sept. 19). And that can be more powerful than playing with a bunch of electric guitars,” he said, adding he and Tyson go back a long way.
“He sang on a song of mine called ‘The Rodeo’s Over’ (from his 2005 album ‘Hair in My Eyes Like A Highland Steer’).”
Lund is not only releasing the EP in September, but is getting ready to record a new album of original music that is expected out in the spring. His last studio album was 2015’s “Things That Can’t be Undone.”
“I’ve been spending so much time touring that I haven’t had time to record an album. I already have eight or nine albums out, but is about time. This Ep is just a teaser. I’ll be recording a real album of my own songs next,” he said, adding he will be recording it with the Hurtin’ Albertans in Vancouver. It won’t include any of the covers.
“Nowadays you can record anywhere. You can record in a barn if you want to,” he said.
He noted some of the new songs have been road tested, and some haven’t.
“We played a couple shows in a small club in Winnipeg (the Times Changed High and Lonesome Club) for about 100 people and we tested all of them there. Playing the songs live is a good way to acid test them,” he continued, adding most of the new songs are inspired by southern Alberta as usual.
“I have songs about having too many horses and not having enough horses. I even have a song about the Alberta Rat Patrol, because when I tell people we don’t have any rats, they don’t believe me. So we have the rat patrol. There’s a 1-800 number and everything. I’ve kind of exhausted southern Alberta subject matter,” he chuckled.
“I even have a song inspired by my Uncle Tom Ivins called Dance With Your Spurs On,” Lund said.
He also has another historical song about a desert rider who rode with Lawrence of Arabia during the First World War.
He is enjoying playing for American audiences.
“We’re at a different level there. “It’s just exciting. Playing for larger audiences of thousands is better career-wise and for the pocketbook but we’re in a cool place in the U.S. We’re playing for between 300-800 people, which is just perfect. It is fun,” he said.
“In Montana and northern California and the Dakotas and all the way down to Texas the western cowboy culture is about the same as here so our music translates well.
“Audiences are about the same as they are here. We’ve got a good mix of real agriculture rural folks and urban folks who might listen to Steve Earle,” he said, adding he doesn’t think about about the political climate down in the U.S..
“I don’t really get into politics,” he said.
He said they will be embarking on a big tour in the spring in support of their next album and hope to make tour stop in Lethbridge.
Corb Lund, Aaron Goodvin and Alee play Whoop-Up Days, at Aug. 20 with Alee playing at 7, Aaron Goodvin playing at 8 and Lund playing at 9:30 p.m.
Tickets are $38 at the gate and $31 in advance.