Cold Creek County: Country Rockers Earning Rave Reviews
By Keith Sharp
It shouldn’t have come as any major surprise that Cold Creek County drummer/manager Doug Oliver received a call from mega concert promoters, Live Nation, inviting his band to open for Tim Hicks on his current Get A Little Crazy, national tour. For a brand new band that boasts representation from top management company, Vancouver’s Big Chief Management and a major record deal with Sony Music Canada, if the band’s collective members were card sharks, they’d have all been drummed out of Las Vegas long ago!
Considering the now six-piece outfit (with the recent addition of Burlington Ontario banjo player Jordan Honsinger) only emerged from this central Ontario fruit-growing region of Brighton-Hastings in 2013, Cold Creek County have virtually exploded onto the domestic Country Rock scene. And with a debut album, `Till The Wheels Come Off’ that the Eagles would be proud to record, Oliver can be excused for feeling somewhat ecstatic about recent events as he chats from his recording `shed’ in his hometown Hastings.
Combining a big rock guitar and drum sound with an overlay of banjo and dobro, Cold Creek County project a great set of songs inspired by their rural connections. Named after the local creek that divides the two counties between Brighton and Hastings, Oliver initially hooked up with Brighton based lead vocalist/acoustic guitarist Brandon Scott, Burlington’s Trevor McLeod (lead guitar) and with Trenton brothers Josh (guitar/vocals) and Justin Lester (bass/vocals), (sons of bluegrass master, Emory Lester) to complete the original lineup.
“It’s something I’ve had my ears to the ground with for quite awhile,” explained Oliver of the band’s rock/country hybrid sound. “Everyone brought their own flavour to the table and when you start throwing things onto the chalk board,, you get the unique ingredients of Cold Creek County. We have a big guitar and big drum sound but we also make the banjo a lead instrument and when you overlay that over the guitars and drums, you make a totally different sound which we all liked.”
With tracks like “Ain’t Had Enough Of That Yet”, “Beer Weather”, “Ain’t Nothing But A Party, the title song, “Till The Wheels Come Off” and the album’s key number, “Our Town”, this is a raucous record full of anthemic, sing-along party songs that reflect their rural lifestyle. Even the romantic songs like “Trucker Hat” and “Blow My Speakers” describe women you’d definitely like to get to know. CCC even mix in some country rap and country dance to make the overall production even more contemporary.
The record’s lead off single “Our Town” is pivotal to Oliver because he and the rest of the band have lived that lifestyle. “We wanted to record a song that reflected our heritage,” explained Oliver. “We wanted to make a statement about who we are and where we come from. We’ve lived those lyrics.”
Cold Creek County’s incendiary, country rock style found an early supporter in Kevin Zaruk, head of the influential Big Chief Management company which also represents the likes of Dallas Smith and Florida-Georgia Line. When Oliver approached him about obtaining airplay for their first single, “Beer Weather” before they even had a recording contract, Zaruk suggested he contact radio tracker, Rob Chubey.
“So Rob gets the single and he immediately calls me back and asks me if I have any more songs,” related Oliver. “I said, Yeah, we’ve got another four, so I sent them to him and he called back and said `change of plan, do you mind if I send these to Sony Music’.
Chubey was so blown away by what he heard that he immediately contacted Sony Music Canada’s A&R chief, Warren Copnick who’s initial reaction was to call Oliver and enquire, “Who are you guys, where do you come from? we’ve got to sit down and talk.”
“We did audition for a few other labels but it was always going to be Sony,” noted Oliver. “We just felt comfortable with them and we knew they liked the band.”
Having initially earned exposure opening for the likes of Dallas Smith, Kira Isabella and Emerson Drive, Cold Creek County sharpened their chops by hitting the summer festival circuit, appearing at the Havelock Jamboree and Hamilton’s Festival of Friends events and their current exposure opening for Tim Hicks and Jason Benoit is certain to attract future festival attention.
With Sony on board for CCC to finish off the album, Working with top producer Scott Cook, Oliver recorded most of the tracks in his Hastings’ recording studio shed but did use some Nashville-based musicians, including a banjo player. They also supplemented their song-writing with outside contributions by a number of top writing teams but converted this material to sound like tracks that could easily cross over to contemporary radio.
Oliver acknowledges this is a great time for Country Music in Canada with a number of high profile artists like Tim Hicks, Dallas Smith and Kira Isabella breaking nationally and even new acts like Autumn Hill and themselves are making an impression on this vibrant scene.
“We’ve toured with a number of big acts and we’ve seen how hard they work and that has been an inspiration to our own work ethic,” concluded Oliver. “We believe we have that same ethic. There’s nothing pretentious about us. We are making an effort to stay humble and keep ourselves grounded.”
For more information on Cold Creek Country and their current tour, please link to www.coldcreekcounty.com.
Cold Creek County: Country Rockers Earning Rave Reviews