Doc Goes For A Drive

Arguably Canada’s hottest two country groups, Emerson Drive and Doc Walker, are combining forces for the 2013 CMT Hitlist tour slated to go cross country this spring (Click here for the tour schedule). The bands are bound to take the stage together for at least one song, Let It Roll, their current joint release which sits high atop the country charts. The song is available on Emerson Drive’s latest album, Roll, and is bound to pop up on a new Doc Walker offering which shouldn’t be too far around the corner.

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You never know where your Googling will take you; for example, a quick search for Hank Willams’ Cold, Cold Heart unearthed a new Canadian country masterpiece called Yes Baby Yes (Cold Heart Breaker) by an unlikely outfit called Petunia & The Vipers. Aside from an amazing opening yodel, the song is a great mash-up of rockabilly and Roy Rogers-style cowboy crooning, with a little bit of steel and brass thrown in for good measure. Earlier this month the British-based website picked the band’s eponymous debut CD as 2012 album of the year. The Vancouver group will be tipping their Stetsons in recognition of the honour as they tour Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland through February before heading back to these parts for some spring dates.

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The first real Canadian country smash of the year is Living On The Outside by The Small Town Pistols, the group that rose from the ashes of The Wilkinsons. Lead singer Amanda Wilkinson and her brother Tyler are not coasting on the laurels of their famous family name but are instead forging ahead into new territory. The genesis of the band occurred when Amanda invited Tyler to do some writing with her for a solo project. They were about 15 or 20 songs into their collaboration when, as Tyler says, something started to feel familiar and right. “I think there was kind of an, ‘Ah ha’ moment where we were both, like, Holy crap!”. The band name comes from the small but powerful family matriarch whose spirit the equally diminutive (and curvy) Amanda seemed to inherit. “People would say, ‘You’re like Grandma Ida,’ she says. “She was a pistol”.

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On the wagon: Another family country act that’s heating things up is High Valley, which is composed of brothers Brad, Bryan and Curtis Rempel who grew up in a family oriented Mennonite community. The boys’ first two albums won a multitude of Covenant Awards from the Gospel Music Association of Canada, but their latest release, Love Is A Road, is bound to kick it up a notch. Their latest single Love You For A Long Time, which features driving guitars and a reference to ‘Springsteen’, is not your conventional gospel record. When you toss the brothers’ good looks and One Direction haircuts into the mix, you have a band that’s bound to make some noise at this year’s Canadian Country Music Awards. High Valley is tearing it up on a cross-Canada tour that runs from now through August.

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It’s been a long time since we’ve heard from Tebey who lasted dented the top of the country charts in 2003 with We Shook Hands (Man To Man). Well, the Burlington-born performer is back and firing on all cylinders on his new single Somewhere In The Country. Although he’s been flying below the country radio radar for quite a while he’s kept busy writing songs for performers in other genres including the Top 40 single Cause A Scene by Teairra Mari, and All About Tonight for UK soul songstress Pixie Lott. Given that his fans have been waiting a decade for new Tebey material it’s appropriate that his new album is called Waiting. Tebey brings some of his disparate musical influences into the mix. “I’m definitely a country singer, but I grew up listening to everything and I like to write in all genres so I wanted to push the envelope and make a record that fell on the contemporay side of country,” he says.

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