by Roman Mitz
The past few months have been a real whirlwind for The Reklaws, comprised of siblings Jenna and Stuart Walker (for the uninitiated, Reklaws is their family name, Walker, spelled backwards). The duo, who grew up in Cambridge, signed a record deal with Universal last year and they promptly scored a summertime hit with the effervescent “Hometown Kids”. That song also appeared on their three-song EP released earlier this year, “Long Live The Night”, but it was the title track that really rocked their world. The song became a chart-climbing success, finding a home in radio’s Top 5, becoming the most streamed song in all of Canadian country music released this year, and was named as the official theme song for CFL’s Thursday Night Football on TSN. It would be an understatement to say the group was slightly overwhelmed.
“It honestly blew our minds,” Stuart says, as he and sis take a break from shooting some promotional clips at Universal Records in Toronto. “This past year that song has changed our lives. It’s actually kind of scary now because it was such an amazing song and did so many things for us, especially since we were new artists and it was only our second single. We didn’t know that people were going to catch on so early to us so we’re very excited but we’re nervous in a way because we want the next song to do just as good or better. We just hope we can keep this train rolling.”
What really put the song top of mind in people’s minds was hearing it over and over again on the CFL broadcasts, where it became almost as familiar as Carrie Underwood’s theme for NFL Sunday Night Football. In order to put an exclamation point on the CFL connection, The Reklaws have been invited to perform that song plus one other just prior to the kickoff of this year’s Grey Cup Game.
“It all started off with a conversation that the CFL was looking for a theme song and there were a couple of different candidates, but they felt that Long Live The Night was the one to go with,” Jenna says. “We felt so honoured to be a part of that and it just took our song to a different level”.
“We’re so excited to be performing at the Grey Cup,” adds Stuart. “We were speaking with our management team about the plan for that and it’s just going to be such an amazing moment. We’re on right before the game starts and a ton of people are going to be watching, so we’re bringing the heat that night in more ways than one,”
The duo recently performed the song at the 2018 CCMA Awards in front of 10,000 fans at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton and for 15 million people at home during the program’s two hour live broadcast on CBC. They capped the night off by taking home the prestigious SiriusXM Rising Star Award.
“Winning that award turned that into what was one of the best days of our lives’”, Stuart recalls. “The day began with us learning that Long Live The Night had gone gold. Then, to win the award, if you look at the video when they read our names you’ll see that our jaws were just on the floor. Right after we won the award we got to perform at the CCMA’s for the first time, and we were just on a whole other level. We were so excited about getting up there and getting everybody fired up.”
Striking while the iron is hot, The Reklaws have just released a new EP, “Feels Like That”, which contains Hometown Kids, the three songs from their previous EP plus three new numbers. In terms of the new material, the title track and new single is an upbeat relationship song while “Raised By Radio” offers an autobiographical glimpse at the siblings’ upbringing on a rural farm.
“We really haven’t had any relationship-type songs,” Stuart says. “Most of our stuff has been like party anthems. We’re taking it to a more personal level with Feels Like That. It’s a new direction that we’re taking”.
“As far as Raised By Radio goes, we weren’t on Spotify or Apple when we were growing up,” says Jenna. “Radio was where it was at for us. It raised us and it’s what we listened to and it was the soundtrack to our life. We’d be out on the farm working and we’d have a truck out there blasting the radio, country radio all the way”.
“We didn’t have television for, like, 10 years,” Stuart adds. “We kind of grew up like Mennonites although we weren’t actually Mennonites. We were just always out on the farm so the only thing coming to us from the outside world was the radio, and that’s why that song resonates so well with us. We watched a bit of CMT when we were kids but radio definitely trumped that in our lives.”
The sleeper on the EP may be “Missing You” a song with an Uncle Kracker-type pop vibe that hooks you on first listen. The duo still has its roots firmly entrenched in country, but they’re attempting to expand their horizons which has them feeling exhilarated, if somewhat nervous.
“We have to be careful not to get caught up in ‘What’s next?’ and ‘Are they going to like this?’,” Stuart begins. “But if you’re not enjoying every day and realizing how special every day is, it’s just a waste of time. It’s terrifying but it’s also awesome”.
“Missing You is right up the alley of what we want to do,” Jenna chimes in. “It’s the happiest saddest song you’ll ever hear. It definitely has a pop element in it and we’re slowly introducing that sound to our fans.”
Prince Edward Island-based The East Pointers have announced additional dates for their upcoming Canadian tour kicking off in Medicine Hat, AB on October 9, 2018. Fresh off the release of their new single “Two Weeks” from their sophomore release “What We Leave Behind”, The East Pointers will play eight cities in Western Canada, before heading back to Ontario to finish the tour in London, ON, on November 4. The folk trio have been collecting a steady stream of accolades since the release of their debut album “Secret Victory”, including a 2017 JUNO Award for Traditional Roots Album of the Year as well as a 2016 Canadian Folk Music Award for Ensemble of the Year
Also embarking on a tour are two-time JUNO Award-winning, Canadian Bluegrass band Tim & The Glory Boys. The Vancouver natives will be kicking off their Alberta leg in September and fans can expect the tour to be a spirited, family-friendly party going down at a local theatre, church, or barn. All tour dates can be found at http://www.timandthegloryboys.com/tour
Congratulations are in order for Gord Bamford, who celebrates an impressive milestone as his latest single “Dive Bar”, from his current album “Neon Smoke”, hits #1 on the Country Airplay Chart. Written by Award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter Tebey, Dive Bar joins Bamford’s previous #1 single “When Your Lips Are So Close” from his “Country Junkie” album. Neon Smoke has also seen the release of the singles “Livin’ On Summertime”, “Ain’t It Grand”, a collaboration with Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, and the title track which was a Top 10 Canadian country radio hit.