Brandt promises a Tweetin’ good time
After finishing up the eastern leg of his tour of stripped back acoustic performances, the arena production is kicking off for the western leg starting in Penticton, warming him up for a 10-day stint in July at the Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show.
“Some of the venues we were playing out east they are a little bit smaller and they have these great 150-year-old beautifully ornate theatres, so it is a different vibe. If we try and bring out the big production we do out in the west shows it just wouldn’t make sense, so we did a bit of a different approach. I think that there is something exciting about doing both shows. We will have all the bells and whistles out in Penticton and it will be fun,” said Brandt, from his home just outside Calgary.
Having performed for over 15 years, Brandt has kept in tune with the growing use of technology by concert-goers and has even incorporated it while touring for his latest CD, Give It Away, which came out in late-2011, and also available in his box set NOW.
“We have a screen up on stage and your tweets are posted live as they come in on the stage,” said Brandt. “I would never have dreamed that over the last 15 to 16 years performing you go from being up on the stage and you are the main attraction up there, to people starting to hold their cellphones up so they can play it for their friend. That was always fun and we made the best of that, now people are on Facebook and tweeting while you are on stage. I thought how can we incorporate people who are already doing this at the show?”
It has already generated some unique interactive moments on the eastern leg of the tour. So far on his eastern leg, Brandt has given away a trip to the Calgary Stampede, NOW box sets and, in partnership with Epiphone Guitars, guitars have been given out to those using Twitter to get Brandt messages during the concert. Brandt said he also brought a person that was tweeting up on stage to sing with him and they didn’t know any of the songs he wanted them to sing.
“We made it through finally and the person went back to the audience and we were about to go into singing Convoy and all of sudden up on the Twitter screen you see the person who was up on stage with me saying ‘Well, I know that one, Paul.’ It’s just this really cool conversation that has been happening during the show, so it’s a lot of fun,” said Brandt.
The concert also will pan out to be a cool moment for local artist Nikita Afonso, who was selected to open for Brandt while he is in Penticton, and will be accompanied by the Offramp Ensemble headed up by Justin Glibbery — featuring Mike Fic, Scott Gamble and Jeff Queen.
“I have heard little bits and pieces of her work and I am really excited to get to meet her. I saw a Twitter message come up from her the other day talking about how excited she is and I just have been hearing a lot of great things. I have seen some of her work up on YouTube too,” said Brandt. “I remember when I was getting my start and I had people who were established in the music industry who offered me a helping hand or two, and so I hope this ends up being something that really helps her out. I think it will be a lot of fun for her to play in front of her hometown crowd. It is really exciting to be able to take some of these experiences that I have had over the years and hopefully use them to help other people.”
While the requests continue to pour in for Brandt to perform I Do, essentially a wedding classic, Penticton is no different. Brandt revisited the song on Give It Away and is still amazed at the reception it gets whether that is from people wanting to propose at his show, renew their vows or married couples wanting to come up on stage and dance to it.
“I wrote it for a friend of mine who was getting married and I gave it to her as a wedding gift. I never would have imagined it would have gone to No. 1, let alone become this wedding standard that people use for their weddings 15 years after it came out,” said Brandt.
That song is also in the box set, along with a space to put in an eight album. Brandt is putting the finishing touches on a country/bluegrass album titled Just As I Am, due out in the fall of 2012. The album, includes guest spots from High Valley, John Anderson, Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless and others
“We have been playing one of the songs (I’ll Fly Away) live on this tour to give people a little taste. These is a section of the show where we strip it down to more of an acoustic kind of feel,” said Brandt.