Hillside Outlaws keeping musical resolution

The Hillside Outlaws play Cannery Brewing on Feb. 6.  - Submitted photo
The Hillside Outlaws play Cannery Brewing on Feb. 6.
— image credit: Submitted photo

As January turns into February, many are probably close to abandoning New Year’s resolutions,but for Louis Bigras, his resolution is going better than he ever thought.

Last year, Bigras, singer and guitar player for Penticton country band Hillside Outlaws, made the resolution to make a career out of music.

“So what I did was I started writing songs. I had never wrote songs before, so I started writing songs and putting things together,” Bigras said.

He made a “napkin contract” with friend Leanne Stark who remains the band’s manager today.Prior to forming the Hillside Outlaws, Bigras, with the help of Stark, entered a talent search contest and was able to open for Sam Hunt at the Rockin’ River Festival in Merritt, singing in front of nearly 2,000 people.

Bigras eventually met bassist Carlos Jimenez and drummer Erik Galata through mutual friends and started talking about music around a fire.

“We just got together one night and the rest is history,” Bigras said.

Their first show took place at a church in Okanagan Falls for free as a Father’s Day present for Bigras’ dad, who is the lead worship player at the church. From a small town called Cobalt in Ontario Bigras’ father, Réal, was a bit of a hometown hero when it came to music.

“Our house was always a place where everybody would come. We had big families on both my mom and my dad’s side, so we always convened at our place,” Bigras said. “Back in those days that’s how you threw a party. Get everybody together with guitars, violins and all that stuff.”

Bigras’ father bought him his first guitar when he was nine years old, a junior-sized, no-name garage sale guitar he still has today hanging up on his wall.

“It still plays alright,” Bigras laughed.

Adding guitar player Jamie Jackson after a few gigs, the Hillside Outlaws were fully formed.

“It’s a really good group dynamic. Excellent, excellent musicians. Phenomenal group of guys. I’m really fortunate I kind of went into this as my New Year’s resolution thinking I would be a solo act. My original goal was to write a few songs and busk at a market with my guitar case open,” Bigras said.

Only playing together since June of last year, now the Hillside Outlaws are set to play Canada Day in Penticton as well as the Penticton Peach Festival.

“It’s been a quick ride. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s been a lot of work. We spend a lot of Friday nights inside just playing music,” Bigras said. “By the time we get on stage everybody has a good time and they see us and everyone says it sounds like we’ve been together for years, but that’s because we put years worth of practice time in a short span.”

Bigras also noted their manager, Stark, has been invaluable in getting the band out there.

“She puts in a lot more effort than she probably has to. She does pretty much everything which is good because it gives us time to focus on the music and the performance,” Bigras said.

The Hillside Outlaws play the Cannery Brewing taproom on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m., doors at 6:30 p.m.Tickets are $10 in advance available at the Cannery.

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