As lead vocalist and bassist of Canadian country roots band Prairie Oyster, Russell deCarle is no stranger to awards and accolades.
Prairie Oyster has a stack of Juno and Canadian Country Music Awards, gold and platinum selling records and number one singles, but deCarle is now out for the world to hear his solo work and he feels naked.
“I get nervous doing gigs on my own after Prairie Oyster. You go to these parts of the world that are Oyster friendly with this unproven material and it makes you nervous,” said deCarle, who is performing in Penticton at the Dream Cafe on Saturday. “One thing I have found, and is really nice, is that this music is refreshing to the Oyster crowds and they really dig it because its this whole new sound.”
The long successful run with Prairie Oyster, with hits like Such A Lonely One and One Way Track, wound down from being on the road constantly to bandmates looking to do different things. deCarle found himself in the strange position of not being in band, a family that had developed for him since he took up the career as a musician.
“I didn’t grow up like some of these performers today that are second and third generation musicians and they just look so comfortable on the stage. Now that I am older, if I make a mistake, like forgetting a lyric, I just laugh about it. If I don’t I will break into a cold sweat, over-think things and want to crawl under a rock.”
The band always satisfied the musical part of his life until he finally got motivated to create a solo record. His intentions were to favour cover songs, instead the more he played and wrote the more he was carving out his own style.
A self-professed “music nerd,” deCarle finds comfort in all genres of music. His father played the harmonica to entertain the kids at home and both of his older brothers were into music. Growing up deCarle found himself surrounded by a wealth of different sounds.
“I grew up in a time when music was far less homogenized. Everything I heard on the radio informed me of how to write and of who I am today. I was listening to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and all without changing the radio station,” he said.
It is why one of the biggest compliments he has received came from a fan that said listening to his 2011 album, Under The Big Big Sky, was like sitting around an old radio.
“I think somewhat consciously I wanted a bit of a different sound than Oyster and I accomplished that with our first album which is a bit bluesy. I just don’t like where the modern music has gone. I love early country stuff but new music doesn’t move me emotionally, it just doesn’t do it for me,” said deCarle. “I am really proud of the things we have going on and we did it our own way.”
Joining deCarle at the Dream Cafe are Steve Briggs and Denis Keldie, just a few of the musicians he has met along the many road trips and gigs around the world. The trio are selling advance copies of their next album, Live at Loud Mouse Studios.
“It is a magical combination the three of us. We have a real energy and simpatico with one another. We feel the same pulses at the same spots and that is very special to all of us,” said deCarle. “I keep reinventing myself and that is why these are some of my best years. It’s funny these days without video or getting popular radio play we seem to be batting a thousand. People get this preconceived notion of what they are going to see on stage. When we come out and play and it is different, they are still so excited.”
It is because of the great reception to the fresh music deCarle gets that he feeds off it wanting more. Putting out music that he is emotionally connected to without any labels keeps him rolling along down the highway to the next gig.
“I love being on the road and I am enjoying playing music more than I ever have touring with this trio. We drive around like three lugs in a sedan, when I used to be in these giant tour buses or flying all over the place. That is a whole different deal,” said deCarle. “There is a certain charm that I like about being on the road, it is kind of like travelling with a circus.”
Tickets for Russell deCarle are $25. They can be purchased in advance at the Dream Café or by calling 250-490-9012. Doors open at 6 p.m. and showtime is 8 p.m.