It’s been nearly half a century since the Stampeders first got together, but performing is still a thrill for the classic Canadian rockers.
“It’s not work for us, it’s fun. I look forward to it,” said frontman Rich Dodson. “We really enjoy going on the road and doing these dates.”
The Stampeders will be in Penticton for Peachfest, taking the main stage on Aug. 9 for a 9:30 p.m. show.
If anything, Dodson said, touring is more fun now.
“It’s not the old days. We don’t have five-ton trucks and 10 roadies and all that stuff. It’s a lot more fun touring this time around than the early ‘70s when we had to haul all that stuff around, said Dodson. “It’s really great being able to get out and do what we do, and reconnect with the old fans.”
They are, he joked, a little more careful about keeping their health in line, and have cut back on the partying.
“Not like we used to, no. We’re the bottled water guys now,” said Dodson.
The Stampeders drove to the top of the charts in the ‘70s with songs like Wild Eyes, Carry Me and Sweet City Woman, which won Best Single at the Juno Awards in 1971, topping out at No. 1 on the RPM magazine charts and No. 8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, staying there for 16 weeks.
Dodson said their classic hits are on the setlist for Peachfest, along with some new music.
“There is always new tunes that come up. We have a bunch of new tunes we do on stage and fit them in, but we pretty much try and do all the old stuff as best we can,” he said. “We like doing the old stuff. It’s a trick to pull it off and have it sound tight and everything.
“I think the band is very tight, I think the band is tighter than it was in the ‘70s.”
Over the years, musicians have come and gone with The Stampeders, but it’s always come back to the same trio that formed the group in 1965: Dodson, Ronnie King, and Kim Berly.
“The trio was the nucleus … the most fun and I am glad we are back to it. It’s a challenge but I think we make it work,” said Dodson. “The trio is the nucleus that had all the hits. We’ve all written songs that were hits and we have all sang songs that were hits in Canada.”
Having played together for so many years, Dodson said they’ve developed a close relationship, both musically and emotionally.
“We’ve always been sort of like three brothers. We have a lot of fun on the road together and that is really what it is all about,” said Dodson. “We don’t rehearse a lot, because we pretty much know how one another is going to think.”
Dodson said the band is looking forward to Peachfest and revisiting the Okanagan.
“In the ‘70s we played there a lot,” he said. “The outdoor festivals are still the most fun. It’s nice to be outside in the elements and have that whole atmosphere. Penticton is a nice little spot so we are looking forward to it.”
Dodson said he doesn’t give much thought to their place in the pantheon of Canadian bands.
“We really feel like a Canadian band, I’ll put it that way. It’s nice to be one of the old timers,” he said. It’s just sort of what we do. I am really glad we are part of that. My kids are doing it now, my kids have their bands and they are sharing that excitement.”
Dodson’s daughter Holly is lead vocalist and composer for Parallels with brother Nick on drums. They released their second album, XII, in 2012 on their father’s label, Marigold Records.
The Stampeders are just part of five solid days of entertainment at the 2014 Peach Festival, which also features performances by Trooper and Emerson Drive. Visit www.peachfest.com for the full schedule.