Paul Brandt is Alberta bound for the Big Valley Jamboree

Paul Brandt’s heart has a history with the Big Valley Jamboree

Paul Brandt poses in the mountains in winter
Paul Brandt will be performing at this year’s Big Valley Jamboree. — Photo courtesy Tanner Wendell Stewart

Paul Brandt has done it all. 

He’s the most awarded male Canadian country artist in history and the most played Canadian country artist on country radio in history. His song My Heart Has a History is the most played Canadian Country song since the Nielsen BDS chart began in 1996. Over the years, the legendary performer has had 26 top 10 songs at Canadian Radio. Last year, Brandt was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and Western Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Brandt will be on the main stage at this year’s Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta, on Friday, August 3 (the festival runs from August 3 to 5). This born and raised Calgarian doesn’t have to travel far for his performance. He’s excited for the festival and can’t wait to share some of his new music that he has coming out later this year (The Journey YYC Volume 1 comes out April 6).

Here’s what Brandt said about the Big Valley Jamboree, his upcoming album and what he gets up to on the road. 

First off, congratulations on your recent Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame induction. Did you ever think this was possible?

I truly thought when I went to Nashville that they would send me home with a Post-it note on my back saying “Send a different cowboy. This is the wrong one.” I had no idea it would last this long. I’m having the time of my life. 

Is it hard to stay grounded when you’re a big country superstar?

There’s a sold-out show we did in Calgary at the Saddledome and the crowd is rockin’. It was fun cause I’m in my hometown. I’m in the middle of playing Convoy and I’m thinking to myself, “I’m so glad that my kids get to be here to see this.” I’ve got a nine-year-old and a seven-year-old and I look over at the side of the stage and they’re both on their devices. Ha ha! They’re like, “Yeah, whatever, Dad.” It really helps to keep it all in perspective for me. I love doing this, but my focus is to be a great dad and keep them on the right track too. 

Paul Brandt smiles in the desert
Paul Brandt is the most played Canadian country artist on country radio in history. — Photo courtesy Jonathan Taylor Sweet

Have you ever crossed the country in a “Convoy”?

We do have a convoy. Usually, we’ll have two or three buses and tractor trailers as well. It’s really cool, that whole living on the road lifestyle. 

We’ve got an incredible business partner in a company called Paul Brandt Trucking. 

We were in Morris, Manitoba. An older gentleman walks up to me and shakes my hand and says, “Hi, my name’s Paul Brandt.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” He had started this company (Paul Brandt Trucking) and they were sponsoring the Morris Stampede. He wanted to drive me up to the stage in one of his trucks. We’re not related. We just happen to have the same name.

We became good friends. When I needed to do the video for Convoy about four or five years later, I’m like, “What was the name of that trucking company? I need some trucks. Oh, yeah. It’s my name.” It’s just a really crazy coincidence. 

Do you ever get to take in the sights or check out touristy-type activities while on the road?

Absolutely. My wife encouraged me to stop and smell the roses. We’d be in these beautiful, incredible places and I was just so focused on doing the show—I think it was anxiety more than anything—so we’d go for runs and go explore. We’ve been across this country more times than I can count. Travelling and waking up in different places every day is amazing. 

Paul Brandt poses with his guitar in the desert
Paul Brandt is the most awarded male Canadian country artist in history. — Photo courtesy Tanner Wendell Stewart

What is your favourite thing to do to pass time on the road?

My favourite thing to do is find great places to eat but that’s not advised. When you’re travelling so much, it can be a bit too dangerous for the waistline. 

The best way to experience it is going for runs. I love running. I find it’s a really great way to go and check out a new area. 

What are you working on right now?

I’ve been back and forth quite a bit between Calgary and Nashville. This EP (Extended Play) is called The Journey YYC Volume 1 (which will be released on April 6th). There’s a song on the album called YYC BNA. Those are the airport codes for Calgary and Nashville. It tells the story of the behind-the-scenes of what it was like to be a kid from Calgary moving to Nashville and some of the things that people said and some of the things that I’ve experienced and how that changed me. I’m really excited to share this with people. 

This project is probably the most personal. I was struggling with how I was going to make this new and exciting to our fans and really connect with them and tell the story from a different angle. It took a lot of soul searching. I’ve done a lot of motorcycle riding recently. A lot of the ideas and concepts for this album came together during a trip I took while riding from Calgary to Phoenix. We rode back up on the Pacific Coast Highway. All the sights and sounds and smells of nature on that ride while coming up the Coast really started to plant seeds for song ideas. 

What was your experience while playing Big Valley Jamboree in previous years?

There was one time I was doing a show in another part of Alberta and got a frantic phone call at the last minute saying “Can you please come out (to the Big Valley Jamboree)?” Lorrie Morgan had to cancel at the last minute. There was a bit of a running joke that had started; I think she ran into some difficulties here and there and had to cancel a couple of times and there were fans that were pretty disappointed about that. So I showed up and I walked out on stage. I think my opening line was “I might not be as good-looking but at least I’m here.” Ha ha. People loved it. We had a lot of fun with it. Lorrie had a good sense of humour about it too. 

I love playing there (BVJ). The fans are great. Perfect time of year to be out there. I’m really excited about playing there again this year. 

The Big Valley Jamboree crowd is partying
Big Valley Jamboree offers a lively atmosphere. — Photo courtesy Nicole Ashley Photography

Is there something that’s special about the Big Valley Jamboree in particular?

I think it’s an Alberta-born-and-raised type of thing. There’s just a great spirit of camaraderie with people getting together and wanting to have a great time and enjoy great music. 

How is a big festival different from a typical concert?

With festivals, there’s a casualness to it. Everybody lets their guard down a little bit. Being in the outdoors does that to people. Even though there’s a ton of people there and you got the big stage, it feels like a backyard barbecue. I love that. 

For everyone that heads out to the Big Valley Jamboree this year, which song of yours are they going to be clapping along and stomping their feet to? 

Alberta Bound is the one song that connects people and they really go crazy over it and sing along. The first time I played it was in British Columbia. Probably a poor choice of venue. There was one guy in the audience that I was trying to impress and he wasn’t into what I was doing at all—barely even looking at the stage. He had a great big cowboy hat and mustache. I get to the line of the song “I’ve been Alberta Bound for all my life and I’ll be Alberta Bound until I die,” and it was the first time he lifted his eyes and looked at the stage. He nudges his wife and lets out a big “Yeehaw!” I thought, “Okay, this song is either going to be a bigger hit than I thought or that guy’s from Alberta.” 

For anyone who isn’t familiar with your music, why should they go to the Big Valley Jamboree and push to the front of the crowd to hear you sing?

I hear people say in meet-and-greets and backstage and places where I meet them all the time “I’m not even a country music fan but I like what you do.” At first, I didn’t really know how to process that, but it’s an incredible compliment. 

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