It was just last July that Calgarians packed into the Saddledome to ring in the Stampede with the James Barker Band, and the Canadian country group had such a good time they’re back again this weekend.
Fresh off their new single “Wastin’ Whiskey” and the success that comes with selling out packed stadiums, the band that formed in Ontario has been enjoying the fruits of their labour with success south of the border propelling their most recent tour, which makes a stop in Calgary on Saturday.
The last time the band performed here was during the Stampede, which is always a good time — but they are excited to perform on a Calgary stage again.
“Calgarians are always so fired up. I mean, it’s the Calgary Stampede, it’s so unique. It’s like such a high volume of country people, country music fans specifically,” lead singer James Barker says of their last visit to the city.
Ready to rock
He’s excited to see what energy the crowds bring this weekend, especially coming out of the pandemic.
“It’ll be really nice. It’s the first tour we’ve done, and I feel like one of the first tours going across Canada since restrictions have been lifted. It’s going to feel like a return to normal for us. By the time we get to Calgary, we will be flying.”
Barker and his bandmates are excited to return to some normalcy on this tour and they know fans are even more thrilled.
“That’s the interesting thing about all this; we’re super excited to get back to doing what we love, but I feel like fans are just excited to get back in and do things,” he explains.
“Not just music fans, but sports fans and all genres of music and all forms of entertainment. I think everybody’s just excited to be able to go out and do anything so I feel like you’re definitely going to be able to see that at the show. People are going to be feeding off one another.”
No strangers to Calgary
The James Barker Band has performed in Calgary about 10 times, Barker says, adding the first time was in 2016 after they released their first single.
“People are always just so fired up in Calgary. We love the city. It’s a beautiful city. It’s very picturesque,” he says.
“It’s also very handy because the sun stays a lot later in Calgary than it does at a lot of places, so you can hang out later and not feel bad about yourself.”
We can’t be sure that he doesn’t say this about every city, but the singer said Calgary is the crux of the country when it comes to that genre of music.
“It’s kind of the centre for country music in Canada. And you can sense that when you play a show. They’re unbelievable and generally bigger than they are in the rest of Canada,” Barker adds.
Making it big south of the border
Quite the compliment coming from a band that calls Nashville home now. While the group formed in 2015 in Woodville, Ont., they’ve since taken up residence in the city known for its musical talents.
“Living in Nashville is such a big change. Obviously, moving anywhere away from where you’ve grown up, it’s a big change,” Barker explains, adding Nashville can be a “jarring change” for musicians.
“It’s just so full of talented people that when you move there, it does one of two things, or sometimes both. It either inspires you or discourages you, because there’s so many other talented people who you can feel inferior to.”
Barker points to when COVID hit, and the band was forced to stay there because they couldn’t travel back and forth over the border.
“So we were just kind of stuck in the pot down here with all these talented people. And it was like ‘OK, I guess we dig in and get better at writing, playing, and singing. Living in Nashville, it’s crazy how it can transform your mentality towards music.”
Tickets are still available for Saturday’s concert at the Saddledome.
Know more about Calgary, every morning in just 5 minutes.
Get stories you won’t find anywhere else about the people, places, and businesses at the heart of our city.
By filling out the form above, you consent to receive emails from Calgary Citizen.