You Don’t Have to Love This Group

My college fantasy team is falling apart. There. I talked about sports.

One sure-fire way to encourage jet lag to stick around is to spend some time in a smoky bar. On Tuesday night I went to see my favourite band in concert. The spelling of “favourite” is on purpose since the band is Canadian. The band’s latest album is called Small Miracles, and it’s apt because it’s more than a small miracle that I ever heard of them. My best friend in college discovered the band by accident, picking the wrong CD that turned out to be overwhelmingly right.

When Blue Rodeo’s debut album, Outskirts, was released in 1987, Rolling Stone said “the best new American album this year might be from a Canadian band.” Small Miracles, released last month, is the band’s 11th studio album. I’m bad at describing music, so I’ll just say that the sound is in the country-folk realm.

Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor formed Blue Rodeo in 1985. They had been making music together since high school. They are the glue of the band, writing nearly all of the songs. Watching them together on stage, as both men are nearly fifty years ago, was incredible. One would sing while the other played lead guitar. The Dylan-esque voice of Keelor resonated even though he stubbornly chewed on a piece of gum the whole time.

The band’s early music fuels a lot of my college memories. I learned during those years that a band didn’t have to be popular to be good. The song “Now and Forever” seemed to play on a continuous loop in my best friend’s room after a long-term relationship terminated. We would sing “Rose-Coloured Glasses” while doing dishes. I’d listen to the very country “Lost Together” constantly while visiting home during a break. Our college experience culminated by watching them perform in a basement bar in St. Louis. That’s the fate of a band that regularly wins Juno awards (Canada’s grammys) but never gained traction in the states.

I’d have to say that half of Tuesday night’s audience was Canadian. It was an older crowd as well, but the enthusiastically cheered as the band performed an encore around midnight. My lack of sleep would continue, but it was for a good cause.

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