Story and Photos by Alan Auld, Imagine Films
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It’s late January in a winter that already seems too long, and Blue Rodeo is back in town. The band’s performances are almost an annual tradition in Thunder Bay and this year marks Blue Rodeo’s 30th anniversary. I spoke to Greg Keelor before the show and he said that touring is actually easier for them at this age, adding the road is now a discipline rather than a party.

The show opened with The Devon Cuddy Band, which featured mix of blues, jazz, and boogie-woogie. Devon looks like his father, but he has his own distinct powerful voice.

Blue Rodeo played two sets; the first set contained a performance of the full new album In Our Nature. It’s a bit gutsy to put the fans through an entire set of new material, but these guys have a way of making their shows fresh and unique.

In Our Nature was recorded at Keelor’s farm north of Toronto. He says recording there gets the band in a familiar, comfortable setting. It also accommodates Keelor’s hearing—since he can’t wear headphones, he has his own speaker setup that works well.

There are two new members to the band. Colin Cripps has recorded with them in the past and has toured with the Jim Cuddy Band for the past few years. Mike Boguski is a fabulous keyboard player that adds a melodic touch to the group. At times Boguski’s posture the impression he was having a nap, but his hands proved otherwise with the performance.

Reflecting on the music industry, Keelor says he’s glad they’re at this point in their career rather than starting out because it’s a hard way to make a living. “You can make a record in your bedroom, you could have a million hits on YouTube, and you go to a club and have four people there. It’s a strange time.” He says the lack of radio airplay of their music hasn’t affected their success whereas in the past, airplay was key to a band’s success. Their new album opened in the top ten and sales have been great.

When asked how long they plan on touring, he maintains his previous response that they’ll keep playing as long as people keep coming to see them. If that’s the case, we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.