Gord Bamford is a Canadian country music star. He has 16 Canadian Country Music Association awards, he’s played stages from coast-to-coast, and with his brand new album, Neon Smoke, and tour, the Alberta artist is already back in the Top 10.
We caught up with Bamford in Toronto before the holidays to talk about the album, the tour, and more. And now that 2018 is in flight, we’re ready to share all of it with you!
We asked Gord about goals, 2018, and what he hopes to achieve in the new year and beyond. And while we didn’t know what to expect (sometimes artists can be vague or hesitant to share specific goals) we were pleasantly surprised when Bamford very strongly stated “oh yeah, I’ve got goals.” He went on to tell us that he’s been lucky enough to put some (16) CCMA Awards on his shelf, but he hasn’t added a Juno to the trophy case. And he wants to. Whether it comes from this album, or over the next few years, it’s on his list.
We also talked about goals for the new album, and Gord told me that when he put Neon Smoke together the goal was to find songs that could be hits. He wants his fans to love his music, he wants them to sing along, but he knows that the best way to get the music in front of them is to make it hit music. And while we can tell you that there won’t be 15 singles released from Bamford’s Neon Smoke album, we can agree with his song selection and the potential.
Note: Previously released single, Livin’ On Summertime, has already been a Top 10 hit, and that’s a good start. And the title track has now been released and can be requested at country radio!
As we sat and talked, we asked about Gord’s life outside of music, and the house that the Bamford’s are building as their new family home. He told us that he’s been onsite as much as possible, overseeing the construction and being part of the process. He’s enjoying it, though we know it’s a lot of work. And he told us that the family, including his three children, are looking forward to a 2018 move in.
That same desire to be involved in every step of the process was there during the making of Neon Smoke. Bamford told me that he had more to do with every piece of this album than he ever has before. It’s the first time that I’ve ever had the chance to compare making a record and building a house, but Gord and I both agreed that, in this case, it fit.
While 13 of the songs on the album are the solo Gord Bamford work that we’re accustomed to, Neon Smoke also features collaborations with Jim Cuddy and Tracy Lawrence, two voices with heaps of experience that make for a good combination with the Canadian country star. We asked Bamford if he had any dream collaborations in mind and the two names that he shared with me were Merle Haggard and Reba McEntire.
Sadly, Gord didn’t have the chance to work with The Hag before his passing. But, there’s still a chance that someday he’ll get to record with Reba.
In fact, Bamford told us that he and Reba have become friends over the years (since his time on tour with her in 2013). And that they’ve had the chance to stay in touch. So here’s hoping, that in the not too distant future, we get to hear that combo.
Those two collaborations from the album that we mentioned earlier both work for Bamford. The first, Ain’t It Grand (featuring Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, released as a single in September 2017 and performed live at the CCMA Awards show), is an ode to Canadiana, mentioning the Blue Jays, the east and west coasts, strong beer, buck deer, and more in the process. It’s a fun track, the kind that Canadian country fans attach themselves to, and should become a favourite at Bamford’s live shows.
The second duet, The Out Crowd (featuring Time Marches On hitmaker, Tracy Lawrence) is the last track on the album, and it’s perfectly placed. As the 15th and final song, the duet serves as a special treat, and wraps up the 48 minutes of country music on Neon Smoke.
The length of the album is something else we talked to Bamford about, pointing out the current EP and digital singles trend that we’ve seen across genres, but particularly from Canadian country artists. Gord told us that he understands the strategy, and that he sees the success that artists have had, but that he still wants to produce full bodies of work that he can release and that his fans can listen to.
From top to bottom, this is a Gord Bamford album.
It fits perfectly in his discography, his fans should absolutely latch on to it, and while we can’t predict the future, Bamford has certainly put himself in a position to add more Top 10 hits to his resume (and setlist). And who knows, he might just find himself with another Juno nomination and a chance to take home a trophy.
Gord Bamford, Neon Smoke Tracklist
1. Neon Smoke
2. Dive Bar
3. That’s What Grandpas Do
5. Love Takes Time
6. Livin’ On Summertime
7. She Looks Good In It
8. Slow Roll It
9. When I’m Drinking
10. Works The Way
11. Ain’t It Grand ft. Jim Cuddy
12. Gold To Me
13. Off The Grid
14. Little Cowboys
15. The Out Crowd ft. Tracy Lawrence
With his eighth record, Gord Bamford has shown that he understands what his fans want, what he wants to do, and how to make all of it come together.
He also knows what he wants out of a live show, and he believes he knows what the fans want too.
We asked if this tour would be the opportunity to slide in the new album’s songs and Bamford told us that a couple would be in there (we’re guessing the first two singles, and the next), but that more than anything else, this would be a show of hits.
Much like Garth Brooks told us in March 2016 during his Hamilton, ON show, Gord said he hates buying a ticket for a show only to see the artist play all the new stuff nobody knows, and none of the songs they’ve loved forever.
So, with that said, fans should expect the Neon Smoke Tour to be packed with hits, fan favourites, and all kinds of songs that you can sing along to. We’re betting that it’ll be an impressive setlist… and if we were being greedy, we’d say it would probably make a pretty good opportunity for a live greatest hits so far album. Just sayin’.
Gord Bamford won’t be alone on tour, with Aaron Goodvin set to join him on the 29 dates, starting in Ontario and heading west. The Lonely Drum singer should make for a great opening act on tour, getting the crowds into the action and ready for a good night.
We also asked Bamford about the venues he’s playing, and he told us that the opportunity to play some smaller, more intimate rooms is something that he’s looking forward to. And as much as we love big production arena tours, we know how special a theatre experience can be too, and a tour that embraces that has the chance to create a lot of special moments.
The Neon Smoke Tour runs from January 24 to March 2, starting in Brampton, ON and finishing up in Kelowna, BC. If you want to see Gord Bamford play some of the new album, and load you up with hits, get your tickets!
Gord Bamford, Neon Smoke Tour Dates
🎤 January 24, 2018 – Brampton,ON
🎤 January 25, 2018 – Nepean, ON
🎤 January 26, 2018 – Windsor, ON
🎤 January 27, 2018 – Richmond Hill, ON
🎤 January 28, 2018 – St. Catherines, ON
🎤 January 30, 2018 – Meaford, ON
🎤 January 31, 2018 – Brantford, ON
🎤 February 1, 2018 – Burlington,ON
🎤 February 2, 2018 – Milton, ON
🎤 February 3, 2018 – Kingston,ON
🎤 February 4, 2018 – Guelph, ON
🎤 February 6, 2018 – Peterborough, ON
🎤 February 7, 2018 – Belleville, ON
🎤 February 8, 2018 – Sherbrooke, QC
🎤 February 10, 2018 – Halifax, NS
🎤 February 11, 2018 – Moncton,NB
🎤 February 12, 2018 – Sudbury, ON
🎤 February 14, 2018 – Thunder Bay, ON
🎤 February 15, 2018 – Winnipeg, MB
🎤 February 16, 2018 – Regina, SK
🎤 February 17, 2018 – Lloydminster, AB
🎤 February 18, 2018 – Whitecourt, AB
🎤 February 20, 2018 – Fort Saskatchewan, AB
🎤 February 21, 2018 – Camrose, AB
🎤 February 23, 2018 – Lethbridge, AB
🎤 February 24, 2018 – Medicine Hat, AB
🎤 February 27, 2018 – Nanaimo, BC
🎤 March 1, 2018 – Sidney, BC
🎤 March 2, 2018 – Kelowna, BC