Volume 95, Issue 19

Wednesday, October 3, 2001
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Wright does writing thing

Blue Rodeo mosey into town with their greatest hits

The Dears tell a Bedtime Story

Think outside the box with Natali's Cube

Blue Rodeo mosey into town with their greatest hits

By Dale Wyatt
Gazette Staff

There comes a time in the life of every popular band when, after being around for a prolonged period of time, it seems necessary to release a greatest hits album.

Blue Rodeo has finally reached that pinnacle.

The Canadian band is currently kicking off a month of touring in support of their first greatest hits CD, set to be released today. For a band with such a rich and lengthy history, it's fair to wonder how they would choose tracks from such a vast amount of material.

"Really, it could have been a double CD. As it stands, it's ridiculously long. We even had to cut some of the songs down in order to make room for the added covers. The band easily could have put out a greatest hits CD six or seven years ago if they wanted to," Blue Rodeo's drummer Glenn Milchem explains.

"Some tracks are obvious to include. We also tried to get an equal number of Greg and Jim songs on [the album]. Those were the basic criterion and after that, it was a matter of taste."

After all these years, this group of aging Canadian alt-country stars are content with their musical and financial situation.

"We're at a stage where our record sales have hit a peak with 5 Days In July and we don't sell quite as many albums," Milchem continues. "However, we now sell more concert tickets than ever. We seem to be heading that sort of way. I guess we have entered a phase most bands enter after being around for 15 years."

Blue Rodeo doesn't concern themselves with tying to achieve huge success south of the border. In fact, Milchem insists they still enjoy touring Canada time and time again.

"It isn't really true that Blue Rodeo only tried to be successful in Canada. They gave the United States a good try really early in their career before I joined and we have been touring regularly in the States since.

"The U.S. just didn't take off. It's hard for me to say why. If you want real U.S. success like the Barenaked Ladies have managed, you really got to be down there for six months of the year," he says.

"At this point, we all have families. I'm the youngest guy in the band and I'm 38. Most of us don't want to be on a bus touring for seven to eight months, playing clubs and hoping to break the U.S. market. We love touring, but we're realistic.

"What we can do is develop and maintain a loyal fan base there, which is what we have done, but we don't really have any illusions of cracking it big time. We are fortunate to be able to make a living here in Canada. It's more important for us to maintain that then trying to grab new fans," Milchem admits.

"I'm not really into patriotism but when you're in a band that's popular in Canada, you're kind of like a federal politician. I mean, you get a different view of the country when you travel and then you develop a good understanding of what Canada is actually like and what the people are like."

Currently, the band finds themselves entering a new phase. They have even decided to bring a horn section along for upcoming shows, including tonight's at Centennial Hall.

"We have done a few shows with the horns. It's still a new thing. It's fun – a little jazzy – we even have some horn solos. All around, it's a bigger sound," he says.

All that aside, Blue Rodeo have no immediate plans of stopping. "We are coming up on ten years. In many ways, everyone is more stable. Things have changed, but not much musically and we're still evolving a lot.

"It's never hard to find time to tour, it's hard to find time for anything else. Blue Rodeo kind of calls the shots. The band is bigger than the individuals in it. It kind of controls our lives in a way, but as long as we exist, there will always be time to tour."

Blue Rodeo bring their show to Centennial Hall tonight. Tickets are still available for $45.50 and $35.50 at the Box Office.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001