While the temperatures are dropping in Canada’s capital, country music fans are heating up. With the tickets on-sale today for the Capital Hoedown Country Music Festival in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, we have a preview with the first act set to open up 2012′s festival, named “Ottawa’s Biggest Summer Party.”
Marshall Dane called us yesterday, bad cold and all, to discuss a little bit about his life, his career, and what fans can expect from his performance at the Capital Hoedown next year. The energetic, boot-stomping performer always puts on an energetic show and promises that his performance next year won’t be any different. In 2011, Dane was one of only eight artists chosen to be part of the Canadian Country Music Awards “New Artist” Showcase. He has opened up for country music great Alan Jackson, as well as Michelle Wright, Doc Walker, Emerson Drive, Aaron Pritchett, and Gord Bamford among others… but who is he most excited to perform with at the Hoedown? Find out in our exclusive interview below:
You grew up in a large family. Do you think that’s influenced you as an artist?
I’d say one hundred percent. There’s a couple of factors: one being in a large family – my mother plays piano, my father plays guitar and they both sing. My grandparents both sing and play instruments, my grandfather plays pedal steel. My grandfather plays fiddle. One of my older sisters plays piano, my other oldest sister plays violin. My youngest sister works in the music industry in Toronto as well, so I’d say definitely having that influences who you are as an artist. There’s just so much music in my big family. In a big family, in general, there wouldn’t be; but having so many musicians in my family it was easy to get into, let’s put it that way.
So, that’s why you felt you were meant to be an artist?
Well… at one point, when I first started playing at 12; by the time I was 20 I was just doing it because I loved it. Then when I was about 22, I made the decision that this is where I’m going to be, I’m not going to be anywhere else but here.
You support a lot of charities, but is there one in particular that you want your fans to support for Christmas?
Any of the Cancer charities are a worthwhile donation just because that’s one thing that just doesn’t look like anybody’s escaping. So whatever we can do to forward that research is worth it. Also, another charity that I truly believe in is Habitat For Humanity. It’s ground roots helping people. My motto is “just hold the darn door for somebody.” Smile at that person. That stuff is free, that stuff doesn’t cost you anything. You know, you can do it for free and could change one person’s attitude. That’s why I support the grassroots community of just wanting to help people, helping families and getting them on their feet. I believe in those kind of hands-on charities.
Now, you’ve had the chance to tour with some pretty big acts. Who would you consider to be your favorite so far, and who would be your dream tour?
Wow! Okay, this is fun! This is like winning the lottery, what would you spend your money on. My favorite to-date I have to say, as much as Alan Jackson was the biggest star I’ve ever opened up for, and that was just the most amazing experience to bring my band out there on-stage. My favorite, most influential, opportunity to date when it comes to touring and performing with would have to be the Aaron Pritchett “Rowdy Boys Tour”. It proved that you just do a 25-minute opener, all I needed was exposure to play with other country bands across the country, and I can make them my fans too. So that was worth it, totally worth it. The “Rowdy Boys Tour” was the reason for everything I had in 2011. Going back to P.E.I. for Cavendish; that was because of the “Rowdy Boys.” Playing in the Meaford Hall, having them call and say “just you,” that was because of the “Rowdy Boys.” North Bay was because of the “Rowdy Boys.” The list goes on. That would be my biggest tour moment.
If I could choose anybody who I could tour with… it’s a hard one because you want to go out with everybody. You know what I’ve been thinking of lately? Eric Church. That guy, the way he performs, the way he does his kind of shows? He gives me a run for my money in terms of energy. I would like to tour with Eric Church.
So, would you consider that tour the “coolest” thing that’s happened to you so far?
That was a very awesome business thing to happen, a great experience. I’d say performing on a big stage is always awesome, but I’m trying to think of something uniquely cool. You know, what was really cool was calling my father from Prince Edward Island at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival, and telling him that Ricky Skaggs was about ten feet away from me, and that I just met Tanya Tucker and her daughter. That was just a cool moment because there’s a lot of great artists, a lot of the Canadian guys like Deric Ruttan and Doc Walker, but when you get to meet someone that’s classic? Alan Jackson I didn’t get to meet. Reba I might not get the chance to meet. But, seeing a guy like Ricky Skaggs and Tanya Tucker is the coolest thing.
Now I’ve heard you’re working on a new record for next year. How is that going?
Yes, I’m working on a new record. Right now, I’m just in the process of the writing. I’m writing songs and gathering songs for the album. That’s going great, it’s exciting because this is what I think the industry that I’ve built up over the last few years wants to see. What my answer is to how I react and how I respond going forward after the last two and a half years. We’ve seen “Running Stop Signs” and we’ve put out a few singles, and we’ve made headway when it comes to live shows. Now it’s what Marshall comes up with in August of 2012. That’s exciting because with any architect you’re always out to build something neater, and cooler, and faster and hopefully it gets more exposure and more people enjoying it. So, it’s a fun challenge.
Which act are you most excited to see at the Capital Hoedown?
Straight up… Reba! (laughs). I’ve seen Brad, I’ve seen Dean, I’ve seen Gord, I’ve seen Hey Rosetta. I haven’t seen Taylor, but I kind of get the jist of her – I’m kind of picturing a country Britney Spears. She’s going to have movement, and she’s going to do her thing, and I can see her anytime. She’s not going anywhere soon. But someone like Reba? She will be the biggest artist I will have ever been on-stage sharing a date with. I remember her from being a kid, I’m hoping she sings the songs like “Fancy” or “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia.” I don’t know if she’ll go into the classics, but that’s my Reba era.
What can fans expect from your performance at the Capital Hoedown?
Typical Marshall Dane style – a truck load of energy. You can expect my whole core band which is my fiddle player Ali Raney – I scheduled her for this show two months ago to make sure she wasn’t going anywhere (laughs). Of course, the rest of my band, my boys. I have my team and it’s going to be over the top. As soon as I find out how much time they’re going to give me, we’re going to plan a show that’s going non-stop.
Is there any song out right now on the radio that you wish you wrote?
Lots. That’s a tough question because I haven’t been listening to the radio lately, I’ve been traveling and not in my own car. What’s a good thing that I really like out there right now? I really like that Chad Brownlee tune, the one he’s got out right now. “Love Me Or Leave Me,” I like that song a lot and I like the melody. It’s Canadian, well I don’t know if the song is Canadian, but Chad is. I like him and he sings it well. He gets better every time he performs.
If you could form a dream band with anybody living or dead, who would you choose?
Interesting! I’d say, who’s my favorite guitar player? Okay, dream band, let’s see here. Let’s put Vince Gill on guitar… and backing vocals (laughs). No lead for you, Vince! I might let him sing a line in a verse. On bass I’d like the dude that was playing at the BCCMA’s with the long, dark hair. On keyboard let’s take Phil Collins. On drums Steve Gadd. I think we’d be okay with that and backup vocals we can have Faith Hill (laughs) and Taylor. On fiddle I’ll take Ali Raney because she’s just awesome and hot.
Do you have any Christmas plans this year?
Yes. I’ll be writing another Christmas song, I have one out right now. I’m gonna write that one. As far as actual plans-plans… I’m gonna finally have, looks like I’ll be forced to have a couple days off. The world kind of shuts down around Christmas and that usually forces me to have a break too. So, I’ll be seeing my family. I haven’t seen my family in what seems like so long, it’s been a few months. I’ll be looking forward to just going and getting some home cooked meals, to seeing some friends. This year it’s about being thankful for what you’ve got, which it always is, but this year really.
What was the first country album you ever owned?
Well, I guess you don’t call Bob Seger country. But I would say Garth Brooks. Actually, Reba might have been my first album now that I think about it. I stole it. I took it from my step-mother, I didn’t steal it! I just wanted to have it so bad.
Anything else fans should know?
It’s going to be a great year next year, we have a lot of shows lined up – Jason McCoy, George Canyon, Reba. I’ve already contacted Paul Brandt and Gord Bamford for writing sessions and they’re all cool with it. We’re contacting Chad Kroeger of Nickelback to see if we can write with him. Tim Nichols and a couple guys we’re hoping will say yes.
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Tickets for the Capital Hoedown went on-sale today. For more information on “Ottawa’s Biggest Summer Party” vist CapitalHoedown.net.