VICKI ARNDT – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
Russell deCarle is no stranger to success, earning six Juno, 11 Canadian Country Music Association and 14 RPM Big Country awards as lead singer and bassist of Canadian country band Prairie Oyster.
It was only natural for the country star to branch out and release a solo album in 2010 and on Feb. 14-15; deCarle will perform tunes from his debut album Under The Big Big Sky at 8 p.m. at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod.
Russell deCarle will perform in the Centre Stage Series in place of Louise Pitre, who due to health issues was unable to commit to the shows.
For those familiar with deCarle’s distinct country Prairie Oyster sound, his solo album is an exploration of the artist’s creative side, a discovery of new music, and a labour of love.
The result is a highly appreciated debut album on the Fontana North Label produced by long-time friend and arranger, pianist and producer John Sheard and recorded by another friend and engineer L. Stu Young.
The album touches on an entirely new musical genre for the singer.
Prairie Oyster fans might be surprised by the new sound, but with nine songs penned by the singer himself, the 11-track album delivers an excellent mix of blues, vintage jazz, country and swing complimented with deCarle’s own distinct voice, the result is an album to be played time and time again.
With more than 30 years of country music under his belt, deCarle’s urge to branch out on his own only recently struck him. For decades, fans had been asking for a solo album, but until recently, Prairie Oyster kept him busy and musically satisfied.
Some quality time alone with his acoustic guitar got deCarle itching to release his debut album.
Originally destined to contain a multitude of cover tunes, the more deCarle worked on album material the more he found himself discovering a new niche rhythmically resulting in a sound all his own.
The album also includes the cover tune Goin’ Away Party by Cindy Walker and a yodel on the warm and rich title song.
The album was recorded with a multitude of artists including guitarist Steve Briggs, string bassist George Koller and drummers Mark Kelso and Al Cross.
The lineup included bassist Russ Boswell, fiddler Drew Jurecka, percussionist John Adames, B3 virtuoso Denis Keldie; guitarists Kevin Breit, Amos Garrett, David Wilcox and Prairie Oyster band mate Keith Glass; vocalists Amoy and Ciceal Levy, Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine of Dala and Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy; and a horn section featuring Chris Whiteley on cornet, Gord Myers on trombone and Colleen Allen on tenor and baritone sax.
The Empress Thetre shows welcome deCarle performing vocals and bass along with Steve Briggs on guitar and Denis Keldie on accordion.