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The Troubadours to share stories, music in Macleod

wyatt easterling

Wyatt Easterling and The Troubadours -- Duane Steele, Lisa Brokop, Paul Jefferson and Jake Matthews -- will perform Nov. 8 in Fort Macleod.

Country music fans will come as close as they can Thursday, Nov. 8 to hosting some top musicians in their living room.
The relaxed, informal atmosphere of a house party will be created in the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod when The Troubadours take the stage.
The Troubadours — Wyatt Easterling, Duane Steele, Lisa Brokop, Paul Jefferson and Jake Matthews — will share their music and stories in a format known as a writers’ round.
“The idea is to bring everyone onto the stage with you, to have everyone drop their guard,” Easterling said Friday in a telephone interview. “The atmosphere is more like a living room than a formal concert setting.”
The idea for the Troubadours began last year when Easterling was touring in Alberta and he put out the idea of bringing some songwriters together for a tour.
Easterling envisioned a travelling version of the writer’s round that made famous the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville.
The restaurant opened in 1982 and had a stage on which up-and-coming musicians would perform. In 1984 the first writer’s night was held featuring Don Schlitz, who had won a Grammy for the song The Gambler, made famous by Kenny Rogers.
In 1985 the Bluebird Cafe hosted its first “in the round” with songwriters Schlitz, Tom Schuyler, Fred Knoblach and Paul Overstreet. The songwriters sat in a semicircle onstage, taking turns telling stories and performing each other’s songs.
“It’s fun to sit in a group and communicate about how we came to write a particular song,” Easterling said. “It’s so much fun to share the songs and stories with people.”
Easterling said playing in the round is much different than doing his own show, in which he will prepare a list of songs to choose from, depending on the mood of the audience.
“It’s a different pace,” Easterling said of playing with The Troubadours. “When you’re in a round it doesn’t matter what you play. Everybody is so different that whatever you play is going to be different from what they play.”
Easterling first recruited his friend Duane Steele and later added Lisa Brokop and Paul Jefferson, and then brought Jake Matthews on board. Between them the artists have won 18 Juno and 35 Canadian and U.S. country music awards.
Easterling writes songs that tell stories in the musical tradition of his original home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His latest album, Where This River Goes, is a collection of those songs.
Easterling recently won the songwriter’s contest at the Smoky Mountains Festival, and is showcasing this fall for the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals.
A native of Hines Creek, Alta, Steele has been a mainstay on Canada’s country music charts since 1993, earning 15 Juno and Canadian Country Music Association nominations.
Songs Steele has written have been recorded by stars such as Sammy Kershaw, Gord Bamford, Poverty Plainsmen, Eli Barsi, Lisa Hewitt and Jamie Warren.
Since she appeared on the country music scene in the early 1990s Brokop has released seven albums and has earned 15 nominations for the Canadian Country Music Association’s female artist of the year award.
Paul Jefferson in 1991 moved to Nashville to pursue a full-time career in music and rose to fame with the hits “Check Please” and “I Might Just Make It.”
Jefferson has toured with Trisha Yearwood, Dwight Yoakum, John Berry and others, and has written songs for people such as Keith Urban, Buddy Jewell and Aaron Tippin.
Mathews has had numerous top 20 hits and several Canadian Country Music Award nominations. His album Time After Time was named Album of the Year by Country Music News. If I Had It My Way, the first single from his latest album Red Tail Lights spent 36 weeks on the charts.
The Troubadours started their tour Oct. 27 in Grande Prairie and will play Fairview, Bassano, Innisfail, Sherwood Park and Camrose before they hit Fort Macleod, wrapping up the tour with stops in Calgary and Jasper.
Easterling said the spontaneous nature of in the round means each show is unique and relaxed.
“We’ve all done it for long enough that we don’t have to prove anything to anybody,” Easterling said. “The shows take on a life of their own.”

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