Australian-born, Alberta-raised musician Gord Bamford may be one of the most decorated country artists in Canadian country music, but he’s also a hit Down Under.
With 22 Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) awards, multi Juno nominations and the recipient of Nashville’s Country Music Association’s (CMA) 2013 and 2015 Global Country Artist award, Bamford has not only cracked open the equivalent of a Molson’s and a Coors with his cross-border appeal, he recently tipped back a VB (Victoria Bitter) with his single *Breakfast Beer, which just hit the Top 5 in Australia.
Bamford, who just returned from a tour Down Under, says he now has a closer connection to his birthplace.
Born in the small Australian city of Traralgon, located in the east of the Latrobe Valley in the Gippsland region of Victoria, Bamford moved to Lacombe, Alta. when he was five years old after his parents divorced.
“My dad was an alcoholic, and my mom moved my sister and I to Alberta so that she could be closer to her family,” said Bamford, who a few years ago reconnected with his father, now recovered and serving as a pastor in Queensland.
Bamford’s dad was not only able to catch his son’s tour around Australia, he also saw him perform on this side of the pond this past February.
A single off his seventh studio release, Tin Roof, locals can soon sing Breakfast Beer with an Okanagan Spring nearby when Bamford plays the Vernon Performing Arts Centre for the first time, Thursday, Nov. 17.
Tin Roof follows the Juno nominated Country Junkie album, which spurred a #1 Billboard hit with When Your Lips are so Close.
Bamford wrote 12 of the 15 tracks on he new album and collaborated with distinguished songwriter/producer Phil O’Donnell (Blake Shelton, Tyler Farr, George Strait).
“My music has a certain blue collar appeal,” said Bamford. “It’s dialed into the people and I also write music that I can relate to along with the audiences, the party anthems and the softer side.”
That softer side can be heard when Bamford sings about home and about being a father.
Although Bamford has now lived in Nashville for the past year and a half with his wife and three children, he still calls Canada his home.
“Canada to me is the best place on the planet,” he said. “I moved to Nashville to write songs, but I am not focussed so much on the artist side there. My focus and success is still in Canada. I don’t plan to be in America forever, as being up there is good for me, my family and my music.”
Bamford has not only found himself touring from continent to continent in support of Tin Roof, he has also been travelling around as a hockey dad. His son, born in 2004, is a rising hockey star and currently plays in a AAA Peewee league.
The country artist was just in the baseball-crazed city of Chicago watching his son play on ice, and not long ago stopped through Vernon on his way to take his son to meet an instructor in Kelowna.
“I hear Vernon has a pretty good Junior A team,” said Bamford, who may even try to fit in a Vipers game when he returns to these parts in a few weeks. “This will be my first time playing in Vernon, and I hear your theatre is great.”
Opening for Bamford will be local star Jesse Mast, who grew up near Vernon and in Salmon Arm, and who some may remember from when he topped the former Our Kids Have Talent contest in 2013.
Mast, now 20, has come a long way since then. Signed to Cache Entertainment/Sony Music Canada, the same management team and label as Bamford’s, Mast released his debut single, Bad Blood, in January, which made it onto the Billboard Canada Country chart in March, and has just released his new single, Runnin’, Young and Lovin’.
He also won three awards from the North American Country Music Association International in 2014.
“I have been working with him for a couple of years and he has a bright future in this business,” said Bamford, adding he also started out in the business playing talent shows.
Bamford remembers his hardscrabble youth, and says although he had a lot of support growing up, he appreciated organizations such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
That’s why he likes to give back to children’s charities.
His charitable foundation has so far raised $2.8 since its inception in 2008, and has benefitted such organizations as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and numerous children’s hospitals across Canada as well as MusiCounts.
“It’s been the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “Those organizations have had an impact on my life and that’s why we do what we do. It’s always great to get out, play music, be on stage and wake up every morning loving what I do. But probably the greatest thing I get to do is interact with a lot of these children and try to make a difference in their lives.”
As of press time, tickets to see Bamford Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre were selling quickly. Call or visit 250-549-7469, ticketseller.ca for info.
* The video for Gord Bamford’s Breakfast Beer features former Vernon resident and W.L. Seaton grad Ian Fisher, son of Morning Star columnist Michele Blais.