Country music: Rodeo lifestyle at Yellowbird’s roots

With a third album expected out in the fall, Shane Yellowbird says he can no longer even remember the first song he ever wrote.

  • Mar. 11, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Shane Yellowbird is at the OK Corral in Kelowna on March 18.

With a third album expected out in the fall, Shane Yellowbird says he can no longer even remember the first song he ever wrote.

“Man that’s years ago. I’ve written hundreds of songs. I really can’t remember,” he says, combing the dark recesses of his mind for a hint of tune.

The melody doesn’t materialize, but he does conclude the song would have been written when he was in his early 20s and the topic would have been rodeo.

“My mom and dad were both involved with rodeo so I was (too) at a very young age,” he said. “That’s where I grew to love country music and the country lifestyle.”

And that’s exactly what you get with Yellowbird whose wide-brimmed hat and shining belt buckle scream old-school western, no matter how A-traditional his Cree roots may be for the genre.

Debuting his second album, It’s About Time, at his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry stage in 2009, Yellowbird was only just breaking out of Canada and entering the American scene three years into his professional career.

Today, he’s flying south to meet with executives and other collaborators and talking about taking his tour dates south as much as possible so he doesn’t wind up playing the same old stomping grounds perpetually here in Canada.

Thankfully, Kelowna is one stomping ground he’s always pleased hit as the Interior of B.C. is on his list of places he loves to hang out.

“I’ve played there quite a bit,” he said. “It’s a lot of private shows and everything, conferences. So people might not know about it.”

Whether here for a political dinner or not, Yellowbird rarely rolls into town without stopping at the OK Corral, where he’ll be doing an acoustic show next Friday with just two other guitar players. The last time he was here was for the Western Canadian Music Awards, so for Yellowbird fans this will be a more intimate venue in which to connect with the musician.

As for what he will be playing and what will be on this next album, Yellowbird says he isn’t even entirely sure himself.

He’s just lining up people in Nashville now to collaborate with and has yet to decide on the topics or even a theme for the work.

“I have a ton of ideas, but it’s about who am I going to pitch this idea to to write this song,” he said.

“If I have a meeting with someone who writes a bunch of party songs about drinking and stuff then it’s most likely going to be about partying,” he said.

It’s About Time, on the other hand, was all about Yellowbird the musician.

“Each lyric and melody says something to me or about me,” he said in a quote for his publicity material. “I’ll leave that up to the listener to decide which is which!”

On the heels this year’s Oscar winner The King’s Speech, this tour he’s being a little more specific about what he tells people of his life.

Born with a severe stuttering problem, like King George VI, Yellowbird too saw a speech therapist who suggested he sing his sentences rather than speak them, to help him learn to get his words out.

Clearly, the technique worked.

Shane Yellowbird plays the OK Corral on Friday, March 18.


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