A story behind the name

Canadian band Blue Rodeo decided on their name while living in New York

Blue Rodeo is nearing their three decade mark and show no signs of stopping.
Blue Rodeo is nearing their three decade mark and show no signs of stopping.

With a name like Blue Rodeo, there must be a story.

The Canadian country-rock band consists of seven members - guitarists-vocalists Jim Cuddy, Greg Keelor and Collin Cripps, bassist Bazil Donovan, drummer-vocalist Glenn Milchem, multi-instrumentalist Bob Egan and keyboardist Michael Boguski.

“When we decided on a name in 1984, we were living in New York. We felt akin to that scene [performance art with country music] and we wanted to have a psychedelic cowboy name,” Cuddy said.

Adding to that name is a unique sound.

“We are a traditional country-rock band,” he said. “The core of the band [is] this notion of rock discovering country and adding improvisation.”

As one of the most successful and well-known contemporary Canadian bands, Blue Rodeo has released 12 full-length studio albums, multiple solo albums and collaborations with musicians including Sarah McLachlan and The Tragically Hip.

“Greg and I have been writing partners since I got out of university in 1978,” Cuddy said. “We talked about having a band on the way back to Toronto and we’ve had a band in one form or another since then.”

In the summer of 1984, original members Cuddy, Keelor, Ben Wiseman, Cleave Anderson and Donovan met up in Toronto and formed Blue Rodeo. They played their first show in 1985 at The Rivoli.

Blue Rodeo’s 13th studio album In Our Naturewas released today, 26 years after their first album, 1987's Outskirts.

Reminiscently, In Our Nature was produced at Greg Keelor’s farm studio. The band had each musician set up and perform in separate rooms around the house.

“By this point, our influences are very deeply embedded. If you’re going to make a cool record in the country in [Greg’s] farm house, the edges are going to be rounded off … a little rootsy and energetic but not aggressive,” he said. “The environment is going to affect the sound and I think that’s what we wanted to do.”

Their choice of the farm studio production setting led to questions about the band’s sources of inspiration and creative process.

“It’s in my nature. Musicians are not always the most articulate people but [music is our common language],” Cuddy said. “It’s always been very compelling for me to turn something into a song. It’s a very great satisfaction to me still after all this time to create a song that I think has a heart and some truth in it.”

Blue Rodeo has won an unprecedented 11 JUNO Awards and has sold over four million records, firmly establishing them in Canadian music history.

On September 12, 2009, they were inducted into the Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto. In April 2012, they were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Unsurprisingly, they have a solid and continuously growing audience.

“We definitely have a core audience. We’ve had records out for 25 years and have lots of people that have grown up with us,” Cuddy said.

With their career spanning nearly three decades, Blue Rodeo shows no signs of slowing down. The band braved the cold weather and played a live show early this morning at Kingston’s Market Square.

Blue Rodeo will be returning to the K-Rock Centre on Feb. 22, 2014.

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