Is the bloom off the Blue Rodeo rose? 

By Nicole Fitzgerald

Who: Greg Keelor and The Sadies

When: Wednesday, Oct. 25

Where: Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC)

Tickets: $15-$20

Is Blue Rodeo breaking up?

Greg Keelor says the group is just busy with solo projects, taking time to fuel their creativity with plans to regroup in February 2007 to start working on the next Blue Rodeo album.

After 23 years, Blue Rodeo has stocked a wealth of Juno-Awards and accolades to their credit. But despite the band’s success, Keelor found himself falling into a rut.

However, on hearing The Sadies perform live, Keelor’s imagination picked up where his Blue Rodeo block locked down.

“When I heard The Sadies, they reminded me of what music is capable of, the possibilities,” Keelor said. “I am greatly indebted to them. They always play it right and they play it beautifully.”

Beauty emerged in the form of collective albums and support for Keelor’s solo work, including his new album, Aphrodite Rose . Their music continues to bloom as colourfully as Keelor’s home rose gardens, with the band and artist coming together for a western-Canada tour this fall, touching down in Whistler Oct. 25 at the Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC).

“I think going out and doing different stuff, you feel a little happier and fulfilled,” Keelor says. “I’ll come back (to Blue Rodeo) refreshed. If the record ( Aphrodite Rose ) does really well, then I won’t come back at all.”

Keelor’s new album was a labour of love. He recorded as many of the instrumentals as possible and engineered the album in his home studio — the recording stomping ground for many Blue Rodeo and The Sadies recordings.

“It was a bit of a stretch for me,” he said of the recording process. “I still enjoy learning about what I do. I learned a lot on this project. It’s what keeps you going.”

When asked where he saw his career at this time, Keelor couldn’t answer.

“I never reflected on my career in that way,” he said. “I barely even see it as a career — even though I make a good living from it. I just play music. It’s always been my dream to make music.”

One of the major turning points in that making-music dream was when Blue Rodeo opened for Kris Kristofferson in Toronto, launching the then relatively obscure band into the North American spotlight.

“We were performing in the Phoenix Club, where they have little balconies on the side of the stage,” Keelor recounted. “Kris was watching us from there. When you have a guy like that sitting over your shoulder, I kept looking up all the time. He was paying attention and when he got up to do his set, he went on for a long time about what a great band we were. All of the newspapers were there to see Kris Kristofferson, but they took more notice of us because of his endorsement.”

Keelor and The Sadies are long time friends after meeting over a guitar store counter in Toronto. The Sadies joined Blue Rodeo for a show and the Sadies’ mix of bluegrass, punk ’n’ country rock and roll won over Keelor’s music sensibilities immediately.

Earlier this year The Sadies collaborated with Keelor and Blue Rodeo on a 40-track live album, entitled In Concert , bringing The Sadies’ full-length album collection to nine: five on (Bloodshot Records) and four on (Yep Rock). However, these are only the albums with The Sadies’ name on the CD spine. The band exercises its talents on countless other artists’ albums and singles.

The Sadies also released a soundtrack CD for Tales of the Rat Fink, a look at the life of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, narrated by Hollywood stars such as John Goodman and Jay Leno. High Times Magazine nominated the film for Best Documentary and Soundtrack.

Advanced tickets range from $15 to $20 and are currently on sale at the GLC.

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