Wednesday, 30 March 2016 13:51

Hanna native loving tour with Gord Bamford; in Medicine Hat April 7

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Medicine Hat has a new arena. Canadian country music star Gord Bamford has a new CD which will be officially released April 8. Sounds like a perfect match.

So perfect that southeast Alberta gets the crack at hearing Tin Roof before anyone else as Gord Bamford’s 18-stop tour kicks off at the Canalta Centre April 7 along with Joe Nichols and late addition Beverley Mahood. 
However, it’s not been a restful time for Bamford and his band which includes bass player Lisa Dodd Watts.
For Dodd Watts, a native of Hanna, playing anywhere in southern Alberta always feels like home. To kick off a tour is southern Alberta is special, but to do it in a new event centre makes it even better.
“I’m looking forward to seeing and playing Canalta Centre and I’m really excited for Medicine Hat to have a beautiful new arena,” explains Dodd Watts. “I don’t think it will be any different sound wise for us onstage in a new arena. All venues are different, big, small, indoor, outdoor. We have a sound engineer who handles the sound, the equipment and all of the technical issues that may arise out front and a monitor technician for us onstage so that Gord and the band can just focus on the music and the fans. Everyone has a job and if we all do what we should be doing everything runs smoothly no matter where we are. 
“I definitely like to explore every venue we play. I climb the stairs up to the last row to see what the view is from the back. I wander the concourses and check out the merch areas. I like to know where everything is from dressing rooms to catering so I don’t get lost or miss dessert. I’m sure our dressing rooms and backstage areas will be lovely and shiny new. Some of the older arenas we’ve played definitely have the smell of hockey games gone by embedded deeply into every beam and bench in the dressing rooms, but it’s kind of part of their charm.”
Prior to the start of this tour, Bamford and crew flew overseas. She especially enjoyed Europe which consisted of two shows in Zurich, Switzerland. She had been to England and France before, but it was the first time she played Zurich.
“It’s considered the world’s longest country festival at 39 days, but it’s not the same as our festivals here, like Big Valley Jamboree or Boots and Hearts,” explains Dodd Watts. “It’s essentially a huge country bar, set up like Stampede Week’s Nashville North or Wildhorse Saloon, but a permanent structure.  There’s one headliner and one opener every night, some headliners get two days in a row, as we did, some get one or three. Bellamy Brothers were there for three nights ... 
“It was a bit of a whirlwind, we arrived on night one, drank beer of course, then set up for the shows on days two and three, left at the crack of dawn on day four ...  It almost took longer to travel there than the time we spent in Zurich. The only tourist thing we did was in the mornings, the band would walk a few kilometres each way to see something cool.”
Dodd Watts says the first day they walked to Lake Zurich and took pictures in the park and beside the water, walked by the closed FIFA museum, saw some interesting architecture and explored the city.
The second day the band went to the train station, explored the shopping district, photographed some rivers and an old church and found a special little chocolate shop to buy goodies for family back home. 
“The people were wonderful and they’re great country fans,” says Dodd Watts. “They even invented line dances to a couple of Gord’s songs that caught on through YouTube and are pretty well known in several countries over there.”
Bamford is quickly rising as a major force in the country music scene. He has an award-winning band behind him.  Dodd Watts is a gifted musician who has a Canadian Country Music Association All Star Bass player credit to her name. She also is a great singer. Readers can check out her version of Redneck Woman on YouTube.
Bamford was also just part of the Hometown Hockey Tour which made a stop in Calgary in mid-March.
As part of the performers who stopped in, they had the opportunity to meet some area celebrities including Bret “The Hitman” Hart who just overcame prostate cancer and National Hockey League legend Lanny McDonald who is from Dodd Watts’ home of Hanna.
They really enjoyed putting on a show as part of the televised festivities. Dodd Watts says Bamford is a huge hockey fan and actually a decent hockey player himself.  He plays in his own GB Foundation charity hockey game every year, he is involved in the Juno Cup, is a hockey dad himself and he even suited up for a practice with the Oklahoma City Barons, the Edmonton Oilers’ farm team in the American Hockey League when they toured through there last year. 
“Hometown Hockey was a lot of fun, the fans were enthusiastic and I love performing for live TV; it’s very exciting,” adds Dodd Watts. “I wore my hometown jersey from our men’s senior team, Hanna Phantoms and it got quite a response, most notably from Lanny McDonald. My favourite moment was definitely meeting Lanny and taking a moustache selfie together.”
Dodd Watts feels fortunate to not only live the music star lifestyle, but to enjoy those around her. On off days, the band, minus Bamford, plays the odd bar show in different bars  such as The Ranchman’s in Calgary under the name Dandy Little Orchestra or they help out other bands or do studio music.
On top of that, Dodd Watts’ husband Sean Watts is the drummer of a band called Punch Drunk Cabaret who owns a business which Dodd Watts is the bookkeeper for and she has also been a volunteer firefighter in Hanna for the past 11 years.
The bassist ensures she communicates with friends and fans alike on social media and ensures she knows what’s going on around her. When fans have a question or comment, Dodd Watts does her best to reply.
In her spare time, she loves camping and riding motorcycles. Dodd Watts agrees it’s a busy, but great life. She feels fortunate to be playing in a band where they truly enjoy performing together.That mutual respect and appreciation comes through in the stage show and most importantly the quality of the music.
Make no mistake, Dodd Watts loves playing music — anytime, anywhere with whoever regardless of ability — but she treasures and is thankful for being with Bamford and his band.
“The guys in the band are positive, caring, focused, happy, talented, amazing human beings and I learn from each of them every time we get together. If I can do this until my last day, it will be a life well spent,” she explains. “I guess it does develop a bit of a routine, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. When we’re on tour we usually sleep on the bus while we roll through the night. When we arrive at the next venue we wake up, load in, sound check, shower, eat, practice, enjoy one another’s company, play the show, meet the fans, laugh, pack up, get back on the bus, maybe watch a movie, sit around swapping stories about the road in the 90s, laugh some more and go back to bed.
“For me, that routine is a like being on vacation all the time. I love it. When we have extra time or a night off without travelling, we play football in truck stop parking lots, go out for big dinners together, maybe see a movie in a theatre. We played Cards Against Humanity a few times last tour. It’s always fun hanging out with these guys. They are what makes it fun for me. (It) doesn’t matter what we’re doing ... I really don’t like time off. I’d rather be playing 29 days a month with one day off to do my laundry.”

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