On Friday night, before parade floats fill the downtown and bathtub boats fill the harbour, one man will kick off Bathtub Weekend celebrations with a twang.
Alberta-based country singer Gord Bamford will have the honour of getting the weekend’s festivities underway at Maffeo Sutton Park.
Hometown rockers Wise Youngblood open the show and early bird tickets are already long gone.
“This will definitely be my first bathtub festival, that’s for sure. I have heard great things about it and look forward to being a part of it,” Bamford said via e-mail while on tour in France.
Bamford was last in Nanaimo this past February when he performed at the Port Theatre, not long after releasing his eighth studio album, Neon Smoke. He described the record as “an album Gord Bamford would do.”
“I try to write or find great songs that relate to people and I think we hit the mark with this one. I believe it is my best album yet,” he said.
“It’s Country Music, which is sometimes hard to hear and find these days. That may be the biggest statement [on the album].”
Neon Smoke followed 2016’s Tin Roof, which took the Canadian Country Music Association Album of the Year Award and landed Bamford CCMA nominations for Male Artist, Single and Songwriter of the Year, as well a Juno nomination for Country Album of the Year.
Despite, or because of, those accolades, Bamford said there’s always pressure to improve, “especially when your last album was recognized as album of the year in Canada.”
“The talent in Canada has gotten great the last several years so it keeps you on your toes,” he said.
That pressure seems to have paid off for Bamford. He said Neon Smoke is being received well, with strong worldwide streaming figures and a few unreleased singles still on the way.
“The fans have really shown great support once again,” he said.
And while the fans have been supporting his music, Bamford has been supporting children in need through his Gord Bamford Foundation.
Last year marked the foundation’s 10th year and it’s now entering its second decade having raised more than $3 million.
“I believe we live in the greatest country in the world and I am humbled to able to raise my family here and support it,” Bamford said.
“It’s the most gratifying part of my life and career to date. We are continuing to grow the foundation and I have an amazing committee that works hard to continue to help me build it for the right reasons.”
WHAT’S ON … Gord Bamford performs at Maffeo Sutton Park on Friday, July 20 starting at 5 p.m. $35 General admission, $55 for front section. Tickets available at the Queen’s or online. 19-plus show, two pieces of valid ID required.