Corb Lund picks up a blue folding chair and makes for the shade like a horse to oats. I follow him to a spot about 20 meters away and set my chair across from his. Lund puts his thumb and forefinger on the bridge of his nose while I fumble with my phone. It’s 28 degrees with no clouds in sight and everyone seems to be feeling the heat.
It’s mid-July and Canada’s favorite cowboy has had a busy week, playing a short string of shows in Montana, releasing the first single of his new album Cover Your Tracks, and headlining day one of the Vancouver Folk Festival. Lund’s reputation for being a genuinely nice human being is holding up, and I’m grateful that he’s managed to find the time to chat with me.
Lund certainly looks and sounds the part of country music star. The tall, curly haired, guitar slinging Albertan comes from a long line of ranchers on both sides of his family. At first listen, his music is laden with traditional country and western structures and sounds. But Lund adds his own lyrical twist, something he picked up during the ten years he spent as the bass player for Edmonton’s punk metal band the smalls.
Rock and roll when I was 15 seemed way more intriguing, he confesses.
The four members of the smalls made music together from 1989 to 2001 when they decided to go their separate ways. For Lund, the shift in musical genres from metal to country was a natural one.
I was always interested in country music even when I was in the metal band. He explains while using his phone to browse the web for an article on the Alberta Rat Patrol. I just started writing about stuff that I knew.
One of the things Lund knew and I did not, was that the Alberta Rat Patrol is a real Program that has managed to keep rats out of the prairie province for more than 70 years.
Lund has been hard at work on two new albums. The first is a compilation of cover songs, set to be released on September 13, and the second is an album of new material. He revealed earlier that one the tracks from is about the Alberta Rat Patrol which thanks to the magic of google search, Lund proves is a real program that has managed to keep rats out of the prairie province for more than 70 years.
I’m dying for a teaser of the song that tackles this absurd, but historically accurate phenomenon. Instead, I nearly bust a gut while Lund recites some of the lyrics to a song titled “Tattoo Blues, no Regerts.” The aforementioned number is another track of the new album that gently pokes fun of some of the drawbacks to having permanent body art.
Since our chat two months ago Lund has slowly been releasing songs off his latest release Cover Your Tracks, which comes out the same day as this article is getting posted. It’s an eclectic mix of recognizable hits and deep cuts that Lund and his band, The Hurtin’ Albertan’s have played live over the years.
Anyone that has been following this blog for any length of time, knows how much I love a good cover song, so I’ve been waiting for this album to drop for two months now. I’m most excited to hear what Lund does with the Billy Joel classic “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”
It’s a song that demonstrates a sentiment that I feel holds true and is relevant in today’s evolving music industry. Good music is good music and it will always be good music. An artist that can keep putting out good music is going to be successful over the long run, in part because of some of the changes we’ve seen in the way music is consumed today.
In the last ten or 15 years it’s been turned upside down, Lund remarks. The new mantra is do it all yourself.
These days musicians don’t make money on album sales the way that they used to but thanks to YouTube and changes in the film and advertising world, it’s a lot easier for independent artists to cash in on income streams that simply were not available a decade ago. Still, live shows are generally the most dependable ways for artists to generate revenue.
All of this is just fine with Lund, and in fact plays right into his wheelhouse. He’s been operating as an indie artist since the beginning and still considers live shows “the best part of the day.” I think it’s fair to assume that’s a big reason why his career is still flourishing after 30 years in the business.
My chat with Lund finishes almost as exactly as it began. With him carrying a chair purposefully across the lawn and me a few steps behind doing the same. The sweet sounds of Pablo Menendez float on the breeze as we say our good-byes and I thank him approximately a thousand times for chatting with me on this ridiculously hot Saturday in July.
Lund strides off into the crowd at Jericho Beach, a giant among men in more ways than one.