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Blue Rodeo

Canada's most popular roots rock band, Blue Rodeo, became a veritable institution in their home country, although they never quite moved beyond cult status in the U.S. Their sound was a basic blend of country, folk, and rock, but with a definite pop appeal that underlined their devotion to later-period Beatles, in addition to expected touchstones like Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, and the Band. Consistency was the hallmark of Blue Rodeo's output, both in terms of sound (which followed much the same blueprint throughout their career) and quality (thanks to the songwriting team of vocalists/guitarists Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor). That, in turn, allowed the band considerable longevity, and they started to earn a whole new audience with the advent of the No Depression movement.

Blue Rodeo was founded in Toronto by its two lead singers, guitarists, and songwriters, Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor. The two met in high school and had been playing together since 1977, when they started a punk-influenced band called the Hi-Fi's. In 1981, they moved to New York in search of a record deal, and reorganized the band under a new name, Fly to France. Three years of hunting proved fruitless, and the group switched styles several times before Cuddy and Keelor returned to Toronto in 1984. The following year, they assembled a new band with the idea of returning to organic, guitar-based music in an era dominated by synth pop. Christened Blue Rodeo, the initial lineup also featured drummer Cleave Anderson, bassist Bazil Donovan, and keyboardist Bob Wiseman.

Blue Rodeo quickly became a popular live act on the Toronto scene, which was already geared toward the kind of music the band was playing. They caught the attention of John Caton's Risque Disque label, which signed them and worked out a distribution deal with Warner's Canadian division. Their 1987 debut album, Outskirts, was a smash hit in Canada, selling over 200,000 copies (the Canadian equivalent of double platinum) and landing them a slot on tour opening for k.d. lang. The more introspective, socially aware Diamond Mine followed in 1989, and it sold even better, not to mention winning the band its first of many Juno Awards. That same year, they appeared in the Meryl Streep film Postcards from the Edge, but also lost drummer Anderson, who retired from music and was replaced by Mark French. Meanwhile, Wiseman released his first solo album, In Her Dream: Bob Wiseman Sings Wrench Tuttle.

Moving up from the now-defunct Risque Disque to Warner itself, Blue Rodeo made a promotional push in the United States with their third album, 1990's slightly poppier Casino. Produced by Pete Anderson (of Dwight Yoakam fame), the album was a hit with American critics, but not American record buyers; nonetheless, it still went platinum in Canada. Blue Rodeo returned in 1992 with one of their most acclaimed albums, Lost Together; it marked the final appearances of Mark French and Bob Wiseman, the latter of whom had already completed a second solo record and departed for a highly idiosyncratic career on his own. New drummer Glenn Milchem, keyboardist James Gray, and steel guitarist Kim Deschamps were all onboard for 1994's folky, largely acoustic Five Days in July. Recorded at Keelor's rural farmhouse the previous summer, it proved to be one of the band's biggest critical and commercial successes in Canada, introducing a number of fan favorites.

Blue Rodeo's hot streak continued with 1995's Nowhere to Here, a more eclectic record that re-established the group's connection to '60s psychedelia. The follow-up, 1997's Tremolo, was a looser, more jam-oriented record that focused on spontaneity over careful songcraft; perhaps as a result, it received mixed reviews. Meanwhile, Keelor issued his first solo album, Gone, that year, and Cuddy's own debut, All in Time, followed in 1998. Following those side projects, Blue Rodeo issued the double-live collection Just Like a Vacation in 1999, and reconvened in the studio for The Days in Between. By the time it was released in 2000 (again to mixed reviews), Kim Deschamps had parted ways with the band, and was replaced by former Wilco member Bob Egan. Following the release of a Greatest Hits album in 2001, Egan made his debut on 2002's Palace of Gold. The group returned in 2005 with Are You Ready and again in 2007 with Small Miracles, both for WEA International. The two-disc The Things We Left Behind was released in 2010. The band's 13th album, In Our Nature, appeared in 2013. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

A song I find myself drifting into.
I LOVE this music!
Dan Wrenn - I don't know, Dan, but I really love that album, although reportedly Keelor does not like it. I listen to that album as much as I do anything by Blue Rodeo, but I love all their music. I think they are a vastly underrated band, especially on the American side of the border, and that is a rotten shame in my opinion. I had to laugh at the comment by ukeegotsurf because Blue Rodeo is much more than a country band, in fact, I would not consider them county at all, but so much more!
lynntom95
Get a couple of Rickenbacker 12's, and do some covers.
why dont they have days in between on here?
rjwat
This band will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame on April 1st, 2012. Great job guys!
ukeegotsurf
I don't like country music, but after driving in a car with 5 people who do for 9 hours, I got used to some country. Now I am addicted to 5 Days of May. But that doesn't mean that I've been converted people!
serianmaiden
love this band cannot get enough!!
craigpeterlo w
Blue Rodeo - Great music!
can't believe how the sound of this band will instantly make me nostalgic for Canada and for growing up in the 90's. their new stuff is also great. feel so lucky to have the gift of their songs, and to have seen them live a few times in Halifax and Toronto.
jaremko
I totally don't get 'Similar Artists' being Counting Crows (??) or the Wallflowers! Don't let that dissuade anyone. Great band!! And agreed, Jim Cuddy's voice is amazing.
I like these guys a lot! Pandora made another great choice!
mtarziers
Been a fan since 1987's Diamond mine when they were touring the back country bars of Ontario. Supreme musicians and Jim Cuddy's voice is Ab fab!
I've only seen them once, but it was fantastic. It was probably 1990 and I'd never heard of them at the time. They were performing at the college I was attending (in NEBRASKA no less), opening for Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. I was hooked from the word go. They played "After the Rain" and I stood in the audience and cried - it was so beautiful. I would love to see them again.
Excellent band. See them live once or twice a year for the past five years. The only band my wife and I can agree on! :)
greatnorther n r r
I've only been following The Rodeo since 1998, I had to move to Detroit where they tour with new albums before I got a chance to see them. We go everytime they are in town (once or twice a year) and have gone to Windsor, Ont. to see them in their element. We have become devotees of these guys, great live shows. Really good fan base, seems like half of Canada is at the shows in Detroit.
ewlance
BR always delivers a fantastic show. I can't say this about many. Rockin' live act. A thinking person's "feel good" band. Consistantly great songwriting. Don't miss them. Take a vacation to Toronto if you have to.
gridley4
I saw Blue Rodeo back in 1992, when they were the opening band for Sarah Maclachlan in Buffalo, New York. I followed them until about 1995, then moved 'downstate' and lost track of them. It was so refreshing to hear them today! I'm definitely checking out the 'Greatest Hits' CD for purchase.
lol unknown.... but not one that i prefer. meh oh well

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