‘Dirt Road Scholar’ at Wilf’s
Wilf’s the pub became Wilf’s the sauna by the end of last Thursday night, as a capacity crowd gathered in the no-conditioning environment to watch Canadian country superstar Dean Brody take the stage. Luckily, Brody’s sizzling summer sound lent itself quite well to the atmosphere.
While the sweat was pouring from his audiences’ faces, complaints were put on hold as the “Dirt Road Scholar” singer performed a set that made the temperature a mere footnote on an overall stellar night.
Brody, brought in by the A-Team, made the Laurier campus just one of the stops on his current university tour. The 2011 Canadian Country Music Award album of the year winner is currently embarked on a circuit of college campuses as a smaller, more personal tour developed specifically for his fans.
Brody spoke with The Cord before the show about his inspirations for the mini-tour. “You know years ago when Dierks Bentley was first starting out, he and [Kenny] Chesney every once in a while would just do a college campus and I always thought that was really cool. To connect again with your fans in a more intimate setting.”
Wilf’s provided the perfect venue for just that type of show. A crowd of only about 300+ waited around the stage as the opening act The Abrams Brothers warmed them up. A folky, fiddle led cover of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” was the notable highlight.
Then, around 11 p.m. Brody made his way onto the platform. Accompanied by his band, the country star opened with a few staples off his most recent album Trail in Life (including “Roll That Barrel Out” and “Sunday Drive”) before he finally took the time to comment on the uproarious crowd and stifling heat.
“It’s like a sweat shop in here,” Brody quipped while continually mentioning the napkin-sized towel he was using. He mentioned how it was odd that this was the hottest stop on the tour so far and the only one without AC. But, even in the over-heated bar, the show would not be stopped. If anything it just amped up the fun.
Brody kept things going with a few tunes off of his upcoming album, Dirt, set for an April 24 release, including the title track. He prefaced it saying that when they were coming up with a title for the album they figured that “there’s nothing more country than dirt.”
The show also featured the debut of two other songs off the album that differ a little bit from what his fans have come to expect.
The first was a song infused with a feeling from Eastern Canada, where Dean currently calls home. The song “It’s Friday” will most likely be the next single off of his third album and was done in collaboration with East Coast boys, Great Big Sea. It has the same raucous flavour to it that Brody is known for but with a slightly different sound.
Something Brody tends to do with his music more than a lot of artists is play with subtle humour in his songs. In this tradition, the second new track that he premiered for his Laurier fans was called “That’s Your Cousin.” It’s instilled with funny anecdotes about forbidden love in small town life. Brody explained that he “just tried to write a song that captures the humour in going out with a girl and finding out she is more closely related than you thought.”
The crowd ate both the new songs up.
Brody rounded out the night on what was possibly the highest note possible.
He set up his most famous song “Dirt Road Scholar” with a phenomenal introduction that got the audience singing along at the top of their lungs. And once his set was finished and the cheers of “encore” echoed through the Hall of Fame, Brody came back out, wearing a Hayley Wickenheiser Team Canada jersey, for his curtain call where he sand his new single “Canadian Girls.”
With the NCAA March Madness tournament and the Curling World Championships playing on the TVs around the bar, Brody’s intimate setting was as low-key as he could have hoped for. This appearance by the Juno-nominated country star was a rare thing for such a small community, but the singer still has a soft spot for the smaller venues out there.
“It reminds you of where you started and there’s something special about being in those closed quarters with your fans,” Brody said.
Not even the heat could make his fans disagree with that.