Gather ’round me all you sinners…

Running liquor to the States during prohibition. Hitting the summer rodeo circuit. Working on the rigs. Having a night out in the closest town. Drinking beer until dawn.

I love Alberta.

And Alberta is what the Corb Lund Band’s music is all about. Their three releases, and soon to be one re-release, have been saturated with songs about Albertans; about who we are, where we’re from and what we’re about. However, this dedication to his home has not restricted Corb Lund’s appeal to those of us who hail from this great province.

Lund is gearing up for his annual Christmas tour of Alberta and Saskatchewan with the Corb Lund Band.

The Dec. 3-31 tour, with a stop in Calgary at the Bowness Community Hall on the 20th, comes after a massive tour of the United States and a short break. They will also stop at a few new cities this time out.

"We’re excited to be in new venues like Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie, and Olds," says Lund.

The band consists of Corby Lund on acoustic guitar and vocals, Kurt Ciesla on upright bass, Brady Valgaardson on drums, and the newly-acquired Grant Siemens on telecaster, electric guitar, steel guitar and banjo. But Lund recently decided to give the guys a break, touring solo with Fred Eaglesmith.

"It was good to tour with [Eaglesmith]," he explains. "He has devoted fans. The ‘Fredheads’ are like the people who followed Phish or Jimmy Buffet."

The band will find no shortage of fans at the new tour stops. A trip on any given Tuesday night to the Hay City Saloon in Olds will show proof of the loyalty there, with the disc jockey playing their songs and over half the bar singing along. This is not a rare occurrence.

Many country bars in Southern Alberta, even some as far away as Australia, have discovered Lund and his band and know the patrons enjoy the fresh approach to country music that they deliver.

Due to the interest Down Under, the new year will bring more than resolutions for the band in 2004. They will be touring Australia in January and the first two weeks of February, kicking off the tour on the other side of the equator at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in New South Wales.

This year’s XXXMas Tour is not without surprises and gifts for both new and old fans alike. The Corb Lund Band’s 1994 debut recording, Modern Pain, is being re-released (a collection of 11 songs was distributed on only 1,000 tapes).

The re-release, which includes several bonus tracks, will now be on CD and with more than 1,000 copies. The bonus recordings include three new studio tracks, three live cover songs, including "Sixteen Tons" by Merle Travis, "Are you sure Hank done it this way?" by Waylon Jennings and "The Hockey Song," by Stompin’ Tom Connors.

The final bonus track will be a song from Corb Lund’s former band, the Smalls. "Waste and Tragedy," originally written by Lund, will be on Modern Pain in its original, countrified form.

The Corb Lund Band’s live show has always been dynamic and the music has always been sincere. Though they are getting airplay on mainstream radio stations in Edmonton and Red Deer, Lund appreciates the help he got from campus and community radio stations.

"Stations like CJSW, CJSR, the CBC and CKUA have always been my bread and butter," he says.

People of all ages from both rural and urban backgrounds can be seen at the concerts swaying to "Short Native Grasses," lifting their beverages to the uproarious "Time to Switch to Whiskey" and hooting right along to "Owlsong." The Corb Lund Band’s appeal comes from their ability to write and play about what people know.

It isn’t simply country music–it’s Alberta music.

The Corb Lund Band plays the Bowness Community Hall Wed., Dec. 20 with gueests Lance Loree and Washboard ank, a former of Fred Eaglesmith’s band.

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