The Mary Winspear Centre may not be the Grey Cup Festival, but Aaron Pritchett plans to bring the same approach to his Jan. 11 concert tour kickoff in Sidney as he did for 4,500 boisterous fans partying before Canada’s biggest football game.
A winner of multiple Canadian Country Music Awards who’s racked up 14 Top 10 singles over his career, Pritchett (pronounced Pri-chett, with the emphasis on the last syllable) has performed in venues of all sizes, from large theatres to private parties. He’s played the 310-seat Charlie White Theatre before and likes the “cozy little setting” it provides.
“You’re close enough you feel like you can touch them,” he says of the audience. “But it doesn’t matter if I’m playing for 20 or 30 people or in an arena, I like to start with a bang and end with a bigger bang.”
Pritchett’s Out on the Town tour, named for his EP due for release the day of his Winspear show, is a gruelling one: 36 dates in 40 days, from coast to coast. Having had a successful run with the EP’s first single, “Worth a Shot” and more recently “Better When I Do,” he’s ready to road-test the new material, but won’t leave out his tried and true songs.
“We’ll have a bit of a medley at the end of the show where we bring back songs from different eras,” he says. There’ll be plenty of chance for audience participation too, especially with a new tune he calls the “Drinkalong Song.”
“We’re going to try it out with the crowd and see how it goes … I want to involve them and make sure they come away having had a good time.”
One song he looks forward to performing is “Ain’t Stressing,” which he co-wrote with Patricia Conroy and Lady Antebellum’s Dave Thomson. “It’s my favourite song on the album, but it was very outside the box for me … I did sing it a little different,” Pritchett says, noting it has both pop and country elements.
The Terrace-born Pritchett, 48, hopes to play a bit of a mentor’s role with his young tourmates, Kira Isabella and David James, given the amount of time they’ll likely spend together on the road.
“I’m looking forward to hanging out and getting to know them better,” Pritchett says. “We’re going to be travelling pretty much all together and I know there’ll be times when we get to sit down and hang out and pick each other’s brains.”
An unabashed proud Canadian, he’s also proud of the fact he’s built a nice career in this country, all but ignoring the mass market that lies south of the border. He loves being able to connect with audiences here and considers himself “fortunate and honoured” to be part of the country music scene in Canada.
Asked whether he sees himself playing the Grey Cup halftime show one day, he says it’s not something he’s thought a lot about. “I never expect to be doing things, I just take it as it goes, hope and pray for bigger and better things. But I’m extremely happy with the point in my career I’ve gotten to …”
While fans in Sidney will hear Pritchett and company on their first tour stop, it’s likely fans in Pictou, N.S. will experience just as energetic a show at the end of the tour – one that’ll end with a bang.