Canadian rockers The Stampeders toured across Canada so much, they still attract the support of a huge and loyal fan base.
Their signature song, Sweet City Woman, rose to become one of the most bouncy and recognizable tunes of the 1970s, along with Hit the Road Jack, or Wild Eyes.
The three-man band, featuring Rich Dodson, Kim Berly and Ronnie King is coming to Chilliwack to cap off the Chilliwack Cultural Centre’s second anniversary Cultural Collaboration celebration on Sept 29.
Originally formed in Calgary in 1964, the band morphed through various incarnations before becoming a trio in 1968. In 1971 they had a hit with “Sweet City Woman,” which won Best Single at the Juno Awards, reached #1 on the RPM magazine charts, and #8 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Written by Dodson, the track stayed in the Billboard chart for 16 weeks and the disc sold a million by September 1971, and were. granted gold disc status.
They pumped out four songs that hit the Top-30 in the U.S and ten singles in Canada that hit the top five spots. The boys broke up the band in 1977 officially, but reunited for the Calgary Stampede of 1992, and have played more than 300 reunion concerts in its wake.
Here’s the Q&A phone interview between The Progress and The Stampeders’ Rich Dodson.
Looking down the summer tour list ( http://www.stampeders.net/?p=home) for The Stampeders, it looks like lots of sell-out concerts in recent months. To what do you attribute your longevity and enduring popularity as a band?
I think it’s because we just toured the country so much. Back in the day we probably played across Canada every three to six months all through the 70s. So it all adds up. That established our fan base. So for those fans, their kids are now gone and they have more time to see a show. Plus we’re an original band which makes a difference too.
How do you keep it fresh decades later?
It’s the audience reaction. When they’re into it, we pick up on that vibe. That’s the challenge every night to make it seem like it’s the first time. We try not to get caught up in it and just try to have a good time.
Are you still touring a lot?
It’s been quite a busy summer, so it’s nice now to have some time off now that it’s winding down. We play the odd casino in winter, but it’s summer and spring that are our busy times.
The band was a big part of Canada’s musical identity in the early days. What was the impact of Can Con rules on radio for the Stampeders?
It definitely helped. Early on there was not a lot of interest from musical directors in playing Canadian music. They were looking for american chart positioning. It forced them to at least give us a listen. They added our music onto their playlists and the rest was history. Canadians still like hearing Canadians, from Anne Murray and Rush, Shania Twain, Alanis Morrisette, Bryan Adams. There’s a lot of powerful talent here.
I read somewhere you wrote the tune Sweet City Woman 42 years ago in Montreal. Is that true?
Yes. We played Montreal in late 60s, around the opening of Expo 67 and it made a big impression. I loved the ambiance, the outdoor cafe culture. It was such a happy, bubbly place. That really stuck with me.
How has the music scene changed in terms of touring such a vast country like Canada?
Well, we’re not hauling around two-tonne trucks on tour any more for one thing. We bring our gear, guitars, sticks and picks. The sound is provided wherever we go. That allows us to play Winnipeg one night, and Toronto the next. Touring is quite enjoyable compare to the old slog it used to be.
What music are you listening to?
I like a lot of the current music, like my daughter’s band, Parallels. I’m constantly involved in their scene. There’s been a great return to pop music.
What about the new music you’re making, like the latest album Live at Mae Wilson? Do you enjoy performing it as much as the old stuff?
Sales at Walmart and the concert reaction to the new album has been good. The stuff goes online or people pick it up at a show. Most people are not visiting record stores anymore so it’s a different scene. We do some new tunes, but I really enjoy doing the old tunes. It makes me feel like I’m 21 again. I get to play a little loudly and jump around.