St. Marys Journal Argus
Current country music hit “Stronger Beer,” by Tim Hicks, may be having its effect in promoting the message south of the border that Canadians can hold their own at the tap of the keg. But that’s just a continuation of a message that was pronounced with equal or even greater appeal — and potentially to an even wider US audience — over a year earlier, through the Amy Rose Band’s “(Redneck Reunion) Party Like a Redneck.”
The Amy Rose Band is the headlining act on Friday, July 25 in the Beer Gardens at Summerfest, the annual three-day entertainment festival and midway hosted by the St. Marys Kinsmen Club at Milt Dunnell Field.
Rose was born in Midland, Ontario and grew up in Barrie. She hit the stage publicly for the first time at age five, and recorded her first CD — a collection of gospel tunes — at age 13. Her youth was spent building a name for herself in the country music scene; a good deal of her 20s, by comparison, was spent raising a family. When she returned to performing on a regular basis, however, her experiences from early in her career could in no way prepare her for what happened when “Party Like a Redneck” hit its stride.
An independent artist who employs a small team of promotions and management experts to guide her career (although, in an interview last week with the Journal Argus, she hinted that big news is in the making regarding a big-league deal), Rose had decided on using a video released to Youtube as the first introduction for the public to the song she had co-written with her producers Marty Beecroft and Glen Coulson. The video’s producer found a gem of a farm — a regular venue for barn dances and wedding parties — in Essa Township, near Barrie, to bring together a whole bunch of Rose’s family and extended family, and try to tell the story of what her life had been like growing up.
“All those toothless people in that video? They belong to me . . . Everybody in the video, except the dancers, is family — because, of course, we can’t dance,” she said of the depiction of what looks like it probably turned into a all-night, multi-generational, beer and music-fuelled country hoe-down.
From Youtube, the video hit it big. Within days, it had been picked up by Country Music Television (CMT) in Canada, which added it to its playlist. Rose wasn’t linked in with all the industry news at the time, and she saw through a Facebook posting that the song had been added. And she didn’t believe it.
“I started panicking. I thought CMT would be mad at me, and blame me for putting this out there as a way of getting attention. So I got back to the person and said ‘I don’t know where you heard that. It’s not true!’”
A month later, Party Like a Redneck was picked up by a distribution company in the US that provides songs for in-store restaurant broadcast in major fast food chains.
“It gathered into this great big thing that I never could have dreamed of,” Rose recalled.
The song often creates a peculiar reaction in the US, she says, that makes her realize people south of the border aren’t aware there are “rednecks” in Canada, or that parties can get out of hand here. “They think we’re all stuffy or something. We’re not. We can party it up in Ontario, with the best of them.”
“We’ve got better beer,” she says, with a wink to the current Tim Hicks hit.
Party Like a Redneck won a Nashville Universe Award for Best Music Video for 2014. And Rose earned the nod for Emerging Artist at the 2013 Independent Country Music Association awards in the US. This year, she has four nominations from the Association.
Speaking to the Journal Argus from her Barrie home last week, she had just returned from a week-long “radio tour” of southern Ontario promoting her current single, “Country Crazy.” Co-written by Beecroft and fellow Canadian Tal Bachman, it was released to country music radio in Canada about a month ago after first being introduced in the US.
“It’s doing amazing,” she said of the reception to the song south of the border.
She refers to it as a bit of a “theme song” for her, since it captures the idea of a woman who’s all about business in the daytime, but who lets loose to the sounds of country music at night.
“This is my story,” she commented.
Country Crazy follows a string of successful radio singles, including “I Just Want You To Know” and “Sunshine.” Nashville, she says, is now like a second home, since she is drawn there so often to promote her music and work on new recordings.
“Now, I’m not just known as one of those one-song artists.”
Success has its interesting side effects. Before Party Like a Redneck, Rose’s kids simply understood that their Mom’s job was to go out at night and sing. But after the video and song hit it big, kids at the school started to recognize that their Mom was famous.
“My oldest daughter (her kids are now 13, six and four) came home one day and asked when I was going to get a security guy, and where the paparazzi was hiding,” she laughed. “Before that, it was just Mommy going out and singing, and doing a show . . . Now, they think Justin Bieber, and then they think Mom.”
But she wouldn’t have it any other way. This is where she dreamed of being.
“I’ve made friends with some amazing people in the music industry, and I’ve got to meet some incredible musicians — some of my idols from when I was growing up.”
She recently met Crystal Gayle, who served as part of the soundtrack of her youth. “My parents didn’t play anything else but classic country, and we weren’t allowed to listen to anything else.”
But they certainly weren’t musical. “My family can’t sing,” Rose said. “Have you seen the video? If my parents sang on that, we’d all be deaf by now.”
She remembers, at age five, attending the Barrie version of Summerfest, called Promenade Days, and seeing a talent contest happening on stage. “I told my Mom and my Dad that I wanted to do that, and they said no. I’m pretty sure I threw a tantrum right then and there.”
They didn’t know she sang. “I would just lock myself in my room and listen to music and sing the songs over and over again.”
Her parents eventually relented, however, and she climbed on stage and sang Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man. “At that point, I think my parents said, ‘okay, there’s something here’.”
Rose and her band opened recently for Big and Rich, and they’re booked to open for Sawyer Brown. She’ll be with a five-piece band when she comes to the Summerfest headlining show, including bassist Christina Corbett, a St. Marys DCVI grad who now works as a musician and a promoter of small-town concerts across southern Ontario.
For the bigger shows, including a gig a couple of weeks ago at the America Pespi Cup at Mohawk Raceway, she also brings along a pedal steel player and fiddlers.
Kin Summerfest schedule
This year’s Kin Summerfest runs Thursday, July 24, with Beer Gardens open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 12:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday.
On stage, The Amy Rose Band headlines on Friday, while St. Marys-based rockers Among Millions hit the stage at 10 p.m. Both concerts are preceded by an Open Jam Session, which is open to performers who pre-register at the St. Marys Kinsmen Club website, www.stmaryskinsmen.com.
Thursday in the tent, DJ Shawn Holroyd hosts a dance party starting at 9 p.m.
On Saturday, Summerfest’s annual Beach Dodgeball will take place inside the Beer Gardens. Call 519-495-4340 to register a team.
Also Saturday, the Youth Centre hosts a concert at 11 a.m.
The Campbell Brothers midway is scheduled to run from 4-10 p.m. on Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. on Friday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. Advance one-day tickets can be purchased at Cascade Cleaners, Dunny’s or Harris Garage.
And don’t forget the second annual Perth County Pork Producers Pork Chop Dinner at the Beer Gardens on Friday evening. Visit the website for full details.