September 9, 2006
Road Hammers will open CCMAs
By JENNY FENIAK -- Edmonton Sun

The biggest, flashiest, star-studded event of Canada’s country music scene is upon us again.

The 2006 Canadian Country Music Awards are being held tonight at Harbour Station in Saint John, New Brunswick, and will be broadcast live across the country Monday at 8 p.m. on CBC-TV (Cable 4).

Artists and albums of the year will be crowned while performances from some of today’s biggest acts, including George Canyon, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and this year’s most-nominated artist Aaron Pritchett, will add some extra entertainment to the two-hour extravaganza.

Albertans should make sure to tune in because there’s a whole crew of country boys from Alberta that will be appearing, including Clayton Bellamy, whose band the Road Hammers are opening the show.

“I kind of feel like I’m getting my cake and eating it too,” says Bellamy, who had just arrived in Saint John. “It’s great.”

Last year the Road Hammers, fronted by Toronto resident Jason McCoy, were the most-nominated group at the CCMAs and they had only just formed as a band.

McCoy had a concept to record a collection of trucking songs and recruited Bellamy, born and raised and living again in Bonnyville as the group’s rock ’n’ roll bad boy.

Their self-titled debut was released in May of last year and has nearly reached platinum status for the number of copies sold.

The band won a Juno in April for country recording of the year and is up for four CCMAs this year, including best-selling album along with four others including group of the year, single of the year, CMT video of the year and the fan’s choice award.

Bellamy, who’s been working as a solo musician for more than a decade, recalls his first CCMAs in Ottawa and getting Emerson Drive to sneak him into the parties.

This year the Road Hammers are going head-to-head with Emerson Drive for group of the year, a strange circumstance for Bellamy.

“I e-mailed Brad and the guys and I told them if they won for group of the year, I was going to crash the podium and run off with the trophy,” jokes Bellamy.

Way out on the East Coast of Canada, there will be more than just the ceremony to enjoy. As hard-working musicians, these artists are on the road almost all the time and the CCMAs are one of few events that bring them together under one roof for an entire weekend.

“I’m looking forward to a rematch of poker with Corb Lund because last time I saw him at Big Valley he kicked my ass,” says Bellamy, referring to Camrose’s annual Jamboree. “I’ve been practising on my poker hand, my poker face.”

Edmonton hometown hero Lund will also be appearing at Harbour Station as a performer and nominee in several categories including album of the year for Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer, released last September.

Last spring, Lund spent some time working with a new face in the country music scene and fellow Albertan rancher Brett Kissel.

Having just turned 16 in May, Kissel released his third CD, Tried & True, a couple months earlier and had collaborated with Lund on one of the tracks. Riding a steep wave of success, the young man from St. Paul is also down in Saint John as a nominee for the Chevy Trucks Rising Star Award.

“That’s something that I didn’t expect, especially now at this point of my career,” Kissel explained, while still at home in northern Alberta.

“All the other guys in my category have had a couple singles out on radio. They’ve got hit videos on CMT and they’re all signed to some sort of record label and all of us here on the ranch, we’re funding my tour and guitar and everything out of our pockets. So it’s definitely overwhelming, very, very humbling and unexpected, especially at this time.”