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Some hard-rocking Country for the heart of winter

Nice Horse play Western Financial Place in Cranbrook on Friday, Feb. 24.  - Fawna Sidoryk
Nice Horse play Western Financial Place in Cranbrook on Friday, Feb. 24.
— image credit: Fawna Sidoryk

Barry Coulter

Since coming together in mid-2015, the hard-rocking Country quartet Nice Horse has been on a quick upward trajectory, and their first major roadwork begins in Cranbrook, opening up for Tom Cochrane and Red Rider on his "Mad Mad World" Tour.

The tour kicks off Friday, Feb. 24, at Western Financial Place.

The Townsman got in touch with Nice Horse this week as the band was heading back to their home base of Calgary from Camrose, where they'd played a concert as part of an Alberta mini-tour. Acoustic guitar and banjo player Katie Marie was the one who got handed the phone, and spoke about how the band got together, and where they're heading.

Nice Horse — an all-woman quartet that also features Kaley Debra on lead guitar, Krista Lee on drums, Brandi Caroline on bass — has only been together for a year and a half, but the members' association with each other goes back a long way. Individually, they've recorded internationally, been on stage with the likes of Steve Earle and Carly Rae Jepson, performed at SXSW in Austin, Texas, and the Calgary Stampede. And all that time they've played in bands together, supported each other at shows, and been friends for years.

"We've been friends forever ... we refer to ourselves as musical allies," Katie Marie said. "We're always around, always supporting each other.

Their coming together as Nice Horse happened when all four of them got together for a song-writing trip to Hawaii in 2015.

"All of the songs were coming out Country songs, and we realized 'hey, we're actually a band right here!' So we started putting together the demos of the songs, and sent them out to the people at Coalition Music."

The management company saw great potential in this "whole is greater than the sum of the parts" quartet, with their hard-rocking country sound — with a bit of bluegrass influence, may we say?

Nice Horse brings a Pop Country sound, Katie Marie says, with diverse influences, including Bluegrass.

"We're a bit divided, but together — two of us definitely come from a pop-influenced world, and two of us come from a real Country world, so we've really moulded the two. Those are primary influences, but like most musicians we listen to everything, and most of those influences are in there."

Much of the power of their music — The Spice Girls on a Whiskey Bender, or The Runaways at a hoe-down, as some have said — is enhanced by all four writing the original material. And just int time for the tour, Nice Horse is releasing their debut recording — a four-song EP — on Feb. 24, the day the tour kicks off in Cranbrook. And a full-length record will be released later in 2017, in June.

"It's four songs, all originals we wrote, and it's a good-time EP," Katie Marie said.

Hitting the road with Tom Cochrane is going to raise their exposure big time.

"It's moving along quite quickly, and getting this as our first big tour — we're beyond excited.

An all-women quartet hitting their stride in the Country Music world is not an altogether common thing.

"It is very unique," Katie Marie said. "We didn't realize that when we started. They talk a lot about Country having a lack of a lot of women or women bands, that it's currently a male-dominated industry.

"It's nice to be a voice for women, and to be four voices for women. It definitely feels to good to represent that way."

Nice Horse and Tom Cochrane play Western Financial Place in Cranbrook on Friday, Feb. 24. Showtime is 7:30.

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