Cranbrook’s own Dawson Rutledge has won Artist of the Year at the Kootenay Music Awards (KMA) — now his third KMA after winning two last year in the categories of Breakthrough Artist and Folk, Roots and Blues.
“That was a huge surprise,” said Rutledge of his recent win. “I was entered in the pop category and the music video category and I was just really pleasantly surprised. We drove to Nelson last Friday and went and saw the ceremony and they crowned me and yeah it was really cool, really humbling.”
The 20-year-old singer/songwriter has only been making music since grade 11 and has already received numerous accolades, worked with prominent industry professionals and recorded a full length LP. Entitled Monsters, his first album came out in October 2017 and was the result of meeting record executive Geordie Gillespie in May of the previous year.
Gillespie heard Rutledge play at the Mesa Music Festival and Jersey Shore festival and was blown away, so much so in fact, that he introduced him to Grammy award winner Justin Guip who had worked with Levon Helm of the legendary group The Band.
“We got into the studio and it just took off,” Rutledge explained. “We had really good chemistry and we had only originally planned to record four or five songs and then we got in studio and things just went really well and we came out with nine songs, so a full album. So that was a really cool surprise for all of us that Justin and I worked together so well.”
Rutledge first began writing music in high school and was inspired by his teacher Evan Bueckert, who crated a recording class where the young musician learned about music and music composition, before writing and recording a set of original material.
“He definitely really helped me find my passion in high school which was really cool,” Rutledge said. Bueckert’s son Julian has since joined up with Rutledge, playing drums in the band.
After an extremely productive 2017, Rutledge is poised to continue on an upwards trajectory this year. He and his bandmates spent the bulk of February touring the west coast of the U.S., performing in Washington, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, California and Oregon. Rutledge said that he is already planning to record some more in the near future.
“I’ve even writing lots lately and I got the recording itch, I got the writing itch so 2018 is going to be lots of shows, hopefully some local shows and hopefully potentially a new little album.”
Rutledge closed off his interview with the Townsman by thanking everyone who has supported him, the KMAs and Kootenay Co-op Radio.