Adrian Lee/Canadian Press
TORONTO — With seven nominations, Gord Bamford has taken the early lead at this year’s Canadian Country Music Association awards.
The nominations were announced Wednesday, and for a second straight year, Bamford will go toe-to-toe with Nova Scotia-based Dean Brody, originally from Jaffray, B.C.who has five nominations of his own.
For 37-year-old Gord Bamford, who has taken home hardware four of the last five years, this is certainly not old hat.
“No, it never gets boring — it gets a little nerve-racking,” says the Alberta singer, up for categories including album of the year, songwriter of the year and the fans’ choice award. “The Canadian music industry is so great, the country music industry is so competitive with so many great new bands, you’ve always got to be at the top of your game, and hopefully it pans out.”
Brody and Bamford are just a few of the 130 artists and groups up for the Canadian country music industry’s most vaunted prizes, including veteran songbird Michelle Wright for female artist of the year, platinum recording artist Terri Clark for video of the year and Scotland-born Johnny Reid for fans’ choice.
“(Canadian country music) is stronger than ever,” says Bamford. “People should start paying a little more attention, because we’ve got such a great industry here, and such a great opportunity to play music.”
Among the first-time nominees feeding the industry-wide competition Bamford sees is Autumn Hill, one of 29 other artists or groups making their CCMA debut. The band, composed of Calgary’s Tareya Green and Toronto’s Mike Robins, could barely contain laughter and wide smiles about being nominated for the rising star award.
“It’s kind of the top, just to be in the company of such amazing artists,” says Green. “(Robins) was saying earlier, being accepted into the group and fabric of country music, it’s incredible.”
“We’re on a 10 right now,” added Robins.
Autumn Hill were also announced as one of the performers for the show, which airs on Sept. 28. The pair will join Grammy-nominated Tennessee troupe the Band Perry and circuit veterans Emerson Drive, among other performers yet to be revealed.
For their part, Emerson Drive members are more philosophical about the honour.
“Obviously to get nominations helps your career, winning helps your career, we’ve been fortunate we’ve won a few,” says lead singer Brad Manes. “We’re a road band though — it doesn’t matter whether we win or lose, we’re back on the road playing for fans who have supported our career from day one.”
The CCMAs, which will conclude Country Music Week, will be held at Rexall Place in Edmonton — not far from the floods that devastated huge swaths of the area around Calgary.
Green, born and raised in Calgary, says her brother Sean has been volunteering to help in High River. The band has teamed up with the Red Cross to raise funds for recovery efforts at shows this summer.
“I think (Country Music Week) would just infuse any sort of energy or sense of community — any positivity helps with everyone’s spirit,” she said. “It’s incredible to see them all come together and rebuilding the city.”
“Albertans will really come together … it’s definitely a tragedy,” Bamford says. “That’s what we do as Canadians, we help each other out.”
The ceremony will be broadcast on CBC-TV at 8 p.m. ET with encore performances later that night on Country Music Television.