Country singer Chad Brownlee is headlining his first ever cross-country tour, with a stop at the Vic Juba Community Theatre on March 25.
The When the Lights Go Down Tour, also featuring singers Jess Moskaluke and Bobby Wills, runs from March 4 to April 4. Brownlee and co. will play 26 shows in 32 days from Prince Edward Island to Victoria Island.
“We just felt it was time to embark on out own adventure,” Brownlee said. “It really is exciting when you know you’re getting on that bus. It’s a great experience and we always have some stories by the end of it.”
Brownlee is touring in support of his new album, The Fighters, which came out last summer. The country rock record covers a variety of subject matter, from love songs to party anthems. Brownlee says the most important thing for him as an artist is to embody the music and the message on stage.
“There’s not going to be fireworks and I’m not going to be hanging off the rafters, but we just have fun on stage, me and the guys in the band and I think that really comes across,” he said. “I like to become the song and the character in the song, whether that’s an upbeat song, a love song or a breakup song.”
Brownlee, who was drafted as a defenceman by the Vancouver Canucks in 2003, decided to pursue a career in music after a shoulder injury forced him to give up professional hockey. But after he put down his stick, he picked up his guitar.
“I call it the easiest hardest decision I ever had to make, to go from a game that I’ve been playing since I was five years old to a completely different career,” he said. “It was a scary transition, especially at a young age, I was 23 at the time. It was a bold move to go from the unstable world of professional sports to the equally if not more unstable world of music, but I’m pretty fortunate to end up where I am today.”
At first, transitioning away from hockey required a mental shift. Waking up in September and not going to training camp was a new experience, but Brownlee found the confidence within him and persevered.
“I remember there was a time where I saw zero dollars in my bank account and I was working as a server in Vancouver and doing open mics down the road,” he said. “But I never wavered. I just went step-by-step, day-by-day. Open mics turned into me recording my own demo album and meeting the right people who got me into the country world and we just haven’t looked back since.”
In a nod to his former career, Brownlee and his guitarist will be playing a guitar fashioned from hockey sticks throughout the tour. The super Canadian instrument, which is made from maple wood and has a Stompin’ Tom Connors record cut out for the back, will be auctioned off with the proceeds going towards the Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation
“Music was something I did for many years too,” Brownlee said. “I started playing piano when I was eight and I played tenor saxophone in middle school and I picked up the guitar at 17. So it was definitely the other half of me, it just didn’t take over until a little later in life.”