Kissel stoked for CCMAs in Halifax

Morning diners at Coastal Coffee probably aren’t used to seeing a Stetson-wearing Canadian country star while eating their custommade huevos rancheros, especially one who was rocking out for thousands of fans the night before at Scotiabank Centre, but Haligonians should get used to the idea of seeing artists like Brett Kissel in their midst. 

Next September, Nova Scotia will have its first opportunity in decades to host the Canadian Country Music Association Awards, and Country Music Week; the event actually debuted here in 1982, when the Family Brown and Bridgewater’s Carroll Baker were among the top winners. 

Kissel, a double winner at this year’s CCMAs in Edmonton for interactive artist of the year and video of the year for his 3-2-1 single, is taking some time out from his arena tour with Brad Paisley to spread some CCMA goodwill with the organization’s president, Don Green, and prepare Halifax for a week filled with honky-tonk, country pop and roots rock. 

“I hope there’s going to be some sort of tribute to East Coast legends like Hank Snow and Anne Murray,” Kissel suggests to Green, settled into a booth seat in the crowded cafe. 

“Or Gene MacLellan. I mean, even a massive hit like Florida Georgia Line’s Cruise, is that going to be a timeless song that people are going to be talking about its lyrical power 50 years from now, like Put Your Hand in the Hand or Snowbird?” 

If a new song does become a Canadian classic, chances are good you’ll hear it performed at the star-studded CCMAs at Scotiabank Centre on Sept. 13, for which tickets go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. via Ticket Atlantic and Atlantic Superstores. 

The event was last in the Maritimes in 2006, when Kissel got his first nomination at the age of 16 in Saint John, and was preceded by a 1984 instalment in Moncton. 

“We knew we wanted to come back to the East Coast; we try to move our event around from city to city, and we’d been out west for quite a few years,” says Green. 

“The whole Atlantic region loves our genre of music so bringing it back east and putting the focus on it in 2015 was a perfect fit.” 

Country Music Week is set to involve 35 events over the course of a few days — “We pretty much take over the city,” says Green with a grin — with the most interest generated by the awards and a free four-hour fan fest on the Saturday featuring the top names in Canadian country singing songs and meeting fans. 

Although all the venues haven’t been finalized, with more tickets and passes going on sale in the spring, Green says audiences can look forward to events like a songwriter’s series at Casino Nova Scotia, and a legends show with the year’s Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductees, plus some of today’s talent performing their songs. 

“That’s one of my favourite events, being able to pay tribute to those who paved the way for a newcomer like myself,” says Kissel, whose hits include Started With a Song and Tough People Do. 

“They’ll team up a legend with a rookie artist or one of today’s stars, and it’s a really great collaboration. 

“This is all happening in the middle of a big industry conference so, along with being fanoriented, there’s a business side. I had the opportunity to showcase for major record labels, CMT was there, from open mic jams to late night songwriters’ sessions, all orchestrated by the CCMA. 

“It’s really important that the industry has a chance to develop the talent so that a rookie can go on to become a star to maybe becoming a legend someday.” 

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