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L.A. Beat

Breanne Urban flying high off of Canadian Country Weekend win

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Local singer/ songwriter Breanne Urban has come a long way from convincing her mom to drive her to the baseball game to song the national anthem.
 She and her band Southern Flyer won the Canadian Country Weekend auditions, April 14, at Boss Hog’s. They will get to play an opening slot on the main stage at the Canadian Country Weekend in Fort Macleod, AuBreanne Urban and Southern Flyer. Photo by Richard Ameryg. 12-13 alongside the likes of Ian Tyson, Gord Bamford, George Canyon, and one of Urban’s idols — Terri Clark.

“I’ve idolized her for years. I met her when I was singing at Stampede and she took me under her wing,” Urban said adding she wasn’t expecting to win the competition, especially against so many great acts — The Smokin’ Pistols, Jessica Halvorson, Charles Shade, Alyssa McQuaid, Karen Romanchuk and Shalisa Leisch.

All of the finalists have been offered the opportunity play on a second stage, which organizers have are considering opening up in the beer gardens.

“Good on them for doing that. Every other festival has a secondary stage and there is too much talent  to just set them aside. I’ll be there cheering for them as hard as I will be for the bigger acts,” she continued.

“Everyone is so supportive,” she said.
“I’m not really a competitive person. I don’t like to talk about my music that much. I don’t like to boast,” said the 25-year-old Urban. She had an enthusiastic group of supporters and co-workers in the audience cheering for her, waving home made foam fingers and wearing Breanne Urban t-shirts.

“It is so nerve-wracking performing in front of people,” she said. She enjoys the friendship between the performers, though it was difficult to compete against friends.
“During the first audition, Jessica Halvorson broke her guitar, so I lent her mine. Jesse Sadlowski (one of the organizers) said ‘are you sure, she’s your competition.’ I said ‘of course.’ I didn’t know her before, but we’re friends now,” she said.

“Being a solo performer is difficult. I have my band behind me but if a solo performer doesn’t have a guitar, then they have no act,” she said. She joined her band, Southern Flyer about six years ago.

Though rhythm guitarist Dick Allison, drummer Bob Gammon, lead guitarist John Malcolm, bassist Les Kesler, keyboardist Bruce Mackay and vocalist Tom Hudson, were already an established band before she joined, she is glad to be able to join them.

“I needed a band. We’re all a family. We rehearse every Thursday, though that usually turns into a B.S. session,  drinking a few beers and telling stories about our weeks. My parents and my husband feel safe when I travel with them,” she continued. She got connected with through a family connection — her mom works with one of the band members.

 They play gigs about once or twice a month including at the Lethbridge Casino two weeks ago and opened for Big River, the Almost Johnny Cash Tribute at Average Joes, April 16. They also play a variety of community events like Street Wheelers weekend.  

“I got started singing the national anthems at baseball games. I convinced my mom to drive me to the stadium and I went in and said ‘I want to sing the national anthem.’ They said ‘Do you know the American national anthem,’ I said ‘sure.’ So I went back to the car and told mom that I needed to learn the American national anthem by tomorrow. And I’ve been hooked ever since,” she said.

While performing in front of an audience is nerve wracking, it is also an amazing feeling.
“I like to see them smile and party,” she said.

 Urban released her debut CD “Tumbleweed,” in 2008. She went down to Nashville to record it with some of the session players there. She has no plans to record a follow-up yet.
“I’m always writing little things down, but the CD cost a lot of money,” she said. The CD features the Top 50 hit  ‘Don’t Miss The Boat.”

She isn’t sure what the band will play for the festival.
“We get to play five songs so there will be two or three from the CD and Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’ went over so well, we’ll probably play it,” she said.

—By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
A version of this story appears in the April 20, 2011 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
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