Sunday, 17 June, 2007 11:33 AM
CMA: Borderline Crazy For Canadian
BY TERRY CALOGNE
recording artists Emerson Drive.
2007 CMA Close Up News Service
Canada and the United
States have more than a border in common - the two also share an
abundance of Country Music fans. Canada has long been an exporter
of talented Country artists who found success in the United States,
including George Canyon, Terri Clark, Emerson Drive, Carolyn Dawn
Johnson, Shania Twain and Michelle Wright. And American artists
have long recognized Country's popularity in Canada, with most major
stars touring the country periodically. Brooks & Dunn, George
Strait and dozens of other artists make Canada an integral part
of their itineraries when they launch a major North American tour.
can occasionally bring adventure and most artists have at least
one border crossing story to share. Emerson Drive road manager Mark
Oglesby has made more than 100 border crossings during the last
four years working with the Canadian band. His political science
classes have come in handy while representing the group, especially
during sensitive situations like crossing over checkpoints.
for 10 guys, so it's my job to go in there first and try to smooth
everything out," Oglesby said. "I have to get out my contracts
and show them where we're playing, and they want to talk to all
the guys. It's almost like playing poker. You don't want to say
too much, or give them a reason to question. We're not hiding anything;
you just don't want the inconvenience of the questions."
Having paperwork in order
ahead of time expedites the process, according to Wayne O'Connor,
a Canadian road manager who has spent 16 years crossing with artists
Nick Carter, the Crash Test Dummies, and most recently George Canyon,
who late last year, wrapped up a cross-Canadian tour. "It's
getting almost impossible to cross into the U.S.," O'Connor
said. "If I got a call today for a gig within the next three
months, I would not be able to get the artist in through normal
channels. Applying for the form takes at least three months. The
process is slow."
Even with the proper
forms submitted, there are no guarantees. O'Connor recalled a trip
from Vancouver to Las Vegas with 15 people. He had everything in
order, got everyone through customs and was then denied entry himself
for no apparent reason. "I filed through 15 people and everything
was great," O'Connor said.
"I was the 16th
person, and the guy said to me, 'You're not coming in the country.'
I thought he was kidding. These guys are judge and jury - the supervisor
will not overturn a decision that an agent makes, right or wrong.
They have a heavy job to do, let's face it. When I'm taking a new
artist across I tell them, 'You answer the questions that are asked,
you don't joke with these people, you don't say anything, you just
play their game.'"
Consequences can be severe
for artists who don't comply or even act surly, but it's easy to
see how tempers can flare during a 2 AM bus search with an overeager
agent. "Crossing at Niagara Falls we pulled up at 3 AM and
got the wrong guy," Oglesby recalled. "He pulled everyone
out of bed, took all our suitcases out, brought dogs and searched
our socks, our bathroom kits, everything. And it took four hours."
Emerson Drive lead singer
Brad Mates has definitely spent his share of time out in the cold
during the 11 years the band has toured both countries. "I
remember years ago, going home for Christmas," Mates said.
"It was minus 30 degrees outside and they made us take every
piece of equipment out of our trailer and checked the serial numbers
on all of them."
There is always room
for confusion during checkpoint searches as well. Mates recalled
coming from Saskatchewan into North Dakota when they were stopped
by friendly agents for a check and lost one of their members. "We
had been through this border a number of times and they know the
band and usually it's a quick breeze through," Mates said.
"We got off, they did a quick search and Dale went to the washroom.
When they were done, we hopped back on the bus and started driving
and realized we had left him. So we turned around and went back,
and there he was out talking with the officers, who had given him
a border patrol hat. They all just thought it was hilarious."
According to Mates, it
doesn't seem to matter which side you're crossing on. An artist
can encounter an overzealous agent on either side. "A lot of
times we have more trouble getting into Canada than we do coming
into the U.S.," Mates said. "There are some people who
will let you through, and some who will keep you there for hours.
And there will always be new agents who need to dig a little deeper
than they should."
Canyon, who enjoys special
privileges because of his work visa, agreed. "I don't envy
the job the border patrol has to do," Canyon said. "Being
in law enforcement before, I had a taste of what that feels like,
so when I go across it's whatever they need. But there are people
in positions of power who sometimes should not be in them - it goes
to their head and they don't know how to deal with it. I notch that
up to inexperience on the agent's part. But they're all doing the
best they can."
No matter the agent's
personality, one thing is for sure. Honesty is the best policy when
crossing the borders now that worldwide security concerns are at
an all-time high. "The big thing is to be honest," Canyon
"Don't try to hide things and don't lie, because if you get
caught you're going to go down hard and probably not cross the border
again. The big thing is just be on the up and up. You can't go wrong
if you do that."
On the Web:
George Canyon won second
place on "Nashville Star" and signed a record deal with
Universal Records South in 2004. His debut album, One Good Friend,
featured four Top 5 singles in Canada and was produced by Tim DuBois
and Tony Brown. Canyon's new album, Somebody Wrote Love, was released
on July 4, 2006 on Universal Music Canada.
Emerson Drive is Patrick
Bourque, bass guitar; Danick Dupelle, guitar; Brad Mates, lead vocals;
Mike Melancon, drums; David Pichette, fiddle and Dale Wallace, keyboards.
Their third album, Countrified, was released on Sept. 19, 2006 on
Midas Records Nashville and produced by Brad Allen, Keith Follese,
Josh Leo and Country Music Hall of Fame Alabama band member Teddy
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