Gord Bamford joins an elite club of Canadians that have reached the penthouse on the Country charts for BDS and Mediabase Country. As the lead single for his latest "Country Junkie" record, "When Your Lips Are So Close" is only the 15th song to reach No. 1 in the BDS era, making Bamford only the seventh Canadian country singer to vault to the top. He follows in the footsteps of such performers as Shania Twain ("Love Gets Me Every Time," "Don't Be Stupid"), Terri Clark ("You're Easy On The Eyes," "I Wanna Do It All") and Carolyn Dawn Johnson ("Georgia," "Complicated").
As a result, the crooner dominated the 2013 Canadian Country Music Awards, sweeping five categories out of seven total nominations. "I never thought we were going to come out with that many awards," he tells Nashville Gab.
"I guess I’m kind of the Toby Keith of awards shows here. I like going to them, but I’m not a guy that hangs my hat on winning awards," he notes, explaining that he doesn't hinge his career on hardware. "I don’t measure my success that way. It’s kind of crazy. I have 16 of the Country Music Awards now, since 2008. It’s really the #1 singles and the tickets the people buy and the sales of your records that are really the measuring point. It helps, but it’s not the end all be all. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it."
"When Your Lips Are So Close" became his first Billboard chart-topper, and Bamford recalls how the song came about. He says, "Byron [Hill]’s kind of been a mentor to me for many years. He took me under his wing way back when and believed in what I was doing. He’s brought in all sorts of great writers over the years to work with, and Brent [Baxter]’s been one of them. Brent actually had the title of the song, and when we wrote it, we wanted to make sure we had a different sound to it than I typically would do, a little more edgier. I thought we had a pretty good song after it was written. I never dreamed it was going to be as good as it’s been."
Among his influences, Bamford shares his idolism of Garth Brooks, who is experiencing a comeback of his own this year. "I studied his stuff, read his books," he says. "For me, I’ve just stuck with what I do well. I’ve really never been a trend follower, per se. I try to write really simple songs and put messages out that people can really relate to. I’m never going to change the fact that I’m a country singer. We just have to tweak our production to make it work for radio in whatever year that it is."
Brooks is expected to hit the road in 2014 on a blockbuster set. Bamford recounts a special moment he shared with his family, "I’ve had the opportunity to spend a little time with him the last couple of years. He’s been incredibly nice to me and my family. In fact, I was in Vegas not too long ago for one of his last shows where he remembered that my wife’s birthday was coming up. His people got a hold of us, and we ended up backstage. Him and Trisha [Yearwood] had sung ‘Happy Birthday’ to my wife. It was a surreal moment."
He adds, "I’ve had a chance to talk to Garth about some stuff, and I hope I get a chance to play with him. You never know."
For the launch of Bamford's "Country Junkie" record, he landed an opening act slot for Reba McEntire. "It was one of my most memorable moments of my life for sure," he relates. "Her and her team just treated us like we’re anybody else. She’s just a classy lady, obviously an icon in country music. I was pretty proud to be a part of that."
On how the gig came about, he explains, "We knew Reba was touring. My promoter and co-manager Ron Sakamoto does all the big Canadian tours. I actually played a show with Reba at an event in Edmonton, Alberta called Klondike Days. She had mentioned after that that she really liked what I was doing and was possibly going to do a bunch more dates. She wondered if we would be interested in it. Of course, we said ‘we would be.’ It was all timing. Right place, right time. Obviously, our success in Canada is really strong. It was good fit for her tour."
"She is the kind of person that would stop and talk to the janitors sweeping the floors. She’s just that way. Just to watch how she carries herself everyday is a learning experience on its own. There’s not one ounce of arrogance there."
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