BSpeaker 1:        [00:11:30] Oh, boy. Do I have a treat for you [00:12:00] today? Direct from Canada? Probably the most fun I’ve had on one of these interviews. It’s Brett Kissel on up and country powered by the vlivecast. I’m your host Sue Bonzell where I’m bringing you new up and coming country artists.

Speaker 2:        [inaudible]

Speaker 1:        What do vodka drive-ins and Johnny Cash have [00:12:30] in common. My Canadian friend, Brett Kissel is here today, Brett. Hey, how’s it going?

Speaker 3:        I’m doing really well. Thank you. How

Speaker 1:        Are you? I’m fantastic. I am super excited to talk to you. Now. You are in Canada. What part of Canada are you in?

Speaker 3:        I’m in Northeastern, Alberta, just outside of Edmonton on our farm right now, or I’ve kind of been hunkered down for the last little bit. And uh, and I think she’s fixing to snow right away. It’s September. So it’s about [00:13:00] to get,

Speaker 1:        Oh man. See, and I just heard it in your voice. You got the boat, the boat that’s the little,

Speaker 3:        Oh yeah, exactly. I can’t hide it anymore. I’m Canadian through and through. Although I will tell you this, my favorite word to use is y’all. That is the most efficient word there’s ever been. So

Speaker 1:        You are absolutely speaking my language. I am from Northern California in wine country. Right. And I use y’all all the time and people look at me like, who, where do you think you’re from? And I’m like, Hey, look, it is the best word ever. [00:13:30] Y’all all. Y’all

Speaker 3:        Absolutely for me, I’ve got three kids. So instead of saying, Hey, all of you children over there, can you please Tom, over here to dad, I’ll just be like, y’all come here. And so I say it all the time.

Speaker 1:        It’s perfect. Okay. Good. All right. We’re we’re definitely speaking the same language even though, you know, we’re in different countries. So you’re kind of a big deal in Canada. Now I, I read here, it says right here, the Canadian press crown you the new king of Canadian [00:14:00] country. Holy cow. Like that’s huge.

Speaker 3:        Yeah. I that’s sort of those things of all the artists that you speak to every now and then somebody gets a, a nickname or the press will say this. So the press will say that you can never predict that kind of stuff. I mean, am I grateful that I guess that’s what the Canadian press has said. Yeah. But there’s only one true king and that’s George Strait. So let’s just get that clear. George is [00:14:30] the king. Uh, there’s a guy, a friend of mine and Kurt Bardell, uh, who in an interview. He called me the king in the north. So I’m okay to be like John Snow, the king in the north. That’s fine. But we’re going to let George Strait be the true king of the kingdom. All right.

Speaker 1:        Yeah. I, I, yeah, I know. I know George Strait kind of a big deal, you know, uh, what can we say? But you have won a Canadian country music awards and you were just nominated, hold on, CMA, a nomination for an international [00:15:00] award, the Jeff Walker global country artist. So you were nominated. I, okay. I’m looking forward to the CMS this year in November. I’m going to be rooting for ya.

Speaker 3:        Well, me too very much. I mean, the CMS is such an extraordinary organization that obviously for 55 years they’ve been doing it so well. And all of my heroes, all of your heroes in country music have grace. Those stages are held up a glass trophy a time or two. And as a Canadian, who’s really [00:15:30] trying hard now to establish a, you know, a system and, and a, and a group of friends and family and connections in Nashville to get this type of recognition, especially from somebody like Jeff Walker, who as you may or may not know is just so he was so well loved and respected and admired on music row. So to name this after Kim, uh, and to get that type of recognition is extremely special. So I’m honored.

Speaker 1:        Oh, that’s awesome. Well, I, I [00:16:00] can’t wait. Uh, I’m gonna, like I said, I’m going to be rooting for you now. So like you said, you have ties to Nashville. Uh, I understand you’re pretty good friends with Garth Brooks.

Speaker 3:        Yeah. Well, I’ve, I’ve been lucky enough to open for him about 20 times or more

Speaker 1:        Get a good word.

Speaker 3:        Yeah. So to get to learn from, from him in two different areas of, of the music business, what he does on stage, [00:16:30] he is the best period. And I, and if you want to dispute me is someone wants to fight me on this. I’m ready to go because Garth is the best entertainer that there’s ever been, but learning from Garth offstage and everything that he does to treat his band and his crew and all of his team members with the utmost respect, but then also his fans, everything that he does is for the greater good of the show and the people that come to see the show. So [00:17:00] I’m very grateful. I’ve been able to learn from him on both sides of the business. He’s, he’s the best. And I love him.

Speaker 1:        I’ll agree with you too. Like, I, I will, I will go to bat for that as well. Probably one of the best shows I’ve ever, ever been to with Garth Brooks. So I absolutely a hundred percent with you on that one. So exactly. So how cool. So now you have a new album out, uh, which, so this was this kind of, uh, through the pandemic that this all came about because you got some pretty deep stuff in this album with some [00:17:30] of the songs on it.

Speaker 3:        Very much. So, I mean, the album title is what is life, which is a pretty gigantic question. And quite frankly, I don’t know if I’m any closer to finding the answer to that question. And I’ll probably never find it out for my entire life, but that’s the beauty of this of life. And as you strip away, all of the external validation, you strip away everything that we as entertainers have grown use to over the past. Now, almost [00:18:00] two years, it’s very, very important to try to figure out what is this all about and what is music all about and what good am I as a human being, as an entertainer, as a songwriter or a creator in this time and in this space. So every song to a degree could be an answer to the question, what is life, which is a lot about fun family, making memories, not taking yourself too seriously or song I’m extremely proud of. That was the first [00:18:30] single called, make a life, not a living.

Speaker 1:        I okay. That’s I, that’s how I found you. I found that song and I was like, I got to meet this guy because this song was like speaking to me because, you know, we take things so seriously, and you’ve got a great video, uh, that, that acts absolutely illustrates this. I got chills when I was watching the, the box of files, like burn on the, on the fire. I’m like, oh man, there’s so many times when I [00:19:00] would want to do that. And at the end there where it’s like, yeah, enough is enough. Let’s go make it happen. That is such a powerful, powerful song. Uh, I just, I’m, I’m a fan, I’m a fan. What can I say?

Speaker 3:        Well, I, I appreciate you saying that. And I love that video too, because of what it stands for. And even though it really does follow the lyrics, which sometimes you can have a video interpret the song in a much different way, but this one, I want it to be very true to the lyrics because as far as I’m concerned, they [00:19:30] are so good and so strong and not just me, but so many people in my circle, a lot of my friends, my family, my fans, and I think people across north America, around the world, we’re having the same type of mental, uh, you know, everything going on in, in their mental state of saying, what, what are we doing here? What is this all about? What really matters to us? So the video talks about that and getting out of the office and getting out to the country and finding what really matters. Yeah.

Speaker 1:        I [00:20:00] definitely, I think it’s, I think it’s going to speak to a lot of people. And like you said, especially during what we’ve been through in the last year and a half or so, it’s kinda like, you know, what are we doing? What w w what are we waiting for? Let’s, let’s go do what we want to do and go make that life, which is so, so important. So I’m, I’m very happy that you, you made this song, you made this album very, very deep. Like I said, um, now as we started this show, I said to everybody, what is vodka drive-ins and Johnny Cash [00:20:30] have in common, we’ve got three, three things to talk about. This is very important stuff right now. Uh, okay. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna start with the drive-ins, because we’re talking about, uh, being in the pandemic, uh, you know, like you, like most musicians, every musician, basically, it was like, okay, no more concerts. What are we going to do now? Uh, you said, you know what, I’m going to go do the driving thing. You raised money for a good cause. Uh, tell me about that whole experience.

Speaker 3:        It was one of those things where some of the best ideas come after, maybe a cocktail or two. [00:21:00] And so I had, I had my, I’ve got, my company do spot to here, and I took it to a friend’s house. And I said, Hey, let’s have a little taste test. And he had gotten out his phone and he showed an artist, um, I believe in, in Latvia and who had done a drive in concert. And he said, if anybody’s going to do it in Canada, Brett, it’s gotta be you. So that night at like one in the morning, I called my management and my agency who thought this was an [00:21:30] emergency wise, Brett calling at one in the morning. And I said, guys, I got an idea. We’re going to bring cars that way everybody can be social distant, keep everybody safe. And let’s do an arena level festival style, big show, big screens, massive stage, and keep everybody in the vehicles.

Speaker 3:        And we’ll broadcast it through an FM dial. That’s exactly what we did. And we ended up doing 24 concerts across Canada in a true tour. We had the semi-trucks, [00:22:00] the pyro, the big screens, the whole nine yards. And like you said, we raised money for charity. So every, uh, not ticket, but vehicle passed that we sold, went straight to the food bank in that community. So we raised over a quarter million dollars for food banks across Canada in a time where it was needed the most. So I’m very proud that we could use our music as a vehicle. Pardon the pun be the driving force. Pardon? The second time to do good [00:22:30] in a very, very dark.

Speaker 1:        Yeah. I mean, that, that absolutely is amazing. I I’m, I love it. That you were one o’clock in the morning having a little cocktail and making that phone call, because that happens to me, but nobody will take my calls at one in the morning, but, um, but

Speaker 3:        I’ll take your calls now. Any idea you got and call me,

Speaker 1:        Okay. You like Brad, I got a great idea. I just had some deuce vodka.

Speaker 3:        I should put that on my bottle as, uh, you want great ideas have, have a shot of this.

Speaker 1:        [00:23:00] There you go. So, so as, as we mentioned, there’s the vodka connection, deuce vodka. This is your, your new product. Uh, so tell, tell us about that.

Speaker 3:        Okay, well now hold on. So deuce vodka is, is an extraordinary Prairie spirit. And as a Canadian, I’m really proud of this because we have incredible raw water from the Rocky mountains. And we have one of the most extraordinary regions for [00:23:30] wheat and grain and neutral grain spirit to make high quality stuff here in Canada. We’re known around the world for it, but as Canadians, we’re very humble group people. So we’re not like, Hey, we are the best, but there are a couple of things that we’re really good at hockey and were really good at making boosts. So our standard Prairie spirit deuce vodka here is something I’m extremely proud of. It’s ultra smooth. It’s your 40% good [00:24:00] old vodka. And I can’t wait for you to try it as well as our flavors. So neon is our flavor. That’s um, watermelon citrus, basically think Harry styles, watermelon, shutter. Hi. And, uh, it’s only 22%, which is one of the only boxes on the market at a very low percentage. So that way you don’t really get the hangover because there’s not your full 40%, right? So you mix this with soda and the country [00:24:30] songs you can right after a couple of drinks of this.

Speaker 1:        Okay. I’m super excited. We’re going to have to do a little bit of a trade because as I mentioned, I’m here in wine country, Northern California. So do you drink wine at all?

Speaker 3:        Very much so there’s nothing greater. There is nothing greater in the world than a California cap south and, and, and you know, it, everybody knows it. So if there’s an opportunity to send you a case of vodka for a couple of high-end [00:25:00] bottles of wine, I’m, I’m your guy.

Speaker 1:        We might be doing a trade. Okay. Oh, that’s awesome. Okay. So now we covered the drive in, we covered the vodka. You have got a story about Johnny Cash that I read about, and I thought, man, I, we have to talk about this. So, uh, tell us, tell us your Johnny Cash story.

Speaker 3:        Well, being that it’s September and, uh, you know, it’s, it’s been 18 years now since the man in black has passed [00:25:30] away. It’s hard to believe that that amount of time has passed by, but Johnny Cash is, is the most extraordinary artists and an American icon. And he was my favorite too. Growing up as a little kid, I got a guitar and I would learn all the little Johnny Cash songs that all the Johnny Cash songs I could as a little kid. Um, and when June Carter passed away, I was 12 and I wrote him a letter of condolences. And I remember writing it on [00:26:00] yellow lined paper and putting it in the mail and sending it to the Johnny Cash fan club in Hendersonville, Tennessee. That was it. Now, in the meantime, I recorded my very first project and it was a cassette tape called keeping it country.

Speaker 3:        And I had Tennessee flat top box and big river and Folsom prison blues. And I still miss someone on, on this cassette. And I recorded it locally in St. Paul Alberta, and, uh, [00:26:30] on September the 12th, Friday, September the 12th, 2003, it was my big album release concert. And so to put it in perspective, the village that I grew up in called Glenndon Alberta has 250 people, and we sold 500 tickets for our little show and the whole community was going to come out and everything. And my mom woke me up in the morning of the show and she said, I’ve got great news, but I’ve also got sad news. I said, what’s the great news. She says, [00:27:00] well, your concert is officially sold out. And we had a big Paragi dinner where all Ukrainians and big proggy dinner and everything like that. And I mean, I was going to make some money on the show at 500, if 500 tickets at $10 a ticket, like I had my whole cassette paid off like this little entrepreneur.

Speaker 3:        Right. And she said, but the sad news is that, uh, Johnny Cash passed away this morning. And I cried because he was my hero. So my dad came home from work. My dad is a school teacher [00:27:30] and he had a stack of envelopes, uh, with, you know, letters from my cousins and aunts and uncles across Canada and congratulations, Brett, and this yellow, big yellow envelope with shaky handwriting. And I opened it up and inside was an eight by 10 signed by Johnny Cash. And it said to Brett Jesus, first Johnny Cash. And I received that on the day that he died. [00:28:00] So I don’t know if it, I don’t know if he signed that five days ago. I don’t know if he signed that four months ago. I have no idea, but it is my most prized possession. And it’s an honor to have that hanging up in, uh, in my music room.

Speaker 1:        Wow. I have chills like that is, that is so amazing. I, I, like I said, I read that and I’m like, I gotta have you tell this story. And you said you were 12 years old when this happened And you sold out your first [00:28:30] concert.

Speaker 3:        I did. Yeah. So I, in some ways I feel and this, and call me crazy and it’s okay if you do, but in moments in my life and in my career where I’ve needed guidance the most and, and help or a sign, I feel as though I’ve had Johnny Cassius hands on my shoulders and everybody’s got the bracelet WWJD, [00:29:00] but for me, that stands for what would Johnny do? Like in this scenario, what would he do? What he, what would he stand for? And his love for, to Carter and my love for my wife’s to Celia. And like, I think in all these different circumstances and I can play them back in my mind of, I thought a lot about what he would do. And it’s been a great sense of comfort for me.

Speaker 1:        That’s that’s powerful. Super powerful. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I want to thank you for sharing that story, [00:29:30] but you know what we have, we have one more really fun thing that we’re going to do, uh, because you are in Canada. I am here in, uh, in the United States. And so I looked up a Canadian words that I was not necessarily familiar with. So I’m going to have you do an explanation. This is, we’ll have a little fun with this. Okay. Okay.

Speaker 3:        I’m going to try my best. Okay.

Speaker 1:        Scoop them.

Speaker 3:        I dunno to school commands. Is that like [00:30:00] a, is that like a term of endearment?

Speaker 1:        Like, I don’t know. I was asking you

Speaker 3:        I’ve heard it, but I noticed [inaudible] is, cause I’m Ukrainian. There’s, there’s a school that is building a, a den underneath the chicken coop out here. And I’m gonna have to get rid of the school gut. It’s a skunk. Oh yeah. But I don’t know what a snow

Speaker 1:        Scoop them. I don’t know. How about this?

Speaker 3:        What, what did Google say? It is?

Speaker 1:        I don’t know. I don’t have it in my notes. I have to Google it now.

Speaker 3:        And I’m going to have to Google [00:30:30] that too. Can you imagine if I just go to my beautiful wife, I’m like, Hey [inaudible] and we think it’s this term of endearment, whereas really it’s like a harsh word.

Speaker 1:        What did you just call me? Oh, okay. How about this? Uh, kerfuffle.

Speaker 3:        Oh yeah. A kerfuffle is a kerfuffle is like a rigmarole, like a hullabaloo. You know what I mean? It’s

Speaker 1:        Like, yeah.

Speaker 3:        A kerfuffle. It’s like, I don’t know. I, you [00:31:00] were having a car, like my, my words right now. It’s like, ah, this is what a, what a situation? What a, what an ordeal? What a kerfuffle,

Speaker 1:        What a kerfuffle. That’s kind of fun to say. I like that one. Now. How about, uh, jam busters and Tim bits?

Speaker 3:        Well, Jen busters, I don’t know, but Tim bits, we all know Timbits are the donut holes at Tim Horton’s and uh, and God are they ever good? My kids love Timbits and anybody who’s tried to kind of replicate [00:31:30] it just doesn’t seem to do it well, or right. I used to work at a Tim Horton’s in the summer when I was a teenager and my aunt and uncles, they owned it, Tim Horton’s and, uh, I, I doubled in size that summer because that’s all I would do is just eat Timbits.

Speaker 1:        Ah, that’s so fun. Okay. So jam busters, uh, I think are like the jelly filled donuts.

Speaker 3:        Ah, okay. Well we just call them jelly, Phil tidbits, but gangbusters is a good name. I’m going to adopt that now.

Speaker 1:        So now tidbit. So, so [00:32:00] do they call it Timmy’s sometimes?

Speaker 3:        Oh yeah. Timmy’s is the nickname for Tim

Speaker 1:        Horton’s Tim Horton’s. Okay. Now now explain what Tim Horton’s is because we don’t have those here.

Speaker 3:        Tim Horton’s is a Canadian staple restaurant where you would have never thought that coffee and donuts is, uh, is going to be the most popular restaurant. But after all we are Canadian. So coffee and donuts is the number one cultural cuisine of the great white north. So it’s coffee, donuts, [00:32:30] soups sandwiches, and hockey cards. You can get hockey cards for, you know, the legends or the stars of today with your coffee and donuts. And there’s a lineup every day for 20 minutes, just to get your $2 coffee. And one of the words that we’ve invented in Canada is a double double at Timmy’s and double, double as two creams, two sugars. So you want your Timbits and you want to, you want your Timbits [00:33:00] and a double double. And if you know, if they don’t get your order, right, it’ll just be a big kerfuffle. Nope.

Speaker 1:        And you’re good at this. This is good. Okay. Uh, what about a hangar hangar? Roger?

Speaker 3:        I hang a Roger is Oregon. You just take a right. Or if you want to go left to take a Larry, because it’s like, or if you want to do a, I want to do a, you, you turn, you can call that a hook or you [00:33:30] can call that flip a Hank snow. And I don’t know why, but it’s like, and because if you say a right say I’m going left and they’re like, right, right, right left. Okay. Right. Left is right. No, no, no, no, no, no. You only take a Roger or a layer.

Speaker 1:        That’s that makes the most sense. I mean, I’m going to have to adopt some of these things. This is good stuff. So now I also looked up some American slang. And as I look in through some of these phrases and things that I’m going, everybody [00:34:00] knows these, like everybody, everybody, but I’m thinking, well, I’m also American. So I’m just going to like, I’m just going to throw these out there and I’m going to assume that you probably know what they are. They’re they’re, they’re not as, they’re certainly not as much fun as the Canadian, the Canadian words and phrases. Okay. So, uh, going postal,

Speaker 3:        Postal, send me like, just, I’m just going to crazy.

Speaker 1:        Go on postal. There you go.

Speaker 3:        Gotcha. Like you see somebody at the grocery stores, like this coupon has expired, but I still want to use it. And, and, [00:34:30] and buddy goes postal.

Speaker 1:        He goes postal. Exactly. Yes. Yeah. That’s the one post. Okay, good. You know, uh, how about going Dutch?

Speaker 3:        So Dutch, does it mean like when you’re at a restaurant and you split the bill? Yes.

Speaker 1:        Yes. This game, you’re a hundred percent winning this game. Gotcha. How about, uh, let’s see, PO dunk

Speaker 3:        PO dunk means like [00:35:00] Backwoods, hillbilly. Like I grew up in a Podunk town, like this Podunk town out in the Backwoods, down in the holler, you know, that’s, that’s where I grew up except the Canadian version of it.

Speaker 1:        Okay. All right. Well, so I figured like, okay, Podunk, you know, you’re in country music, you probably have, you know, you know, kinda like, kind of like riding shotgun. You’re obviously gonna know what that is, right? Yes, of course you do. Okay. All right. You’re winning this game. You can come to America anytime we want you to come and visit.

Speaker 3:        So if [00:35:30] I get a dual citizenship, are those, the questions that the government and the United States of America is going to ask me, not about presidents or, or American history, it’s going to be like, do you know, PO dunk? Is that present all that

Speaker 1:        I a hundred percent know what’s not on the test. And that, is it anything about any of the PR the presidents and anything about geography and where the states are? Because we don’t know. We don’t know.

Speaker 3:        I, uh, I have put that to the test. I had a good, a good friend [00:36:00] in the states who for a long time believed that, uh, that we, we got our very first area code up in Canada. And he, he sent a congratulatory message that as Canadians, we like to, we like to have some fun with our friends, from the south, from time to time and see if we can stretch them along that, you know, we, we wrote a moose to school and we, we lived in igloos and, uh, yeah, but you know, what, if I can have fun like that, should I Twain’s had fun like that. Celine Dion, Michael bublé. [00:36:30] Yeah, we can do that.

Speaker 1:        Exactly. Exactly. Well, I have had so much fun with you. I’m so glad you could join me today. Uh, let us know where, where are you going to be? You got any, got anything coming up, uh, that we might be able to go see?

Speaker 3:        Well, I, I wish I could tell you, but, uh, rules are changing all the time. One minute, you can do a concert the next minute you can’t do a concert. So where am I going to be? I’m going to be on the farm. All right. No rules on the farm. So I’m, I’m here on the farm until, uh, [00:37:00] maybe Garth Brooks calls and says, Hey, tour’s back on, let’s go buddy. Or Brad Paisley, or, I mean, I’m at this point where I don’t even need to sing, I’ll just go and sell merch. I just, I just want to go out on the road again and hang out with my friends.

Speaker 1:        Absolutely. And in the meantime, we’ll see you on Tik TOK and Instagram and all that good stuff. So, so definitely keep posting your stories from the farm. Cause we want to, we want to know what you’re up to.

Speaker 3:        I promise you I will.

Speaker 1:        Okay. All right. Well, thank you so much, Brett Kissel everybody.

[00:37:30] Yay. Thank you. Thanks for tuning in to up in country where we have new episodes every Tuesday, and be sure to visit up in for all of the episodes and information about our VIP club, where you’re going to get exclusive backstage access. And if you’re on Instagram or Tik Tok make sure to follow me, Sue Bonzell, I’ll see you next week.

Speaker 2:        [inaudible].