By TREENA MIELKE
Paul Brandt’s songs have captured the hearts of country music fans throughout the world, but last Friday when he stopped at Rimbey as part of his UFA Small Town Heroes tour, it was the man himself who stole the show.
From the moment his huge tour bus pulled up to the UFA gas pumps, it seemed Brandt was not a famous singer at all, but simply a friendly young man who decided to stop by and say hello to some old friends.
He was as casual and country as the black hat he wore, and even as the line up of fans waiting patiently for autographs stretched around the inside of the store, his smile never wavered and his polite, friendly manner never changed. He posed for pictures, gave autographs and showed a genuine interest in everyone he met and seemed to have a very good time doing it all.
“It’s a pleasure being here,” he said, barely looking up from signing yet another autograph. “I’m having a lot of fun. It’s certainly better than a real job,” he quipped.
Chris Hammonds from Rocky Mountain House was among the fans who waited at the UFA hours before Brandt arrived hoping to meet the famous singer and, with any luck at all, come away with an autograph.
Hammonds was delighted to actually get a hug from the well known singer as well as a cherished autograph. The single mom is a huge fan and said she waited outside for 10 hours to hear him at a concert in Lloydminster.
“I think his song Alberta Bound should be Alberta’s anthem. And I would love to be one of his workers on the Build It Forward project he is involved in.”
Margaret Gillrie, who is employed at the UFA in Rimbey, said she and her husband, Mark, are also big fans.
“We’ve seen him every time he’s come to Red Deer. His message is in his music and we really appreciate it. We have all his CDs.”
Tara Meikle and her mom, Bonnie from Ponoka, saw Brandt when he stopped in at their home town, and decided to follow him to Rimbey. The 17-year-old was pleased Brandt signed her guitar. “He’s very polite and he doesn’t seem bored with all this stuff,” she said.
Wade Stuart from Rimbey was thrilled to learn Brandt would be in town. “He’s a great guy. In my heart, he’s my hero.”
Brandt, who took the time for a short interview after he was sure every person who wanted an autograph received one, said he enjoys meeting people and is inspired by their enthusiasm.
“It’s interesting,” he said. “There’s two different sides to what I do. The song writing is very private. You sort of lock yourself in a room. You read lots and write poetry and get into that and then there’s the public side of it and I’m not sure if I could pick one or the other that I like the most. I think they’re both a lot of fun. I love meeting people and getting to know them.”
Brandt said he’s working on two new albums.
“One of them is a traditional hymns album and the other is a country album similar to the ones we’ve done in the past. I’m excited about both of them. Maybe a bit more about the hymn album because I’ve got a number of guest vocalists that are coming in to help me with it — Patty Loveless, John Anderson, The Whites and possibly Ricky Skaggs.
The albums will be released sometime between mid-year and Christmas.
Brandt and his wife Elizabeth have two children, Joe, who is almost three and three-month old Lily. And like any other dad with a new baby, he is pleased his daughter is sleeping through the night. “She is doing awesome,” he said. “We are very blessed.”
The soft spoken singer said a family road trip is in the works for the fall.
“Liz suggested it and she has been in the band right from the beginning. So we will take the whole family out. It will be a first for us.
The Rimbey UFA petroleum was one of the locations Brandt stopped at during his UFA Small Town Heroes tour. On Jan. 27 he performed a concert at Milk River to recognize contest winner Dr. Lewke-Bogle, and on Jan. 29 he was in Beaverlodge to recognize winner Doris McFarlane.