Aaron Pritchett shakes it up with Liquored Up tour, which kicks off in Calgary

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Country star Aaron Pritchett admits the power dynamics in the studio when he was recording his most recent album were a bit strange.

Demolition, which is due out later this year, was produced by his oldest son, Jordan. So, technically, the kid was in charge.

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“It was weird,” Pritchett says. “If I came up with an idea, he’d be like ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’ I’d be looking at him and thinking ‘What? I’m your dad. You can’t tell me to do that or not do that.’ But I had to listen. I made that choice of him being the producer so I have to take direction from him. The thing is, I trusted that he would be right. So whether he turns down an idea of mine or he actually goes with an idea that doesn’t work out, I had to listen to him on the decisions that he made and he’s been bang on with everything he has chosen. So I’m very happy that I hired him as a producer. But it is a little tough to take as a dad, being told what to do like he’s my dad.”

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Granted, Jordan has been playing guitar for more than 20 years. His father gave him his first guitar when was only 11 and encouraged his friend, Dave Faber, to hire him when he was still a teenager as a lead guitarist of rockers Faber Drive. Since then, Jordan has joined his father’s band as a musician and proven not only to be a gifted producer but also a reliable judge when it comes to good song selection. He insisted his father include the song Hungover but Hanging In, which he co-wrote with guitarist Scott Smith more than a decade ago.

“Jordan said, ‘You’ve got to record that song you wrote with Scott way back when,’” Pritchett says. “It turns out, it’s the most country song I’ve written. It’s the most country song I’ve ever recorded and it’s my favourite song that I’ve ever recorded.”

Which is saying something. Pritchett began recording records back in 1996 and has since released eight, including 2019’s EP Out on the Town. Hungover But Hanging In seems to revolve around a recurring theme in Pritchett’s songs: the joys and sorrows of over-imbibing. Past singles have included Hold My Beer, Let’s Get Rowdy, Worth a Shot and both Light It Up and Lit It Up.

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Last week, Pritchett released a video for the first single from the upcoming album. The easy-going Liquored Up is a cheery sing-along sung with fellow country singers Cory Marks and Matt Lang that celebrates the simple joys of hitting the pub and getting a solid buzz. Marks and Lang flew in from Toronto and Montreal, respectively, to shoot the good-natured video at a tavern not far from Pritchett’s home in Nanaimo. It certainly sounds like Demolition, which will be Pritchett’s ninth release, will follow a similar template to past albums. But that’s not the case. Now nearly 30 years into his career — one of the songs on the album, It Ain’t Getting Old, is about his longevity in the industry —  Pritchett says the new album will mark a shift for him.

“There is a little bit of a transition on some songs on this album,” Pritchett says. “I call it industrial country, I don’t want to call it country rock. It’s got a bit of an edge to it. So I definitely changed it up. I want to do more music that isn’t just focused on radio. I want to get radio airplay, but it’s more focused on music I want to do. Instead of trying to fit a mould, I’m recording and writing music that I have always wanted to do”

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Pritchett will also be taking a new approach in his stage show. The Liquored Up tour, which kicks off at Calgary’s Deerfoot Inn and Casino on Jan. 27, will find the country singer again teaming up with Marks and Lang for a 29-city tour. It’s Pritchett’s first in five years and it will not feature the standard set-up of having his guests play opening sets before he headlines. With 30 years of recorded material to choose from, Pritchett has no shortage of songs. Narrowing it down can be tough.

“It’s basically a full-on, two-hour-plus show of either the three of us on stage together or each of us doing our individual songs,” he says. “I still manage to have many of the top hit songs of mine and the same with Matt and Cory. It works out great for all of us and I still get the play all the hits. At the same time, there’s just not enough time… It’s going to be a very up-tempo, in-your-face country-rock show, that’s for sure. ”

“I think it’s going to be one of those shows by the end of it, I hope.”

As an added treat, Pritchett will have 300 vinyl copies of Demolition for sale at the shows. There will be a Willy Wonka-esque contest where one of the 300 will be a gold-coloured album. Whoever gets that wins a personal house concert by Pritchett.

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Albertans have as good a chance as anybody to win the concert. Pritchett, Marks and Lang will have nine Alberta tour stops, including Edmonton’s Century Showroom on Feb. 9.

Calgary has been a welcoming city for Pritchett since his days playing at Ranchman’s in the early 2000s.

“Last year, 2023, was the first year I haven’t played the Stampede or somewhere during Stampede since 2001,” he says. “So we’re there every year and I’ve been there several times this year already. It is the country music capital of Canada for sure. Alberta (has) the top talent for country. It makes sense to start the tour in Calgary.”

Aaron Pritchett, Cory Marks and Matt Lang play at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino on Jan. 27. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 

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