Ryan Laird to play with Emerson Drive

Ryan Laird.jpg

Submitted by Cashbox Canada

While he's no stranger to Fort McMurray (Ryan Laird played The Summer's End Festival with Dierks Bentley last September) up and coming country sensation Ryan Laird said he's excited to revisit the Oilsands City as the special guest opening act for Emerson Drive's show Friday at the Casman Centre.

"We saw a bear just as we were driving in last year onto the festival site to do the show," said Laird from his home base in Ontario. "For us it was a big deal. It was pretty cool, just on the side of the road there. Just being so far north is really fun, but I really hope we get to see a bear again before this show."

At 19, Laird moved from his hometown of Fergus, Ont., to see if he could make a name for himself in North America's country music capital, Nashville, Tenn. He said he fell in love with the songwriting community in the Music City, appreciating the number of like-minded, talented people.

Prepared for the slow process of breaking into the already bulging music scene, Laird said he knew it was important to make sure his sound was solid before drawing the attention of any major labels. And it paid off, because somewhere along the line, between crashing on friends' couches and buying up ad space on a billboard asking Taylor Swift to produce his album, people started to take notice.

"To finally get my album out, it feels like it's been years of work, but it's the journey along the way that makes it really interesting and exciting," explained Laird. "I think it's helped me to grow as an artist and find out who I am as a person.

"You always want to succeed overnight, but it's a long road - but definitely an enjoyable one."

A singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Laird recently finished up a gig opening for country music heavyweight Alan Jackson in Ontario.

"Those (shows) were an absolute honour for me; he's a living legend in country music," he said, recalling his disbelief when his agent called to tell him about the job offer.

"'Hey Ryan, do you want to open up for Alan?' and I was like, 'Are you sure that you're calling the right guy here? Should you be calling someone else? This is Ryan Laird,'" the musician joked.

"It was a complete honour and those were definitely the biggest shows of my life so far."

Laird's been musically inclined his entire all his life, and if family legends ring true, he's been destined for music greatness since infancy.

"My parents say -- well, I don't specifically remember this, but they like to tell me -- I could sing before I could talk," explained Laird. "My great-grandmother was a professional operatic singer, so she would rock me in her old rocking chair at the family farmhouse, singing "Jesus Loves Me," and I guess I would hum it back to her before I was even one year old."

Recognizing their son's natural gift, his parent's signed him up for classical piano lessons at age five, though he didn't pick up a guitar until he discovered one under the Christmas tree when he was seven.

"I never really could put it down since," laughed Laird. "I just fell in love with the instrument, and now, between the guitar and the piano, I do most my songwriting."
Laird's self-titled album drops June 5, but he says advance copies will be available at Friday's show. The first single from that album, "Girl Crazy," also debuts on CMT this Friday