Chad Brownlee: Your Town Throwdown

A couple of years ago I did a story on rising stars in the Okanagan and I received more than one complaint that I had missed Chad Brownlee.

Well after a meteoric rise in the country music scene he returns home this coming Tuesday along with two other acts (Deric Ruttan and Jason Blaine) to perform at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

Chad Brownlee responses:

RD: Your new single "Where the Party At?" is a hit, but where is the party at for Chad Brownlee these days? Do you have time to party?

The party is every night on this cross Canada "Your Town Throwdown" Tour with Deric Ruttan and Jason Blaine. We have a lot of fun up on stage, and it doesn't help that our sponsor is Forty Creek Whisky!  

RD: Which city has partied the hardest on this tour and is there a Canadian city that holds a special place in your heart?

It's so hard to answer questions like this because every town we have been to has brought a different kind of energy. Of course it's easier to bring the "party" to the clubs rather than to a theatre, but we've definitely turned some of those soft seaters into a honky tonk. One of the last shows of this tour is in Kelowna. It will be my first 'full band' show in my hometown so it will be pretty special to be playing right across the road from the rink I spent most of my childhood in!

RD: You’ve had some unusual opportunities in life, what do you think the secret to your success has been thus far?

I listen to that instinctive voice telling me what it is I truly want to do. I played hockey because I enjoyed the game, but then pursued music once my passion for the game began to fade. Life is just too short to be doing something you don't enjoy. Success has been a reflection of that enjoyment. 

RD: Is there a difference between skating out onto the ice in a big arena and walking out onto a stage?

I would be assuming you mean a home game, ‘cause I've been boo'd many times in the opposing teams’ barns haha. The feeling is quite similar actually and it never gets old. You feel alive. Your senses become very sharp, and this rush overtakes every part of you; an addictive feeling you want to experience night after night. It never gets old!  

RD: This is your hometown, do you have a favourite place in Kelowna? Where?

My parents house. It's the same one I grew up in and it always brings comfort to me. Memorial arena is another one. I'm sure if I walked in there today it would bring back a ton of great memories! 

RD: How did you first start learning the guitar and, if music wasn't your focus, what kept you motivated to practice? Did you look at playing the guitar as practising?

I was playing hockey for the Vernon Vipers in BCHL and asked for one for Christmas when I was 17. After that I just taught myself to play through internet tabs and started playing cover songs at parties. It was my hobby away from hockey. My escape from any stress I had. It's not hard to be motivated to do something you enjoy especially when it makes you and everyone else around you feel good. Music is a powerful thing which I learned very early on.  

RD: It would seem that those who succeed in show business and entertainment industries often branch out into all kinds of side ventures. You're young enough, you could still add another career to this mixture of arts and sports, what else would you like to do as you move into your 30s?

Well I'd like to continue my Artist career as long as possible, but at the same time I know that it can't last forever. I am slowly learning the engineering/producing side of music in hopes to one day transition into that world when the time is right. Songwriting will always be a huge part of my life that I will continue well past my touring days.  

RD: What's it like to share a bus with Jason Blaine and Deric Ruttan? Any crazy tour stories so far?

Terrible. They smell, they're always grumpy, and snore like chainsaws. Just kidding, they have become a couple of my good friends! There hasn't been a day that's gone by that we didn't laugh. They are also great entertainers which make for a fun show when we all get up and sing some songs together. I'm sure by the end of the tour we will still want to play more shows!

RD: Did you think of yourself as a country boy growing up? What kind of music did you listen to before you started songwriting?

I wouldn't really call myself a country boy, but did enjoy country music from a young age. My parents had tapes of Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, and Alabama in the house so I was no stranger to the genre. I also listened to a lot of rock during my hockey days which got me pumped up before games (i.e AC/DC, Metallica, Queen, etc.), but as I got older I gravitated more towards Jack Johnson, John Mayer, as well as Daughtry and Tom Petty, which have been huge influences on my songwriting. 

Deric Ruttan responses:

RD: What would the ultimate success in your music career look like to you?  

My goal from the beginning was to make enough money to support my family comfortably, all from making music the way I wanted to make it -- to provide for mine and my family's needs through music.  So far, I've done that.  To me - that is ultimate success in the music business.  Making the music you want to make and not compromising, and making a good living from it.

RD: If you could share the stage with any other performer, county or otherwise, who would it be?  

Steve Earle and his Copperhead Road album are largely responsible for me doing what I do today.  Sharing the stage with Steve would be a career highlight for me for sure.

RD: What is your favourite story or experience from the tour so far?  

My favorite stories on tour are always to do with the fans.  I'm always humbled when they share stories from their own lives about how songs I've written or recorded have been meaningful to them. There have been a lot of those stories on this tour.  Sometimes with a heavy tour schedule like this (25 shows in 31 days coast-to-coast), the grind can take its toll on your body and mind, and you can start focusing on things other than the music, but hearing those stories from fans reminds us nightly that the work we do and the songs we create have weight and meaning.   

Jason Blaine responses:

RD: What would the ultimate success in your music career look like to you? 

The ultimate in career success for me is simply being able to put food on the table and to build a life for my family playing music for a living.

I've been blessed and lucky to get to do just that. 

RD: If you could share the stage with any other performer, county or otherwise, who would it be?


RD: What is your favourite story or experience from the tour so far? 

One of our first shows was in Halifax, NS. During a song, Deric Ruttan got a bra in the face and a few nights later both Chad & I got bras thrown at us as well.

It just continued from there. Some nights the stage was covered in bras. When the trend continued, we decided to make a donation to Canadian Breast Cancer research for every bra on stage and donate the bras to women's shelters in Canada at the end of the tour, all in an effort to do something meaningful with the shenanigans. We even had a bar on stage that became popular at the shows and on social media, known as "#brabar". 

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About the Author

Ryan Donn is a singer/songwriter, event producer, digital creative, and Councillor at the City of Kelowna

I love creating songs, which have been used by the Terry Fox Run, Kelowna’s Centennial Celebration, or heard on various local radio stations. 

In the past few years, I've focused on creating community events including Music in the Park, New York New Years, Castanet’s Free Family Skate, Talented Kids, Talented Kelowna, and others.

Originally from Scotland, I’ve lived in Kelowna for over 20 years. My wife, Kimberly, and our two daughters, Lyla and Bella, share our home with Tom (adult with diverse abilities).

In 2014, I was elected to Kelowna City Council. 

Opinions are my own, and don't represent the City of Kelowna, Festivals Kelowna or Creative Okanagan. 

To connect with Ryan:

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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