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Hangin' With High Valley

The boys relive those good times with the old fart and ask me to join them on stage.

It was May of 2013, and I was minding my own business - like I do - working away here in the studio when I got a call from Brad Rempel saying that he and the boys are on their way to the thriving metropolis of Rocky Mountain House, 30 minutes west of here, to play a local walk-a-thon and would I would bring my Dobro and party like I was 20 again?

Of course! I dropped what I was doing and did a double-take out the window. Show started in an hour and the boys must have forgot to warn the weatherman that we were playing an outdoor stage. Sure enough, by the time we got there the rain had already moved in like it owned the place so we all hunkered as close to the back of the stage as we could.

The rain decided it liked the area and settled in with a vengeance. Strong winds from the west were driving it onto the stage front in sheets, encouraging us further towards the back canvas wall, which was alright with us on account of that's where the big heater vents were. Tuning became a bit of an issue but at least we were mostly dry, unlike the front of the stage. You can see the after-effects on the pants leg of my jeans when we retired to the hotel after the show to drink coffee and jam. I really don't know how everybody escaped electrocution. The several hundred soggy but wildly enthusiastic people crowding the stage didn't seem to mind. Neither did the three brothers - no complaining or cancelling the appearance. They come from good stock, a fine testament to the way Abe and Tina raised them.

We've known these boys since Brad was 12, and have followed their career, watching with the pride of a parent as each step took them higher up the ladder, grateful for good mentorship from solid artists like Paul Brandt and Ricky Skaggs. Even now that they have signed onto a major label their ethics haven't become eroded, they still hold fast to their roots of strong family, strong faith and good music. They are writing machines; hit factories, and the world is lapping it up because it's a taste of common sense and family values. I'm honoured that they remembered the old fart and included me in on this little adventure. Perhaps they just needed someone to share the pain...

And again at the CCMA Awards

Later that same year, in the fall, I got another call from them asking if I'd share the stage with them at the CCMA Awards Show in Edmonton. They told me the song and I learned the Dobro part. I couldn't make it to the rehearsal earlier that Sunday because I was playing my own gig with my family up in Lac La Biche, Alberta. As soon as the concert was over we crammed into our truck and wiggled our pony down to Rexall Place.

Curtis asked me if I'd been to makeup yet. That was the first time anybody had ever asked me that...

Soon as I passed security, got my badge and was led to their dressing room area, Curtis asked me if I'd been to makeup yet. That was the first time anybody had ever asked me that. So I said let's go! It's kind of surreal walking down the backstage hallways, passing and greeting folks you see on stage and on TV; shook hands with Johnny Reid who is actually shorter than me, nodded to George Canyon, visited again with Corb Lund. As I entered the makeup room a familiar voice hollered from across the room "Hey Mr. Crane!" It was Brett Kissel, who still treats people with a rare respect. The poor gal doing my makeup wondered what to do with my mustache - wasn't nothing to do with my other hair - so I curled the ends like they're supposed to be and she sprayed them with some kind of holder-together that smelled scarily feminine. But hey - it's all for the people.

When you see these folks on screen or at a show, remember that they're still human. And that's the incredible part; when they look past the temptation to think that they've really become somebody special and decide to stay who they know they are - a normal guy who has a job to make somebody's day brighter, and a platform to say something good and uplifting.

That's my boys.

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