Stettler-based Renegade Station is gearing up for a performance at ‘Entertainment in the Park’ on Aug. 28th.
It’s been a hectic season in the successful band’s journey, noted singer/bassist Luanne Carl. Rounding out Renegade Station are guitarist Russell Carl, guitarist/vocalist Kent Nixon and drummer Scott McKnight.
“The first single off of our album, Who’s Gonna Love Me Tonight, reached the top 50 in Canada,” explained Luanne during a recent chat.
“For an independent artist, it’s a huge accomplishment. I don’t like tooting our own horn, but it’s true,” she added with a laugh. “We found that out last September while we were at the Country Music Association Week in Hamilton, Ontario. It was a pretty big celebration, and that song has just opened so many doors in helping us get bigger shows.
“It’s done so much for us. We’ve been working hard for a long time, and they always say, you know, it only takes one song. We are pretty excited about that,” she noted. “That song also took us to the Alberta Country Music Awards in January and we won Single of the Year. So we started this year off on a really great foot as well.
“We were really drawn to the song at first because of the amazing harmonies, but then once we got a sense of the meaning and message we knew we had to record it. It’s a little different and a little more risqué than a traditional country romantic song. It’s not the normal ‘I love you and you love me’ song.”
Looking back, the band came together almost accidentally as Luanne and Russell began attending and performing at a town variety show in Stettler. There they met Nixon and McKnight and decided to create a band to play dances and parties – becoming the ‘go to’ act on the circuit.
Their moniker of Renegade Station is also symbolic of the group’s approach to music.
As pointed out on their web site, the ‘Station’ part of their name is a nod to the vintage working steam train that is a tourist attraction in Stettler and which is a throwback to the region’s pioneering past.
“We were the backing band at this event and decided to take the show on the road, playing a lot of rodeo dances and weddings. But after a few years we realized we had something special. We just gelled as musicians and our voices harmonized so well together that we all just felt we needed to do more.”
For the recording of the band’s latest disc Along for the Ride, they worked with veteran Johnny Gasparic (Gord Bamford, George Canyon, Snoop Dogg) at Dave Temple’s MCC Recording Studio in Calgary.
In recent years, the band has also won back-to-back Association of Country Music in Alberta Awards as Group of the Year (2015 and 2016) as well as the ACMA Fan’s Choice of the Year in 2015.
For Luanne, balancing the demands of being in a busy band with full-time work is a challenge, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve been singing professionally since I was 16 years old and I really don’t know anything different,” she explained. “I’ve been very blessed in the sense that life has happened the way it’s supposed to,” referring to the joys of having fulfilling careers both in the banking industry and in music, as well as the blessings of family life.
For Luanne, a passion for music was sparked early on.
“They say I was singing before I could talk,” she laughed. “And the first time I sang in public I was eight years old,” she added.
“So it’s been as long as I can remember. My brother taught me to play the guitar as well when I was 10, and I kind of took it from there. I started singing at the Legion in my hometown, and at weddings, and at church all the time. Also at graduations and homecomings – you name it.
“When I was 16 I started playing in a band – I missed most of my graduation party because I had a gig,” she recalled.
Ultimately, Luanne points to the energy of the crowd and that fabulous feeling one gets during a show as two foundational elements that keep the group inspired about doing what they do.
“The playing – it’s truly what fires you up. And when you can move someone and make them feel something through a song, it’s pretty incredible. Whether you are a musician or not, music has such healing power, and it’s such an emotional thing. It can make you feel pumped up and ready to rock or it can make you feel sad, or it can get you through a hard time. It evokes such emotion.
“It’s an amazing feeling.”