Country singer Drew Gregory has been described as an artist whose tunes wield an “authenticity that is undeniable.’
Local fans can check out what he’s been up to lately in his creative journey as he performs Aug. 7th at Entertainment in the Park.
His superbly-crafted latest disc, Good Place to Start, was released last year.
“It was the second time I had worked with Jason Barry, who was the producer on the album before it,” he said, adding that there was also a focus on injecting a touch more of a rock vibe to the project this time around.
“I love the heavy guitars and all of that stuff,” he added. “I also think the older I get as an artist, I feel more comfortable finding my style which is more rock and a little more of a honky tonk kind of thing.
”But this is where I sit, and I’m figuring that out more and more with every album.
“I also think I have a pretty good vision when I’m writing the songs of how they are going to sound. But I think the biggest key to recording is finding that right person to record with,” he noted, referring to Barry in particular. “Jason has been great at figuring these things out for me, and we also do a lot of pre-production which is a big thing that I hadn’t spent as much time on with previous albums,” he said.
Growing up in the community of Standard, Alberta (population around 350) Gregory was exposed to music through radio as well as from his dad’s classic rock vinyl collection.
He quickly found both country and rock to his liking.
“My mom is from Prince Edward Island, and I remember everyone gathering around – the kitchen party kind of idea,” he recalled. “Everyone would be clapping along and singing – music is such a big culture out there, so I think those trips probably made me fall in love with the performing side of things, too,” he said.
By the time he was 15, he had landed his first guitar.
“I just couldn’t put it down,” he said with a laugh. “I loved it right from the start.
“I never took lessons but would play it from the moment I got home after school every day until I went to bed,” he explained.
From there, he started playing at high school parties and even got paid for the odd gig.
Through college he kept it up and after a backpacking trip to Australia, he lived with a friend who worked the opposite shift – so Gregory had time to further hone both his guitar and singing skills.
“I would just sing along to things and would be working on that, and that’s about the same time I started songwriting,” he explained. “One day, my friend had an atlas out on the table and I started flipping through it. I saw Tennessee and Nashville, and that got stuck in my head.
“Three months later I had some money saved, so I packed up the truck and went down there. I think that”s really what kicked off my music as a career. I threw myself in with the best down in Nashville and tried to see what I could do. I made some great, great friends during that first trip and have been down every winter since.”
That was back in 2009, and it’s been a step-by-step journey ever since.
“It was very organic, and the more I did it the more I loved it,” he said. “It’s been growing and growing to where we’ve been able to do some pretty sweet, big shows and getting more radio play. It’s been a fun trip.
“The cool part about country nowadays is you can put a lot of those rock and roll pieces into it with still keeping it country, so it’s nice to be part of a genre like that,” he said.
Gregory’s was named the Alberta Country Music Association (ACMA) Male Artist of the Year in 2015 and took home the 2016 ACMA Award for Album of the Year for his previous release, I Was There.
Ultimately, he couldn’t imagine a better life.
“If I need to calm down, if I need to get hyped up – it’s always music. I think that came way before I was a musician or played guitar. It’s always been a big part of my life.
“There are many nights when I’ll sit at home after the kids are down that I’ll go down to the basement, maybe pour a scotch and put on some music. It’s really this euphoric experience. Everything seems calm – it’s such a powerful thing for me.”