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  • Annette Dawm

Introducing Chris Labelle of The River Town Saints

If someone didn’t know what he did for a living, Chris Labelle would laugh and tell them, “I'm like ‘the Justin Bieber of country music’ except instead of millions of followers, I have a couple thousand!” That number will surely increase as Chris and the rest of The River Town Saints (Chris McComb, Jeremy Bortot, Jordan Potvin and Daniel DiGiacomo) head out with fellow country artists, Jason Blaine and Tim Hicks for the Ontario dates of the “Shake These Walls Tour” later this month.

Following the success of “A Little Bit Goes a Long Way” and “Cherry Bomb” The River Town Saints’ newest song, “Bonfire” will be played live for the first time while they are on the road with Tim Hicks.

“The ‘Shake These Walls’ tour is going to be awesome and I'm super pumped to be on the bill because we get to share our next single with everyone,” Chris explained.

In addition to the Shake These Walls tour, you can catch The River Town Saints and many other artists on your own wall with the “2017 Top Country Sounds and Rescue Hounds” calendar available here. All proceeds from this calendar will go to TEAM Dog Rescue, a non-profit, registered Canadian charity which helps stray dogs find a forever home. “I love dogs so much! I have a couple of my own at home, so being asked to be in the calendar was such an honour”, said Chris.

Although everyone is looking forward to what the New Year has in store, The River Town Saints should be extremely proud of what they accomplished in 2016, including their appearance at the Boots & Hearts festival and their nomination for the Rising Star Award at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards (CCMAs).

“This summer was one of the best experiences of my life”, Labelle explained. “I can honestly say when we played Boots & Hearts and people sang back our lyrics to us, I got shivers. The fans are the best thing about my job…. You always like to dream big and think everything can come true, but playing Boots & Hearts knocks one off the bucket list for sure.”

London, ON played host to the CCMAs for the first time and the River Town Saints could be found all over the city during the four-day Country Music Week. However, one moment in particular stands out for Chris, a close encounter (or lack thereof) with one of the award show’s special guests:

“Playing the street party was amazing and participating in all the activities around town was great, but the number one moment for me was when Sam Hunt denied me from a fist pump on live television!” Labelle was a good sport about the incident and was able to laugh it off. This was not his first experience being on a live television show.

If Chris looks familiar to you, it’s not just because of his resemblance to Luke Bryan. Labelle made it to the top 18 on Canadian Idol in 2006. (Mind you, he looked a little different back then after a bleaching accident left him bald for his Ottawa audition.) Making it as far as he did, he said, “that opened the doors to all the industry people” but his desire to sing began much earlier than that: “When I was about 12 years old I got introduced to Alan Jackson and ever since I knew I wanted to be a singer. It all started in the shower!”

Luckily, Chris took his singing outside of the shower and down to the river. When asked where the name “River Town Saints” came from, he replied, “We had to settle for ‘River Town Saints’ because ‘River Town Devils’ sounded like a baseball team! We all grew up on a river, whether it was the Ottawa River or Mississippi River, and a couple of us played in church-- so River Town Saints it was. ”

Despite the band’s success, Chris Labelle cautioned that a career in music is not for everyone: "Don't do it (just kidding)! …It’s about the drive and who wants it the most. You have to sacrifice so much -- are you willing to do it?”

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Photo courtesy of The River Town Saints.

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