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  • Annette Dawm

Along for the Ride with Kent Nixon

Kent Nixon is one of four members of the band, Renegade Station, although people might also recognize this group by their former name, Domino. “We had really gotten tired of delivering pizza,” Kent joked about the name change. In all seriousness he said, “The name no longer represented who we are both as artists, and as people. As our music evolved, so did we and the name Renegade Station defines us as a cohesive unit, without losing who we are. Renegade Station also represents the steps that we’ve taken to continue to build our sound and pay heritage to the Alberta Prairie Railway which originates in Stettler, Alberta, our home town.”

Kent and his bandmates, Luanne Carl, Scott McKnight and Russ Carl had a bit of a bumpy road while changing their name, but in the end, Kent knew it was “well worth the time invested”. At first they experienced technical difficulties when it came to updating their Facebook page, and there was paperwork to fill out in the “real world”, but according to Kent, everyone was “extremely happy with how everything transpired with the marketing and rebranding of Renegade Station.”

With a new start came a new album, Along for the Ride, which was released earlier this year. For Nixon, the album is full of exciting moments that he can’t wait for people to hear: “We would love for people to experience the same kind of emotional roller-coaster that we rode during the creative process. When hearing this album and experiencing the different combination of vocals, it is pretty hard to not get caught up in the stories and diversity. Even listening to the songs now, we still get a thrill from the ‘moments’ in each track. Listening to the big note in ‘Who’s Gonna Love Me’ makes the hair stand up on my arms! We want everyone to feel that thrill when they hear that part and take away different moments from within each song on the album.”

Renegade Station has not only thrived as a musical group, but as a group of people as well. They are quite pleased with what they have achieved on and off stage: “[We] are very proud of our stacked and structured harmonies. Together with our fans, we have more fun together than we probably should. It takes quite a few years to define yourself and develop your own sound and we couldn’t be happier with where we are at. Quite often our sound gets referenced as that of Fleetwood Mac meets Little Big Town.” Kent explained. “One big advantage [as a band] is being able to create a solid consistent show…. You’re not only doing shows together, there’s also a lot of rehearsal time together. Building that bond that you can share with the fans and making them feel like part of the show is definitely a benefit of being a group. Being on the road so much, you really get to know each other and that too carries onto the stage to the extent that the fans feel part of the family.”

In 2015, they received a Fan’s Choice Award from The Association of Country Music in Alberta as well as the award for Group of the Year in 2015 and 2016! “Having the honor of being the 2015 ACMA Fan’s Choice meant the world to us,” Nixon recalled. “This award is voted on by fans, peers and colleagues, which made it even more special. We are fans of many of our peers! Winning Group of the Year and being an ambassador of Alberta Country Music is an honour that we don’t take lightly! The first year we actually thought it may have been a mistake-we weren’t expecting it-which made it better-the second time confirmed it for us, that it was no fluke.”

As previously mentioned, the members of Renegade Station have been greatly inspired by their fellow Albertans, but not just by those who play country music. As Kent described, “We’re a very diverse group and draw inspiration from various types of music. Provincially, Amos Garret and Ian Tyson stand out for [me]. Carolyn Dawn Johnson is a huge inspiration for Luanne and both Russ and Scotty have been influenced by not only Alberta country artists but also draw from the incredible classic rock and blues artists coming out of Alberta.... Being able to draw from different genres really contributes to our sound.”

Recently, Renegade Station participated in The Calgary Stampede’s Caravan Committee which has been their tradition for the last four years: “In that time, the committee members have become our friends, allies and fans and we’re so proud to be involved with them! The Caravan has two stages that each go to a different location each morning (of the 10 day Stampede) and set up free breakfasts (in a different part of Calgary, AB) for the public. There are two crews of staff and they alternate between us and the other band. We support the emcees, keep the mood light and fast-paced, and try to make each show better than the last one. We figure we split the crowd of approximately 100 000 people with the second stage at the various locations throughout the city. For some people, this may be their only taste of the Calgary Stampede, so we try to make each day memorable. We, as a band, are ‘on’ from 9-11 AM every morning to make everyone there have the greatest Stampede experience possible!”

As for the rest of 2018, Kent mentioned that discussions are currently underway in order to select their next single and possibly a corresponding music video. Then, looking ahead to September, Renegade Station will be in Hamilton, ON for Canadian Country Music Week, which they are very excited about: “We get to catch up with fellow artists and industry [personnel]. We also have a couple showcase spots on the ‘Diamonds in the Rough’ stage which is definitely a highlight to be able to perform with so many delegates in attendance.” Following these events, they will also be attending The Association of Country Music in Alberta Awards.

Finally, Kent Nixon offered the following advice for anyone wishing to follow in Renegade Station’s footsteps: “Never give up! Keep pursuing and honing your craft. With every door that closes another opens and it’s only a matter of time and hard work that the right door for you will open. Becoming a member of the CCMA and your provincial country music organization is highly beneficial for anyone attempting to pursue a career in this industry and build a solid team around yourself.”

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Photo courtesy of Renegade Station.

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