Kitchener country quintet gets big break after winning opportunity to play at Lucknow festival
By Ryan Flanagan
Kitchener Post staff
This weekend could be the big break for The James Cameron Band.
The Kitchener-based country music quintet is off to Lucknow to take part in the Music in the Fields festival, a two-day affair running today and Saturday.
It’s a big deal in the country world, headlined by notable names like Terri Clark, Travis Tritt and Doc Walker.
Blake Shelton headlined in 2011. Johnny Reid was there in 2009. And now St. Mary’s High School graduates James Cameron, Britanie Cameron, Nolan Greulich, Milan Visnovec and Sean Flanagan are adding their names to the bill.
“It’ll be fun. We’re going to get to see a little, play a little, work a little — if you can call it work,” said Britanie, who is the band’s co-lead singer along with brother James.
Getting into the festival was plenty of work by itself. For the first time, the festival held what they call a Sepoy Saloon Showdown, pitting up-and-coming bands against each other for the chance to play at the two-day event.
Organizers whittled the dozens of entrants down to a final four, who were put on the festival’s website and subjected to an online vote.
Users could vote each day during the month-long contest. The James Cameron Band pushed voters to the site through Facebook, Twitter, and plain-old asking friends and family to vote for them.
Out of 3,000 votes cast, the Kitchener band won the grand prize of two early-evening sets Aug. 25.
“It’s going to be amazing for us, definitely the hugest crowd we’ve ever had,” said Britanie.
The band came together in early 2011 as a group of friends. They started playing together later in the year, and have rocketed off from there.
“Over the last year we’ve really took it up a notch and played more seriously,” said James.
Taking it up a notch when a lot of bands find themselves doing just the opposite, as most band members either left St. Mary’s for post-secondary studies last year, or will do so in September (Britanie, a few years older, graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University this year).
“It’s not too bad,” said James of keeping the band going as they spend their daytime hours in different places.
“We’re all pretty local.”
Their gigs might be local as well — until Music in the Fields — but they run the gamut of just about everything a country band can do in Waterloo Region.
They often play at downtown Kitchener bars, but also head out to Petersburg for sets at the Blue Moon. They’ll play weddings or anything else they’re asked to play, take particular interest in charity shows and even opened for Craig Kielburger at Centre in the Square last year.
“Anywhere people want us, we will be,” said Britanie.
Although James and Britanie were raised on country music, it took a while for them to convert the other band members into fans.
“We took them to the dark side. Everyone in this band likes different kinds of music, but now I catch them all listening to country,” said James.
That musical diversity works both ways, as the other band members sometimes give the Camerons new ideas they hadn’t considered.
“It’s actually nice, because we get to mix some of the other styles in too,” said Britanie.
“Our music is country, but it has a lot of rock influence to it,” said James.
“If you like country, you’ll like us, but if you don’t like country, you still might like us.”