The Prairie Dogz signed a five-year agreement Nov. 15 with Emanant Music/Blues Vox Records.
Their first single, “40 Dollars”, is being distributed this month on over 660 digital and mobile outlets, 243 territories and 75 countries via Sony/The Orchard and via Perry Music and Management Nashville.
The Prairie Dogz are a rock and blues band from Okotoks and was founded by Keith Hambrook and Dwight Kohen, both from Okotoks, in 2018. The two met playing in a classic rock cover band in Calgary and played together from 2015 to 2018, along with guitar player Terry Studd from Black Diamond. After years of travelling together playing clubs, biker rallies and private events, Hambrook and Kohen decided to start a new band focusing on original music with more country and blues influences. Studd soon followed and the three musicians were off to new adventures.
The Prairie Dogz is made up of Hambrook, vocals, guitar and keyboard, Kohen, lead vocals, Studd, vocals and guitar, Dave Fast, bass from Calgary and drummer Martin Wright, also from Calgary by way of London, England.
Their music is diverse and doesn’t stay in the confines of what is expected from a country/rock band.
“It’s the three of us, Terry, myself and Dwight, sing and pride ourselves on our harmonies. We are constantly pushing each other to share our deepest thoughts, fears, joys and sorrows in our lyrics. We talk about it all the time and dare each other to take more risks,” said Hambrook. “Our drummer and bass player joined about a year-and-a-half ago and we play steady with them. We love those guys because they really fit.”
Their single “40 Dollars” was written by Hambrook about a real-life experience of his.
“When I was younger, much younger, I was really, really broke. My parents lived in the states and my friends’ parents gathered together and got me a bunch of coupons for food at Christmas. That’s how embarrassingly poor I was. I had met this girl and it was around the time when debit machine were first out. I put in an envelope with nothing in it into the machine, because I was that broke, and got out $40 to take her out that night. Things worked out with her for the next couple years until they didn’t. I’ve never really shared that with anybody but that is to the letter exactly what happened and that’s how that song came about.”
Hambrook usually writes about half the lyrics and Kohen writes the other half.
“I write all the music. When I came up with the idea and words for 40 Dollars, it sounded OK. Without Dwight’s part in the creative process, for some reason, it sounds very two-dimensional to me and then he puts his touch to it and brings it to life. I come up with some great ideas but it’s really a team effort to make it sound good,” he said.
“We have a catalogue of about 23 songs that are recorded and the head of Emanant Records went through them all and picked that song. I was honestly surprised that he picked that song because I think I’ve written better songs than that one.”
The band works with a promotional company in Nashville and they had an excellent relationship with the owner. He steered the band towards Emanant Music, which was looking for new artists.
“He told us that Emanant Music was starting a new label, a rock and blues label, and that it really suited our band. He phoned Chas Childers, the president of Emanant, and did an introduction and they listened to our music and that’s how they became interested. It was a definitely who-you-know thing,” said Hambrook.
“It took months to get that going and then we signed in November. It was pretty involved. I don’t know how many hours of heart-to-heart chats I had with Chas at Emanant because it’s a big thing to find out if we are on the same page, are our musical goals the same, and he really wanted to know what we were about.”
While working “temporary jobs until we can do this full time”, Hambrook is a salesman, Kohen has an I.T. company, Studd is a firefighter and fights forest fires, Wright is an instrument calibration technologist, and Fast is a manager at a lab.
The band hasn’t played a bar in over a year but gets booked for a lot of corporate and private events.
“We really pride ourselves in our live show and we are very personal about it too. We like to create a party where we are at and go out and meet the people who have come to watch us. That’s the fun part for me,” said Hambrook. “This deal has a chance to really build our business and we’ll take our business model down south now.
“Emanant Music has a lot of contacts in Atlanta and Nashville and our hope is to build a market so we can tour down there next fall. It really depends on how well the song does in which state so we can go down there and play 10 or 12 dates and make it profitable.”
Visit www.theprairiedogz.com to follow the band.
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