By Mike Dunn
EDMONTON – It took a few kicks at the putting-a-band-together can for Captain Tractor when they started out in the early ’90s, but luck and good nature, as much as anything, may have led the band into forming a now veteran Alberta group with eight full-length records and a slew of well-known songs that took the band across Canada and around the world.
“We had a band called The Brave And Foolish, and would open our own shows with this joke band playing Irish drinking songs, called Leona Braslin’s Boyfriend’s Band, because James Morrisey, the leader of The Brave And Foolish, was dating Leona Braslin at the time,” says Captain Tractor vocalist and guitarist Chris Wynters. “After a while, we started to realize more people were coming to those shows than to The Brave And The Foolish shows because every time we’d go to headline the show, people would already have left.”
At the time, there wasn’t exactly a Celtic rock style like there is today, which gave Tractor some originality in the mid-90s to embrace all things grunge, punk rock, and alternative. “I loved The Pogues, but Celtic rock wasn’t really a thing. So we thought we could add the rhythm section from The Brave And Foolish to Leona Braslin’s Boyfriend’s Band, and out together a rock band with this stuff. We came up with Captain Tractor because with The Brave And Foolish we were trying to take things very seriously, and we wanted something that would always have a fun, less serious air about it.”
Though the band was thrown together as a bit of a lark, things progressed rapidly when Captain Tractor started playing shows with the revamped lineup, leading to national and European tours, a number of singles, and a recording career that has the band looking back in fond nostalgia with their new 25th Anniversary retrospective double-LP, 25 Years On. The record is comprised of fan and band favourites through the years, as well as four new cuts.
“Things have definitely changed. We’ll be flying to most of the dates, but we are getting in the van, and driving to Saskatoon, to Winnipeg, to Regina and then home to Edmonton, so it’s gonna feel like the old days again. Like every western Canadian band, driving across the prairies in November. Back in those days we got lucky. We put the band together, and we’d caught on with a bunch of people. We put out a CD and sold a thousand copies within a couple of weeks, so things got serious really quickly. It was too late to change the name, though.”
Captain Tractor celebrate 25 years of rolling with the good times at Station On Jasper Nov. 16 and 17, The Broadway Theatre (Saskatoon) Nov. 29, Park Theatre (Regina) Nov. 30, and the Ironwood Stage and Grill (Calgary) Dec. 14 and 15.Captain Tractor, Celtic, Ironwood Stage and Grill, Park Theatre, Station On Jasper, The Broadway Theatre