High Steppin’ Daddy

Playing Real Music, for Real People

When I got the chance to sit down and speak to Glenn Baker from High Steppin’ Daddy, we’d both just been through one heck of a day. It was late May, and southern Alberta had been hit with what meteorologists were referring to as an “inland cyclone” – essentially, a storm that would have been called a hurricane if it had originated out on the ocean. Driving rain interspersed with bits of snow had been rattling the windows all afternoon and evening, as 100km/h winds howled across the Prairies and blew away everything that wasn’t tied down. I’d been without power for several hours leading up to my chat with Baker, and he’d spent the evening helping out some neighbours who were on the verge of flooding due to sump pump troubles. Still, despite all that, he graciously insisted on honouring his commitment to chat with me about his band, High Steppin’ Daddy.

As I greeted Baker and we exchanged pleasantries, it was clear as he relayed the events of the day that he had had a long one – which, to be frank, was completely understandable. A couple of minutes into our conversation, though – the moment we started talking about music – Baker’s entire persona changed. The second our discussion turned toward guitars and bandmates, Baker came alive, and all the wearies of the day seemed to slip away as he chatted with me enthusiastically about High Steppin’ Daddy and his role within the band. It was as though the harrowing storm and subsequent troubles hadn’t even taken place just hours earlier. Such is the healing, invigorating power of music!

“For me, when I can sing a harmony with another person,” Baker summed up for me, “like, a three-part harmony, or something like that – that’s something that I really get a reward out of. It feels good. That, and the sharing of music. As long as the song is there, and we’re all sharing that song together, that’s the cool part for me.” To this end, I can whole-heartedly agree: there’s nothing quite like the feeling of sharing and collaborating with another artist, especially when you throw in the exhilarating sensation that comes from performing live in front of an audience.

Baker has made a name for himself performing with local musical sensation High Steppin’ Daddy, a group that focuses primarily on the golden age of country (think Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and their ilk), while bringing their own spin and character to the sounds and songs that people have grown to love. “We do all kinds of music – classic rock, new country, some blues – we’re all over the map,” Baker explained. “But the catalyst of High Steppin’ Daddy is that particular, country style of music. For me, specifically, I find that era of music to be one in which artists honed their craft, and actually sang the notes, and played the riffs…it was real music.”

Perhaps it’s this affection for the stylings of a bygone epoch of country that’s behind the driving ideology of High Steppin’ Daddy: Real Music for Real People. This philosophy certainly holds true for the nature of the band, as their efforts fall in line with a group that’s more collaborative than it is exclusive. “Nowadays, basically, when I book a gig, I’ll say, ‘Who’s around? Who’s available for that show?’” Baker elucidated. “Most of our members tour with recording artists, on top of having young families and day jobs…so there’s probably a roster of more than five, less than ten players who can sit in at any given point. It also gives us the freedom to call different people, depending on what the gig is. If it’s a straight-ahead country gig, I always like to bring in a pedal steel guitar. I’m a keyboardist, but I’ll play bass, or I’ll play guitar, depending on who’s available.”

As well as giving High Steppin’ Daddy the flexibility to book more gigs more often, having a standing roster of talented musicians also goes a long way towards making each of their shows that much more enjoyable for their audiences. Even if you’ve seen High Steppin’ Daddy before, every performance is unique, depending on who’s present, what instruments they’re playing, and what the on-stage dynamic moulds itself into on that particular evening.

While High Steppin’ Daddy might be playing for Real People, they themselves are anything but. Having performed together for more than half a decade at huge gigs like the Big Valley Jamboree, Craven Country Jamboree, the Grey Cup Festival, Carnaval de Québec, and more, High Steppin’ Daddy have played in nearly every province in Canada – in addition to performing all the way across the Atlantic, in France! They’ve made quite a name for themselves over the years, maintaining a gig schedule that keeps them constantly busy and hard at work. With multiple members having been nominated on numerous occasions for prestigious CCMA awards, High Steppin’ Daddy is a band with gobs of talent, and loads of character to boot. Some of the more regular players include Baker himself, as well as Owen Ehgoetz, Matt Beatty, Mitch Jay, and Kent Macrae – but, as I’ve mentioned, these members are regularly joined or filled in for by other incredibly talented individuals, which definitely plays into the charm that High Steppin’ Daddy brings to the stage every time they perform!

If you’ve got a penchant for Real Music being played by phenomenally talented, local musicians, don’t miss High Steppin’ Daddy when they stop by Legends in Strathmore on June 9. Whatever your musical pleasure, we’re sure that High Steppin’ Daddy will fit the bill!

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