Feeling Blue

After 25 years, Blue Rodeo is still all revved up. Infidelity has been the secret to Blue Rodeo’s longevity. “We were in an exclusive relationship for 10 years and then we decided to go for an open relationship so everyone can have other girlfriends,” Jim Cuddy says, talking about his partnership with the band’s co-founder, Greg Keelor.

“I don’t think I could have said it any better,” Keelor, 55, says, laughing at the apt analogy that describes the subtle but pronounced changes in the band over the last decade.

The creative freedom they’ve had to record solo projects and produce (Keelor most recently produced Cuff The Duke’s latest album Way Down Here) has given the founding duo the needed vitality to sustain Blue Rodeo with integrity. Cuddy, 54, remembers when their keyboard player left the band and they switched drummers while promoting Lost Together in 1992, describing it as one of the weirdest times. “We were fried on that tour,” he says. “The reviews were just horrible. But there’s something about this band, we have this core belief in ourselves, that we just plowed ahead.”

Well, their plowing now spans a quarter century. This past year marked the alt-country band’s 25th anniversary, and they celebrated their musical marriage with The Things We Left Behind, an ambitious double album showcasing 16 new songs. “I like the statement of the double record [for our 25th year],” Keelor says. “It’s sort of a nice little footnote in our career.”

Their experience has bred wisdom that naturally dictates their path. They’ve all but given up on trying to “break” in the States, content to play a few scattered shows on their terms — when they want and in the cities they enjoy. “There are too many dates and too many gigs,” Keelor says, speaking about working the circuit down south. “We thought that if we stuck with what we know, it would be easier on us.”

And they’ve also made a resolute decision to work with friends as much as possible. “The more we work with friends, the more fun we have,” Cuddy says. “Toronto is an incredible world music city. We said about eight years ago that when we needed anything we’d look in our own community.” With a full Canadian tour already underway, it seems like their open relationship will sustain them well into their 60s and beyond.

“I think it saved the marriage,” Cuddy says.

For more information, go to www.bluerodeo.com.

–Travis Persaud