August 13, 2010

Keith Urban Meets Canadian Band Jo Hikk

Calgary band finds a fan in country star Keith Urban

The word "fan" just doesn't sit well with Kelly Sitter of Calgary's Jo Hikk.

"It's just something about it," explains the singer and bassist for the country-rock group. "Clumping people together like that -- I don't like it."

"The thing is," he laughs, "we don't have fans, we have people we know."

After signing autographs at the end of their afternoon set at Big Valley Jamboree nearly two weeks ago, Jo Hikk might have to get used to the idea that people other than their families and friends might like them.

They've managed to pick up at least one new high-profile supporter, and it wasn't anyone they knew. Keith Urban, the Sunday night headliner at the Jamboree, was so impressed with the sounds emanating from the stage that afternoon that he felt compelled to leave his luxury trailer and watch them backstage. At the end of the set, there he was, grinning and complimenting them on their performance.

"He was just overjoyed," says drummer Al Doell. "After we played, we got this 10-minute inquiry into who we were, what we were about, that kind of thing.

He wanted to know about our families, and came over to have photos taken with us. It was pretty amazing. He said that he wasn't going to forget Jo Hikk after this show."

Hopefully, the band won't forget to send along a copy of their album, The Game, to their new friend when it's released this week. While they've picked up accolades for sporadic releases since forming more than a decade ago, Jo Hikk hasn't been the kind of band to go for the throat of the industry.

In fact, according to Sitter, they're almost the exact opposite, which makes them unique among peers jockeying for position in a particularly ugly real-life version of musical chairs.

"My brother Ken (guitars and vocals) and I have been doing this a long time," Sitter wryly notes. "In a way, I wish I'd known exactly what it takes to get ahead in this business back 15 years ago when we started. I would've fought tooth and nail."

Sounds like regret in Sitter's words, but truthfully, he seems pretty content with how things have turned out for Jo Hikk.

While others have set time limits on their careers, or worried excessively about the current country music fixation on age and beauty, Jo Hikk has continued to write songs and perform wherever they can. Keith Urban's tip of the hat may be an indication of good things to come, but the band would be soldiering on regardless.

"It's a good life, you know? None of us are young anymore, and we have families, so it's not as though any of us want to continuously be on the road. We're no longer touring around in a van, and we only have to play one set these days." He laughs. "Now we're flying to gigs. And if we get a song on the radio (as they did last year with My Kind of Radio, and hope to do with their new single The Big Spoon), we're high-fiving each other."

"We have high expectations for this band, but at the same time we're not aching to push it that hard."


From their record label's Facebook page


Jo Hikk's current single


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