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Arts & Culture(Archives)


Ross Chapman Interviews…

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The Shantelle Davidson Band

I’ll be honest - until a few years back I was not much of a country music fan. At least not the Nashville sound anyway. I always liked Johnny Cash, Waylon, and Willie and the boys....but that was about it. The Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swifts of the world were lost on me.Then one innocuously fateful night stuck on a haul truck eons from civilization in mid-February with no heat and only one radio station–you guessed it, 93.3–I came to the realization that country is just rock music with a fiddle (ok so maybe it’s a little more than that but just bear with me here). If I pulled my head out of my ass for a second I could actually admit to really liking it. I mean, all of the guys I grew up with that were playing crazy heavy metal guitar 10 years ago are now playing in top 40 country rock bands. Crazy. Really it’s not much of a stretch when you think about it. Hell, when you boil it down it’s all just the blues anyway…so now I can openly admit it. I really like country music. Good country music anyway… but I digress.

I’ve said it before and really it’s kind of the premise of this whole column…there is really great local music in the little town. The Shantelle Davidson band is poised to smash all preconceptions of the Fort McMurray music scene. They’ve got the talent and the image to be top of the heap. The band (Shantelle Davidson-vocals, Mel Boostrom-pretty much everything with strings, and Dan Gillies-lead guitar) is as good as it gets. They’re what country rock is all about. And they’re local. Wicked. They recently finished up a three week stint as the house band with Keyano Theatre’s largest production in 35 years, Hometown the Musical. They’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with tonnes of major acts including George Canyon & One More Girl, Tim Huss, The Good Brothers, Mike Plume, Barney Bentall, and April Wine. Enough said.

So you think no one famous ever came from Fort Mac? Just wait. The band has spent the last three years honing their chops in the local bar/corporate gig scene and are currently working on their first album of original music slated for release next year. Check out their stuff at where you’ll find lots of professional quality live video of the band playing songs you know as well as the original and award winning “Thick or Thin”, which garnered them a first place win in the 2011 Creative Writing Music Competition. They’re serious about what they do. I also have it on good authority that they pull off a pretty kickass version of Don’t Stop Believing. So go check them out the next time you have the chance…

I managed to catch up with the band at Mac Island in June for a chat about their history, Paula Abdul (don’t ask), plans for the future and life in Fort McMurray.

YMM: Tell me who u are and what you do.
Shantelle Davidson: We are the Shantelle Davidson Band and we play country and rock music in and around Fort McMurray.

YMM: Where are you from?
SD: North Western Ontario
Dan Gillies: Saskatchewan!
Mel Boostrom: Fort McMurray.

YMM: Whoa. You’re probably the fifth person I’ve met who’s actually from Fort McMurray…

YMM: How long have you been playing together?
DG: Since 2010, so just about three years. Though it really seems a lot longer, we connected almost instantly in a way I’ve never really experienced in a band before.

SD: Yeah I went to the open mic at the Tavern on Main and just yelled into the microphone that I needed a guitar player, and Dan came up to me. That’s how this thing got started. (laughs) I just wanted to sing!

YMM: What artists have you been compared to in the past? Who are your major influences?
SD: I get compared to Carrie Underwood a lot, and Natalie Mains from the Dixie Chicks. That makes sense I guess since I would call those my major influences.

DG: Yeah I can hear the Underwood for sure, but there’s an edginess in your voice that makes you unique.
SD: Thanks! (laughs)

YMM: What keeps you in Fort McMurray?
SD: The arts and culture scene, and mostly the people. This place is home, and I’ve got a lot of great friends here.

YMM: What’s next for the Shantelle Davidson band? Mel, the last time we spoke you mentioned working on an album of originals, how is that progressing?
MB: It’s a slow process but it’s going fairly well. We’re just taking our time to make sure it’s right. I think we all want to make sure it’s the best album it can be.

YMM: Describe Fort McMurray.
MB: Busy. Growing and busy.

YMM: Yeah Mel I guess since you were born here you’ve probably seen a change or two in the last couple of decades.
MB: You might say that (laughs). But don’t get me wrong, it’s mostly all positive. The financial situation here makes the whole thing possible.

YMM: What’s the best/worst part of living here?
SD: Worst part…hmm..probably the growing pains, you know, traffic and all that. Best part? Mitchell’s Café! I love that place!


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