Ridley Bent is no stranger to the Kamloops stage. The Vancouver-based country singer has played numerous shows here, dating back at least 10 years when he opened for the Sam Roberts Band as a last-minute fill-in for Bedouin Soundclash.
That was back when Interior Savings Centre was The Store (slang for its former name, Sport Mart Place) and audiences were still trying to figure out if Bent was a rapper, a country singer, a bluesy rocker or a male reincarnation of Patsy Cline.
Bent has since played to Kamloops fans everywhere from Cactus Jacks to Merritt Mountain, while his hip-hop-inspired alt-country sound has slowly drifted closer and closer to honky-tonk and traditional country and western.
Through it all, this 34-year-old singer-songwriter has built a solid fan base that loves him no matter what he’s singing — or rapping.
On Wednesday, May 8, he returns to Sagebrush Theatre to cap his Home Routes tour before heading off for a few shows with Corb Lund.
Thinking of attending the concert? You should — and we’ve come up with five reasons why:
5 — Bent can legitimately rap. For proof, we offer up his 2005 album, Blam, which features the funk-laced hip-hop-inspired The Devil and Coltrane Henry, among other trip-hop gems reminiscent of Buck 65.
4 — He’s so darned adorable. Folksinger Kate Reid actually penned a song for him, entitled I’d Go Straight for Ridley Bent. It was, of course, in jest, but if Bent can get the openly gay Reid to contemplate lyrics such as “I’d slug back Prairie Fires under a Tequila Sunrise with him,” there’s something serious to this boy’s charm.
3 — Bent has the best song titles. Consider, for example, Apache Hairlifter from 2007’s Buckles and Boots, or Nine Inch Nails from the same album.
2 — His lyrics are on a level most songwriters can’t touch. Consider Suicidewinder (which could also go under Reason No. 3), the grinding, country-rock tune from Blam. The chorus: “I'm Johnny Cash when I'm drinkin', I'm the Clash when I'm thinkin', I'm Mad Max when I'm drivin', I'm Mike Diamond when I'm rhymin', I'm Humphrey Bogart when I'm smokin', I'm Bob Marley when I'm tokin', and in bed when I'm dreamin' I'm a guitar-slingin' demon.”
1 — His live shows are a visceral experience. Whether the tempo is slow and restrained, like an acoustic version of Crooked and Loaded, or a pulsating plugged-in take on Suicidewinder, Bent lassos his audience from the start and sends them home with the rope as a reminder.
Tickets for Bent’s concert at $34 and can be ordered online at tickets.kamloopslive.com, by phone at 250-374-5483, or by email at email@example.com.
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Opening act is Margit Bull and Sweetgrass.