In 1987, Blue Rodeo released Outskirts and introduced the world to their Canadiana rock sound. Now, the band is celebrating 25 years together by touring across the country, after releasing an eight disc box set of their first five albums last year.

After surviving a snowy night drive from Edmonton, Alta. to Calgary, Jim Cuddy chatted with us about the tour before the band’s sold out show at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

Look for more about the band’s forthcoming album and what Blue Rodeo has contributed to Canadian music in the July issue of up!.

You’re hitting almost every province and territory.

It’s 25 years. This is our silver anniversary, so it’s 25 cities. We’ve done Whitehorse, so we’ve done the Yukon. We want to do all three [territory] capitals. We probably won’t get to Iqualuit and Yellowknife until April because of the winter there; it’s just too difficult. It’s not too much of a hardship, it’s just getting sound systems up there. You need a little more light.

What’s it like playing up north?

We had a disastrous gig in Iqualuit years ago where our bass player got busted. We fought that for a long time so we haven’t been up there since, but we’ve been to Yellowknife a couple times.

They’re [the crowd] different people because they’ve gone up there; they’ve gone a long way to get away from people. There’s not a lot of born and bred in Whitehorse. They do whatever they want to do. They’re extremely enthusiastic music audiences. They’re not self-conscious around each other, so it’s fun being up there.

Where are your favourite places to dine on tour?

There’s a funny place in Thunder Bay called Kangas Sauna. There’s a big Finnish population up there so there are these fantastic saunas in all different sizes. It has an amazing Finnish restaurant attached with great, great food. That’s a highlight for all of us.

St. John’s has Raymonds. Oh, my God. What a great place. Raymonds is a spectacular restaurant there.

In Vancouver, Medina is a place I always go for lunch. That would be a place where I would make sure I go and have breakfast or lunch. Vij’s would be a great place for dinner.

Where are you most looking forward to visiting?

Montreal and St. John’s have very, very, very great music audiences. They’re real highlight concerts. After the show in St. John’s, we go to The Duke of Duckworth and that is one of the great bars in the world. That’s always a place where I vow to myself, “You have to leave here at a certain time,” and I never make it. The next thing I know, I’m bouncing off the walls, going down the street, because it’s just such an incredibly relaxed atmosphere and it’s hard to keep track of the time.

We have so many friends in Montreal. That’s the poutine routine. We go out with friends for poutine after the show.

Calgary is probably one of the most anticipated places for me because we’ve always had a good audience here since the very beginning. I’m always very excited about wine shopping. Metrovino is the place I go. In the summer, I bike along the river and run along the Bow.

What do you read on tour?

I just read Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, which is an old book. It’s from the ‘80s, but it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It was given to me by Colin Cripps [Blue Rodeo collaborator]. I was aware within the first 50 pages that it was going to be one of the best books I’d ever read. It didn’t disappoint. It’s a huge book. I devoured it in a short amount of time, which is unfortunate.

Blue Rodeo’s tour dates

Jan. 11 Calgary, Alta. Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium

Jan. 13 Prince Albert, B.C. E.A. Rawlinson Centre

Jan. 14 Regina, Sask. Conexus Arts Centre Jan. 15 Saskatoon, Sask. TCU Place

Jan. 16 Winnipeg, Man. MTS Centre

Jan. 18 Halifax, N.S. Halifax Metro Centre

Jan. 19 St. John’s, Nfld. Mile One Centre

Jan. 21 Moncton, N.B. The Centre at Casino New Brunswick

Jan. 24 Kitchener, Ont. Centre in the Square

Jan. 25 Barrie, Ont. Barrie Molson Centre

Jan. 26 Oshawa, Ont. General Motors Centre

Jan. 27 Belleville, Ont. Empire Theatre

Jan. 28 Belleville, Ont. Empire Theatre

Jan. 30 North Bay, Ont. Capitol Centre

Jan. 31 Sarnia, Ont. RBC Centre

Feb. 1 Toronto, Ont. Massey Hall

Feb. 2 Toronto, Ont. Massey Hall

Feb. 6 London, Ont. RBC Theatre at Budweiser Gardens

Feb. 7 Sudbury, Ont. Sudbury Arena

Feb. 8 Montreal, Que. Place des Arts

Feb. 9 Kingston, Ont. K-Rock Centre

Feb. 13 Quebec City, Que. Imperial Theatre

Feb. 14 Ottawa, Ont. Scotiabank Place

Feb. 15 Hamilton, Ont. Hamilton Place Theatre

Feb. 16 Hamilton, Ont. Hamilton Place Theatre