Have you got your headphones on? Are you listening to artists like Corb Lund? Dean Brody? The Mavericks? How about Tim Hicks?
If you’re into country music, chances are you’ve listened to a variety of artists who are either managed by Ron Kitchener’s RGK Entertainment Group, released on his Canadian indie record label Open Road Recordings, or both.
Hailing from Tottenham, Ont., Kitchener credits his dad’s record collection for giving him a passion for music. While taking marketing courses at Humber College in Toronto, he started booking bands for the school’s student union. Fast forward to his present-day offices in Toronto and Nashville, where the walls are lined with awards for the talent his companies promote or record. Also tacked to those walls are multiple accolades from the Canadian Country Music Association, including numerous Manager of the Year and Record Label of the Year awards.
What are the must-haves in your luggage?
I travel up to 200 days a year, so I’ve learned to fly with only a carry-on bag. The electronic devices essential to my day are handy so I can keep working. But I also carry a paper notebook to jot down ideas and keep the eye drops handy for the dry airplane air.
What music is flowing from your headphones?
Everything! Let’s see: for just listening pleasure it’s a mix of artists including Metallica, Grace Potter, Tom Cochrane, Iron Maiden, Tom Petty and John Hyatt. I listen to new demo work by my own artists and there is always the latest music from all over the world so I can stay up on the trends.
We have two young children, so, our summer home in Shediac, N.B., and the Beaches Resort in the Turks and Caicos. Personally, I love New York, Prague and Sydney, Australia.
What venue would host your perfect concert and which three artists would be playing?
It would be held at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado and the lineup would include The Beatles, because who wouldn’t have them in the lineup, Cheap Trick, because they helped me fall in love with music when I was a kid, and the original Creedence Clearwater Revival, because I’m a big fan of John Fogerty.
Favourite restaurants in Toronto and Nashville
Three favourite music venues
The Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg is a great rustic gem. The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver is a party and the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, because it’s rich in history and hosts incredible talent.
Advice for aspiring stars
Talent alone won’t keep you on top of any career. You need the right personality, instincts and team.
Q&A with Alex Tilley
When Alex Tilley lost yet another poorly made hat to the winds while sailing his restored 30-foot boat, he decided—as a hobby—to design his own hat. Soon, every sailor in Toronto wanted that rugged and durable hat, and the hobby went full-time. Fast-forward nearly 35 years, and Tilley Endurables hats, clothes and accessories are seen on travellers around the world. Proudly Canadian, Tilley feels duty-bound to make virtually everything in Canada.