Saskatoon rocker Glen Stace got a boost from k.d. lang’s manager to book his Buddha Hotel


By Steve Newton

What makes a young Canadian prairie kid want to rock? Well, in Glen Stace’s case, being the son of a country preacher helped.

“I guess it was part of my rebellious phase,” says the 29-year-old Saskatoon native. “I had an older sister who snuck home records by the Monkees and the Beatles and the Byrds—all the classic ’60s kinda bands.

“Then my dad loosened up and got me a guitar when I was 12. He actually played guitar when he was young, too, so he taught me three chords—D, C, and G—and I took it from there.”

The elder Stace’s decision to let the boy boogie recently culminated in the release of Glen Stace’s debut album on WEA Records, Buddha Hotel. Stace’s rise to major-label recording artist—after years of plugging away as a producer in his hometown—was given a hefty boost by manager Larry Wanagas, the same fellow who helms k.d. lang’s career. Wanagas first spied Stace on TV when he represented Saskatchewan at the national finals of the Homegrown ’89 contest in Toronto, and kept him on file in the back of his mind.

“Larry was in Saskatoon for a music-industry schmooze later that year, and I had put a band together to do a showcase, and that’s where I first met him,” Stace remembers. “He came backstage and introduced himself and asked me if I’d send him some demo stuff, and it just went from there. Six months later, we signed on the dotted line.”

Although he’d had plenty of experience behind a control panel, when it came time to record Buddha Hotel, Stace had no desire to get saddled with the production duties—as well as handling vocals, guitar, and keyboards.

“Larry asked me if I’d be interested in producing it, and I flatly refused. For one thing, I’ve never had the opportunity to work with a real producer—I’d always been by myself. And I thought that by the time I made my own records for a record company it would be a great time to hand things off to somebody else. I just basically didn’t want the responsibility of doing it.

“So we went out on a search and narrowed it down to about three people we wanted [including T-Bone Burnett and John Cougar Mellencamp guitarist Mike Wanchik]. But for one reason or another it all fell through. And then Warner’s and [Wanagas’s management company] Bumstead came back and said, ‘We really think you’re the guy to do it, and we’re behind you.’ And having their vote of confidence certainly swayed it for me.”

The resulting Stace-produced music—as local rockheads will find out at the Town Pump on Friday and Saturday (August 30 and 31)—synthesizes pop, blues, and country roots into a rootsy rock blast with gritty guitars galore. But does Buddha Hotel embody what might be termed a “prairie sound”?

“Well, I think it captured the essence of where I’m at,” says Stace. “Whether or not that’s the prairie sound, I don’t really know. The one thing about the prairies is there’s two kinds of music there—metal and country—and I kind of meet somewhere in the middle.”

Stace got some help on Buddha Hotel from American slide-guitar ace Sonny Landreth and local blues-rock star Dave Gogo, and his touring band sounds like it’ll cook, too. There’s guitarist Tony Robertson (from the Sue Medley Band), bassist Dave Kilner (Long John Baldry), keyboardist Eric Webster (Alannah Myles), and drummer Pat Steward (who used to pound hits into place for Bryan Adams). You might say it’s something of a Canadian all-star line-up.

“Yeah, it is a bit of an all-star band as such,” agrees Stace. “But they’re my band. It’s my boat, you know, and I’m the captain.”

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