A brand new B.C. country band is about to hit a big stage in Kamloops, and it’s just the first step in big plans for the trio.
Tennessee Walker is made up of Shawna Palmer, Daylen James and Tanner Dawson. All share vocal responsibilities, with Palmer taking the lead and James and Dawson each playing guitar.
For Palmer, Tennessee Walker is her first band. Her past experience is mostly karaoke competitions, although she said she has been singing for her entire life. But where she got noticed was Merritt’s Road to Rockin’ River talent contest.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the judges who noticed her, it was her future bandmates — who also shared in not winning the talent contest. In fact, that was something they came together over.
“I tried to get us to name ourselves the Rockin’ River Rejects,” James said.
James, who was born in Kamloops but comes from Grovedale, Alta., has a history in music that is a bit more storied.
He started out in 2012 and ended up putting out an album with a band called the Range Road Ramblers. That band’s members went their separate ways in 2015, however, and James pursued solo work, putting tracks up on iTunes and later touring the United States with acoustic trio Aspen Ridge prior to forming Tennessee Walker in August with Palmer and Dawson.
Dawson, meanwhile, was born and bred in nearby Chase, attended Thompson Rivers University and now lives and works in Kamloops.
The three also have a particularly River City setting for their practices — the former Jill’s Cafe restaurant at the Kamloops Exhibition Grounds. That’s where they have been preparing for their upcoming show at Cactus Jack’s Nightclub on Wednesday.
“Basically everything up until here has just been beta testing, and now with the show coming up at CJs, this is basically our debut show,” James said.
It was Dawson’s initiative that got them the gig. He showed up at CJs before the club had even reopened, trying to get the band’s name in owner Jordan Landry’s ear.
When CJs reopened, Landry pledged to do a country night each week — something patrons requested when it was announced the club was reopening.
That demand is something the band sees, too — and they want to see more of it.
“I think there’s a huge community of country fans in this town who just really want something like that, who need somewhere to go two-step and have fun, where they’re not just listening to the canned stuff,” James said.
The three share an optimism about the band’s future that is borne out of the experiences they’ve already had on stage together.
“I’ve played with lots of people where you get on stage with them and it’s all business. Whereas with these guys, it’s just fun to be up there,” James said.
Palmer shared a similar sentiment, saying that although she doesn’t have a lot of on-stage experience, she’s comfortable with the two guitarists flanking her.
“I don’t really have anything to compare it to, but I love it. I have a blast. I’m not nervous,” she said.
Following their CJs show, the next big step for the band is to decide on a song and record a demo that could net them even bigger shows — something James said he’s eagerly working on with a producer in Kelowna.
“I think we’re kickass. We need to put something out,” he said.
Palmer feels the same.
“I think it would be amazing for us to be able to do what we love every day and not have to worry about anything else,” she said.
“I think that we’re good enough — I know that we’re good enough. We’re not just a recreational band. We all love what we do.”