Canadian countryman Corb Lund sings Western spirit to Iowa City

Corb Lund, a Canadian country-Western singer from Calgary, has a traditionally-rooted style not found in many popular country artists today — making him the perfect act for Iowa City saloon goers.


Kyler Johnson, Arts Reporter

Within five minutes of the opening act strumming its first notes, the open, wooden floor of Wildwood Smokehouse and Saloon had its first couple dance in the openness. The floor’s first pair was soon joined by another, and another, and another until Canadian country-Western act Corb Lund had the whole Iowa City saloon hooting and hollering to his music.

Coming all the way from Calgary, a city in Canada, Corb Lund and his band attracted quite a crowd of Iowa City country lovers. The band, having just released an EP entitled *Cover Your Tracks,* had a good moment to go on tour. 

Lund said not only did he want to belt the EP of cover songs on stage, but also use the tour share workings from a new album of all original set to release this upcoming March.

Related: Country singer Adam Hambrick’s unconventional journey to music leads him to Iowa City

The group’s upbeat energy was opened by softer-sounding Iowa City country band, The Jordan Sellergren band. Lead singer Sellergren eased the night into country waters with slower, smooth vocals.

“This band got together only this last summer,” Sellergren said. “We formed just through the community of music.” 

The Corb Lund community welcomed the group, who was playing only their second concert ever, with open arms. Sellergren has added this musical endeavor into the mix of being a mom and full-time artistic director of *Little Village.* 

Following the performance, the band walked right off into the bar to grab their own beers.

The crowd broke loose when Lund, shortly after, moseyed up on stage. Lund’s air strutted confidence from his first step on stage — guitar strap emblazoned with his own name, faded lights cast a tender fuchsia glow across the room.

Making no preamble, awaiting no grand introduction, the band kicked off their performance with “(Gonna) Shine Up My Boots.” The energy shift cut short any sort of dart throwing, billiard playing, or rampant conversation in the bar to shift focus to the stage. This feeling of standing out amongst a crowd is one Lund has been quite familiar with during his musical journey.

“My family is not musical at all — I’m a black sheep actually,” Lund said in an interview before the performance. “Playing music was quite a departure for me, and it shows up in my writing.”

The resulting lyricism is something that fans of his particularly enjoy, like Byron Henderson, who took a road trip all the way from Tulsa, Oklahoma to come see Lund.

“There’s a lot of variety to his music, but it’s all real upbeat and fun,” Henderson said. “The lyrics tongue and cheek humour is entertaining.”

Lund’s humour really shined performing upcoming songs, one of which entitled “Tattoo Blues,” took the audience on a country spoken-word styled journey with musical interludes. The style, semblant of story-telling country greats, had the audience laughing at the lyrics poking fun of permanent body art.

Having laughed, danced, and sung together by the end of the night, Lund prefaced his final song with a group “Cheers!” orchestrating a raising of tens of beers into the  air. A sip and a song later, the group left the raucous crowd to simmer down and head into the snow, warm-blooded by the drink and a night of country-Western fun.

“The reason I got into playing live is the connections you make with the audience; it’s a kind of spiritual experience,” said Lund, before echoing, “A spiritual experience — only with beer.”