When we last caught up with Bruin Eberle, or simply Bruin as he is known, he had come off a milestone moment in his budding music career.
He had gone to Paradise Hill to open for his musical idols, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, back in the summer of 2014.
It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort by the North Battleford musician to make it in the music industry. From that point on, it has been onward and upward, and now he is in position to get some long-awaited recognition.
He has been nominated for three Saskatchewan Country Music Awards: Emerging Artist, Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year for Dirt Junkie.
“It’s pretty cool, you know, and it’s quite an honor,” said Bruin. “This is my ... first EP album that came out; now to have three nominations right out of the gate, it’s a pretty cool thing.”
Bruin is also due to perform Friday, April 22 at 8 p.m. at The Longbranch in Saskatoon as part of the Songwriter's Cafe Showcase, and is to co-present one award at the Industry Awards.
Bruin has come a long way from the days in 2014 when he was still in the process of making his mark in music.
Back in the summer of 2014, opening for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band at Paradise Hill’s Summer Bash was the realization of a dream for the artist, who had idolized them since he was three years old.
As Jayne Foster’s account had it in September 2014, as a child Bruin made a personal connection with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band who were playing at Centennial Auditorium, now TCU Place, in Saskatoon.
"John McEuen, the banjo and string guy, was standing outside talking on the phone to his wife," Bruin told Foster. "I knew exactly who he was and I was so excited I ran up to him and said 'Hi! You're John McEuen, right?"
That made an impression on McEuen.
"He had to tell his wife, 'I'm in Saskatoon, Canada, and there's this 10-year-old kid and he knows who I am.'"
Afterwards, McEuen found Bruin after the show and gave him his email address, so that every show he would go to he would email him and say "hey, gonna be there, we should have a visit.'"
"Just being there, concert after concert after concert, and backstage hanging out with them, they start to know you a little bit more," Bruin said in 2014.
Until going on stage in Paradise Hill, Bruin – the stage name he has gone by since 2014 – had worked tirelessly at his musical craft and had done a number of local performances in the Battlefords, which included Live@Lunch and singing the anthem at North Stars games.
He’s gone from being the ultimate Dirt Band fan – “almost a Nitty Gritty tribute band,” he had said in 2014 – to making his own way in the music world in the songs he writes.
The Paradise Hill performance was a breakthrough for Bruin in his career – one that he says will be hard to top.
“I was starting out then, you know, I didn’t have any music out to radio or anything yet,” he said. “It was later that year that I actually started recording the album.”
“That was a huge event for me. Dirt Band may have been my hugest influences, and it was a privilege, you know, to be able to play with the boys.”
From that performance, “I’ve had several opportunities to play other places because of that.”
After Paradise Hill, he met up with the Dirt Band again for some jamming before their Saskatoon performance, and through that show landed another Saskatoon gig.
“I got hooked up with the theatre manager there and got to open up for Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan – that was last May,” said Bruin. “They’re pretty huge country music icons.”
He had also spent that winter putting together his album.
In the latter part of 2014, he did some recording in Saskatoon with Bart McKay, “who’s a nationally recognized musician and he’s been nominated for country music awards – Bart is an amazing producer and an amazing guy.”
They began work in December and wrapped up in April. In May the album was finally released. “It was a six-month process but it was a lot of fun.”
The album, Dirt Junkie, includes three singles that made the top 100 Canadian Country Radio charts: the first track, Have a Drink With Me at number 80, I Don't Need to Get Lucky Tonight that was released last fall and went to number 87 and These Days, which Bruin says made it to number 89. He says he’ll be ready to release another to radio in the next couple of weeks.
The style of music on Dirt Junkie is what Bruin describes as what you’d hear “if the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band were to be a band today, you know, kind of modern-sounding.”
People seem to have their own favourites on the album.
“Every song is different, and everybody seems to have their own favourite for songs, you know, about having a good time and about living life and love and so there’s really something for everybody, young and old.”
Early this year Bruin has been on the road, taking his music to the southern hemisphere.
In January and February of 2016 he went on a nine-show Australian tour called the Dirt Junkie Down Under Tour.
That lasted for three weeks and one of the performances was in New South Wales at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
“It’s the second largest country music festival in the world. I made some connections and then I was invited to come down and play there.
“It was my first time being able to play overseas someplace.”
For this year, the plan is to get back on the festival circuit and “see what spots or opportunities we can get with those.”
One is the Fort Fest in the middle of July. As well, he said he was looking forward to the various performances with the SCMAs.
“I definitely would love to see it evolve,” Bruin said of his music.
“Others like to hear my music, too, so if I can keep writing, keep recording and releasing, and just keep giving people new music to keep listening to me, and to be playing these live shows. If I can be still nominated for awards for it, that’s a cool thing. That’s not all why we do it, we do it because we have a lot of fun, but the awards are just something nice to show people, hey, you know what, people actually recognize what you’re doing.”