Updated: Sep 21
by Scott Roos
photo by Mary Zita Payne
This Wednesday, September 27th, Bonnie Raitt will be bringing her “Just Like That” tour to Saskatoon’s venerable soft seat theatre TCU Place before heading over to the legendary Conexus Arts Centre in Regina on Thursday the 28th. Along for the ride, in the opening slot, will be critically acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Royal Wood. Wood, a fan of Raitt’s for the majority of his life, is excited for the opportunity.
“Literally Bonnie Raitt's ‘Nick of Time’ was the first ever record I bought myself with my own money in a K-Mart in Ontario, Canada. I saw her on SNL and I was just getting into electric guitar,” recalls Wood in a recent telephone interview with NSMZ, “ It was such a pivotal moment…. I was just a little kid. I grabbed my dimes and my nickels and my quarters and went out and bought her record. I wore that thing out, man. I just listened to it so much.”
It must have been a thrill of Wood’s lifetime when Raitt came calling in 2016, asking if he would join her on tour. Her promoter had been keen on Wood getting the slot and put his name and one other forward for Raitt to consider. According to Wood, Raitt is very hands-on in the selection process and had listened to his music prior to making her decision. He ended up getting the gig and, over the course of those next several months traveling as her handpicked opener, Wood and Raitt became fast friends.
“She made a point on that first night, before I even set foot on stage, to knock on my door and introduce herself…. By show two she's sitting side stage with her little dog, her hair in curlers. She watched (us play) every night. We watched her. We hung out with the band and crew. It was such an incredible highlight that whole tour. It was amazing. We became friends… We just got on like we'd always been on the road together. It was such a wonderful, wonderful tour ,” Wood told NSMZ.
So now, in 2023, with Raitt swinging back through Canada on a series of dates, Wood seemed a logical choice in the supporting role. The tour will kick off this Sunday, September 23rd in Edmonton and swing through six additional Canadian cities, including Saskatoon (27th) and Regina (28th).
“I just can't wait to see her again and hear her band on stage. They're just so good. She's just so good. It's actually just unfair how good she is and how she's gotten better,” comments Wood, “Some artists you hope to catch a glimpse of what they used to be. Bonnie's one of those artists where you're like 'No, I wanna see her now because she's never been better.' And there's just so few that you can say that about.'”
Just in time for this tour, Wood will be releasing his EP Just Another Day on September 22nd. It will be a bit of a change of pace for Wood, who self produced this album. His previous full length, released in 2022, entitled What Tomorrow Brings had featured the likes of Linda Perry and Jamie Scott in the producer’s chair.
“To truly engineer a song from start to finish is a real joy. There is no other opinion and maybe it's not as good as it could have been with multiple people in the room but it was definitely what I wanted to say that day. That feels pretty special,” notes Wood of his approach to this EP.
Wood is an accomplished songwriter with a suitcase full of accolades that he’s collected through the years but, through it all, his process has remained consistent and that’s what’s enabled his work to be so cohesive from EP to EP or album to album. Wood knows what he likes and follows his heart when it comes to his songs.
“(When working on Just Another Day) I just waited for the same thing that I've always waited for. Do I connect with it? Do I feel that thing inside me that I feel when I listen to music that I love? And if I don't, I keep going. That's it. That's literally it,” Wood explains, “And not only that but do I feel it when I listen to it on another time because it's very easy to find something exciting when you first lay it down. It's new and it's exciting but when you come back to it because you're doing an overdub or you're listening for reference or you're getting the mixes back and you still really love it and are proud of it then I think you did your job.”
Tickets are moving quickly for both Saskatchewan shows. For more info on how to purchase tickets for the Saskatoon show, click HERE. For Regina, click HERE. Wood's signature brand of folk/roots will be backed up by a bassist and a pair of backup singers. Wood intends to move seamlessly between his piano, guitar and ukulele within this intimate setting. He's a first rate performer, eager to perform his new songs. It's looking, for all intent and purpose, like it's going to be a great show.