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Port aux Basques drummer headed for Junos

Courtesy of ninaskow.com
Courtesy of ninaskow.com - Submitted

Big Wreck nominated for Rock Album of the Year

Chuck Keeping of Port aux Basques is hoping his second Juno nomination with the band Big Wreck will be the charm.
Keeping is the band’s drummer. Its album “Grace Street” is among those nominated for Rock Album of the Year.

The band’s 2014 album “Ghosts” was nominated for a Juno in 2015.

“This is our second Juno nomination back-to-back as far as our records go. And, who knows, Lady Luck might shine on us this time,” Keeping said during a recent phone interview with the Gulf News.

Big Wreck also nabbed a Juno nomination in 2013 for its record “Albatross,” released in 2012 before Keeping joined the band.

For Keeping, this latest recognition is his fourth Juno nomination.

About the band

Big Wreck was formed over two decades ago by Ian Thornley, Brian Doherty, Dave Henning and Forrest Williams, who were studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Current band members are Keeping, Thornley, Doherty and Dave McMillan.

Keeping has been Big Wreck’s drummer for over five years. The band is now on a tour throughout the country and into the U.S. celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of its first record.

“I remember going out and buying the CD (“In Loving Memory Of”) that I’m on tour promoting now... That was one of the CDs that was in heavy rotation in my collection when I was in high school,” Keeping recalled of the album released in 1997.

Keeping was born and raised in Port aux Basques. After finishing high school, he moved to London, Ontario and now lives in Toronto.

His recording and performance credits include many well-known artists. He has also worked as a session drummer for major labels including Sony and BMG records.

When asked about some of his most memorable experiences as a drummer, Keeping mentioned working with Jeff Healey and opening for Aerosmith.

“And I got to get on stage on a couple of occasions and play drums with Prince,” he said.

Keeping’s artist’s profile on www.sonor.com notes that in addition to his Juno nominations, his notable achievements include an independent music award, maple blues nominations, as well as an honors degree from the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology.

While performing can sometimes feel like a struggle, there are times when musicians realize just how many fans appreciate and support their music.

Keeping recalled performing with Big Wreck at the legendary Gramercy Theatre in New York City in 2017.

“We pulled up (to the theatre) and it says ‘Big Wreck Tonight Sold Out!’ People were flying in from other States to see us... people were actually singing the lyrics and chanting. We were looking at each other thinking, how does this ever happen?” Keeping said.

A review of the concert posted on the Prog Report (www.progreport.com) noted that “the playing is flawless, the writing entertaining and the performances extraordinary.”

Supporting the troops

Just before Christmas 2017, the Canadian Armed Forces invited the band to travel to Kuwait to perform for the troops.

“The mission was to boost the morale of the troops,” said Keeping. “The Canadians were saying they wanted Big Wreck. So we made it happen. They also brought a comedian. So they had a comedian (show) and a rock show.”

The trip was quite the experience, he said, and one he’d definitely do again.

Coming home

Keeping’s parents, Roy and Norma Keeping, still live in Port aux Basques. He looks forward to coming home almost every summer to visit family and friends.

Keeping’s latest solo project sees him offering online, one-on-one drum lessons.

“I have students from all over North America and if any up-and-coming (drummer) would like to have a lesson with me, they can e-mail me (chuckdkeepinglessons@gmail.com) and we can set something up.”

People can also follow Keeping on Instagram at instagram.com/chuckdkeeping.

The band’s website is www.bigwreckmusic.com

Juno Week 2018 runs March 19-25 in Vancouver, B.C. Others nominated for the Rock Album of the Year Juno Award are Death From Above, Nickelback, the Glorious Sons and Theory of a Dead Man.

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