Region honours Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor

Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo fame (left) accepts his DATCA award.

Durham Region is honouring a local celebrity and Canadian music legend.

Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo fame was presented with a Durham Art of Transition Creative Award (DATCA) in the music category.

Keelor was presented with the award Thursday night at a casual ceremony at the Tetra restaurant in Bowmanville. The other DATCA winners were presented with their awards on Nov. 28 at the Heydenshore Pavilion in Whitby.

The DATCAs were created in 2011 and recognize members of Durham Region who celebrate and promote creativity in the community. There are 11 categories in the awards such as theatre, culinary, literary, and visual arts.

Keelor is best known for his work in the band Blue Rodeo. They’ve been creating big hits such as Try, Hasn’t Hit Me Yet and Bad Timing since 1984.

He has lived in Durham region for the last 25 years and built a recording studio at his farm in Newcastle. Blue Rodeo and many other artists have recorded at his studio.

“I’ve been here 25 years and it’s been very inspiring,” says Keelor. “It’s many different things, writing songs, but one of the best things when you’re songwriting is to just go for a walk. I’ve got 214 acres right over a valley and so its’ great to just go for a walk and let the song settle in your head.”

Blue Rodeo’s success has resulted in 12 JUNOs, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, a star on the Walk of Fame and their place in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Keelor says there’s a room in his house for all his gold awards and his DATCA will be joining the rest.

Keelor isn’t completely sure why he won the DATCA.

“I’ll have to ask the committee why. I can only gracefully accept it,” says Keelor.

The real reason for winning the award is his time with Blue Rodeo, the time he spends recording local artists, and his solo work.

“It’s just his phenomenal success, international success, Canadian success, it’s pretty hard to go up against him,” says Dennis Croft, one of the judges and executive director, Spark Centre.

According to Croft, the judges had to go through a binder about three inches thick of nominees before choosing Keelor as the winner.

“We need to celebrate more of those individuals in the Durham Region that have achieved significant milestones,” says Croft. “He’s certainly an icon in the music industry.”

In recent years Keelor has worked with Blue Rodeo releasing an album last year and works with local musicians as a mentor and an artist.

There are no projects on Keelor’s plate at this time, but he’ll be back making music when he’s ready.

“The last year and a half I’ve made seven records at my place and Blue Rodeo had a real busy year,” he says. “We went on tour, we had a Christmas record, so I’ll take a little break until, at least a couple of months.”