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With tour scrubbed, Ethridge and wife get in-van-tive

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Tara Jeffrey

Sarnia’s Eric Ethridge is loading up and taking his show on the road — literally.

“It’s been pretty exciting,” the country music singer-songwriter said about his latest venture with wife and fellow musician Kalsey Kulyk. In the wake of the pandemic and its devastating impact on the music industry, the pair decided to buy a state-of-the-art camper van, travel cross-country, and perform on the road.

“When we announced it, on the first day, we had 80 show requests across North America,” said the St. Patrick’s and Western University grad, who left his career as a city chiropractor to pursue music full-time in Nashville, where he landed a record deal in 2018.

That’s where he met Kulyk, a Saskatchewan native and fellow Canadian Country Music Award winner.

The pair married last year and left Nashville in the spring.

“When the whole music industry crashed, we needed to figure out something to do. We had driven all the way to northern Saskatchewan, and then came back to Sarnia to re-group before moving out to Alberta,” said Ethridge. He had lost a 60-date arena tour, while Kulyk lost an entire slate of festival shows.

“It was a rough time, I’m not going to lie. We essentially lost all of our income for 2020 and 2021, had just moved out of Nashville, and didn’t know what we were going to do.

“It was a very stressful time.”

That’s when they decided to sell their vehicles and customize a 2020 Ford Transit van —allowing them to perform on the roof and record music inside.

“The ideas kept flowing and we figured, it’s crazy, but there must be something to this.”

They spent a month designing the vehicle’s unique layout, including a rooftop stage to support both Ethridge and Kulyk performing together.

They announced the endeavour and the launch of the website ‘Love on the Road’ and have already played a handful of outdoor shows.

“In an unprecedented time when people are no longer allowed to see live music we are going to bring the live music to them,” Kulyk says in a video outlining the experience.

Ethridge adds, “We are going to use our new home on wheels to spread positivity and entertainment in a difficult time to people across North America.”

With a dozen shows booked for this month in Ontario, they plan to head back out to the prairies, taking show requests as weather, location, and pandemic rules permit.

“Everyone has been really good about it, with social distancing, because the shows have been in wide-open, outdoor spaces,” Ethridge said. “People are loving it because they haven’t really seen live music for months.”

When winter weather arrives they’ll head south and start performing in the U.S., he added.

In the meantime, Ethridge and Kulyk have used the travel time to work on new music.

“I’m set to release my first full-length album in about three weeks… I’m actually recording some of it in the van. I’ve been doing that on the road at nights when we stop,” said Ethridge.

Kulyk, who was up for a CCMA for Roots Album of the Year last month (alongside Sarnia’s Donovan Woods) is gearing up for her next album as well.

Ethridge’s latest single, “Kiss me Goodbye” has been streamed more than 300,000 times and can be heard locally on Sarnia’s radio stations.

“I am always super appreciative of that hometown support,” he said.

To follow their journey, visit www.loveontheroad.ca

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