Crossing the Borders of Mainstream Country

GM Paterson may give up his day job if he makes it big as a country artist, but don’t expect him to quit driving a truck entirely.

“I’ll probably keep driving even if I’m rich and famous because it’s a part of who I am,” says Patterson. “I’ll tell the boys in the road crew to get in the bus because I want to drive the truck for awhile.”

Paterson will perform a free show at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. He will take the stage from 4-5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6, at Overdrive‘s Pride & Polish truck beauty show location inside the Dallas Convention Center.

Trucking and Paterson’s music go hand in hand. The Canadian trucker has used his experiences as a driver and time on the road to develop his style of high-energy country. “I’ve written over 100 songs and I’ve probably written 75 percent of them going down the road,” he says.

Earlier this summer, Paterson opened for the blockbuster country duo Brooks & Dunn. A few days later, he was conducting a telephone interview about his music while waiting for a roll of paper to be unloaded off his 53-foot trailer at Menasha Packaging Corp., in Hartford, Wis. He currently pulls a step-deck trailer to the southern United States for Kevin Kreutzer & Co. of Ontario, Canada.

It’s a busy life for a man with big dreams.

He talks excitedly about how doors are beginning open for him in the music industry. He opened for country star Michelle Wright – a fellow Canadian – in August. “Opening for Brooks & Dunn was awesome,” Paterson says. “I think we’re going to see a lot more things happening for me this year. We are talking about me opening for some more international acts. I’m also going to try to get signed with a label in the next 12 months.”

Paterson’s brand of country is what he calls “country with a rock edge.” He draws on diverse influences, acts such as Tim McGraw, George Strait, Alan Jackson, George Fox, Aerosmith, Lynard Skynard and Def Leopard. “I’ve developed my own sound,” Paterson says. “Canadian country is less grassroots than what you hear in the U.S. I believe that country music is so vast it has room for different fan bases.”

There’s a lot of influence from Elvis, his momma’s idol, in the high energy music of GM Paterson.

Paterson, who was raised in Sudbury, Ontario, was also inspired by his mother’s idol, Elvis Presley. Listening to the King of Rock and Roll taught the youngster to sing with passion. “My stage show is very high energy,” Paterson says. “I like to exercise my passion and try to work the crowd. People want to see someone getting jiggy.”

Paterson’s father, a minister, taught him to play the bass guitar as a youngster. He performed in several rock bands as a teen-ager before settling on the acoustic guitar and country music.

Paterson’s music and trucking career have carried him to country music Meccas such as Nashville, Tenn., where he has performed his songs in songwriter cafes such as the Broken Spoke. Earlier in his 10-year trucking career he hauled oversized loads to Texas, where he played rodeos and songwriter clubs.

“I love Texas,” says Paterson, who has a passion for horses and the cowboy lifestyle. “I fit right in.”

The tragic 1999 bonfire-building accident at Texas A&M in College Station, which killed 12 students, had such an effect on Paterson that he wrote a song about it called, “Texas Wasn’t Built in a Day.”

“I would love to play that song at a Texas A&M homecoming or some other event like that,” Paterson says. “The song is very heartfelt and I think the people of Texas would appreciate it. I want to perform more in Texas and get a following there.”

Paterson also hopes to get more support from his peers. “I would love to get more truckers behind me,” Paterson says, “because I’m one of them. Truckers don’t like the 9-to-5 grind. Truckers like to be wild and free. I’m the same way and it comes across in my music. My songs very much have a trucking influence.”

While he says truckers enjoy the freedom of their jobs, Paterson hates to see the public stereotype them. “Truckers are a large group,” he says. “There are a lot of lawyers, ex-doctors and even some dumb asses who drive trucks. I think it will be great when people see we are not just out here causing havoc. I’m a firm believer in the industry. We are people with dreams.”

For Paterson’s dream to come true, he will need to continue playing his music and get a few lucky breaks. He has a 10-song promotional CD ranging from rocking country sounds to ballads – and even a waltz thrown in for good measure. Blue Angel Productions is managing his music career.

If performing doesn’t pan out, Paterson has an alternative that will keep him in the music business and, of course, trucking. “I think I have a second out,” Paterson says. “If can’t get to top level as a singer, I think I’ll go the songwriter route. But driving a truck will always be something I will do. Driving helps give me peace.”