BOW VALLEY – Ray Schmidt and The Wardens were already looking forward to getting back to the music and then the Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMA) called.
Schmidt received his first nomination for Best Traditional Singer of the Year for his featured songs off The Wardens latest album Sold Out at the Ironwood.
He called it motivating, while other band members called the nomination a huge freaking deal.
"Some of the people who were nominated and won in the past are some of my musical heroes, for instance Jason Romero, so this was like 'oh my god' it feels so amazing to be recognized and we work so hard," Schmidt said. "We aren't as a band needing recognition or awards, but it really feels good to be validated for all that hard work."
Schmidt, a wildlife conflict officer and founder of the band, was out climbing around mountains in Jasper National Park in late September the day nominations came out.
When back in cell service, his phone exploded with messages from friends and family.
"It was an awesome day in the mountains, and then it's just such a treat to hear that at the end of the day," Schmidt said.
Sold Out at the Ironwood, The Wardens' fourth album, dropped last January and on it featured three of Schmidt's original songs he would end up being nominated for: Shining Mountains, Half-Mile Honeymoon and Coming Home.
Describing himself as "not a super prolific songwriter," Schmidt wrote his first song Sleeping Buffalo, which was used on The Warden's 2017 Sleeping Buffalo album.
After that, the "doors opened and the creative juices" to write came pouring out.
"Those guys were really great at encouraging me to get into songwriting, so I give huge kudos to the guys in the band for pushing me to write songs and that encouragement and positivity really also helped," Schmidt said. "It's hard to bring a new song to the band; you're really letting it all hang out. ... How are we going to arrange it to make it interesting to really bring the best out in all of us and all our voices because the three-part harmony is a huge part of what we do and really important."
The 2022 CFMA take place April 1-3 in Charlottetown, P.E.I., but before that, the Banff National Park-based band is playing a full show at the Radiant in Banff, Sunday (Oct. 17). Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.
On the heels of the CFMA nomination, it will be the Rocky Mountains group's first live show since COVID-19, which will feature some big changes to the band.
Longtime Warden Bradley Bischoff stepped away from the band after a decade of helping to define the band's sound.
At the Radiant on Sunday, the newer-look group will consist of Schmidt (vocals, guitar, upright bass, mandolin), Scott Ward (vocals, guitar), Scott Duncan (fiddle, mandolin), and John Cronin (guitar).
"We haven't played live for a year-and-a-half, but we're confident we can pull off a good show and there will be good warden stories and good songs that Ray and I have written," said Ward. "We'll be missing Brad's body of work, but we've got a big body of work or Ray's and myself to go on, so I think we're good in that respect."
For ticket details, visit www.theradiantbanff.ca.