The song encapsulates Horncastle’s courtship of his fiancée a decade ago, although its sentiments will surely resonate with anyone who’s found their special someone. “It was one of those things that started just sitting around the fire one night with a bunch of friends, seeing this girl and falling in love,” Horncastle says. “She was with another guy at the time, and I had to kind of carry on and deal with that. But within about a year and a half, things didn’t work out between them and we were both free. It made me a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. We’ve been together nine years now and have two kids.”
Horncastle credits the strength of that relationship for getting him to this point where he’s poised to make an indelible mark on the Canadian country scene. Recorded at Nashville’s fabled Sound Stage Studio with producers Julian King (Tim McGraw, Faith Hill) and Bart Butler, Turnin’ Up A Sundown features eight solid cuts laid down with some of Music City’s top musicians, including the title track written by Jason Blaine.
Although it wasn’t Horncastle’s first trip to Nashville, the experience making this record was something he never expected would come his way. “When I found out I was singing in the same vocal booth where George Strait recorded so many of his hits, I literally got goose bumps,” he says.
Such honest sentiments are just another example of Horncastle’s irresistible down-to-earth personality. While he calls Fredericton, New Brunswick home, he spent a large portion of his life on his mother’s family farm in nearby Chipman, and was encouraged to sing from an early age. He pinpoints his first public performance as a solo in church when he was six, and at age 11 he received his first guitar and learned his first three chords from an uncle. From there, music became an all-consuming passion, as he drew inspiration from Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and his all-time hero, Alan Jackson.
“I became that guy who was always playing guitar around the fire,” Horncastle says. “My friends were always really encouraging too, so in 2008 I started playing pubs with a guy I worked with. After doing that for a while, I put out an ad for a drummer and bass player, and the four of us became my first band, Southern Drive.”
Horncastle supported himself and his new family by working for the City of Fredericton, but by 2011, opportunities were coming that were too big to turn down. He went so far as to speak with the Mayor about his situation, and received a blessing to take a leave of absence on the condition that he makes his hometown proud.
So far, Horncastle has done just that. Within a short time, he’d caught the attention of some of Canada’s most influential country music industry figures, and by the end of 2011, he’d recorded his first EP and had begun sharing stages with the likes of Travis Tritt, Dean Brody, Joe Diffie and Leann Rimes. The hard work and dedication culminated in 2015 with a nomination in the Canadian Country Music Association Awards’ Rising Star category, a Canadian Radio Music Award nomination for Best New Group of Solo Artist in the Country category and 3 Wins at Prix Music NB Awards for Album of the Year, Country Artist of the Year and Fans’ Choice.
Yet, for all he has accomplished up until now, Horncastle remains naturally grounded, a trait he’s most admired in his heroes, particularly fellow East Coaster Stompin’ Tom Connors. “I’ve always looked up to him for as long as I can remember,” Horncastle says. “Just reading stories about him leaving home at 16 and singing in bars for free beer because he was flat broke—that just makes you want work that much harder at what you’re doing. Music is what I’d always wanted to do, but it seemed so far out of reach, especially when you’re from the Maritimes. And when you go through those rough times, as every artist does when they’re coming up, the thing that keeps you going is having anyone respond to your songs, whether you’re playing for the bartender or for thousands of people.”
Horncastle concludes, “You just need to be thankful every morning when your feet hit the floor.” Sounds like a good idea for a song.
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