Originally from Hawkesbury, Cape Breton Island, Bobby Cameron moved to Edmonton in the mid ’80s, where he toiled in a number of cover bands. Although not doing the music he wanted to, his own, the experience on the road gave him opportunity to develop his own style.
By the time he entered MuchMusic’s Guitar Warz competition in the mid ’90s, he’d already been consistently earning a reputation as one of Canada’s most prolific songwriters and guitar maestros, able to blend just about every style of playing into a myriad of emotions. He won that contest over more than a thousand other entrants, where he was named Canada’s Best Unsigned Guitarist. He entered a local radio station’s talent competition a year later, which would turn out to be his big break, as the judge was Randy Staub, later producer of such heavyweights as U2, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Nickelback. The grand prize was a recording deal, where Staub would help the winner in the studio. Of the hundreds of contestants, it was Bobby who Staub agreed to work with on a project.
He took him to Edmonton’s Beta Sound and Homestead studios, with Dennis Marcenko on bass, drummer Darrel Mayes, and Rick Hopkins on the Hammond B3. His eponymous debut album progressed and slowly took shape over nearly four years, during which time he also had the opportunity to work with Marek Forysinski, and Bernie Grundman, engineer for the likes of Michael Jackson and Elton John. Tracks like “If I Wait There For You,” which featured pedal steel guitar by Beta Sound owner Gary Koliger, “Human Fortress,” which peaked at #46 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary Charts and earned him the nod for the Alberta Recording Industry Association’s (ARIA) Socans Songwriter of the Year award. “The Other Side” further showcased Cameron’s versatility and wide range of emotional conveyance in his music. All the buzz that he was getting landed him opening slots on some of the hottest tickets over the next year, including The Oyster Band and Burton Cummings.
Again working with Forysinski, as well as Mike Plotnikoff, (KISS, Bryan Adams, The Cranberries,) he returned to Beta Sound and followed up with DROWNING ON DRY LAND in 1998. With tracks like the hit single “Release Me” and “,” the album to a degree strayed from the folk roots of its predecessor, and instead took you on an emotional journey through the soulful Celtic heartland of Cape Breton upbringing. His band consisted of Doug Radford on bass, Sandro Dominelli on drums and guitarist Mark Puffer. Still with the acoustic element predominent, the haunting instrumentation of “Cape Breton,” which Cameron had begun as a child for his mother, and “Worn Out,” for which he made a video. He again kept himself busy by playing across the country over the next several years with the likes of Long John Baldry, and even gained significant exposure while touring in the US.
For 2003’s EMOTIONAL DRIFT, Cameron travelled to Nashville late the year before to record the basic tracks – a powerful collection of blues, roots, and folk numbers. Produced by Miles Wilkinson, the album featured a live off the floor sound, burdened by very little overdubbing. He surrounded himself with session musicians who read like a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the industry, including guitarist Dan Dugmore (Linda Ronstadt, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Neil Diamond, James Taylor) and Kenny Malone on drums (Dobie Gray, Crystal Gayle, Emmylou Harris, Allison Kraus). The bass parts were split between Dame Pomeroy and Mark Prentice, who between them have recorded with the likes of Anne Murray, Chet Atkins, Trisha Yearwood, Sting, The Cheiftans, and Earl Scruggs), and Reese Wynans, who’d worked previously with Long John Baldry, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Barbara Streisdand, Bonnie Raitt, and Rodney Crowell. With the slashing guitar licks of “Fighter Who Believes,” he again asserted himself as one of the country’s hottest and hardest to label guitarists, seemlessly weaving his way in and out of blues, folk, and adult contemporary licks. He entered “Coffee Cup” in the International Songwritring Competition in Tokyo a year later, where he received an honourable mention – out of over 11,000 entries from more than 70 countries.
In ’04, he signed a deal with New York based publishing company Carlin America. In between touring with his band, he’s also gained a reputation as putting on one of the most soulful, yet energetic solo acoustic shows on the circuit, and has done shows both with his group and alone in venues throughout North America, including several folk festivals. He’s toured with Chris De Burgh, Colin James, Lee Roy Parnell, Big Sugar, Loverboy, April Wine, and The Kentucky Headhunters, to name but a few.
Cameron has also entrenched himself as one of Canada’s most sought after songwriters, having put pen to paper for hits with Juno Award-winner Jully Black, American Idol contestant Jon Peter Lewis, and Canadian Idol winners Kalan Porter and Ryan Malcolm. He received a platinum record for the song he co-wrote with Luke McMaster for Malcolm, “October Skies.”