A member of an old Edmonton-based hard rock band is making his return to one of country music's biggest stages.

Country and Western singer and songwriter, and current Lethbridge resident, Corb Lund will be performing at the Grand Ole Opry.

Growing up just outside of Taber, Lund was raised around ranches, rodeos, cowboys, and cows.

"I was a cowboy kid. Rode steers and moved cattle and all that stuff," explains Lund. "My dad and mom were rodeo people and ranchers and had cows and my dad was a large animal vet. So, I grew up in that kind of scene and listened to Marty Robbins."

Then, when he was around the age of 15, he became a fan of Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath.

"Started playing guitar and I had a rock band in the '90s called The Smalls in Edmonton," Lund says. "We toured a lot. And then shortly after I started that band, I started writing Western songs, because I always liked them. In the early 2000s I got serious about it, and we just made our tenth record of original material."

Even though this will be his second time performing at the Opry, Lund says that it took time to get to this point.

"I have always been on the fringes of Western music, my stuff is a little quirky and unusual," explains Lund. "I'm not the kind of artist that's had one or two songs that were a huge success. It's been more of a get in the van and roll up your sleeves and build an audience one-by-one. We played thousands of shows over the years, all over the world."

He adds that his audience is dedicated and that everyone who comes to his shows are committed fans.

Lund was originally booked to perform his first show at the Opry pre-Covid, but it ended up getting cancelled due to the pandemic.

"They rescheduled us for last year and it went really well. They were really nice to us, and I played with the Opry band, and it was awesome," says Lund. "I was a little nervous, just cause it's a pretty famous stage to be on, but it went really well. They liked the music, and it was fun."

Even though he will be performing at the Opry again on February 20th, Lund says that it was never his goal to make it there.

"I never really considered that they'd want me, 'cause I've always been on the fringes as a strange, quirky songwriter, so I've never been a radio guy and my music doesn't sound like that," Lund explains. "I was always aware of the Opry, and I thought it was pretty cool, especially given the history of it and who's played there. Everybody from Hank to Willie to Merle to Waylon. But I didn't really have it on my radar, because I wasn't sure they would want me."

On February 23rd, his tenth album of original material will be coming out.

"We recorded it all acoustic in my living room, just sitting around in a circle as if it was a campfire. It's pretty cool. Which is kind of the antithesis of modern computer-orientated, layered big fancy studio stuff," says Lund. "We did it real organic and real down to earth. There's no electric guitars on it, it's all real organic. And all the vocals are live and there's hardly any layers or overdubs. It's just four guys in a room. So, it sounds really human and gritty."

The album is titled El Viejo, which is Spanish for Old Man.

"That was our nickname for our friend Ian Tyson, who passed away last year. He was a famous Canadian Cowboy songwriter who lived outside of Longview. And he was a good friend of the band's and of mine and El Viejo was our nickname for him. The title track is a tribute to Ian Tyson," Lund explains.

In fact, the music video for the title track will contain old footage of Ian Tyson.

Corb Lund and his band will be at the Grey Eagle Casino, as part of the El Viejo tour on March 7th.