Brad Rempel, frontman for award-winning Canadian country band High Valley, is passionate about his unusual upbringing.
“My parents were born in Mexico, and they're Mennonites. Mexican Mennonites. You can Google it," he says.
After Brad’s parents bought a truck and were asked to leave the colony, the family settled in La Crete, Alberta, Canada, where they made another purchase: a record player. He says they only had a few records, but one clear favorite. “My family loved Ricky Skaggs more than you can imagine. If the most famous band in the world had shown up on our driveway, we would’ve had no clue. If Ricky Skaggs had been there, we would’ve lost our minds.”
Through ingenuity and grit, Brad met Ricky in 2007 after discovering the legend would be in Canada for a gospel awards event. Brad says he contacted the organizers, offering to pay the event fee if he could take Ricky to dinner. “So they tell me he doesn't have time for dinner, but he does need a ride to the airport. I drove 700 miles from Nashville to Calgary, Alberta, and gave him a ride to the airport. I played him our CD. He didn't like it.”
When High Valley played the Opry a few years later, Ricky introduced them. “The moral of the story is if you grow up Mennonite and only have one record to listen to, make sure it’s Ricky Skaggs.”
Brad and his wife, Rebekah, spent most of their time growing up gathering with family and friends. After moving to Nashville, they discovered people “made calendar appointments to spend time with each other.” Finding the perfect piece of land in Spring Hill made it possible to offer their childhood experiences to their children. They say what started as a shed on the property to store dirt bikes became The Cottage at the Ridge.
“The goal was to return to our roots and create a getaway,” Rebekah says. “We knew it wouldn’t be our lifestyle.”
Brad and Rebekah worked on the building and design through the pandemic, planning to use the space for family time and songwriting. “Once we finished, we discovered we wanted to share it with other people, too.”
The Cottage has been a photoshoot location, a songwriting retreat, a refuge for traveling songwriters and a wedding venue. It’s now available to rent on Air BnB. They share, “It’s amazing when we read the guestbook and people write things like, ‘my son caught his first fish here; great for us to get away and have campfires and s'mores; a total reset.’ Growing up, that was normal for us.”
Rebekah says guests don’t have to visit from out of town only. “You could live in the Gulch, and the idea of going somewhere and taking a walk and catching fish and having smores is culture shock.”
In May, High Valley released their sixth studio album, "Way Back," and Brad is looking forward to the music made in The Cottage in the future. “We’ve been writing a ton out there. It’s inspirational and a blessing to share it with others,” he assures.