Jumped Right In: Dallas Smith at Boots & Hearts 2014

Dallas Smith On Stage at Boots & Hearts 2014The first time I saw Dallas Smith perform was at Boots and Hearts… 2012.

On Thursday night at the Coors Banquet Kick Off Party I saw him again, and thank goodness I did because that man put on one helluva show and knocked the socks of somewhere around 30,000 loud and happy country music fans in Bowmanville.

Dallas got a HUGE pop from the crowd and started his set with Nothing But Summer which was a good way to get the fans eating out of the palms of his hands. He continued with more of his own hits like Slow Rollin’, What Kind Of Love, and A Girl Like You which were all great and had me and thousands of others singing along.

Dallas Smith Boots and Hearts 2014Smith, the former lead singer of rock outfit Default, also dropped the first F-bomb on the Boots & Heart stage, and they continued through the show, always jovial and excited and ready to party. The best F-bombs.

And speaking of Default, Dallas and his country band played Wasting My Time, which had everyone singing along too… because we all remember it from 2001.

While I wouldn’t call Wasting My Time a cover, we did get covers of Rascal Flatts’ Fast Cars And Freedom, Kings Of Leon’s Sex On Fire, Lorde’s Royals, and Imagine Dragon’s Radioactive. Here are the lessons to learn from this: A) Dallas Smith can sing more than just country music. B) Non-country songs sound pretty great when played by awesome country musicians.

Note: Congrats to Dallas for 2 awesome reasons…
1) Smith and his wife have welcomed a new baby girl… so that’s pretty great.
2) Tippin’ Point were given a plaque in recognition of becoming the fastest Canadian Country Single to go platinum.

Here’s the long and the short of it – Dallas Smith switched from rock to country, put together an awesome band, has made a bunch of hits and is totally worth the headlining spot at a festival like Boots & Hearts.

Great job Dallas, hope to see you again soon.

Work Hard. Play Harder. Be Awesome.

Dallas Smith Loves Boots and Hearts 2014

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Started With A Song: Brett Kissel At Boots & Hearts 2014

Brett Kissel On Top of the Coors Banquet Trailer Boots and Hearts 2014

Boots and Hearts 2014 started with a bang on Thursday night, and Brett Kissel was a big reason why.

From the second Kissel stepped onto the SiriusXM Front Porch Stage to the second he finished his hour long set, the crowd was loud and engaged. With a mix of his own singles and covers like Thank God I’m A Country Boy, Callin’ Baton Rouge and We Will Rock You, he had hands clapping, feet dancing and people singing along to the music.

Brett Kissel in the crowd Boots and Hearts 2014Hell, he even climbed a Coors Banquet tractor trailer and sang his party anthem, Raise Your Glass mixed with a little bit of Def Leppard’s classic Pour Some Sugar On Me.

Early in the afternoon we had a chance to sit down with Brett Kissel on the Gibson Guitars tour bus to ask a few questions about what he’s listening to, playing major festivals, and the Canadian Country Music Awards.

I asked Brett what his favourite part of playing big festivals like Boots & Hearts is and he told us that it starts with the crowd. Being able to have 35,000 country music fans in 1 place together is something that you don’t get every night. He used Toronto country bar (1 of my favourite spots in the city) Boots & Bourbon as an example saying it would take 35 shows in a place like that to get what you do at a big festival like this.

I also asked Brett the same question that I asked The Reklaws a few months ago, Who are the top 3 most played artists on your iTunes right now? But 3 wasn’t enough… so we ended up with a list of 5 artists that Brett Kissel (and his wife Cecilia) listen to most often.

Here’s his list:
Rihanna
Dallas Smith
Dean Brody
Brooks & Dunn
George Strait

And because I grew up singing along to country music on the radio I asked Kissel who he grew up singing along to in Flat Lake, Alberta. He told us that in the last few years he’s keyed in on country legends like Brooks & Dunn and George Strait, boasting that he could probably pick up his guitar and play any of Strait’s 60 #1 hits. He added that he started singing along to classic country artists like Buck Owens and Johnny Cash, which will make all of the grand-parents and pure country fans happy with the 22 year old Canadian hit maker.

We asked Brett 2 questions about the CCMA’s coming up… neither of them were easy to answer, so we don’t blame him one bit for hedging.

Canadian Country Music Association Logo1) Pick a winner in the Female Artist of the Year category.
He wouldn’t… when he finished telling us that Jess Moskaluke, Mackenzie Porter, and Kira Isabella all had a chance to win and wouldn’t be a considered an upset if they did he apologized for giving such a Miss America answer and told us that it was impossible to make a pick after becoming friends with all of the artists.

2) Which of his 8 nominations would he most like to win?
Again, too hard to choose. But he did mention that being named Male Artist of the Year would be a thrill, and that being recognized for the video to 3,2,1 would be great.

Note: There’s a strong chance that Brett Kissel leaves the Canadian Country Music Awards with more than 1 trophy this year and many other years before his career is over.

Brett Kissel owned the Boots & Hearts crowd on Thursday night and was fantastic in bringing to life songs like 3,2,1, Tough People Do, and Started With A Song, which he used to finish his set, thank the crowd and leave the stage as grateful, humble and awesome as he was when we met him on the bus just a few hours earlier.

Look for Brett Kissel to remain a name that you hear over and over again on country radio, CMT and award show nomination lists for a long, long time.

Work Hard. Play Harder. Be Awesome.

Brett Kissel on Stage at Boots and Hearts 2014

Brett Kissel Bus Interview Boots and Hearts 2014

Brett Kissel Gibson Bus Interview Boots and Hearts 2014

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Boots & Hearts 2014 – It’s Here!

Boots and Hearts 2014 Coors Banquet Kick Off PartyAfter 12 months of waiting, wishing, making predictions and previews – Boots & Hearts 2014 is here!

At 6pm today the music starts with The Reklaws at the Coors Banquet Kick Off Party on the SiriusXM stage. Natalie Stovall & The Drive, Brett Kissel, and Dallas Smith are also on the schedule tonight and I have no doubt that they will all put on great sets to get B&H started for the 3rd year.

Yesterday someone asked me who I’m excited to see at the festival and I had trouble keeping my list short-ish and not just naming everyone.

I admit that I’m hyped to see headliners Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton.

I’ve seen Paul Brandt at Boots & Hearts before, but I’m looking forward to seeing him again.

I can’t wait to see some of the new acts like Jess Moskaluke, Trinity Bradshaw, Runaway Angel, Sam Hunt, and Dan + Shay.

It will be awesome to see Sawyer Brown and Neal McCoy who had many hits on country radio when I was a kid.

Boots & Hearts is becoming the highlight of the summer for a lot of country music fans in Ontario. And the bigger it gets, the better it gets, the more exciting it gets – the happier I am. This festival is turning into a must see and the privilege to attend as media and bring reviews and photos and interviews back to you guys makes me happy for sure.

So thank you to the people at Republic Live, Boots & Hearts, the readers here and everyone else who has made this content possible… I’m a lucky boy and can’t wait to get to Bowmanville for 4 days of good times and great music!

Stay tuned for reviews, photos and interviews all weekend from Boots & Hearts!

Work Hard. Play Harder. Be Awesome!

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Boots & Hearts 2014: Weekend Predictions

Boots & Hearts 3 Day CountdownBoots & Hearts 2014 is so close I can taste the food truck fare and the Vitamin Water and I can almost hear the music.

And since we’re so close, it’s time to start really thinking about what might happen and what we can expect in Bowmanville from Thursday to Sunday. So, here are some predictions that you can hold me to once everything is wrapped up at Boots & Hearts. Let’s see how many I’m right about.

Most Likely to Steal the Show: Hunter Hayes

Hunter Hayes will take the stage Sunday night in the same slot that saw Lionel Richie open for Carrie Underwood in 2012 and Dierks Bentley open for Miranda Lambert in 2013. And in both of those years, Richie and Bentley were amazing. Awesome.

Hayes is a 22 year old performer who has been on stages since he was knee high… and now that he’s grown up (for the most part) he’s making his own hits and climbing charts and is a rising star in country music. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a good looking kid that the ladies love and will scream for when he takes the stage.

I’m looking forward to a fantastic set from 7 to 8:30pm on Sunday night. You should be too.

Will We See High Valley Perform? Yes

The hosts of this weekend’s festivities are Boots & Hearts alumni and have a new album to support. So while I understand that they will be in Bowmanville to speak on the microphones, I also expect them to sing.

In years past we’ve had a secret set scheduled into the Boots & Hearts lineup with Dean Brody and Blue Rodeo coming out from behind the main stage on a flatbed trailer. This year I expect we’ll see High Valley become the secret act AND I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they also come on stage and sing When You Call My Name which they covered last year during their set and have dueted with Paul Brandt many times in the past.

Will the Boots & Hearts 2015 Headliner be Announced? Yes

I don’t know who it is… but I have some guesses. And I also think that in some way we’re going to have an announcement that tells us who is coming to Bowmanville in 2015… it’s the smart play since we all know that early bird tickets are going to be available immediately to 2014 ticket holders.

And since we’re here talking about 2015 here are my top 3 guesses for 2015 headliners that could be announced before Blake Shelton takes the stage.

Lady Antebellum
Keith Urban
Eric Church

Any of those 3 acts would get a huge reaction from the crowd and will get people excited for the 4th annual Boots & Hearts Music Festival.

Stay tuned for more from Boots & Hearts coming this week and all weekend long on Trish’s blog and right here.

Work Hard. Play Harder. Be Awesome!

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Boots & Hearts 2014: What to Wear

Boots and Hearts 2014 Header ImageWe are only 1 week away from Boots & Hearts 2014 and you should be putting together your list of things to bring – including your wardrobe.

Because this isn’t our first rodeo, we want to help with some suggestions on what you should pack and prepare to wear at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park July 31 – August 3.

Boots and Hearts Country Girl Outfit 1Shorts… I know, it sounds simple but if you aren’t a shorts person you may want to think about being one for a couple days. If you’re going to be at Boots & Hearts from start to finish, day after day, and the sun decides to beat down – it’s going to be hot!

Pants… Conversely, if we don’t have hot days and the sun sets with a chill in the air, you may wish that you had some long pants on to cover up a little. The tougher and drunker of us may not care, but some of us will, and a pair of jeans can never be the wrong thing to have on at a country festival. Find a pair you like and put them in your bag.

Luke Bryan Boots and Hearts 2014Tank tops and t-shirts… You’re going to want a handful of options here, and not just for fashion. In 2012 and 2013 we had rain at Boots & Hearts, so having dry clothes to put on is always, always a good idea. And again, when the sun is out you’re going to want something that keeps you cool – and that you can replace when you sweat through it.

Long sleeved shirts… It’s the same as the pants here kids. If you catch a chill you’re going to wish you had some long sleeves. I’m partial to a button down plaid something or other, or perhaps a denim shirt – both give me the option of rolling up my sleeves, keeping them down, buttoning up, leaving it open AND whether I want to wear a shirt underneath.

Boots and Hearts Cowboy HatHat… I know not everyone is a hat person, but it’s a pretty good idea to keep one with you at the festival. B&H cowboy hats and ball caps will no doubt be available at the LUG tent as they have been in recent years, or you can bring your own. Being able to keep the sun and/or the rain off your face 3 summer days in a row can go a long way.

Note: I’ll be packing a cowboy hat and a ball cap or 2, not that anyone who knows me will be surprised.

Rain coat… As I said, Boots & Hearts is no stranger to rain, so be prepared. Bring a raincoat that you can keep in the car or the tent and pray that you don’t need to pull it out. I know I hope I don’t need to wear mine, but I’ll be able to grab it if the time comes.

Socks and underwear… Like I’d forget. However many pairs of socks and underwear you would usually pack for a 3 or 4 night trip… double it. At least. Trust me.

Scarves, bandanas, etc… If you have a favourite accessory that fits your fashion, rock it. Look how you want to look and be as comfortable as you can!

The Stone Sparrows Boots and Hearts 2013 Cowboy BootsBoots and shoes… Yes, Boots & Hearts is a country music festival. And yes, Durango Boots will be there as a partner. But, these are long days with lots of walking (back and forth from stage to stage and to the food trucks and to your campsite) on uneven terrain, and your cowboy boots might not be the most comfortable option. I’ll have my boots with me… but mostly I’ll have running shoes on my feet and I would strongly consider that you do the same. I know sandals will be a popular choice too. Whatever you choose, don’t wear your favourite footwear. There’s a strong chance they won’t look the same when you leave as they did when you arrived.

Other essentials…
PJs: If you’re camping, make sure you remember to pack something comfortable to sleep in. I know that pajamas are always the thing I forget to pack.

Sunscreen: When the sun comes out, and we all hope it will, you’re going to be in it for long periods of time. There can be a surprising lack of shade available, so make sure you get that good sunscreen applied in the morning and again in the afternoon.

Bug spray: I can’t tell you if the bugs are going to be good or bad, but it makes sense to be prepared on this one.

We can’t wait to see all of you at Boots & Hearts next week. And we can’t wait to see what you’re wearing. Keep an eye here and on Trish’s blog for pics of some of our favourite outfits, hats, boots and more!

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