Welcome to the Women of Canadian Country Music Festival!

Women of Canadian County Music Festival HeaderThis summer I sat down on a bale of straw with Trinity Bradshaw and talked about her music and career goals and country music – and while we were talking I asked her the same question that I’ve been asking country musicians when I get the chance: Who would you want to go out on tour with?

She told us that she would love to get out on a tour with a group of women who sing country music. And I loved the idea from the moment it came out of her mouth. I told her that it sounded like a country Lilith Fair… but with awesome cowboy boots and more beer.

TheReviewsAreIn Trinity Bradshaw Interview Boots and Hearts 2014So, because I can – and it seems like fun – I’ve fantasy booked the 1st Women of Canadian Country Music Festival!

From top to bottom, this 2 day festival is packed with female country singers who are on their way to the top, are at the top right now, or have made their legacy by being at the top and influencing a new generation of country artists in Canada.

There are 6 slots on each day, the same as the main stage at Boots & Hearts where some of these artists have performed, and trust me, it wasn’t easy to pick just 12 artists or put them in an order.

If you think I missed someone, or have them in the wrong order – tell me in the comments or on Facebook where you can tag them… if there are enough I might just have to add a Day 3 to this fantasy festival.

Kira Isabella 2014 CNE Side Banner 1Day 1
1:00 – 2:00
Runaway Angel
2:30 – 3:30
Beverly Mahood
4:00 – 5:00
MacKenzie Porter
5:30 – 6:30
Amanda Wilkinson
7:00 – 8:30
Michelle Wright
9:00 – 10:30
Kira Isabella

Jess Moskaluke Women of Canadian Country MusicDay 2
1:00 – 2:00
Leah Daniels
2:30 – 3:30
Trinity Bradshaw
4:00 – 5:00
One More Girl
5:30- 6:30
Carolyn Dawn Johnson
7:00 – 8:30
Jess Moskaluke
9:00 – 10:30
Terri Clark

And if like this sound of this line-up, check out the video playlist I put together to show you just how great their music is and how fun it could be: Women of Canadian Country Music Festival!

Be awesome!

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My 6 Must Haves When I’m Sick

Man ColdI’m sick. It sucks.

What started Sunday morning as a little bit of a head cold turned into a stuffed up face on Monday and a “someone’s sitting on my chest” cold by Tuesday morning. So here I am, in my pjs, working from home in all of my social media guy glory.

Truth be told – I’m a bit of a man-baby when I get sick. I try to be comfortable and relax and all that jazz… and here’s what I’m using to do just that.

mug of teaEven just a good old fashioned cup of Tetley makes my throat feel better – makes me feel calmer and warm and fuzzy on the inside. I love the kettle boiling and the bag in the mug and the sipping and the rest.

If you’ve got it, use honey rather than sugar. And if you’re sick like I am, try to avoid the milk.


It’s a cliche – but that’s okay. Yesterday I went out and got Pho from the place down the street. It was warm and delicious and exactly what I needed. Hell, I ate it twice, reheating the broth in a pot on the stove so I could have it for both lunch and dinner.

Today I’m going a little more college chic with Mr. Noodles and hot sauce to get myself comforted and cleaned out.

It works.

NeoCitranThe lemony fresh scent and taste of this classic cold remedy comes in handy at night when I feel like it’s going to be tough to get some sleep. Remember to check the box when you’re buying yours – you don’t want to get the bedtime formula if you’re going into the office for the day!

Extra Strength Tylenol Cold Pills
I picked up these bad boys on Sunday and I’m glad I did. The daytime pills helped me get through Monday while the cold was still in my head, and the nighttime pills have been a great help to getting some sleep every night.

I’m not sure that I was supposed to mix NeoCitran with a nighttime pill – but at least I didn’t take 2 – and I certainly got a nice sleep.

Rogers on Demand
As I’m writing this I’ve got Gotham on the TV in the background. Yes, it premiered Monday night on CTV, but I figured it was worth a re-watch with Rogers on Demand while I’m waiting for Arrow and The Flash to premiere.

There’s also a chance that I’ll order Batman: Assault on Arkham and give it a watch.

Netflix and PhoThank goodness for Netflix!

Last night I sat down with my pho and pulled up the Netflix and hit play on Pretty Little Liars. Yes, Pretty Little Liars… no shame here. As a dude who loved Dawson’s Creek you shouldn’t really be surprised by that.

And outside of PLL there are all the movies such to watch (recent watches include The Wolf of Wall Street, Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive, Justice League Unlimited) and I’m willing to bet that you can find something to make yourself feel comfy and cozy and whatnot too.

Here’s hoping that you don’t end up with what I’ve got and you’re happily working away at your regular day-to-day schedule.

And just in case this cold doesn’t leave me alone soon – I’d be happy to have your suggestions!

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The Future Of Canadian Country Music Is Bright – And Here Right Now!

Canadian Country Music Association LogoWhen I was a kid it seemed like all of the country stars were old. Yes, my opinion of old was skewed, but even so, the hit makers weren’t in their early twenties and actively connecting to a young audience.

But the times they are a changing, especially in Canada where we have a bevy of young country stars making a name for themselves with great albums, killer live shows, #1 hits, and gold singles.

I’ve been lucky to meet and talk to a few of these new hit makers in the last 2 years, and I’ve seen even more of them on stage doing what they love – and what they’re really good at. It’s become clear to me that the future of Canadian country music is bright and it’s becoming clearer every day that the future is also here right now.

Brett Kissel
Born 1990: 24 years old – Flat Lake, Alberta
2 time winner at the 2014 CCMA Awards – CMT Video of the Year “3,2,1” & Interactive Artist of the Year

Brett Kissel in the crowd Boots and Hearts 2014Brett Kissel is country to the bone. Born and raised on a cattle ranch in Alberta, he started making records in his early teens and has now hit the mainstream with his first major label release with Started With A Song. He is also one of the most polite young men you will ever meet in your life. We met Brett at Boots & Hearts 2014 before he took to the stage at the Coors Banquet Kick Off Party and he was ridiculously welcoming and accommodating while we chatted, I asked questions and Trish took pictures on the bus.

Kissel is also a bonafide hit maker with three Top Ten hits already coming from his debut release (Started With A Song, Raise Your Glass, 3,2,1) and another on the way to the Top Ten right now with his current single, Tough People Do. His dedication to his craft and his fans is immediately identifiable in his interviews, social media presence and live shows.

It’s not at all a stretch to imagine seeing Brett Kissel on award show stages and country music charts for many years to come in the same way that we’ve seen Gord Bamford and Paul Brandt.

Jess Moskaluke
Born 1990: 24 years old – Langenburg, Saskatchewan
2014 CCMA Award winner – Female Artist of the Year
1st female gold single in Canada since Shania Twain – Cheap Wine and Cigarettes

Jess Moskaule Boots and Hearts 2014Jess Moskaluke has taken Canadian country radio by storm – and it’s turning into the start of what should be a long, successful career in country music. Starting in small town Saskatchewan, Moskaluke worked hard to build a fanbase on her YouTube channel in the lead up to her debut album release, recording covers of popular songs while mixing in her own songs to start things off.

But now, with the success of Cheap Wine and Cigarettes, Jess has cemented herself as one of the biggest and brightest new voices in Canada. At the 2014 CNE we talked to Tim Hicks who told us that Jess would make a great Female of the Year winner because of her work ethic and the fact that Cheap Wine and Cigarettes might be the biggest song of the summer. He wasn’t wrong and the surprised – but deserving Moskaluke was called to the stage in Edmonton to accept her 1st CCMA award.

What comes next only Jess knows, but Light Up The Night is a really good country album and I have a feeling the next one, and the one after that are going to be just as good – and maybe even better.

Kira Isabella
Born 1993: 21 years old – Ottawa, Ontario
2 time CCMA Award winner – 2012 Rising Star, 2013 Female Artist of the Year

Kira Isabella 2014 CNE FeautreKira Isabella’s first album, Love Me Like That, hit shelves in 2011 when she was just 18 years old – but very ready to start her country music career. In the 3 years since she has landed herself in the Top Twenty 4 times (Songs About You, Blame It On Your Truck, Quarterback, Gone Enough) and released 2 more that probably should have charted looking back (A Little More Work and my personal favourite, A Real Good Radio).

At the age of 21 Isabella is already a two time CCMA Award winner, including Female Artist of the Year in 2013 and she was nominated in the category again in 2014. If she continues on the track she’s on now it will not surprise me at all to find out that she’s been nominated for the award seven times in ten years when we take a look back when Kira turns 30.

Kira Isabella’s second album, Caffeine & Big Dreams comes out on October 14, 2014 and I’m willing to bet that there are more singles to come from that album that make their way into the Canadian country music Top Twenty.

MacKenzie Porter
Born 1990: 24 years old – Medicine Hat, Alberta
3 time CCMA Award nominee – 2013 Discovery Award & Rising Star, 2014 Female Artist of the Year

MacKenzie Porter Boots and Hearts 2013MacKenzie Porter comes from a musical family that includes her brother, former Canadian Idol winner, Kalan and that resulted in her learning music at an early age. Now 24 years old, MacKenzie has taken her musical and acting talents to heights that many of us only dream about. Appearing on AMC’s Hell On Wheels, and taking 2 of her first 3 singles to the Top Twenty (Never Gonna Let You, If You Ask Me To) with her latest single, Misfit Parade, on the way to doing the same, or better – Miss Porter is well on her way to a successful career in Canada and the United States. In fact, of all the young Canadian country stars, she may have the best chance to break into the US market, using her acting credits to get her fiddle in the door.

Porter hasn’t picked up her 1st CCMA Award yet, but it’s coming – and with three nominations at the 2014 British Columbia Country Music Awards (Female Vocalist of the Year, Ray McAuley Horizon Award, Single of the Year) I find it hard to believe that she’s going to go home empty handed on the year.

Keep an eye and ear open for MacKenzie Porter in the coming years, she’s not going anywhere – and it already seems like she’s finding a way to be everywhere.

One More Girl
Britt McKillip – Born 1991: 23 years old – Vancouver, British Columbia
Carly McKillip – Born 1989: 25 years old – Vancouver, British Columbia
2010 CCMA Rising Star Award winner & Group or Duo of the Year nominee

One More Girl Boots and Hearts 2014The sisters McKillip are dynamic on stage, pump out music videos like it’s nobody’s business and have cracked the Top Forty with each of their last three singles (Run Run Run, Love Like Mine, Drunk Heart) on Canadian country radio.

We saw their set at Boots & Hearts 2014 and loved the way they shared the stage with each other, had One More Girl Boots and Hearts 2014a whole lot of fun, and played to the crowd from start to finish. Britt and Carly are clearly enjoying their music career and if I were to start making guesses and predictions, I’d say that we’re going to see them a lot more moving forward – with more charting singles and nominations at the CCMA Awards.

Special mention: Trinity Bradshaw, Jordan McIntosh, The Reklaws, Lindsay Ell, Wes Mack, Lindsay Broughton, Leah Daniels.

It’s interesting to note the abundance of young female talent in Canadian country music at a time when Bro-Country has been dominating the charts and it’s hard to find a lot a of women on the US charts at all. Maybe Canada will lead the way in a resurgence of female country popularity that a lot of people are hoping for.

Either way, we’ve got some great young country acts in Canada right now that are paving the way for the future of country music in this country – and if they keep up the work that they’ve been doing – I don’t think Canadian country music fans are going to have anything to complain about for quite a while!

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Rob Ford to Fight Cancer – Good Luck

Toronto Mayor Rob FordToday a family was told that they have to battle cancer. A father, husband, son, and brother was diagnosed with liposarcoma and will soon start treatment for his tumour. That person happens to be embattled Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford.

Because it’s Rob Ford there are already many stories and posts about the diagnoses and the man and everything that surrounds him. He’s a lightning rod. Some love to hate him. Some love to celebrate him. Some love to laugh at him. We LOVE to talk about him. Hell, I’ve written about him in this very space with a fake apology speech, a post about my opinions of the man and what has happened, I even included him in a recent post about Ray Rice. And that’s not all… I’ve written about him at work (What is Rob Ford Doing to Toronto’s Brand?) and I spoke (for about 30 seconds) about the Mayor on BBC Radio’s World Have Your Say.

It’s fair to say that I’ve garnered my fair share of traffic on the back of Rob Ford.



But today it’s different. We already know that Rob Ford won’t continue as Mayor of Toronto after the October 27th municipal election. And while his brother Doug is running, many are already celebrating the end of the Ford era in Toronto. So with that issue solved, but so many more still on the table (Sandro Lisi, Project Brazen 2, Mark Towhey’s book, etc.) we move forward.

In the week that has passed since Rob Ford was admitted to hospital there has been mixed commentary on the subject. The polite masses (including Mayoral candidates John Tory and Olivia Chow) have wished him well in his health. The aggressive haters online who care not for politeness have exclaimed their happiness and called the tumor karma. His supporters have said that they will continue to stand by him and with his name on the ballot for council in Ward 2, I won’t be surprised if they do and he wins.

It has always been easy to say that I didn’t want Rob Ford as our Mayor anymore. It was easy to say that the night he got elected in 2010. But it is never, ever easy to hear that a man has cancer. The conflicting thoughts of “this man is a homophobic, hypocritical, offensive, oaf who doesn’t belong at City Hall” and “I really hope that treatment works and Rob Ford is able to be a father to his children” both sit on the tip of my tongue.

This tweet may sum things up as perfectly as any 140 characters on the internet… and while I don’t follow @scottdagostino – I thank @ccath for retweeting the message so I could see it in my feed.

I’ve never wished another man dead. And I’m not about to start now. I sincerely hope that chemotherapy works. And if it doesn’t, then radiation. And if not that, then surgery. And I hope that Rob Ford remains cancer-free and able to live his life differently moving forward than he has until now.

It’s hard to call it a 2nd chance when someone’s seemingly been given so many already – but if Rob Ford is able to do this he will have been given a 2nd chance to live his life and care for the people that care about him the most. And hopefully, care for himself a little better too.

Good luck Mr. Ford – you may need it – and while I’m not forgetting anything that you’ve said or done in the past – I do hope that you have a future to look forward to.

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Keeping The Faith – The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Final Push

Toronto Blue Jays 2014It’s Friday, September 12 and the Toronto Blue Jays have 17 games remaining on the schedule, including tonight’s series opener versus AL East rival Tampa Bay.

So… what does this mean? Well, the Jays are currently 10.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East lead – but they are only 3.5 games behind in the race for the AL’s 2nd Wild Card spot – and that’s not insurmountable.

Here’s how the rest of the season looks for the Jays

Tampa Bay Rays logovs. Rays
vs. Rays
vs. Rays
Baltimore Orioles logo@Orioles
New York Yankees logo@NY Yankees
@NY Yankees
@NY Yankees
@NY Yankees
Seattle Mariners Logovs. Mariners
vs. Mariners
vs. Mariners
vs. Mariners
Baltimore Orioles logovs. Orioles
vs. Orioles
vs. Orioles

13 of the 17 games are against the AL East.
14 of the 17 games are against teams that Toronto is either chasing or fighting off in the playoff race.
10 of the 17 games are in Toronto.
Toronto has a 4-3 record in Baltimore this season.
Toronto has a 2-4 record at Yankee Stadium this season.
The Blue Jays likely need to win at least 13 of these 17 games – and get some help – to make the playoffs.

Also… get ready because if Toronto wins 8 of those first 10 games we’re going to have some VERY exciting baseball when the Jays come back home.

I was texting with Brian last night and without hesitation I acknowledged that the Mariners series could be the most important series in the last 20 years for this team. And Jose Bautista Home Runmaybe I’m getting ahead of myself thinking about it. Maybe we all are. But that’s what fans do.

We look at Jose Bautista’s hot streak and tell ourselves that he can put this team on his back if he needs to. We’ve seen him do it before. And we think about Dioner Navarro and Edwin and Adam Lind supporting him so he doesn’t have to. We get excited with Jose Reyes and Kevin Pillar and Anthony Gose and Danny Valencia contribute as they have been doing.

Marcus Stroman 2014 Toronto Blue JaysWe look at the starters and their recent ability to go deeper into games without giving up the big bad early inning and giving the team a chance to win these ball games. We drool over Marcus Stroman and what he’s doing. We nod with approval when Dickey and Buehrle perform like the veterans they are. We smile when the rested bullpen comes in and gets the job done.

And with every win we tell ourselves (and each other) that the Blue Jays chance at a playoff spot is improving.

Right now ESPN.com has the Blue Jays sitting with a 5.5% chance. But if they take care of business and give themselves a chance against Seattle… that 5.5% could get much higher.

And as a fan who has been waiting 21 years to see these meaningful games and then the playoffs that come as the payoff… I’ll take that chance.

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