Carrie Underwood

Why Maren Morris Hitting Number One Matters, And Why It Shouldn’t

On Friday morning, Maren Morris excitedly announced on her social media channels that I Could Use A Love Song will become her first solo #1 hit on the Billboard Country Airplay Chart. It is a major achievement for the young country singer who has turned heads with her voice, energy, and most importantly talent since she introduced herself to country fans.

It’s a big deal for Maren Morris, it’s exciting for her fans, and it should be. Having the number one song in the country should always be seen as an achievement. However, in the case of Maren Morris, and other female country stars, this achievement and excitement comes far too infrequently and that matters too.

Almost 2 years ago exactly (Jan 19, 2016) Morris released her debut single My Church. The song launched her career, became her first top 10 single on the country airplay charts (reaching #9), and went on to win a Grammy for Solo Country Performance of the Year in 2017. Now, I understand that it takes time for new singles to chart and climb the charts to reach their highest point, including #1. But, if we use the last two years as a sample size of 104 weeks, we can see the ongoing trend, and unfortunate reality, that it really doesn’t matter how long a female country artist waits, or how good her song is, number one probably isn’t coming.

In 2016, four weeks of 52 saw solo a female artist at #1 On the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Both Carrie Underwood (Heartbeat, Church Bells) and Kelsea Ballerini (Dibs, Peter Pan) earned and celebrated those spots, as they should have. In 2017, only two weeks out of 52 saw the same result, with Lauren Alaina (Road Less Travelled) and Carly Pearce (Every Little Thing) each earning one week at #1.

In two full years of country music releases from women, six songs accounted for less than 6% of weeks spent at #1 on radio in the country. That’s not good.

If we want to start splitting hairs and getting generous to make the numbers look better we can add six more songs that were duets featuring female artists. But it should be noted that all of them were released and listed as singles by male artists featuring their female duet partners. With that increase 5.75% turns into 12.5%, and that’s still not good.

Carly PearceEvery Little Thing (Nov. 25, 2017)Kane Brown ft Lauren AlainaWhat Ifs (Oct. 28, 2017)
Lauren AlainaRoad Less Travelled (Apr. 22, 2017)Thomas Rhett ft Maren MorrisCraving You (Jul. 22, 2017)
Kelsea BalleriniPeter Pan (Sept. 24, 2016)Kenny Chesney ft PinkSetting The World On Fire (Nov. 5, 2016)
Carrie UnderwoodChurch Bells (Jul. 30, 2016)Dierks Bentley ft Elle KingDifferent For Girls (Oct. 1, 2016)
Carrie UnderwoodHeartbeat (Mar. 26, 2016)Chris Young with Cassadee PopeThink Of You (Mar. 14, 2016)
Kelsea BalleriniDibs (Mar. 5, 2016)Luke Bryan ft Karen FairchildHome Alone Tonight (Feb. 13/20, 2016)

I’m going to take one minute to try to ensure that none of this is twisted. I believe that male country artists deserve to reach #1 on the charts if they release good music and the achievement is warranted. And there are groups and duos with female members that have topped the charts as well. But, like all requests and attempts to reach equality and/or fairness, this is not about putting down one side to raise the other up. This is about recognizing, and acknowledging that all the pats on the back we’ve given ourselves as fans and industry have not remedied the issues that became widely recognized with Tomato Gate in May of 2015.

And that brings us to something else that happened on Friday. About an hour and a half before Maren Morris tweeted about going number one, Kelleigh Bannen tweeted about a meeting she had where and she was told, “the numbers still say women don’t want to listen to other women”.

To learn that an artist was told this in a business meeting about her career is sad and discouraging. And I acknowledge that as neither an artist, or more importantly, a woman I truly cannot comprehend the full weight and impact of that kind of statement.

But as a man I do feel qualified to say that a three-part response to that tweet talking about how great of an ally you’ve been to female artists in country music is misplaced at best and a “not all men” statement at worst.

I have great respect for the career, accomplishments, philanthropy, and work of Bobby Bones. However, I don’t believe that replying to Kelleigh Bannen’s frustration and displeasure with statements like “All the meetings I’m in while discussing format in macro sense, it’s the opposite.” and “Rome won’t be rebuilt in a day. But some of us started nailing together boards a long time ago” is helpful.

We get it Bobby, you’re a friend to women and support them on your show. But it doesn’t change the systematic flaws that resulted in 5.75% solo female #1 hits in 2016/17, or an even smaller 3.3% since the chart started in October 2012 (9 of 271 weeks).

The list of women who have made great country music in the last two, three, four, five years is incredible. And yet, artists including Miranda Lambert, Cam, Jennifer Nettles, Kacey Musgraves, Reba, and even Taylor Swift (before her genre-shift) haven’t reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Country Airplay charts since its debut on October 20, 2012.

Note: This post has been entirely focused on the US market, but could be replicated for Canada where the charts are eerily similar in their lack of female representation, and have seen no Canadian women reach the top in that five year period.

Country music fans, artists, and other industry members have long known about the quality and talent that Morris brings to the table. Hell, her album, Hero, reached #1 on the sales chart. But here we are, 43 weeks after I Could Use A Love Song debuted, celebrating it as her first number one single. It has earned and deserves every single one of the spins that it receives at country radio. It is a well written, well sung, and well produced track. And, it has certainly earned that #1 spot on the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

Note: In September 2016 during 5 Quick Questions interviews, Shae Dupuy and Kira Isabella both named Maren Morris as the artist they thought people should be paying more attention to. And in October 2017, three-time Canadian Country Music Association winner for Female Artist of the Year, Jess Moskaluke gave the same answer in her 5 Quick Questions segment. It is no secret that Maren Morris has been, and continues to be, one to watch.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any quick and easy solution for this situation. It seems to me that the only remedy would be the decision of country music radio program directors to play more songs by women more often.

As fans we have the opportunity to use our personal platforms, like social media, to advocate for the female country artists we love. We can request their songs be played by our local country stations, and we can continue to stream, download, and share their music.

Leave a comment here with the name of the female county star and the song you think deserves more radio spins. And if you know the contact information for your local radio station (Email, Phone, Twitter), include that too. Every little bit helps.

I would encourage you to do all of those things while we wait to see a more advanced shift in the country music radio landscape and charts.

In the end, we should celebrate every artist and song that reaches #1 on any chart. But we should be celebrating because of the achievement, not because it hit the 1 in 30 women’s #1 lottery.

If My Name Was Whiskey: Carly Pearce Green Room Interview, Toronto

For the second time in the last few months, Carly Pearce came north to Toronto and shared her music with country music fans. And this time, with her debut album, Every Little Thing, released to the world, she was wowed by the response.

We stopped in at Rock N Horse Saloon on Wednesday night to see Carly play an acoustic set for some lucky contest winners, and just like at the Budweiser Stage earlier this summer, she was strong, charming, and showed off a mountain of talent.

As she sang her set (Color, If My Name Was Whiskey, Doin’ It Right, Hide The Wine, Every Little Thing) she noticed people in the intimate crowd singing along with songs and immediately told everyone that this was going to be a night that she wouldn’t forget. When we sat down with Carly on Thursday morning we asked her about it and she shared those same feelings again. To be this far from home, playing songs that aren’t at radio and have only been available for the 5 days since the album’s release, and seeing people sing along was special for her.

Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto

We asked her about that same thing on bigger stages this year when fans sang along to her first hit single, Every Little Thing, and she said that the feeling is more than she can explain. She also admitted that there have been times that it has overwhelmed her and she’s started to cry on stage as the band plays on and she brings herself back to the microphone. It’s something Carly told us that she used to dream about, and now, it’s turned into a dream come true.

There will soon be more chances for Carly Pearce to see the crowd singing as she hits the road with Brett Young on his tour. She told us that it’s an exciting opportunity, and one that she’s never had before. She’s had the chance to play on tours and open shows, but this tour will be the first that she’s officially on and part of all the way through.

While we had Carly with us, we got her to play a quick round of 5 Quick Questions… have a look and find out what album she loves, her favourite Shania jam, and more.

Note: Carly Pearce is charming as all get out. Whether she’s got a microphone in her hand or she’s sitting on a couch in the morning drinking coffee, she’s got it. With a laugh/ smile/ joke combination she has the ability to light up a room, and she uses it.

We talked to Carly about her new album, and the process that brought it together. Knowing that she’s a songwriter, we were curious about the songs she wrote that made the final cut. Carly told us that she wrote eight of the 13 songs on the record, and that seven of them were done and ready when it was time to start working with Big Machine. The eighth track, If My Name Was Whiskey, was written just three days before it was cut, sliding in at the wire.

Carly also told us that she is appreciative of the chance to make a full album of 13 songs. She remembers listening to and loving the 90s albums from Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and other powerhouse women in country music, and she wanted to release the same thing. She added that Scott Borchetta’s “go get it” attitude was a big help and piece of encouragement when it was time to start working on the project.

Carly Pearce at Corus in Toronto

We flipped the script on a question Carly’s heard before when we asked her what she thinks 16 year old her, the girl who moved from Kentucky to Tennessee to work and perform at Dollywood would tell her now. She laughed a little and told us that her 16 year old self was confident and absolutely sure that she was going to make it, so the success of her single, and the release of her record probably wouldn’t be a surprise. She did add that she thought it was going to happen sooner. That she was sure that when she moved to Nashville at 19 she was going to be Carrie Underwood, but that’s she’s glad now that it didn’t happen then, and that she had a chance to live and grow and write the songs she has now with the experience of the last 10 years or so.

Carly Pearce is an emerging star. Her voice, songwriting, charm, and overwhelming talent are going to grant her more opportunities in her career, and music fans will be lucky to be along for the ride.

For now, we’d recommend you press play on Every Little Thing and learn the words so you can sing along when you see her on stage. We know she’d love to see it.

Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at Corus in Toronto Carly Pearce at Corus in Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto

10 Awesome Country Covers: Tom Petty Edition

It’s a well documented and quoted fact that the late Tom Petty had some issues with modern country music – but there is no denying the love that modern country artists have for him and the impact he made on them. If you need proof, have a listen to this list of Tom Petty country covers.

Solo stars, groups, men, women, legends and upstarts are all here. Every one of them inspired by the songs that Petty wrote, sang, and gave to the world.

There are more out there, with varying video quality, and some songs, like Free Fallin’, just have too many versions to fall in love with.

If you know of a country cover of a Tom Petty song that you think we should hear, please leave a comment with a link.

And if you have a favourite from this list, let us know which it is.

Rest in peace Mr. Petty. Thank you for the music.

George Strait – You Wreck Me

Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood – Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around

Charles Kelley – Southern Accents

Chris Stapleton – You Don’t Know How It Feels

Sugarland – American Girl

Marty Stuart – Runnin’ Down A Dream

Dierks Bentley & Mat Kearney – Learning To Fly

The Wailin’ Jennys – Wildflowers

Johnny Cash – I Won’t Back Down

Linda Ronstadt – The Waiting

Bless My Heart: Vanessa Marie Carter at Boots & Hearts 2017

2016 Boots & Hearts, Emerging Artist Showcase winner, Vanessa Marie Carter hit the main stage on Thursday as part of the Coors Banquet Kick Off Party – and reminded thousands of country music fans why she took home that title, and what she brings to a party.

VMC rolled through a 10 song set on the big stage that she first got a taste of last summer, giving fans something to dance, sing, and cheer about. Covers of Shania’s Honey I’m Home, Cam’s Untamed, and Carrie Underwood’s Smoke Break all showed off her voice and brought the fans into sing along and dance break moods. While originals Criminal (a duet written with Chad Brownlee, and performed at B&H 2017 with Al Rowe), Everything Fades, and her upcoming single, Bless My Heart gave evidence to the growth, potential, and talent that Vanessa Marie Carter carries with her right now.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter

Note: One of our favourite moments came when Vanessa Marie covered Sam Hunt’s House Party. It may have taken just a second for everyone to get into it – but that song is a jam, and it was a good time hearing a female lead spin on it!

Related: Vanessa Marie Carter Live at The Ranch!

From start to finish, the sound on stage was tight, with the band pulling their weight and then some. And to see Vanessa Marie working the crowd, walking the catwalk, and looking strong and comfortable on the stage was fantastic. The work that she has put in over the last year to move forward in her career is clearly visible – and it’s paying off.

This is an artist on the rise, one to watch, and a woman that we are sure we’ll see again on the Boots & Hearts stage.

Vanessa Marie Carter, Boots & Hearts 2017 Setlist

❤ Flames
❤ Trouble Like You
❤ Honey I’m Home (Shania Twain)
❤ Untamed (Cam)
❤ Everything Fades
❤ Drink You Up
❤ Smoke Break (Carrie Underwood)
❤ House Party (Sam Hunt)
❤ Criminal
❤ Bless My Heart

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter

Big Valley Jamboree 2016 Lineup Announcement!

We talk an awful lot about how proud we are to see country music making an impact in Ontario… but let’s not forget just how HUGE county has been in Alberta for a long, long time!

Part of that country music tradition is the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta for more than 20 freaking years. It’s an impressive stretch that has seen some of the biggest and best in country music make the trip out to entertain fans over a full weekend every summer.

Lindsay Broughton at Liuna Station Gibson at the Junos 2015This morning the good folks at BVJ announced new additions to the 2016 lineup, spreading out 7 new acts over the 4 festival days. We can only imagine how happy Doc Walker, The Doll Sisters, Lindsay Broughton, Clare Bowen & Charles Esten (ABC’s Nashville), Alee, Lindi Ortega, and The Dead South.

You add those names to headliners Randy Houser, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton, and Carrie Underwood – and impressive lineup to say the least, and it makes us wish we were taking a road trip west this summer. Heck, maybe we will.

Here’s a look at the BVJ lineup so far (more names are coming!) on March 15, 2016.

Big Valley Jamboree 2016 Lineup


✨ Randy Houser
✨ Doc Walker
✨ The Doll Sisters


✨ Dierks Bentley
✨ Jo Dee Messina
✨ Collin Raye
✨ Aaron Goodvin
✨ Lindsay Broughton


✨ Blake Shelton
✨ Gary Allan
✨ Autumn Hill
✨ Clare Bowen & Charles Eston
✨ Alee


✨ Carrie Underwood
✨ Sam Hunt
✨ High Valley
✨ John Michael Montgomery
✨ Lindi Ortega
✨ The Dead South

Stay tuned for more names, more excitement, and more news from the Big Valley Jamboree!

Be Awesome!

BVJ Carrie UnderwoodBVJ Blake SheltonBVJ Randy HouserBVJ Dierks Bentley

2 years ago

Country Music All-Star Hockey Fantasy Draft

With the NHL All-Star Game coming up in Nashville on January 31, we decided to have a little fun with some hockey loving country music stars and hold a fantasy draft of our own.

2016 NHL All Star Game LogoThere are 14 players on the board, 12 skaters and 2 goalies… all picked because of their experience on the ice and/or love of the game.

There are a couple rules… and then we’ll get to the draft!

How It Works…

1. Trish and I will take turns making our picks from the list of country artists below until we each have a team of 7 players.

2. Each team must consist of 1 goalie and 1 woman skater.

3. All other players are up for grabs in any order.

4. Jason & Tom Petric and Brad & Curtis Rempel may be picked individually or as a combo, but if drafted as a pair the next drafter’s turn will have 2 picks to even things up.

The Players

Alan Doyle (Juno Cup goalie)
Brett Kissel (Family Tournament goalie, 2015)
Carrie Underwood (wife of NHL player Mike Fisher, Predators fan)
Jess Moskaluke (Floor Hockey Experience on tour with Chad Brownlee)
Chad Brownlee (former Vancouver Canucks Draft Pick)
Theo Fleury(Former NHL player)
 Cory Marquardt (Former Junior player)
 Bobby Wills (floor hockey experience on tour with Chad Brownlee)
 Tom Petric (High School player)
Jason Petric (High School player)
Brad Rempel (Juno Cup player)
Curtis Rempel (Juno Cup player)
Jim Cuddy (Juno Cup captain)
Dierks Bentley (Nashville Rec. League player)

Trish won a coin toss, so she’s got the 1st pick… here we go!

Round 1

Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2015Trish: Chad Brownlee
Not a big surprise to my readers that Chad was my first choice. I watched him work his magic at The Mod Club and I have faith. His NHL career was cut short by injury but I think. at 6’2” in this field, he’s my star defenceman.

Josh: Theo Fleury
Theo Fleury spent a bunch years playing NHL hockey, played in 7 All-Star games, and won a gold medal with Team Canada in 2002… and he’s got a country album that he released in fall 2015. I’m happy with this pick!

Round 2

dierks-bentley-at-boots-and-hearts-2013Trish: Dierks Bentley
Dierks’ spends his spare time playing with the Nashville IceHoles and from what I’ve heard, he can’t get enough hockey. He carries his hockey gear with him while on tour just in case he can get in some ice time. That’s the kind of dedication I want on my team!

Josh: Cory Marquardt
The former junior player has a lot of high energy, and I’m betting his hands are just soft enough on the ice to make some plays.

Round 3

Brett Kissel CNE 2015Trish: Tom Petric
I’ll be counting on Tom as a forward and I’m thinking I’ll put him on a line with his brother.

Josh: Brett Kissel
Brett’s a big hockey fan who strapped on the pads last Christmas to play back home. We’re playing 3 on 3, so I’m not hoping for miracles here, just someone to stop some pucks.

Round 4

Petric 2015Trish: Jason Petric (picked in combo with Tom)
Jason may have spent a little time in the penalty box  during his hockey career. I’m happy to have him as muscle on my team.

Josh: Jim Cuddy
Cuddy’s a vet who knows what he’s doing on the ice. I need a captain, and his experience being the man in charge at the Juno Cup works for me!

Round 5

Jess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixTrish: Carrie Underwood
Married to Mike Fisher, Carrie knows hockey. Can she shoot and skate? I hope she’s been practicing since the Oprah video in 2012. She brings a great energy and I’m glad to have her.

Josh: Jess Moskaluke
Jess is a sweetheart, but we’ve seen her amp up the energy on stage, and she spent the When The Lights Go Down tour with a floor hockey stick in her hands. Sign her up!

Round 6

High Valley Boots and Hearts 2015Trish: Curtis Rempel
Curtis grew up playing hockey and with a Juno Cup under his belt I’m sure he’ll be an asset to my team.

Josh: Brad Rempel
I’ll take the other half of High Valley, if nothing else we should create a little healthy rivalry between the brothers Rempel!

Round 7

Bobby Wills When The Lights Go Down Toronto-8020Trish: Alan Doyle
The most mature member of my team, and a lifetime lover of the game, Alan’s proven his worth in the net.

Josh: Bobby Wills
Bobby is another When The Lights Go Down alumni, and I’ll take him to skate with Jess, there’s got to be some chemistry there!


1: Chad Brownlee, Tom Petric, Jason Petric
2: Dierks Bentley, Curtis Rempel, Carrie Underwood
Goalie: Alan Doyle

1: Theo Fleury, Cory Marquardt, Brad Rempel
2: Jess Moskaluke, Bobby Wills, Jim Cuddy
Goalie: Brett Kissel

Results and Evaluation!

Trish: I’m happy with my picks and can’t help but think how awesome their team photo would look. Now if only we could make this game happen!

Josh: Trish has a great team, but I’m pretty happy with my 7 players… and I’d be happy to send ‘em out on the ice for a Country Music All-Star Hockey game any day of the week!

Now tell us whose team you think would win by voting in the poll!


2 years ago

By Heart: Robyn & Ryleigh Album Release Q&A!

Sister act Robyn & Ryleigh are starting 2016 with a bang!

Robyn and Ryleigh By Heart 2016The January 15th release of their album, By Heart, signals the start of some very exciting times for the girls, with a radio tour coming and shows being added to fill in their 2016 schedule already. It’s also a chance for the sisters to show what they’ve got, having been down to Nashville to write songs, and even record material for the album in Music City.

The album is available now, and we’ve had a chance to give it a few listens (gladly) from top to bottom.

It’s a fun assortment of 7 tracks, with uptempo vibes that will make fans want to sing and dance along… in fact, I Found You may be doing just that to me right now while I try to write this.

In the middle of the all the excitement right now we caught up with Robyn & Ryleigh by email to chat about the album, secret things about themselves, what their listening to, AND about the cover in the middle of the album that took us back in time a little bit.

Thanks to the girls for playing along, we know that big things are coming, and we’ll be ready for them.

So, check out the Q&A here, and find By Heart on iTunes now!

Robyn and Ryleigh Completely AdorableQ. How exciting is it to have new music out and available to your fans to start the new year?

A. It is very exciting! We are all so ecstatic to have new music for the new year. It’s such a positive start, giving everyone a feeling of being accomplished, even though it’s only the first week of the New Year! It makes us all very happy starting the year off this way, because it can only go up from here. So we’re looking forward for what’s to come and we’re glad to give our fans something new from us to ring in the 2016!

Q. Is there anything specific that you love or are especially proud of on the By Heart album?

A. To be completely honest and we hope this doesn’t sound like we are tooting our own horns, but we’re so proud of this entire album! We have worked so hard to make our album absolutely perfect, that when it came to us in the boxes the other day we all started crying with tears of happiness. This is where all of our hard work went. To be a little more specific there is one song on the album that was born and recorded in Nashville. It’s the song titled “Better Tomorrow” which is insanely cool and makes the song so unique. We wrote others in Nashville but this is the only one recorded in Nashville. So I would say we are especially proud of that song.

Q. We’ve asked some other acts this question before, and we’re always interested in the answer… what is it really like working and travelling and creating together as siblings?

A. It is so amazing to always have backup. We both have each other’s backs no matter what. If we’re having to take a flight somewhere, to be an act at a festival, we never have to fly alone. We both love having a partner in this industry. We are able to lean on each other and if somethings hard we get through it together. If something is fun and amazing we have someone to share it with.

So the answer is, even though we are siblings and we fight regularly, it’s an amazing thing being able to work together, towards something we are both passionate about.

Robyn and Ryleigh GuitarQ. And here’s another of our favourites! Can you each tell us 1 thing about yourselves that we wouldn’t find with a Google search?

Robyn: Something about me that you wouldn’t be able to find on the Internet, hmmm that’s a tough one haha. Ryleigh and I post everything online from our favourite foods, to the workout gear I wear when I workout. You already know I like working on my car, things like oil changes and breaks. But something you don’t know is I’m currently learning Spanish. I’m learning it slowly due to lack of free time (obviously I’d rather be picking up my guitar any chance I get) but I love the language, I’ve even started writing a song in Spanish. Wish me luck! Haha .

Ryleigh: This is Robyn, answering for Ryleigh, because I want to say that Ryleigh is an amazing cook. She cooks us dinner all the time and it’s always super good and healthy. We are all thankful to have such a talented cook in the house. Haha after this I will ask Ryleigh to make me some of her famous spicy prawns with zucchini noodles.

Q. We remember the song California since Wave released it in 2001, what drew you to it 15 years later as a cover on the new album?

A. We loved that song from the beginning! We were in elementary school when the song came out and we remember singing along to it with our friends. We had a writing session scheduled with Dave Thomson and it was such a coincidence that he had written one of our favourite songs from back in the day. So after we left Nashville and we’re working on the new album we got to thinking… We should ask him for the rights to record it. Sure enough he thought that was very flattering and said go for it! So we did!

Robyn and Ryleigh By Heart Available NowQ. Last one, promise… a whole bunch of people are going to listen to By Heart – but we want to know who you’re listening to. Can you give us a top 5 list of your most played recently?

A. Break up with him by Old Dominion is an awesome new song! It’s so cheeky and flirty. That’s the kind of stuff we love!

Carrie Underwood released Smoke Break and as soon as she did, we decided to learn it. It’s super catchy, Ryleigh plays guitar on the song and I picked up the mandolin for it, sounds pretty cool!

Ryleigh has an addiction to Phil Collins… It isn’t any one song, It’s all of them!

Miranda Lambert will always have me as one of her biggest fans forever. I love her, I love what she stands for and I love her music so so much!

Dixie Chicks, I know every word to almost every song 🙂

Taylor swift, she is an amazing songwriter and is so beyond talented. She is one in a million.

Ellie Goulding is another one of our favourites. It is honestly really cool that you can hear her accent even in the music, normally accents disappear in any English language music, so that is really cool. Also her song “On My Mind” is in our heads all the time.

Q. Okay, 1 more – is there anything else you want to tell everyone before we wrap up and they start listening to the album?

A. Haha are we sure this is the real last question? These have been really fun questions to answer, so we don’t mind at all, lay em’ on us!!

When y’all listen to this album, all we ask is…. CRANK IT UP! Seriously, It sounds way better loud 😉

Robyn and Ryleigh By Heart Available Now Banner


2 years ago

Crushin’ It: Brad Paisley at Boots & Hearts 2015!

On Friday night a bonafide country music super star took over the Boots and Hearts main stage and put on a show that we’re very, very happy we saw.

Brad Paisley Boots and Hearts 2015-1943Brad Paisley began his headlining set with River Bank before telling the crowd of 30,000+ that it was “great to be back in the land of Tim Hortons” – which drew a nice cheer, but nothing compared to what his songs earned and deserved.

Note: Don’t forget that this guy is a killer guitar player. The talent level there is outrageous and makes me want to pick up a 6 string. Brad was also generous with his guitars at Boots and Hearts, handing an acoustic to a teen boy in the front row, telling him to practice, and that he’d see him up on the stage in 10 years or so. Pretty classy.

Earlier in the day we heard a rumour that Brad was going to have a special guest with him, maybe Carrie Underwood, whose husband Mike Fisher was at the festival… sadly, that wasn’t the case. BUT, we did get to see Justin Moore return to the stage to help Paisley with I’m Still A Guy, and that was fun.

Brad Paisley Boots and Hearts 2015-1938Carrie did show up on the video board to sing her part of Remind Me, so all was not lost.

With 10 albums and 18 #1 hits, and a ton of other fan favourites… there is no shortage of material for the picker to choose from. But he had to pick 20. So he did. And the huge crowd, spread from the front row, to deep in the field, sang and danced and cheered along to each and every one of them.

Here’s the set list. Under that will be some more pictures. Enjoy.

Brad Paisley Boots & Hearts Set List

 River Bank
 Moonshine in the Trunk
 This is Country Music
 I’m Still a Guy
 Everything to Me
 American Saturday Night
 I Thought I Loved You Then
 Beat This Summer
 Perfect Storm
 Old Alabama
 Waitin’ on a Woman
 Remind Me (w/ Carrie Underwood on video screen)
 Southern Comfort Zone
 I’m Gonna Miss Her
 Mud on the Tires
 Crushin’ It

Work Hard. Play Harder. Be Awesome!

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2 years ago

5 Reasons We’re Excited to See Brad Paisley at Boots & Hearts 2015

Whether he’s hosting the CMAs with Carrie Underwood, recording awesome duets with Keith Urban, or making ridiculously fun music videos, Brad Paisley is consistently entertaining his fans.

And we have 0 reasons to believe that things will be any different when he takes the stage at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds. In fact, we’re so sure it’s going to be entertaining that we’ve put together our top 5 reasons we’re excited to see Brad Paisley at Boots & Hearts 2015.

Check ’em out…

The Hits

Brad-Paisley-Hits-Alive-Official-Album-CoverWith 18 #1 singles in his back pocket, you know that Brad Paisley is going to be able to play a ton of songs that everyone in the Boots & Hearts crowd knows and loves. He can have some fun with Mud On The Tires, Online, and I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song) or he can slow it down with He Didn’t Have To Be, She’s Everything, and We Danced.

Oh, and by the way – songs like Alcohol, Crushin’ It, Little Moments, and This Is Country Music didn’t go #1 – but we still hope we’ll hear them all anyway!

The Crowd

Boots and Hearts CrowdOn an August night, after a day of drinking and music and fun with friends, the crowd is going to be ready to push the party just a little harder when Paisley takes the stage to headline on the main stage.

If previous years have been any indication, the Boots & Hearts 2015 crowd will be ready to sing along, cheer with everything they’ve got, and make Brad Paisley feel like he truly is the King of Gettin’ Unwound!

The Stage Show

Brad Paisley Stage ShowI’ve seen Brad Paisley before… almost 10 years – and I know that this dude and his band like to have a good time. The arena show featured huge video screens and a ton of interaction with the crowd.

And I would be willing to bet that we’re going to be some beach ball action from the stage as Paisley plays some of his more drinking friendly hits during his set.

The Guitar Playing

Brad Paisley GuitarIt’s easy to overlook Brad Paisley’s guitar playing when you only hear him on the radio. But if you’ve seen him live, or even watched him play at an award show, you know that he’s a hell of a player.

There will be multiple guitar solos in the set, and each one will be the kind of thing that makes you stare at him or a screen so you can watch his hands work. And then, when the band comes back in, you’ll cheer because what you’ve just seen was awesome!

The Party

Brad Paisley PartyWe all know that Boots & Hearts is a party. That’s part of what we all love about it. And when Brad Paisley takes the main stage to close the show on Friday, August 7th – the people are going to be ready to welcome him and party through what we hope is a really long set.

We can’t wait for thousands of people to pack into the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds this summer for 4 days of awesome country music. And we know you’re excited too.

If there’s an artist you want to see a top 5 reasons post about, or if you want to add reasons to this post – leave a comment for us!

Work hard. Play harder. Be awesome!

3 years ago

Take Me To Church – Country Music Plays Hard, Prays Hard

New Hope United Church, Port Hope, Ontario at WelcomeLong before the advent of Bro Country, the genre was one of a Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard mentality. And in the last 20 or so years, through all the changes that country music has seen, that has remained true.

I may not be the most observant Christian, but I did grow up in the church and have crafted my own beliefs and relationship with God thanks to the direction of my mom, the soon to be United Church of Canada Reverend. My mom is also the reason I have country music in my life, and now, almost 33 years into my life I’ve really started to see the strength in the connection between those 2 worlds.

So, today I’m not ranking songs, telling you how great anything is, or even telling you that you have to go and listen to anything. I’m just here to share 10 songs (and a couple bonus tracks) that shine a light on the Pray Hard part of country music.

Think I missed a song on my list? Leave a comment and share a YouTube link so I can check it out.

Alabama: Angels Among Us

Brad Paisley ft. Dolly Parton: When I Get Where I’m Going

Brooks and Dunn: Believe

Carrie Underwood: Something In The Water

bonus: Jesus Take The Wheel

Faith Hill: There Will Come A Day

Garth Brooks: The River

bonus: Unanswered Prayers

Josh Turner: Long Black Train

Randy Travis: Three Wooden Crosses

Thomas Rhett: Beer With Jesus

bonus: Real Men Love Jesus

Vince Gill: Go Rest High On That Mountain

3 years ago

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 2

Earlier in the year I posted a list of 10 countrified covers of pop songs in response to a list posted by Buzzfeed. It was a lot of fun to put together, but also hard because there were songs that I knew I missed when I was done with my 10 picks.

So, here we are back again with another list of 10 songs covered by country artists and twanged up to varying degrees. Have a listen and see if there are any new versions that you connect with better than the originals.


1. “The Chain” – Little Big Town

2. “Drunk” – Jess Moskaluke

3. “Heaven” – Jason Aldean

4. “Just The Way You Are” – Dustin Lynch

5. “Never Tear Us Apart” – Carrie Underwood

6. “Take It Easy” – Brett Kissel

7. “Riptide” – Taylor Swift

(She might be making pop records now, but she’ll always be a little bit country to me)

8. “Night Moves” – Frankie Ballard

9. “All Apologies” – Zac Brown Band

10. “Free Bird” – Tim Hicks

Thank you and goodnight!

3 years ago

Boots & Hearts 2015 Predictions – CMA Awards

Boots and Hearts 2015 PredictionsOn the eve of the 2014 CMA Awards and Boots & Hearts next big announcement we thought it was a good time to put out some new predictions for the 2015 festival line-up at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds.

As others have already predicted (like our friends at Sound Check Entertainment) it looks like a solid point to think that Brad Paisley will be announced as the 2nd headliner of Boots & Hearts 2015.

Paisley will be co-hosting the show with alumni Carrie Underwood which makes the CMA show a great opportunity to name him… and we’re pretty sure it won’t be Underwood for 2 reasons…

1. Carrie Underwood headlined Boots & Hearts 2012.
2. Underwood has a spring due date with her first child which makes early August in Canada an unlikely option.

TheReviewsAreIn Trinity Bradshaw Interview Boots and Hearts 2014So, look for that to be Wednesday night’s big announcement. But what about the rest of the line-up?

Thus far we have only Florida Georgia Line and Trinity Bradshaw on the schedule – and there are a lot more slots to fill. Which means it’s time to start predicting some more of the 2015 country artists!

High Valley… fresh off of hosting duties in 2014, their new album County Line released to the public, and their tour already started – it would be no surprise to see Brad and Curtis Rempel on stage in 2015.

Leah-Daniels-Northern-Comfort-Saloon-CNELeah Daniels… Trish spoke with Daniels at the 2014 CNE and her new single Go Back (and the video for it) have just hit the airwaves. This Ontario singer could be a great fit for an afternoon slot on a 2nd stage.

Lady Antebellum… This is a long shot for the 3rd headliner, but I think it could happen. Lady A is one of the biggest acts in country and we haven’t seen them play B&H yet. So why not 2015? We all know that they would be a big hit.

Little Big Town… It’s unlikely that we would get both Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town on the same schedule, but there is a chance we could be in an either/or situation. I would love to see LBT up on the stage and know that they would put on a fun show either as a headliner or a lead-in act.

Small Town Pistols… More Ontario content here, the Wilkinson siblings have been on stage for years and have a huge library of songs to go to. I’ve predicted them in the past and been wrong. But I’m willing to give it 1 more chance!

Brett Kissel on Stage at Boots and Hearts 2014Brett Kissel… Brett is currently on the road with Brad Paisley, opening shows on the Canadian leg of the tour – and after absolutely killing it on the Thursday night kick-off stage in 2014, there are a lot of fans who would love to see Kissel get a chance to do the same thing on the main stage. This would be a great lead-in booking like we’ve seen with Dierks Bentley and Lee Brice in the past 2 years.

The Road Hammers… After getting washed out by the rain and hail in 2014 it feels right to think that these truck-rockers would end up at Boots and Hearts in 2015.

Tim Hicks Smoke 2014 CNETim Hicks… This is a longshot prediction. Hicks has been on stage at all 3 Boots & Hearts festivals so far, and it feels like he should be there every year. But when I spoke with him at the CNE this August he acknowledged that there are going to have to be years that he takes a break from the festival. However, when I asked him if the odds were at least 50/50 that we’d see him at Boots & Hearts 2015 he smiled and said yes!

So there you go friends, 7 more predictions for Boots & Hearts 2015.

I don’t know how many are going to be right and how many are going to be wrong, but I can’t wait to find out… starting with Wednesday night’s announcement during the CMA Awards.

Stay tuned for more!

Work hard. Play harder. Be awesome.

3 years ago

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!

3 years ago

Boots & Hearts 2014 Preview – Paul Brandt

Paul Brandt Boots and Hearts 2014 Preview

Just over a year and a half ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I saw Paul Brandt take the stage at Boots & Hearts 2012. It was the first year for the country music festival just outside of Bowmanville, Ontario, and people were excited. The rain had stopped from the night before. The music was on schedule, Carrie Underwood was headlining the final day of the show. It was damn near perfect.

And on that Sunday, before Lionel Richie and Carrie Underwood, was Paul Brandt. Canadian Country Star. Owner of 13 Canadian Country Music Awards, 8 Junos, and 7 #1 singles. I’ve been listening to Paul’s music since the mid-90’s when he broke onto the scene with .

” href=”” target=”_blank”>My Heart Has a History. And I’ve continued listening, with tracks from his live album, Small Towns and Big Dreams, living on my phone every day.

Paul Brandt, Boots & Hearts Country Music Festival The truth is, as a Canadian country music fan, you’ve been listening to Paul Brandt just as long as I have. And if you were lucky enough to see him at Boots & Hearts in 2012, or if you’ve seen him at any other show in the last 2 decades, you know why I am excited that he’s coming back to Bowmanville for Boots & Hearts 2014.

In 2012 I was hanging out with Rannie and Sara as they were interviewing artists and fans for Ford Canada at the festival, and I was in the room, sitting quietly and listening, while they spoke with Paul. He was polite and well spoken. He gave them exactly what they were looking for. He was gracious when all of the interviewers that were lined up for him asked for photos. Really he just came across as a super genuine guy from Alberta who loves what he does for a living.

That afternoon Paul was asked a question about being at the Festival and if he was happy to be there, or something along those lines, and his answer is the one thing that I have remembered from that part of the afternoon almost 2 years later. He said that (with the kids at grandma’s house) it was a mini-vacation for he and his wife, who sings back up in the band, and a chance to see friends in the industry that they hadn’t seen in a long time. I don’t know why I love that answer so much. I think it goes back to the “he’s just a really regular dude who plays country music for a living” thing.

Paul Brandt Boots and Hearts 2012I’m not sure where Paul Brandt will fit into the 2014 Boots & Hearts schedule. But I would be very happy if he was there in the sunshine, on Sunday, with a crowd ready to see Blake Shelton end the festival. And if it’s anything like it was in 2012 (and I fully expect that it will be) I will be singing along and feeling the feels and loving every second of the set.

Update: Paul Brandt’s website is confirming that he will take the stage on Friday, August 1 from 7:30pm to 9pm. That spot would make him the lead-in to Toby Keith as Friday night’s headliner.

Be prepared to hear songs like Small Towns and Big Dreams, I Do, I Meant To Do That, Alberta Bound, Convoy, Together Again, Give It Away, Didn’t Even See The Dust, Canadian Man and more.

If you haven’t seen Paul Brandt in concert before, I assure you that this set will make you happy. You will not go home disappointed. And, if you’re like me, hearing Alberta Bound, live on the stage will make you want to pack a bag and head out west immediately.

There are still probably about 10 names left to add to the Boots & Hearts 2014 line up. But I can tell you right now that I’m already excited to get back out to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for 4 days of country music. Including Paul Brandt.

Stay tuned for more previews, interviews and features as we get closer and closer to the festival.

And before you go, have a look at this video of Paul singing one of my favourite songs, When You Call My Name, with Boots & Hearts 2013 performers, High Valley.

Work Hard. Play Harder. Be Awesome.

Embed from Getty Images
4 years ago

Boots & Hearts 2013 Exclusive Q&A: Mackenzie Porter

Mackenzie Porter Singing at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]23 year old Mackenzie Porter may just be getting started in her country music career, but don’t be fooled into thinking that she’s just started to work. Born into a talented family in Alberta, Mackenzie has been singing and acting for years, touring with her brother Kalen before going solo.

Winner of the 2011 the Nashville North Star competition and nominee for the 2013 Rising Star Award at the Canadian Country Music Awards, Mackenzie’s stock keeps on climbing.

This year Mackenzie hit Boots and Hearts like a storm, playing all day in the LUG tent on Friday and an afternoon slot on the Front Porch Stage on Saturday. We caught the Saturday set and loved it. During sound check you clearly hear her let fly some classical music, and 10 minutes later it’s not a violin, it’s a fiddle and this is country music.

Mackenzie’s sound is young, energetic and smooth. But it doesn’t alienate old country lovers. It’s music that you can listen to with your grandma, but can turn up and sing loud at home too. And the more shows that she and her band play and the more she writes and the more she sticks it out, the stronger she will get.

In the lead up to her performances at Boots and Hearts 2013 in Bowmanville we asked Mackenzie a few questions. Check it out.

Josh & Trish: You’ve had the chance to play shows and festivals with some of the biggest acts in country music (Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood), have you received any tips or tricks from anyone to help with your stage show? And whose show has entertained you most?

Mackenzie Porter: I try to go to as many live performances as I can and at times, I will incorporate something that really moves me into my show from the ones I love. One piece of advice that I really like is “Steal ideas and make them your own.” There are so many talented country acts that I’ve had the pleasure of watching and learning from. Miranda’s show was probably one of my favorites. LOVE THAT WOMAN!!!

J&T: With acting a big part of your life to go along with music, do you see yourself as the country music version of say, Selena Gomez – is that something that you hear a lot of?

MP: I’ve actually never heard that before, but I’ll take it :). No, really I just want to be creating music and telling stories. I’m so fortunate to be able to pursue both career paths because I truly have a passion for both….I find that they very much compliment one another!

J&T: If you could have 1 greatest hit record queued up on your iPod, whose would it be?

MP: BEATLES.. I grew up listening, singing, and performing their songs. They bring back so many memories of my childhood. GOOD AND BAD!! haha

J&T: You’re active on both Twitter and Facebook, what’s your favourite part of the social media experience: Sharing info with your fans, or hearing from them with encouragement and love?

MP: I do like social medias because of the instant feedback and interaction. I try to keep fans up to date with what I’m doing and try to show them who I am and what I’m passionate about. I also follow a lot of artists myself because I like learning more about the people I respect.

J&T: Congratulations on your CCMA Rising Star nomination, how does it feel to be up for an award that has had past winners like, Kira Isabella, Chad Brownlee, George Canyon, Amanda Wilkinson and Johnny Reid?

MP: Thank you!!! I’m so pumped. I went to the CCMA’s for the first time last year and NOBODY knew who I was. I hadn’t released any music and barely knew anyone in the industry. I remember sitting in the audience when they announced the rising star and I said to myself “I’m going to be nominated next year.” Of course I say that about the Grammy’s and Academy Awards every year as well.. so of course, I didn’t really expect it to happen!! I’m so grateful for being nominated among so many other stupidly talented artists.

Want to know more about Mackenzie Porter? Follow her on Twitter and Like her on Facebook and Peruse her Instagram!

Work Hard, Play Harder, Be Awesome.Mackenzie Porter Boots and Hearts 2013 Front Porch Stage Introduction [credit: Trish Cassling]
Mackenzie Porter at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]
Mackenzie Porter at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]
Mackenzie Porter at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]
Mackenzie Porter Portrait Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]

4 years ago
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