JJ Shiplett

Til The Goin’ Gets Gone: Lindi Ortega at Boots & Hearts 2017

Lindi Ortega is as original a talent as their is on the 2017 country music landscape. With a sound that is revered by fans and critics alike, she popped up on the Boots & Hearts 2017 Front Porch Stage and showed everyone why she’s making waves in music.

Singing songs like Run Amuck, Angels, I Ain’t The Girl, and Demons Don’t Get Me Down, Ortega showed the Saturday afternoon crowd why she’s a Rolling Stone favourite, and why her 2017 EP, Til The Goin’ Gets Gone has received praise and love from listeners.

Note: Mainstream country fans in Canada may know Lindi Ortega’s name from her work with Dean Brody on the 2013 #1 hit, Bounty. But if you haven’t listened to her solo work, we highly recommend it.
Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega

And it’s not just music fans that believe in Lindi. JJ Shiplett told us before and during the festival that he was excited to see her set, adding, “She’s the best singer in Canada right now. Her voice has the warmth of Emmylou Harris and the attitude of Dolly Parton.”. That’s pretty high praise.

Lindi was fun, energetic, charming, and sweet on stage as she and the band rolled through their set. And we can tell you right now, when we get the chance to see her again, we’re going to jump on it!

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi OrtegaBoots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi OrtegaBoots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega Band Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega Band Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega BandBoots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi OrtegaBoots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi OrtegaBoots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega

2 months ago Views

Something To Believe In: JJ Shiplett at Boots & Hearts 2017

Saturday was a busy day for JJ Shiplett, with 2 performances at Boots & Hearts, and a hang out with us before the music began.

If you aren’t familiar with JJ, now is the time for you to start listening to his well toned, gravely voiced redhead. On both the main stage and the SiriusXM popup in the VIP, JJ showed the Boots & Hearts fans what he brings to the party.

On the main stage, early in the afternoon with the sun high in the sky, JJ came out with the band and rolled through some of our favourite tracks from his Something To Believe In album. And as the songs played we saw fans singing and dancing – and JJ was happy to shout out the people in the crowd that he saw wearing JJ Shiplett t-shirts.

While we were hanging out before the show we asked for an update since our last chat back in November… and there’s been a bunch going on for JJ.

1) He got married (so congrats again to him on that).
2) His honeymoon starts Sunday.
3) He’s played shows in Toronto, Cavendish Beach, Calgary Stampede, and more.
4) He’s been writing songs for a second album, with special attention being paid to creating tracks that come together to make the best album he has in him, and that are fun to play on stage for him and the band and the fans.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - JJ Shiplett

We’ve had the opportunity to see JJ Shiplett perform in small clubs and the big stage, and we’ve talked to him about connecting with the fans that show up. He thrives off of that vibe, and loves the way a small room can feel when the music is hitting everyone – and he’s looking forward to feeling that in his bones at big festival shows at Boots & Hearts. And while we didn’t talk to him after the show, we did see people connecting with JJ’s music on Saturday. And we saw the singing along that we love to see, and that he’s still sometimes amazed by.

With the band killing it behind him, JJ had the opportunity to truly show off what he has created with his first album. The voice, the style, and everything that makes him unique in the current country music climate were on display – and we’re happy for him that he got that chance.

Shiplett told us that he knows nothing is guaranteed to him or anyone else in this business, so he’s happy to work hard and strike while the iron is hot. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if you see more shows and tour dates and album planning announced after JJ and his wife celebrate their well deserved honeymoon!

JJ Shiplett, Boots & Hearts 2017 Setlist

Darling Let’s Go Out Tonight
Am I Dear
Seeking Shelter
Always For You
Higher Ground
Something To Believe In

Boots and Hearts 2017 - JJ Shiplett Boots and Hearts 2017 - JJ Shiplett Boots and Hearts 2017 - JJ Shiplett

2 months ago Views

Boots & Hearts Preview: JJ Shiplett Q&A

If you haven’t seen JJ Shiplett on stage, we highly recommend that you change that as soon as possible. And if you’re going to Boots & Hearts 2017, your chance is coming soon!

We caught up with the Something To Believe In singer for a little pre-festival Q&A action, and as usual, JJ was awesome.

Thanks for JJ Shiplett for playing along, check out his answers and stay tuned for more previews, and more JJ soon!

Q: We’ve seen you play club shows at The Dakota Tavern and the Moustache Club, what’s the biggest difference between playing those shows, and big festival shows?

JJ: Usually festival gigs are a bit more hectic. You only get a line-check and it’s hop up and go. Where Club gigs are a bit more greasier. A little more intimate. I dig that. I want people to feel like this show is the most important thing in the world. Like there’s no where else to be…

Q: What is your favourite part about the country music fans across Canada?

JJ: I find most music fans in Canada to be good people. Whether they’re country, rock, folk or blues fans. Doesn’t seem to matter. I think most Canadians wanna see other Canadians do well and create quality art.

JJ Shiplett at The Dakota

Related: 5 Quick Questions with JJ Shiplett

Q: Which act are you most excited to see at Boots & Hearts this year?

JJ: Lindi Ortega. She’s the best singer in Canada right now. Her voice has the warmth of Emmylou Harris and the attitude of Dolly Parton. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know her over the past while and she’s as cool as they get

Q: Can you tell us something about you that we wouldn’t find in a Google search?

JJ: I won an award at my grade school graduation for being the Athlete Of The Year. I immediately retired from playing sports and took up music. Get out on top…

Q: What is your number #1 festival tip for the fans?

JJ: As a red head the only answer here is sunscreen.

JJ Shiplett

3 months ago Views

Have Your Say: 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Awards Nominees!

The Canadian Country Music Association has announced the full list of 2017 CCMA Awards nominees… and it’s an impressive list of Canadian country talent!

We are lucky and privileged to have covered, met, and seen these artists put on amazing lives shows, record fantastic music, and grow into their careers.

But now, because we know you have an opinion, we want to know who you think should win at the 2017 CCMA Awards in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Sunday, September 10th. Use the polls to vote and support your favourite artists, and use the link at the bottom of the list to cast your official vote for the Fans’ Choice Award!

Have fun – and congratulations to all of the nominees in 2017, you should all be proud of your accomplishments, we can’t wait to hear what you’ve got coming for us next.

Click Here to submit your official vote for the Fans’ Choice Award!

And Click Here to see the full list of nominees in all 2017 Canadian Country Music Association categories! 

3 months ago Views

Cavendish Beach Music Festival 2017

The folks at Cavendish Beach Music Festival have been busy today. We’re here to give you all the #CBMF2017 news and there’s lots of it. Where to start?

Let’s start with the newly announced Tailgate Party on Thursday, July 6th. This free event allows you to check out the venue, pick up your wristbands and enjoy some awesome music. Our good friends Johnson Crook are part of the tailgate party along with John King, DJ Bad Ash and Mountain Faith Band.  You can expect some great music from all of these acts and a tailgate party is just the thing to get you ready for the weekend.

Also announced today is the official Cavendish Farms Kitchen Stage Lineup. Heading up the Kitchen Stage is CMA Award-winner and multi-platinum selling artist Billy Ray Cyrus. Supporting acts include Amanda RileyDJ Bad Ash, Eloie Richard, EmiSunshine, Endless Summer, Jason Price, JJ Shiplett, Rawlins Cross, Rik Reese, Sykamore, The Good Brothers, The Lovelocks, The Mountain Faith Band, The Stanfields, TJ King  and Tony Jackson.

We don’t have the daily schedule yet, but we’ve broken down the artists by day for you.

Friday, July 7th


Little Big Town

High Valley
Gord Bamford
Brandy Clark
The Good Brothers
Port Cities
Endless Summer
Mountain Faith Band
Sykamore
Rawlins Cross

Saturday, July 8th


Kip Moore
Kane Brown
Chad Brownlee
Canaan Smith
Madeline Merlo
Andrew Hyatt
Makayla Lynn

Sunday, July 9th

Zac Brown Band
Brothers Osborne
Tim Hicks
Aaron Goodvin
Jessica Mitchell
Lucas Hoge

For your full weekend lineup check out the Cavendish Lineup Page.

What else do you need to know? How about ticket info. Tier One tickets are on sale right now for $169.00. There are VIP options, Sunroof Options and Hayloft Reserved seating options. Check out all the ticket info here.

Additionally, there are some pretty amazing food vendors for you this year including the return of Mr. Donair.  And last but not least… Cavendish Beach Music Festival is running a Mother’s Day Contest. Check out their Facebook Page for all the details.

5 months ago Views

Boots & Hearts 2017 Day-to-Day Lineup Announcement!

We’re closing in on 3 months away from Boots & Hearts 2017 at Burl’s Creek Event Park… and with seven new names added to the lineup this morning, it feels like we’re nearing the full list of performers.

And adding to that is the announcement of the day-to-day lineups for this year’s festival!

Yes, we now know who we’re going to see on which day. And yes, there are more details to come, telling us who will play on the main stage, who will be on the front porch stage, and what time we’ll be seeing everyone… but this is a huge start to the planning process, and amps up the excitement for each day of August 10 through 13.

Let’s start at the start, with the Thursday night Coors Banquet Kick Off Party, and go through the weekend!

And, for each day we’ll key in on a couple of names (headliners not included) that we think you should be ready to watch… and enjoy!

Ready?

Thursday, August 10 – Coors Banquet Kick Off Party


Doc Walker
Vanessa Marie Carter
and more…

This one is easy… both Doc Walker and Vanessa Marie Carter are going to be awesome. But after seeing 5 acts on stage last year during the kick off party, we’re waiting to see who else gets added here!

Friday, August 11


Keith Urban
Dan + Shay
Frankie Ballard
Kiefer Sutherland
Drake White & The Big Fire
Brooke Eden
Endless Summer
Jessica Mitchell
Andrew Hyatt
Leaving Thomas
Sykamore

Ugh, so this is not as easy… Drake White & The Big Fire are awesome, if you haven’t seen them before, you need to make your way to the stage for them. And if we’re going to pick more, which we have to do, we’re highlighting Jessica Mitchell, Andrew Hyatt, and upstart duo Leaving Thomas.

Saturday, August 12


Brantley Gilbert
Eli Young Band
Chad Brownlee
Tucker Beathard
Aubrie Sellers
Lindi Ortega
JJ Shiplett
The Abrams
Jesse Gold
Nice Horse

We all know how great Chad Brownlee is, so let’s skip him and move to JJ Shiplett and The Abrams. We’re looking forward to both of these sets, and can’t wait for more country music fans to hear their music.

Sunday, August 13


Luke Bryan
Brett Eldridge
Jess Moskaluke
Cold Creek County
Midland
Delta Rae
Dani Strong
Alee
Kelly Prescott
Colt Walker

Last day, and it’s still not easy. If you haven’t seen Alee yet, go listen to her brand new record and then get ready to see her on stage… and you are not going to want to miss Midland. Those Texas boys are good, and funny, and we’re willing to bet that they’re going to kill it on the big stage.

So there you go… this is who we’ll see each day at Boots & Hearts 2017. Now, get ready to be even more excited every day as we get closer.

And stay tuned for contests, interviews, previews and more!

Jess Moskaluke Boots and Hearts 2015Jessica Mitchell BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016-Vanessa Marie Carter The RanchChad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2015CMT Music Fest - Andrew HyattDani Strong Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016

 

6 months ago Views

Road to Boots: JJ Shiplett and Kelly Prescott

The road to Boots & Hearts 2017 officially kicked off Wednesday night in Toronto with an intimate night of entertainment provided by JJ Shiplett and Kelly Prescott. The night was presented by B&H, just a day after naming 20 new performers for this summer’s festival… a list that included both of the evening’s performers.

The small room at Burdock on Bloor Street West was filled with music lovers, eager to participate in both banter and sing alongs. And they were treated to both throughout the evening – a testament to both Kelly and JJ, and how they were able to give the Toronto audience exactly what they were looking for on a wintery mid-week night out.

First to take the stage was Kelly Prescott. Accompanied by Chad Murphy on guitar, and Linsey Beckett on fiddle, Prescott played well with the crowd in her opening set, cracking jokes and playing with the people before and between and every step of the way.

The set was sweet, and funny. Prescott’s voice was smooth and calm, but with just enough edge to make you want more of it and wonder if it was coming around every corner. She also summoned the feels as she worked through her set. Telling tales of love, loss, and family in her stories and lyrics.

We don’t know which day or stage we’ll be seeing Kelly Prescott play at Boots & Hearts 2017, but we know that we’ll have listened to her 2016 EP, Hillbilly Jewels (click here to listen on Spotify) enough to be able to sing along from the crowd.


Following Ms. Prescott, and headlining the night, was Calgary’s JJ Shiplett. Riding high on the January release of his new LP, Something To Believe In, Shiplett took to the Burdock stage solo with his trusty acoustic guitar to take on the crowd.

Form the first line of the first song, Darling, Let’s Go Out Tonight, the Toronto audience was ready to sing along with JJ Shiplett. And it was clear from his reaction that he was both pleased to hear it, and a little surprised. With just two weeks separating the album’s release date and the Road to Boots show, I’m not sure he expected the lyrical awareness to be there from the crowd. But it was.

That sing along atmosphere was amplified by JJ’s encouragement and constant calls for more voices, bigger and louder with every song as the set went on. In fact, to make sure that everyone had a chance to sing along, even if they didn’t yet know his own songs, Shiplett slipped in an acoustic version of Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World – inviting everyone to sing from the first note to the last.

As much as the night was about JJ, and almost acted as a Toronto celebration of Something To Believe In, he did his best to make it about the folks gathered with him.

JJ Shiplett worked through nine songs and an encore on Wednesday night. And through it all he was raw, unfiltered and real… three qualities that his voice and his music exemplify and should be celebrated for. And his enthusiasm on this night was noted by all in attendance.

Before the set was over JJ remarked that he’s been told the 2017 Boots & Hearts crowd will be the largest he’s ever played for… and it will. And he joked that he’d appreciate all of us that were there to be in the front row in August forming a support group atmosphere.

We’ve got a feeling, that as nice an idea as that is, he’s not going to need it.

If you haven’t yet, listen to the album (click here to listen on Spotify) and get ready for JJ Shiplett at B&H this summer.

Road to Boots, JJ Shiplett Set List

✪ Darling, Let’s Go Out Tonight
✪ Am I Dear?
✪ Seeking Shelter
✪ Waters
✪ Oh No Girl
✪ What A Wonderful World (L. Armstrong)
✪ Always For You
✪ Higher Ground
✪ Something To Believe In
…Encore…
✪ Loaded Like A Freight Train/I’m On Fire
✪ 4am (Our Lady Peace)

More photos of Kelly Prescott at Road to Boots Toronto. Feb 8, 2017

Chad Murphy & Linsey Beckett

9 months ago Views

Boots & Hearts 2017 Lineup Announcement: Chad Brownlee, Jess Moskaluke, Eli Young Band, and more!

Boots & Hearts is back with a big announcement today… with 20 new names added to the 2017 festival lineup.

Some of these artists we’ve seen a bunch, some we’ve never seen at all, and that makes us pretty freakin’ excited for August 10-13, 2017.

Get yourself ready, this is getting big.

Today’s Announcement Includes…

Chad Brownlee
We are happy campers to see this Canadian headliner added to the Boots & Hearts lineup. Chad isn’t new to the festival, but he has new music to share since the last time he hit the B&H stage.

We can’t wait to see Chad up there, with the entire crowd singing along to his radio hits!

Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2015

Eli Young Band
If you were looking for a name you knew, this should be it! The Eli Young Band are sure to bring a bunch of energy, talent, and smooth sounding songs to the Boots & Hearts stage when they play their set.

We don’t know which day we’ll see them, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s gonna be good.

Frankie Ballard
Frankie’s back! Mr. Ballard played Boots & Hearts in 2015, and now he’s coming back to do it again. We expect the crowd to be bigger and louder, and we expect that Frankie Ballard will be ready for it.

Get ready to sing loud when he plays Cigarette and Sunshine & Whiskey.

 

Jess Moskaluke
YES! Ms. Moskaluke is still the top of the heap when it comes to Canadian women in country music. Her third consecutive CCMA win for Female Artist of the Year should tell you that.

Jess has been on the small stage twice in her Boots & Hearts career – the last time playing the kick-off party. This year we’re expecting to see her on the main stage, playing for some very excited country music fans.

Jess Moskaluke Trackside Fest 2016

Kiefer Sutherland
Yes, that Kiefer Sutherland. If you haven’t listened to Kiefer’s 2016 album, Down In A Hole, give it a listen now (click here to listen on Spotify) and get ready for his stage performance.

This isn’t the first Hollywood star to play the festival… year 1 attendees will remember Kevin Costner getting it done.

Kiefer Sutherland Band at The Horseshoe Toronto Jazz Festival 2016

Tucker Beathard
We saw Tucker last year at a small showcase in Toronto… and after seeing him sit with his guitar and sing, we can’t wait to see the full show when he’s plugged in with the band.

His star is rising, you’ve probably heard Rock On, and you should go listen to Momma and Jesus to get yourself ready.

Tucker Beathard - The Rivoli

Drake White and the Big Fire
We saw Drake White last summer… and the dude is a lot of fun on stage. He sounds great and he brings a love for doing what he does when he’s up there. And he’s got a great hat.

This will be a sing and drink and dance along set.

CMT Music Fest - Drake White & The Big Fire

 

Brooke Eden
This Florida powerhouse has been on a ton of “ones to watch” lists in the last 2 years, and now we’re going to get to hear in person why she’s landed on all of them.

Boots & Hearts is bringing girl power to the stage. And we’re into it.

Cold Creek County
Canadian country fans already know these boys… but if you haven’t seen them yet, this is a great opportunity. They bring as much energy as anyone in the game when they step on stage. And they fill the stage with dudes and sound when they get to playing.

Be ready, this one is going to get loud.

Aubrie Sellers
They call her a Texas/Nashville hybrid… and we can get behind that. Sellers will be making her Boots & Hearts debut – which means a whole lot of fans to grab. And we’re sure she’ll be up to it.

Get ready for this 20something to show you what she’s got.

Lindi Ortega
Lindi Ortega is an underrated add to this list. With all kinds of critical acclaim, and fans who absolutely love her, Ortega is going to be great at Boots & Hearts.

Her signature sound and style are going to present some awesome “wow” moments for new fans this summer.

Endless Summer
Clint and Bob Moffat may never have been names that country fans thought they’d see on a festival lineup… but here they are. Endless Summer has been putting in work to show their country chops and build their fanbase. And, they’re super nice guys who can truly play and sing.

The boys announced online that they will be handling some hosting duties on the weekend as well – so be ready to see them on stage more than once.

CCMA Awards 2016 Strut Social House Endless Summer

Midland
They hype is legit when it comes to Midland. You may have seen other country artists talking about how much they’re into what these guys are bringing… and if you haven’t, we can tell you that we trust their judgement.

We don’t know where these new comers will land on the schedule, but we’ll be there to listen.

JJ Shiplett
We had a feeling that JJ would be making the trip to Boots & Hearts this summer to share the new music from Something To Believe In, and we’re very happy that he’s going to have that chance.

Be ready for a sing along and grab a beer, this is gonna be good.

The Abrams
The Abrams have been rising stars for the last little while… and their single, Champion, has been heard by a lot of people. The boys opened for Brett Kissel on the Ice, Snow & 30 Below tour – and got a shout out to us from Brett during Canadian Country Music Week 2016.

We’re expecting some energy with this one – to go along with a great sound.

Jessica Mitchell
Thank Goodness! We love this talented young woman, and the small taste of her that Boots & Hearts fans got on the SiriusXM stage just wasn’t enough. If you only know Workin’ On Whiskey, please go listen to her EP (click here to listen on Spotify) and get ready.

Prepare for jokes, songs, and feelings when Jessica Mitchell gets on stage at B&H.

Jessica Mitchell at The Horseshoe Toronto Jazz Festival 2016

Dani Strong
Dani is a hard working, talented country artist – and we’re happy that she’s going to get this chance to play at Boots & Hearts. We’ve had the chance to see her play on a couple of stages over the last 2 years, and we’re sure she’ll bring the same love to the stage this summer.

Be ready for a good time, it’s gonna happen.

Kelly Prescott
Kelly is on the rise. Featured as December 2016’s CMAO artist of the month, she’s been working hard, playing hard, and showing a whole lot of people that she’s got what it takes to play with the big kids.

We’re looking for energy, great songs, and Kelly Prescott working hard again to show new listeners that she’s one to watch.

Andrew Hyatt
We like Andrew a lot. Can’t lie. He’s a good dude who plays good music, builds all kinds of woodshop projects when he’s got the time – and sent us a hilarious Christmas wish to share last year.

You might not think you know Andrew Hyatt, but be ready to sing along to MGR (Me And A Girl And A Radio) when he plays it loud.

CMT Music Fest - Andrew Hyatt

Jesse Gold
Another up and comer, Jesse will be looking to show the country fans at Boots & Hearts that he belongs and that they should be listening. And we think he will. Be ready for all kinds of effort and passion for the music when he’s playing.

You won’t be disappointed.

and more…

Stay tuned for more from Boots & Hearts 2017 – we can’t wait to hear what the next news is going to be… but we know we’re going to have contests, fun info, and more to share.

9 months ago Views

Joshua’s Highlights and Top Memories of 2016!

2016 was a long, hard year for many of us. Personally, and in the music industry, we experienced loss and heartbreak – BUT, in the midst of all of that, we also had some great moments and we have to remember that!

So, to celebrate what was good about the year, here are 5 of my best memories and highlights of 2016…

Arkells at WayHome

In July we hit WayHome for year 2 and enjoyed the hell out of the weekend, but the lasting memory of the weekend for me will probably be the Arkells on Saturday.

In the afternoon we sat down in the woods with Max and Mike for a pre-show interview that had a super laid back vibe, was a fun little connection, and gave some insight to the direction that the band has taken on stage and on record in the Morning Report era.

And then (after a quick and awesome braid appointment in the VIP salon) we watched the band hit the WayBold stage – where they proceeded to kick ass and take names. From start to end the energy was hot, the horn section and backup singers were on point and a great addition to the show, and the crowd was on fire. Check the videos from the performance and see Arkells at your very next opportunity. I would live that day again right now if you’d let me.

WayHome - ArkellsWayHome - Arkells

Music Video Debut – Tebey: Old School

We knew that Tebey and his team were shooting for a new video when they were at Boots & Hearts… but I never expected to see myself in the official Old School music video!

At 0:11 and 1:32 you can see my Toronto Raptors hat turned around backwards in the summer heat as I sit with Tebey for our pre-show interview. It was a fun vibe while we were hanging out, and an even cooler surprise when the video premiered and I saw myself on the screen.

Let’s not be confused, this isn’t a starring role, but a cool little moment to remember from the year.

It’s also cool seeing Trish in the pit at 2:02 mark snapping the pics that ended up in our post from the show.

Introducing My Mom To Jess Moskaluke And High Valley

For Christmas 2015 my mom wanted High Valley music. So, I picked up a CD, and in her card I told her that we would try to catch Brad and Curtis the next time they played in the Toronto area.

Just our luck, High Valley and Jess Moskaluke came to the CNE in Toronto just days before my mom’s birthday at the end of August, and we were in the crowd to see the show together. BUT, even cooler for us was the chance to bring my mom backstage during our interviews with both Jess and High Valley.

I owe so many thanks to everyone for being so kind and gracious with their time before the show, and for being so sweet to my mom. I was a really cool night, and a memory that I’m happy to have.

High Valley CNE 2016 Bandshell

Garth Brooks In Hamilton, ON

Near the end of March we drove to Hamilton, ON to see the man, the legend, and the reason there’s a website I’m posting on right now… Garth Brooks.

We didn’t have press passes, Trish wasn’t in the photo pit, I had three browser tabs open while I tried to buy tickets to the show – and it was all worth it. We sat in the crowd, packed in with Garth fans that were eagerly awaiting the show. And not a single one of us was disappointed.

Garth Freaking Brooks was freaking awesome!

Hit after hit blasted from the stage, and Mr. Brooks showed us all that he’s still got it. He is still the man at the top of the mountain, and everyone else is tasked with building their career to get as close as possible to what this man has done in the last 25+ years.

Canadian Country Music Week & The CCMA Awards

For the first time we hit Canadian Country Music Week and the Canadian Country Music Awards in London, ON… and it was awesome!

The days were a blur of amazing people, parties, performances, interviews and a little bit of sleep. We got to talk to a heap of artists. We got to reconnect with friendly faces. We had the chance to make new friends. And all of it was against the backdrop of the biggest weekend of the year.

On awards night we had an amazing opportunity to take in all of the action. Trish and I both got to hang out at the green carpet to see everyone make their entrance. And during the show Trish was inside with her camera and I was in the media tent with the chance to see the CCMA winners just moments after their big moments on stage.

It was awesome, and we both hope we get to experience that again.

CCMA Awards 2016 Strut Social House JJ ShiplettDean Brody CCMA 2016 Win

10 months ago Views

Always For You: JJ Shiplett and Johnson Crook Hit Toronto and Oshawa!

On back-to-back nights in Toronto and Oshawa, ON – JJ Shiplett and Johnson Crook took the stage and put on the kinds of shows that make music fans want to hear more, see more, and do it all over again.

Friday night’s show saw the 2 acts play early sets at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern and Saturday saw them travel down the 401 to Oshawa’s Moustache Club to wrap up their weekend. We were there on both nights to grab photos, videos, and on Saturday we had a chance to sit down with JJ to talk about his new album, the holidays, what’s coming up in 2017 and more.

Johnson Crook opened both shows, bringing their personal brand of country harmonies to the stage playing songs that we’ve heard them hit at previous shows, and showing us that they are more and more ready for bigger things each time. During the set lead singer Noel Johnson told the crowd that the band’s debut EP will be available in February 2017, which is exciting for us to hear. And exciting for the boys too.

AND, without spoiling any surprises, we are telling you now that you should be on the lookout for a very special appearance on one of the tracks from a Canadian legend!

You can download or stream Johnson Crook’s lead single Minnedosa now, and with their EP release be ready for tracks like Canada To Heartbreak, Hardwired, and Mr. Nobody.

Johnson Crook at The Dakota Tavern

After the brief break between bands, JJ Shiplett and his accompanying musicians hit the stage to put on their show… and ain’t nobody disappointed that they were there to see it on either night.

JJ has been putting in work, from coast-to-coast, sharing his music, exposing people to the tracks they know, and ones that they’ll hear on his upcoming record – release date: Late January 2017.

I asked JJ about the album on Saturday when we sat down and in his responses it was clear to see that he’s ready for everyone to hear it and dig in. In fact, the album has been ready for a bit now, the design elements have been finished up, and now all that’s left to do is the waiting… and Mr. Shiplett is ready for that part to be over.

It’s kinda hard, he said, to see people digging the songs that he’s playing on stage, but knowing that they can’t yet go home and listen to them again. Soon, that will change.

On stage in Toronto and Oshawa we heard the songs we have been able to listen to at home in Higher Ground, Always For You, and Something To Believe In (all featured on JJ’s 2016 EP, The EP) and they truly are songs to listen to over and over again.

JJ Shiplett at The Dakota

As JJ sipped our pre-show beers I also asked him about his recent stop at the House of Strombo to play for cameras, Facebook Live, and the man himself who has been Canada’s Boyfriend, and a beacon for music for Canadians since his early days at Much Music and The Edge 102.1.

JJ told me that going to Stroumboulopoulos’ house was the first time they’d met – and that he sat down to hang out and play two songs, one cover and one original… and while I didn’t ask which original he played at the house (I’m sure it will show up on The Strombo Show YouTube channel), I did watch the video of his Tom Waits’ Hold On cover, and I dug it. As a music fan it’s cool to watch those videos, as a performer it sounds like it’s a cool experience as well. And I like that.

And before we finished our beers and JJ headed upstairs to get ready for his Saturday set at The Moustache Club, I asked him to look into the future a little bit and tell me what’s coming next.

Starting with the holidays, JJ told me that things will get a little quieter. He’ll head home to Calgary and spend time with this family (who are apparently really great debaters), and with his new (used) piano that he just got tuned and can’t wait to play. So if you’re JJ’s neighbour and you start hearing keys and Christmas carols in the next few weeks, that’s exactly what’s going on!

I also poked a little bit, asking about 2017 and touring and what’s going to happen. And while there weren’t a lot of details, it’s clear that JJ wants to be out on the road, playing the new album and introducing people to the songs they’ll be able to go home and listen to. He knows that he’s got to put in the work, and he’s all for it.

And having seen the man do his thing on a few occasions in 2016, we can tell you that he’s more than up to the challenge of getting out there, hitting the road and showing each and every one of you what he’s got to give.

Before JJ Shiplett wrapped his sets this weekend with Something To Believe In, he gave us something that we’ve seen and loved from Canadian musicians in 2016… a tribute to The Tragically Hip. JJ and his boys played Grace, Too – and while it wasn’t quite as emotional as Gord was in Kingston (or Calgary, where JJ saw two shows), it was special and appreciated. And you can watch it right here.

JJ Shiplett at The Dakota

Keep your eyes and ears open for more from both Johnson Crook and JJ Shiplett – these are names that are ready to be on the tip of your tongue when you’re talking about music with your friends and fellow fans.

And keep your eyes on this space for more, because we aren’t done with these guys yet!

More photos of JJ Shiplett at The Dakota Tavern, Toronto.

JJ Shiplett at The DakotaJJ Shiplett at The DakotaJJ Shiplett at The DakotaJJ Shiplett at The DakotaJJ Shiplett at The DakotaJJ Shiplett at The Dakota

More photos of Johnson Crook at The Dakota Tavern, Toronto.

Johnson Crook at The Dakota Tavern Johnson Crook at The Dakota Tavern Johnson Crook at The Dakota Tavern

11 months ago Views

5 Quick Questions with JJ Shiplett!

Back in September we had the chance to sit down with JJ Shiplett during Canadian Country Music Week – and we roped the talented redhead into answering our 5 quick questions.

If you don’t know JJ, you’re missing out. This Canadian is working hard and making people take notice with his sound, and with his debut full-length album coming soon… there are going to be a whole lot more people on board soon!

Now, without further ado, check out 5 Quick Questions with JJ Shiplett – and then listen to his EP, The EP!

Q1: If you’re on the road for a long drive between cities, and can only put 1 album on to listen to on repeat, which album are you choosing?

JJ: Tom Petty, Anthology: Through The Years.

Yes, we know it’s a double album. And no, we didn’t ask JJ to pick a disc… and that’s mostly because we were too busy agreeing with him that Petty is great for singing along, or sitting quietly and getting lost in the music and the road.

CCMA Awards 2016 Strut Social House JJ Shiplett

Q2: What is the first song you remember knowing all of the words to?

JJ: The American National Anthem.

JJ told us a story about watching sports when he was a kid, and if you’re watching sports, you’re hearing the anthem – and that is how JJ Shiplett learned the Star Spangled Banner before any other song.

Q3: What is your favourite thing when you’re not working on music?

JJ: Hanging out with friends and a fire – any time of the day.

Having grown up with a fire pit in the back yard, I 100% agree with JJ on this one!

Q4: What is the 1 thing you need for a songwriting session?

JJ: A willingness to cooperate and work with other people.

After apologizing that he hadn’t named a tangible “thing”, JJ explained that the whole process and session can be a real waste of time if he doesn’t come in ready to listen to other people’s ideas – and if other people don’t come in ready to listen to his. Makes sense to us.

CCMA Awards 2016 Strut Social House JJ ShiplettQ5: Can you give us a prediction for the NHL season?

JJ: 1) The Maple Leafs will be better, but won’t be in the playoffs. 2) The Flames D will be better, and they will be back in the playoffs.

These are going to play themselves out of course, but they don’t sound crazy.

Bonus: What artist do you think people should be paying more attention to right now?

JJ: Sturgill Simpson

A lot more people know Sturgill Simpson’s name now than they did even just a few months ago – but if you don’t know his music, we agree with JJ, you should take a listen!

Now, hit play and check out some more pics of JJ from the our hangout, the CCMA Awards show and The Dakota Tavern in Toronto circa CMW 2016.


CCMA Awards 2016 Strut Social House JJ ShiplettCCMA Awards 2016 Strut Social House JJ Shiplettccma-2016-award-show-lindi-ortega-and-jj-shiplett-3546ccma-2016-award-show-johnny-reid-lindsay-ell-lindi-ortega-and-jj-shiplett-3583JJ Shiplett The Dakota Tavern CMW 2016JJ Shiplett The Dakota Tavern CMW 2016

12 months ago Views

CMW 2016 Spotlight: JJ Shiplett

Tuesday night, just after midnight, we walked down the stairs into The Dakota Tavern and were greeted by the start of a set from self proclaimed, “Canadiana roots rockin’ red head”.

With his band on stage, JJ Shiplett dove into his set headfirst and never let up. His gravelly voice flows with a smoothness that doesn’t match it’s description… but it’s true. In fact, maybe it’s more like a good Canadian whisky with a smooth finish than it is like gravel.

JJ Shiplett The Dakota Tavern CMW 2016

Around JJ’s voice, filling in the sound, was a sweet display of musicianship. The band, Shiplett included, were tight, ready, and willing to put on a show in the intimate venue. And forget that it was Tuesday, the crowd had drinks in their hands, smiles on their faces, and when they knew the words or grabbed the hook, they sang along just like we were at a house party on a Saturday night. That’s part of the beauty of Canadian Music Week… it doesn’t matter what day it is if the music is good.

Note: It was also awesome to see SATE at The Dakota the night before she hit Lee’s Palace for her own set. And a nice coincidence to see 1 artist from my Top 5 Must-See list supporting another.

JJ Shiplett The Dakota Tavern CMW 2016Shiplett did a nice job of leading the crowd through the upbeat, and slowed down tracks in his set. When he was soft, there was a vulnerable sweetness that came through in his voice, and when he went harder and louder, it was just as believable. And that’s all we can ever ask for from an artist. Shiplett made us believe everything he was singing as he moved through tracks like Always For You, Higher GroundSomething To Believe In, and Seeking Shelter.

JJ Shiplett is poised for a breakout. He’s fresh off a tour with Canadian heavyweight Johnny Reid, and released a new video for Something To Believe In that should help get even more eyes and ears on the red headed roots rocker from Calgary.

Do yourself a favour and find out when JJ is coming to a town hear you, you’re going to want to see this live for yourself… and if you’re lucky, you’ll be a in room as cool as we were, for a show that was just as much fun.

JJ Shiplett The Dakota Tavern CMW 2016JJ Shiplett The Dakota Tavern CMW 2016JJ Shiplett The Dakota Tavern CMW 2016JJ Shiplett The Dakota Tavern CMW 2016JJ Shiplett The Dakota Tavern CMW 2016

1 year ago Views

CMW 2016 Preview – Joshua’s Top 5 Must-Sees

CMW is coming… and I am excited!

For an entire week Toronto is set to come alive and overflow with music, musicians, and fans. There are 58 official CMW venues, with more than 800 bands, in 7 nights – and while it is impossible to see everyone, and sometimes even everyone you want to see – I want to help.

Trish shared her Top 5 list earlier in the week… and now it’s my turn.

I need to apologize a little, because I really did pick 5 acts that I truly think you should see, but it isn’t that easy, because the scheduling is HARD to manage.

So, have a look, watch the videos, and if you’re looking to slot someone in to a slow night in your schedule between May 2 and May 7, give these acts a shot!

Demi Louise at The Central on Wednesday, May 4th – 7:00 PM & Friday, May 6 at Supermarket – 10:45pm

I caught Demi Louise at CMW 2015 when she took the stage in the backroom at The Cameron House, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. She’s got a sweet singer-songwriter vibe that shines when she stands at a microphone with her acoustic guitar.

Demi is also completely adorable when she interacts with the crowd between songs, and having 2 chances to see her at CMW 2016 is a nice bonus with a crazy schedule to navigate!

Jonathan Roy at The Great Hall on Saturday, May 7 – 8:15pm

Another singer-songwriter, the Qubébécois native brings his accent, guitar, and new music to the stage at CMW 2016, and I’m looking forward to it. And if you’re worried about the accent, don’t be, you won’t notice it in-song unless you’re really looking for it.

Fast Fact: Jonathan Roy hung up his skates to pick up his guitar. And if his last name sounds familiar, it’s because his dad is Saint Patrick Roy, 4 time Stanley Cup champion.

Listen to Daniella Denmark to get yourself ready.

SATE at Lee’s Palace on Wednesady, May 4 – 8pm

We saw SATE take the Mod Club stage a few weeks ago, and it was awesome. She melted my damn face off with her energy and volume and stage presence… she truly is a show-stopper. And if you’re in the building when she gets up there and grabs her mic, you’ll know it.

CMW slots SATE in as Blues, Rock, Soul… and says, “SATE is raw to the core and was built on the shoulders of giants like Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix and Bessie Smith.”

If you want a big energy show that makes you feel kinda like you got punched in the face in the best way possible, get to Lee’s on Wednesday.

Texas King at UG3 on Friday, May 6 – 10:40pm & Saturday, May 7 at Nightowl – 9pm

On the small stage at Adelaide Hall, Texas King could barely be contained. Their rock show was fantastic, they sounded tight, they were a lot of fun whether they were going crazy, or slowing it down – and I’m happy to see that they’re coming back from London, ON to play 2 CMW shows in 2016.

If you’re in need of a show with enough energy on stage to give you a second wind, these are your guys. Get that boost and you’ll either need a nap, or you’ll be ready to go all night!

REPARTEE at The Drake Underground on Friday, May 6 – 9pm & Saturday, May 7 at Supermarket – 11pm

These indie pop lovers are coming in to CMW fresh off the release of their new album, All Lit Up, including a release party back home in St. John’s that I really wish I could have checked out!

But, since I wasn’t in Newfoundland, I’m going to check out REPARTEE here in Toronto instead. Having already seen them as part of the Toronto Women in Music show at Adelaide Hall a little while ago, I know what I’m getting into… and I can tell you that you owe it to yourself to come and see the show.

Here’s a thing I wrote… “they’re the kind of band, playing the kind of music, that you’d be 100% hearing sometime between 12am and whenever you were too tired to stop dancing.” – and they might be on a little earlier than that at CMW, but you’ll still want to dance!


BONUS: JJ Shiplett at The Dakota Tavern on Tuesday, May 3 – Midnight

You didn’t think I’d get through this entire post without recommending an artist with a country touch, did you?

JJ Shiplett is a country/roots/rocker ready to make a big splash. He toured with Johny Reid, he’s gaining fans everywhere he goes, and he’s earned them.

JJ is also playing at one of my favourite CMW venues, so that’s a bonus too… honestly, if you’ve never caught a show at The Dakota, this is a great way to enjoy an early week set on a cool stage in a great place. It’ll be the perfect match of music and setting.

Trust me.

1 year ago Views
Scroll to top