Meghan Patrick

Good Together: James Barker Band, Meghan Patrick, and Jojo Mason Game On Tour, Toronto

Toronto hovered around the freezing mark on Friday, but inside of The Phoenix Concert Theatre, things were hot, sweaty, and fired up as James Barker Band brought the Game On Tour to town with Meghan Patrick and Jojo Mason.

As one of the fastest risers on the Canadian country music scene in the last few years, James Barker Band (JBB) have gone from the small stages in local bars, to the stages of sold out country bars in the city, and now they’ve hit a new level as they sold out The Phoenix – just nine months after they released their first EP at Canadian Music Week 2017.

The Game On Tour is in full swing, and if what we saw in Toronto on Friday night is any indication, there are going to be a lot of satisfied country music fans across the country when it’s finished. All three acts on the bill brought their A game to the stage, playing hits, fan favourites, and peppering in a few fantastic covers that only added to the excitement in the crowd throughout the night.

Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour

Jojo Mason kicked off the night with a tight 25 minutes of music that revved up the Toronto audience and started the temperature rise in the building.

The Saskatchewan native looked right at home at The Phoenix, hitting the stage with his band and bringing the energy that he’s become known for. And as the 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Rising Star nominee rolled through songs like Red Dress, Good Kinda Love, and his current single, Edge Of The Night we could hear the crowd singing along simultaneously warming themselves up and getting the party started.

By the time Jojo wrapped his short set with It’s All Good, it was clear that things were only going to get louder and hotter on the Toronto stop of the Game On Tour. Jojo Mason did his job, and we should all be looking forward to the next time we get to see him on stage.

Related: Jojo Mason, Game On Tour Interview & Feature

More photos below…

Jojo Mason Setlist, Game On Tour, Toronto

🎤 Edge Of The Night 🎤 Red Dress/Chicken Fried 🎤 Good Kinda Love 🎤 Something To Wrap My Heart Around 🎤 No Diggity [Blackstreet] 🎤 It’s All Good

After a brief intermission, Meghan Patrick, the 2017 CCMA Rising Star and Female Artist of the Year awards winner, hit the stage at The Phoenix.

The Bowmanville, ON star came armed with a 10 song set that included songs from her debut album, Grace & Grit, and her January 2018 release, Country Music Made Me Do It. And as she played tracks from each album, the crowd got louder, more involved, and showed her the love that the pseudo-hometown concert had to offer.

Note: Meghan also took the chance to wish a happy birthday to the one and only Dolly Parton before she broke into a rousing rendition of Jolene.

Accompanied by a full band of five dudes on stage, Patrick’s sound was full and tight. Her voice, which has always been a strength, ripped through the speakers and met the voices of the Toronto fans as they sang along with her.

And to see and hear those country music fans sing along to new songs like Country Music Made Me Do It and George Strait with the same love that they use to belt out Grace & Grit and Bow Chicka Wow Wow serves as a confirmation (not that it was needed) that Meghan Patrick truly has become a star, burning bright and hot in Canadian country music.

Related: Meghan Patrick Q&A and Game On Tour Preview 

More photos below…

Meghan Patrick Setlist, Game On Tour, Toronto

🎤 Hardest On My Heart 🎤 Long Way From Waylon 🎤 Country Music Made Me Do It 🎤 George Strait 🎤 The Bad Guy 🎤 Grace & Grit 🎤 Jolene [D. Parton] 🎤 Be Country With Me 🎤 The Buzz 🎤 Bow Chicka Wow Wow

James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018

In August 2015 we saw the James Barker Band on the Boots & Hearts stage as finalists in the Emerging Artist Showcase… in the two and a half years since the boys haven’t slowed down a bit.

The Game On Tour serves as JBB’s first headlining trek across Canada, and with a fist full of Canadian country music chart hits and fan favourites, these boys came ready to play in Toronto.

From the jump, the warmed up (hot and sweaty) Friday night crowd was all in on the JBB set. And from the opening notes of It’s Working, they were loud and engaged. There were cheers and screams and laughs as James, Taylor, Bobby, and Connor played their set, cracking jokes, having fun, and clearly enjoying the chance to play for a sold out Toronto audience.

The band’s set was a well thought out mix of tracks from their 2017 EP, Game On, new songs that we expect to hear on their next record (including the brand new single, Good Together), and covers of Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, John Michael Montgomery, and Hank Williams. The pacing was smooth, the energy in the room never dipped, and it was clear that James Barker Band was in complete control of the crowd on the floor in front of them.

James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018

These boys are serious about their music in that they work hard and have released some excellent songs, but they don’t take themselves so seriously that they can’t remember that this is supposed to be fun. So when they called up volunteers from the crowd to make their cover of Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident) an interactive event, it fit perfectly.

Note: When we talked to James before the tour started we asked about Sold and whether we should expect it in the set. James told us that he wasn’t sure it would be a JBB show without it, and we’re glad that was his answer.

With radio hits like Just Sayin’, Lawn Chair Lazy, and Chills in their set, we were ready for a lot of singing along, and we got it. The country music fans in Toronto weren’t shy about participating in the action, raising their voices to meet James, and making sure that they contributed to the overall sound at The Phoenix.

It all came together to create an amazing atmosphere and a Friday night party in the city.

The Game On Tour wraps in Vancouver on February 10th, but that doesn’t mean that James Barker Band are planning to slow down. Be ready to see a lot more of them soon, and if you have a chance to catch them before the tour is over, do it!

James Barker Band, Game On Tour, Toronto

🎤 It’s Working
🎤 Going Places*
🎤 Just Sayin’
🎤 Good Together
🎤 Throwback
🎤 Hey Good Lookin’ [H. Williams]
🎤 Living The Dream
🎤 I’m Gonna Miss Her [B. Paisley]
🎤 Keep You Happy*
🎤 Sweet Thing [K. Urban]
🎤 Looking At You*
🎤 Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident) [J.M. Montgomery]
🎤 Lawn Chair Lazy
ENCORE
🎤 Rock/Pop Medley
🎤 Chills

*new songs, unrecorded, names may be inaccurate.

James Barker Band Photos, Game On Tour (Toronto)

James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018 James Barker Band's Bobby Martin at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018 James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018 James Barker Band's Bobby Martin at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018 James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018 James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018

Meghan Patrick Photos, Game On Tour (Toronto)

 

Jojo Mason Photos, Game On Tour (Toronto)

Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour

Edge Of The Night: Jojo Mason, Game On Tour Feature

Jojo Mason rolled into Toronto on Friday with the Game On Tour, ready for action and what comes next.

We caught up with Jojo before his opening slot on the James Barker Band show to talk about being on the road, his plans for new music, changing the game, and how excited he is to be doing what he does.

Note: Earlier in the day Jojo took over our Instagram account, posting photos and videos from a busy morning of TV appearances, a SiriusXM session, and the chance to meet Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta. Check out his timeline posts at @thereviewsarein.com.

The last time we hung out with Jojo Mason we were in Port Perry, ON in September 2017, and he told us that there were big things coming. He couldn’t share details then… but four months later, it’s all pretty clear. The Saskatchewan native is on tour with James Barker Band and Meghan Patrick for 21 dates, crossing the country from Halifax to Vancouver, playing a 25 minute set in each city, and getting the crowd ready for the rest of the night.

Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour

We asked Jojo about the experience so far (a week in) and he gushed about the chance to get up on stage at sold out shows to share his music. He is loving the chance to play for Canadian country music fans, and they are responding in ways he never expected. Jojo is hearing those excited fans sing back to him at each stop, and it’s wowing him every time. The 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Rising Star nominee told us that the feeling of hearing his own songs being sung back to him is almost indescribable.

Mason also talked to us about learning and growing on this tour. He told us that he is taking every chance he gets to talk to his tour mates about his set, asking for advice, tips, and feedback about what they’re seeing. He knows that JBB and Meghan Patrick have been on big tours before, and he knows there’s a lot for him to soak in. That willingness to put his ego aside to learn and improve fits perfectly with everything we already knew about Jojo Mason… and it is only going to make him a better performer as his career progresses.

Here’s the thing about Jojo Mason – he’s legitimately the best dude. There isn’t anyone we’ve met that has said anything to contradict that opinion. We’ve experienced it ourselves, we’ve heard stories from fans and industry folks, and it’s all true. In fact, when we talked to James Barker the night before the Game On Tour kicked off in Halifax and asked him to describe Jojo in three words… and he said: The Nicest Guy. And here’s another thing – Jojo gives the best hugs. We’ve been saying it forever, and on Friday night it was echoed in his introduction from KX Country’s Mike Fuller and Jerry Archer. The secret’s out!

Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour

In June 2017, Jojo Mason released his debut album, Both Sides Of The Bar, and gave country fans a collection of 10 songs, including singles, It’s All Good, Good Kinda Love, Red Dress, Made For You, Something To Wrap My Heart Around, and his most recent release, Edge Of The Night. The energetic singer has played those songs on every stage possible since then, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t also been working on the music that comes next.

Back in September, Jojo told us that he had started doing some writing for his follow-up project, and on Friday he told us that after a November trip to Nashville for more writing, the demo-ing process has started.

There was an excitement on Mason’s face and in his voice when he talked about what he wants to do with his new music… and for good reason. Jojo Mason wants to pave his own path with his next album. He’s looking to change the game a little bit, and carve out some space for something new.

As a kid, Jojo grew up on country music. And soul. And funk. And now, as an artist and fan of music, he’s looking for a chance to put those influences and passions together. He calls it Country-Soul, and he’s looking to make it happen.

Jojo told us that he’s already started to push producer Dan Swinimer for new sounds on the new songs, including horns. And while we haven’t heard any of the demos, it’s easy to imagine them as fun, full, energetic, and packed with all of the things we get from Jojo now.

Jojo Mason with Joshua Murray at Toronto's The Phoenix in the lobby prior to the Game On Tour

Mason also told us that the next single he releases won’t be from Both Sides Of The Bar, and that it will be a new brand track. He didn’t tell us when it’s coming, but it is on the way.

Before we wrapped our chat and let Jojo Mason get ready for the show, we talked a little more about the tour and how it’s been going so far. Jojo told us (with a big smile) that it’s been a blast. He compared it to hanging out with his friends back home. Getting the chance to be with the James Barker Band boys and Meghan Patrick every day has been a lot of fun (and work). And whether they’re talking about hometowns, their dogs, relationships, life, or having Nerf gun fights (check out Jojo and Meghan’s Instagram stories) it’s all coming together to be a good time.

In fact, Jojo told us that he’s ready for Meghan Patrick (his bus-mate) to take him hunting and fishing.

We’ll all have to wait and see if the two country kids get out in the woods together, and we’ll do our best to be patient as we wait for new music from Jojo… but until then, we’ll be remembering the show he put on at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto on Friday night.

Jojo came out strong in his opening slot performance, playing a tight 25 minute set with the band, and rolling out the hits and surprises as he made the most of his time.

We could hear the crowd singing along, we could see them dancing, and when Jojo Mason and his boys played a cover of Blackstreet’s No Diggity, complete with a banjo, we were in 90’s hip hop/country music fan heaven.


Jojo Mason is a dude with a lot of career ahead of him. He’s ready to work, ready to learn, and ready to take chances. And, he’s ready to entertain the hell out of anyone that wants to come on out.

If you’re west of Toronto and you like to have a good time listening to live country music, we highly recommend that you get tickets for the Game On Tour stop near you.

Jojo recommends it too. And a nice guy like him wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Jojo Mason Setlist, Game On Tour, Toronto

Edge Of The Night
Red Dress/Chicken Fried
Good Kinda Love
Something To Wrap My Heart Around
No Diggity
It’s All Good

Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix in the lobby prior to the Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix in the lobby prior to the Game On Tour Jojo Mason with Joshua Murray at Toronto's The Phoenix in the lobby prior to the Game On Tour

Country Music Made Me Do It: Meghan Patrick Q&A and Game On Tour Preview

Meghan Patrick has a brand new album on shelves, she’s on tour with the James Barker Band, and she’s got a lot of feelings about it.

We had the chance to catch up with Meghan for a Q&A that touches on her sophomore record, Country Music Made Me Do It, the Game On Tour, her latest music video, busking to make money for boots and beer, and more.

Get ready for Meghan Patrick to come to a venue near you on the Game On Tour, and as shes adds more live shows to her 2018 schedule.

Related: Game On Tour Preview, Interview and 5 Quick Questions with James Barker

If you’ve never had the chance to see Meghan live, we highly recommend that you take advantage of any chance you have to do so. It’s a kick ass show that blends energy, hit songs, fan favourites, and everything we love about live music!

We’ve seen photos and reviews of early shows on the Game On Tour, and so far it looks like the Bowmanville, ON native is doing exactly what we know she can. We can’t wait to see the show with Jojo Mason, Meghan Patrick and headliners, James Barker Band when it comes to Toronto on Friday, January 19.

Thanks again to Meghan for taking the time to catch up with us. Check it out now, and listen to Country Music Made Me Do It today.

Meghan Patrick Q&A

Q) How does it feel to have Country Music Made Me Do It as a follow-up to Grace & Grit ready to share with the world?

Meghan) As with Grace & Grit, it’s a mixture of excitement, anticipation and anxiety haha. I’m really proud of this record, as I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a writer and artist, and I just hope my fans love it as much as I do.

Related: Country Music Made Me Do It, Meghan Patrick Album Review

Q) Going into the writing and recording of Country Music Made Me Do It, did you find yourself making an intentional effort to try new things, explore new ideas, etc.?

Meghan) Definitely. But I also wanted to be cognizant of what my fans responded to on the last record, so that I could give them more of what they love. It was extremely important to me to be really honest and real on this record… both in the way I deliver my music sonically and in my lyrics. I think it’s something my fans expect of me and love about me, and as an artist and writer, it’s the most fulfilling (and only way in my opinion) to make music.

Meghan Patrick BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Q) Was there anyone new that you got to work with on this record that you were really looking forward to, either on the writing side or production?

Meghan) When I met Jeremy Stover (my producer) that was a huge part of how this record came to be. It started with us writing together, and lead to him setting me up with some of his writers at Red Creative such as Kelly Archer and Adam Hambrick. There are so many talented songwriters in Nashville, but it’s all about finding the ones you have chemistry with and Stover and I definitely hit it off when it came my music and the vision we both had for it. I loved that he was as passionate about making this record as I was and he really brought out the best in me throughout the whole process. Kelly was a big part of this record too, she co-wrote nearly half the record with me, including Feel Me Gone which is the only song on the record I didn’t write. Every writer I worked with on this record brought something amazing to the project and helped me further find out who I am as an artist and a writer and I have so much love and respect for them all!

Q) The reaction to Country Music Made Me Do It has been positive so far, including for the video. What was it like to have the streets of Nashville act as your set when you think back to first getting to town and walking them as a visitor and new-comer?

Meghan) It was a pretty incredible full-circle moment for me shooting that video on Broadway. The first time I came to Nashville was about 8 years ago… I was broke and trying to make it, and I had paid a lot of my bills through gigs and busking. We were heading to Bonnaroo and I could barely afford the trip to begin with, but when we got down to Broadway I saw this pair of cowboy boots that I loved. So I stood on the corner and busked for a few hours till I made enough money to buy the boots and a few beers (which is basically what I still spend all my money on haha). To go from that moment where I had no money, no record deal, nothing… to having Broadway shut down to shoot my video was huge, it’s a moment I’ll never forget.

Q) We remember shows and albums from The Stone Sparrows, how important do you feel those years and experiences have been to you as you’ve built your solo career?

Meghan) Every single thing I’ve done, and every band I’ve played in has had an influence on who I’ve become as an artist today, as well as influencing my writing. I am so grateful to have worked with so many great musicians over the years and I’ve learned something and been inspired by every one of them.

Q) You’re not the new kid in town anymore after the success of Grace & Grit, the CCMA Award, etc., has that changed the way you approach making new music or putting on a show?

Meghan) I wouldn’t say it’s changed me, if anything I just feel more pressure sometimes as if there are more expectations of me now. But regardless I am always trying to top myself… write better songs, put on a better show, and connect with my fans. To have the recognition I received this year at CCMA’s and CMAO’s just gives me the boost I need on the hard days to keep pushing, and know I’m doing something right.

Q) The Game On tour is ready to go, what are you feeling as you get ready to cross the country and play some of these new songs for country fans?

Meghan) I am so excited. A little anxious, because of course I’m curious as to how my fans will respond to the new music… but I’m very proud of this record and I’m excited to finally play some new tunes!

Meghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016

Q) In 50 words or so, can you share some thoughts about what Country Music Made Me Do It means to you as a collection of songs at this point in your life?

Meghan) For me this record represented a few things. It represented some more freedom, but also higher expectations. As I said before, I want every record I put out to be better than the last. I want to keep trying new things and growing while remaining the Meghan that my fans love.

As with my last record, it’s a collection of stories… my hurt, my happy, and everything in between. I hope it serves as further insight into who I am, because it’s really important to me to be approachable and relatable to my listeners… I hope they love this new music as much as I do!

Country Music Made Me Do It: Meghan Patrick Album Review

Meghan Patrick, the reigning Canadian Country Music Association Female Artist of the Year, is set to release her second album, Country Music Made Me Do It, and country music fans from coast to coast should be ready for it.

The album is the follow-up to Patrick’s 2016 debut, Grace & Grit, which put her in the Canadian country music spotlight, and landed four songs (Bow Chicka Wow Wow, Grace & Grit, Still Loving You, Be Country With Me) in the Top 20, including her first Top 10 single, Still Loving You, featuring Joe Nichols.

Country fans got their first taste of Meghan Patrick’s sophomore record when the title track was released on October 26, 2017. The song, Country Music Made Me Do It, and the accompanying music video have been a hit with fans, approaching half a million plays on Spotify and YouTube since it premiered.

It also fits well as an introduction to the album, and as a stark change to the first look fans got of the small town Ontario artist when she released her first solo music a month short of two years ago.

Country Music Made Me Do It sounds like the album I imagined when Megan Patrick told us she was going solo. It’s a more traditional country record that sounds like the music Megan was influenced by in country as she grew up. It feels like a true, genuine, honest offering of songs that does exactly what country music does best: tells stories.

Whether Megan is telling the story of living in a small town after a breakup (Small Town), being sucked in and struggling to let go (The Way You Apologize), or using George Strait as a guide for how to win someone’s heart (George Strait), she finds a way to be relatable and accessible through these song.

Meghan Patrick at Liuna Station Gibson at the Junos 2015

One of my favourite tracks on the album is George Strait. I’m a sucker for the references to the King of Country Music and his hits, and I have a feeling I’ll find myself asking, “What Would George Strait Do?”, from time to time.

Underrated, the last track on Country Music Made Me Do It, is another personal highlight, and reminds me of another Canadian country songstress, Whitney Rose, as it hits that retro kind of vibe. It gives listeners a chance to smile, look at their baby, and bop along with the music.

All of this isn’t to say that Megan Patrick’s Country Music Made Me Do It should surprise country music fans. But the 12 songs on the new record are more in line with tracks like Be Country With Me, I Won’t Drink, and Still Loving You then they are with Grace & Grit and Bow Chicka Wow Wow. And while we may be experiencing a softer side of the singer/songwriter, we have no doubt that she still knows how to crank it up and kick ass.

Meghan Patrick BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

We look forward to speaking with Megan soon to learn more about the making of the album where she’s at artistically, and how she feels about her own new music. And, we can’t wait to see her live on the Game On Tour with James Barker Band when they roll through Toronto on January 19th.

Country Music Made Me Do It is a country record. There are no tricks or gimmicks. This is an album the country music fans who yearn for a more straight ahead country music should embrace. it’s also an album that hardcore country radio listeners and casual fans will have the opportunity to connect with on some level.

Megan Patrick has already proven that she’s a rising star on the Canadian country music scene. Now, with a new album, new stories, and new experiences to share, she has the chance to prove but she’s here to stay, and we should all be ready for that.

Meghan Patrick, Country Music Made Me Do It Tracklist

1. Country Music Made Me Do It
2. George Strait
3. Walls Come Down
4. The Bad Guy
5. Small Town
6. The Buzz
7. Feel Me Gone
8. Hardest On My Heart
9. We Got It All
10. Case Of Beer And A Bed
11. The Way You Apologize
12. Underrated

Meghan Patrick GuitarMeghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick Peller Estate CCMA Awards 2016 Meghan Patrick Green Carpet

Game On: James Barker Band Tour Preview, Interview and 5 Quick Questions

The James Barker Band has put four singles in the Top 10 on Canadian country radio, including Chills, which hit #1 in June 2017. And now, with a fanbase that continues to grow from coast to coast, JBB are hitting the road on their first Canada wide headlining tour.

The Game On Tour (named for the debut EP from the band) will see James Barker Band put on 21 shows, starting in Halifax, NS on January 11 and ending in Vancouver, BC on February 10. Joining the boys on the road will be 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Female Artist of the Year, Meghan Patrick and 2017 CCMA Rising Star nominee, Jojo Mason.

The reaction and excitement for the tour can be seen daily on social media, as fans and the artists post about the upcoming shows. It has been fantastic to see the reactions, and it’s certainly exciting for James Barker, Taylor Abram, Connor Stephen, and Bobby Martin as they get ready to get things started.

We caught up with James on the phone the day before the first tour date in Halifax to talk about their live show, how they’re feeling, their supporting acts, and more. And when we asked for three words to describe how they’re feeling as they prepare to start the tour, Barker gave us: All Fired Up!

As we talked about the tour we also got James to give us three words to describe tour mates Meghan Patrick: Ass-Kickin’ Country Girl and Jojo Mason: The Nicest Guy. (James made it clear that this was not easy, and we did grant him an exemption on the hyphenated ass-kickin’ for Meghan)

Headlining a cross country tour is a big step for any band, and we talked to James about that step up from headlining a venue like Boots & Bourbon in Toronto to The Phoenix Concert Theatre, in the middle of their own tour. He told us that it’s kind of crazy to look back even to last April when they played their album release show to now. James also said that it’s wild to be able to look back at his calendar from year to year and see the progression in venues and shows that the band has played. From small bars in small towns, to opening on tour with Dean Brody, to having their own name at the top of the ticket, he can track it.

We asked about looking back on that progression and reflecting on it, and James said that the holidays have always been a time when he finds himself looking back on the year and taking it all in. And while 2017 was a big one, we’re sure 2018 will bring even more to look back on when it’s over.

James Barker Band-Country Thunder 2017

While we had James on the phone we got him to play a quick round of 5 Quick Questions… here we go!

5 Quick Questions with James Barker Band

Q1) What was the first song you played as a band?

James) Drift Away

Q2) What was the first album you bought?

James) Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin

James told us that he was given Led Zeppelin IV as a gift, which put him on the path to buying the debut album on his own.

Q3) Do you have a dream duet/collaboration partner?

James) Eric Church

He’s The Chief, we’ve seen him live, listened to the records, and can’t argue with this choice!

James Barker Band SiriusXM Fan Stage BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Q4) What city or venue is at the top of the James Barker Band goal/wish list?

James) Madison Square Garden

It is THE arena. End of story.

Q5) Is there an artist you think people should be paying more attention to?

James) Corb Lund

James said he has always been a fan of Lund’s songwriting, and things other people should be in on the Alberta native.

The Game On Tour is possible because of the success that James Barker Band have had on Canadian country radio, and the fanbase they’ve cultivated, but they’re still just getting started.

The band recently spent time travelling throughout the United States, visiting radio stations and playing their songs for a new audience south of the border, with the intention of proving that they’re more than just a Canadian favourite.

We asked James about going to the U.S. and he told us that for about 12 weeks in a row they flew down to American markets and hit radio stations all over, promoting the band, introducing new listeners to Chills. There were a lot of flights, from city to city, and back to Canada to play shows and festivals on weekends, but the song is starting to gain traction, and the band is starting to get noticed.

It was cool to hear James talk about the positive reception the band and the song have received in America. He acknowledged that they didn’t know what to expect, or how it would go. But from the jump things have been good and the band couldn’t be happier about it.

James Barker Band SiriusXM Fan Stage BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

JBB has more plans for the U.S. too, and while James couldn’t give us any specific details, he did tell us that JBB will be in Nashville in early February for CRS (Country Radio Seminar) 2018, and are hoping to get on the extended summer festival season circuit south of the border, and as we get to fall and winter 2018, the band hopes to be on a tour in America.

Before we got off the phone, we asked James about what’s coming next in the form of new music… and we heard exactly what we were hoping we would.

1) James has been writing constantly, working on songs that he hopes will turn into the next James Barker Band record.

2) A brand new single is coming on January 19, 2018. Tour crowds will have a chance to hear Good Together live, and country fans everywhere will be able to hear it starting next Friday!

The very last thing we talked about before we were done, was the live show and what fans can expect on the Game On Tour.

James told us that it’s going to be the full James Barker Band experience. The boys like to keep things loose and fun, and they are looking to do that on every date from Halifax to Vancouver. And when I asked if we’ll hear Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident), he laughed and told us that he wasn’t sure it would be a full JBB show if we didn’t.

We’re looking forward to catching up with the boys in Toronto at The Phoenix to celebrate the tour, the release of Good Together, and the continued success of four dudes from small town Ontario.

James Barker Band, Game On Tour Dates

January 11, 2018 – Halifax, NS
January 12, 2018 – Moncton, NB
January 13, 2018 – Charlesbourg, QC
January 14, 2018 – Montreal, QC
January 16, 2018 – Kingston, ON
January 17, 2018 – Ottawa, ON
January 18, 2018 – Kitchener, ON
January 19, 2018 – Toronto, ON
January 20, 2018 – Guelph, ON
January 22, 2018 – London, ON
January 23, 2018 – Sudbury, ON
January 24, 2018 – Sault Ste Marie, ON
January 26, 2018 – Winnipeg, MB
January 27, 2018 – Brandon, MB
January 28, 2018 – Saskatoon, SK
January 29, 2018 – Red Deer, AB
February 1, 2018 – Edmonton, AB
February 2, 2018 – Calgary, AB
February 3, 2018 – Lethbridge, AB
February 10, 2018 – Vancouver, BC

Looking for tickets? Click Here!

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 6

Over the last few years we’ve been sharing some of our favourite covers of pop and rock songs by country artists with you in lists of 10. We’ve been able to share covers of Fleetwood Mac, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Nirvana, Cyndi Lauper, and more… and today we’re back with 10 more.

Some of these covers were recorded recently, some of them have been around for a few years, but regardless of timeline, we like all of them.

This is our sixth edition of the 10 More Awesome Country Covers series, and as long as country artists keep covering pop and rock songs, and we keep finding them online, we’ll keep publishing new lists.

Note: We also shared a special edition of the Country Covers series in October 2017… 10 Awesome Country Covers, the Tom Petty Edition.

So, check ’em out one by one, sing along, and stay tuned for more awesome country covers part 6.

Listen to the tracks, enjoy, and leave a comment telling us which country cover you like best.

10 More Awesome Country Covers10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 210 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 310 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 410 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 5

Kalie Shorr, Kelleigh Bannen & Lindsay Ell – Look What You Made Me Do

Zac Brown Band – Use Somebody

Delta Rae – Seven Bridges Road

Eric Church – Midnight Rider


Meghan Patrick – Unknown Legend


Keith Urban – One

Dallas Smith – Radioactive

Leah Daniels – Suspicious Minds

Brett Young – Someone Like You

Johnson Crook – Bobcaygeon

New Music Spotlight: Gord Downie, Meghan Patrick, Foo Fighters, Vanessa Marie Carter, Andrew Hyatt

The chance to listen to and share new music is something that we don’t take for granted and that we love to do. So, here we are, back again with another edition of the New Music Spotlight.

This time through we’ve got a poet and rock & roll legend that left us too soon, one of the biggest bands in the world, and three Ontario country artists working their ways to the top.

Enjoy!

Artist: Gord Downie
Hometown: Kingston, ON
Genre: Rock
Related Artists: Sam Roberts, Matt Good, The Tragically Hip
Single: Introduce Yerself
Notes: This is the title track of the new 23 song album from the late, great poet, Gord Downie. We highly recommend listening to this offering, remembering Gord, and remembering everything he stood for. It may be heavy. It may be an emotional journey. But we recommend it.


Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / InstagramSpotify / Apple

Artist: Meghan Patrick
Hometown: Bowmanville, ON
Genre: Country
Related Artists: Jess Moskaluke, Madeline Merlo, Miranda Lambert
Single: Country Music Made Me Do It
Notes: After the success of her debut album, Grace & Grit, Meghan Patrick is back with new music with this single release. Country Music Made Me Do It is a solid follow-up to her previous work. The lyrics paint a country music story from start to finish, and we expect to hear this one a lot on Canadian country radio.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Foo Fighters
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Genre: Rock
Related Artists: Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, Nirvana
Single: Soldier
Notes: Released as part of a 33 track set in support of Planned Parenthood. The track was a little unexpected after the recent release of the Concrete and Gold album. However, this 5 minute and 11 second track is an excellent surprise and with a worthy cause at the root of its release, we’re all in.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Vanessa Marie Carter
Hometown: Oakville, ON
Genre: Country
Related Artists: The Reklaws, Madeline Merlo, Meghan Patrick
Single: Bless My Heart
Notes: The first time we heard Bless My Heart, Vanessa Marie Carter was singing it on the Boots & Hearts stage this summer. And now, with the single out to radio, and the video live for the world, new folks are going to be able to hear it too. The track is a big step for VMC as she moves into her major label career… be ready, there’s more coming.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Andrew Hyatt
Hometown: Sudbury, ON
Genre: Country
Related Artists: Dallas Smith, James Barker Band, Jojo Mason
Single: Do It With You
Notes: Much like the Foo Fighters, this single from Andrew Hyatt is a bit of a surprise. His album, Iron & Ashes is one of our 2017 favourites, and now we have a new track to add to our playlists. Do It With You is a sweet song that’s going to have people looking in their lovers’ eyes and singing along. So listen now and start learning the words.


Andrew Hyatt - Northern Comfort Saloon - CNE 2017

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Country Closet Cleanout Contest

To celebrate the launch of our brand new website design and features, we’re cleaning out our country music prize closet with a monster giveaway of CDs, clothes, and merch.

This prize package has 15 pieces that will all go to 1 lucky winner. They’re perfect to keep for yourself, perfect to share with friends and family… and absolutely perfect to wrap up and give out as gifts.

You can do anything you want with this prize – we just want to give it to you!

Entering is easy. We promise!

Now, without any further ado, here’s the list of country music swag included…

Clothing:
Dolly Parton Baseball Tee – Womens (Large)
Rock N Horse Saloon T-Shirt – Womens (Medium)
Rock N Horse Saloon T-Shirt – Mens (X-Large)
Music:
Meghan Patrick CD – Grace & Grit
Madeline Merlo CD – Free Soul
Blake Shelton CD – If I’m Honest
Aaron Pritchett CD – Body Of Work
The Lovelocks CD – Born To Love
Johnson Crook CD – The EP
Lindi Ortega CD – Faded Gloryville
Cory Marquardt CD – This Man
Merch:
Cavendish Beach Music Festival Bandana
Calgary Stampede Bandana
Boots and Hearts Sunglasses
Boots and Hearts Beer Koozie

Country Closet Cleanout Contest CD Collage

If you’re counting, there are 8 country artists’ CDs on that list, merch from 3 festivals, and t-shirts from one of our favourite spots in Toronto AND the legendary Miss Dolly Parton herself.

Like we said, entering is easy. All you have to do is use the widget here in the post to earn up to 7 entries for your chance to be the big winner.

Note: Please pay attention to the details in the comment entry. We need you to use the comment section at the bottom of the post to leave your comment – and then click the button on the widget to say you did it. Got it? Good!

Good luck to everyone. We can’t wait to name a winner and ship off this monster prize!

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! 

105 Years Strong: 2017 Calgary Stampede Preview

Words cannot explain how excited I am to be a part of the Calgary Stampede again this year! And if you’ve been following the weather forecast, like myself, you already know it’s going to be a lot better than last year! But don’t worry about the 30+ temperatures the next two weeks, there’s tons of amazing food trucks with cold treats that will keep you cool throughout your stay!

I don’t even know where to start with all the jaw dropping, mouthwatering flavours that the midway has to offer. I am most excited to try the Double Bacon Mac N’ Cheese Dog, Clam Chowder Poutine, Deep Fried Jell-O, Maple Walnut Cotton Candy, Unicorn White Hot Chocolate and The Chili Lime Popcorn Shrimp Perogies! It’s a good thing there’s so much to do at The Stampede because I’m going to have to walk off all the taste testing i’ll be doing.

Since its Canada’s 150th birthday this year The Stampede has added even more musical acts to the powerful lineup! The Coca Cola stage, I believe, will be the biggest crowd pleaser of them all. Over 30 insanely talented bands/solo artists will be taking over the stage through the two weeks.

My top ten acts who I can’t wait to see are…

Ria Mae
Nelly Furtado
Marianas Trench
Alessia Cara
July Talk
Michela Sheedy
Jonathan Roy
USS
Theory of a Deadman
Sabrina Carpenter

All of these performs are so different one another, their style, sound and stage presence, I cannot wait to capture it.

Josh Ramsay Marianas Trench ACCJuly Talk - The Edge Sugar Beach Session

Another stage that I absolutely loved last year was The Nashville North Tent. This tent is full of cold drinks and two stepping until the early morning! Over 40 entertaining acts will keep you dancing the night away, such as; The Dungarees, The Cadillac Three, Endless Summer, Cam, Doc Walker, Jess Moskaluke, The Dead South, Cold Creek County, Tristan Horncastle, Jojo Mason, Chris Buck Band and Meaghan Patrick just to name a few. One act I am particularly excited to see is Cam, I remember hearing her first song on the radio Burning House and automatically falling in love with her soft effortless voice, since then I have become a huge fan! And have you seen her hair? She has to have the most beautiful hair in all of country music.

JoJo Mason BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016Meghan Patrick BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

One thing I love so much about the lineup this year is the diverse music varieties. Whether you like rock, pop, alternative, folk, country, soul, acoustic or EDM, there is something for everyone.

I have to say this year after viewing The Saddledome’s lineup I might have screamed like a little girl. After scrolling through the lineup list my heart dropped into my stomach when I saw Usher was coming as one of the main headliners. I couldn’t believe it! I remember forcing my poor father to constantly play his cds in the car when I was younger and now I finally get to see him live and singing every song… sadly dad won’t be joining. I can’t wait to see what Usher brings to the stage, I truly believe he’s going to put on a show that we won’t forget.

A couple of other events I am extremely excited to see this year are the chuckwagon races, bull riding and the incredible Transalta Grandstand show that ends the evening with fireworks lighting up the whole sky! If you enjoy fireworks, you need to make sure this is on your “must do” list because I have never seen such a spectacular light show in my life. I am filled with so much excitement and adrenaline I don’t know if i’ll be able to sleep before the kick off Stampede parade. I encourage those looking for a new experience or wanting a fun adventure to remember forever, to come on down to Calgary and experience these lifetime memories The Stampede has to offer! This city is incredible and I can’t wait to show everyone all the photographs and memories we make this year!

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin/ Calgary Stampede

2017 Canadian National Exhibition Bandshell Stage Lineup and Schedule

Every Toronto summer ends the same way, with the Canadian National Exhibition and its rides, food, and entertainment.

And now, still a month and a half away from opening day, we have a schedule and lineup for the legendary CNE Bandshell stage.

As always, all concerts are included with the price of CNE admission, making these some of the best value buys of the summer concert season for all music lovers.

Note: Monday to Thursday (excluding the Labour Day holiday) the CNE will offer an $8 a
After 5pm admission deal. We recommend taking advantage of it!

 

CNE 2013 Ill Scarlett

The 2017 schedule is packed with some awesome talent across genres. Canadian rock and roll veterans, Sam Roberts Band are an early must-see, joined by local favourites, USS and Dear Rouge, and former Rolling Stone cover boys, The Sheepdogs. And on the country music side, Chad Brownlee, Aaron Pritchett, and Canadian actor/singer/songwriter Kiefer Sutherland will all headline the Bandshell stage.

We would also encourage you to check out the opening acts on this year’s schedule.

Madeline Merlo, The Zolas, Leaving Thomas, Jane’s Party, and Ascot Royals will all be worth being at the stage early for… trust us.

Note: There may be more opening acts added as we get closer to the Exhibition, there are some spaces open. And remember, all of these acts and dates are subject to change.

Now, get your calendar out, look at the schedule and make your plans for the CNE.

2017 Canadian National Exhibition Bandshell Schedule

Saturday, August 19
Jane’s Party
Sam Roberts Band

Sunday, August 20
Meghan Patrick
Kiefer Sutherland

Kiefer Sutherland Band at The Horseshoe Toronto Jazz Festival 2016

Monday, August 21
The Box
Michel Pagliaro

Tuesday, August 22
Port Cities
Colin James

Wednesday, August 23
Jay Douglas
Marcia Griffiths

Thursday, August 24
Madeline Merlo
Aaron Pritchett

Friday, August 25
I Mother Earth
The Watchmen

Saturday, August 26
Leaving Thomas
Chad Brownlee

Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2015

Sunday, August 27
Ascot Royals
John Kay & Steppenwolf

Monday, August 28
Pavlo

Tuesday, August 29
The Sheepdogs

Wednesday, August 30
Virginia to Vegas
Shawn Hook

Thursday, August 31
The Zolas
Dear Rouge

Dear Rouge

Friday, September 1
Beamer Wigley & Abby Stewart 
Brett Kissel

Saturday, September 2
USS

USS GreaterTorontoDay

Sunday, September 3
Desi Sub Culture
A Tribe Called Red

A Tribe Called Red OMDC Mod Club 2016

2017 Country Music Association of Ontario Awards Winner Recap!

On a hot Sunday night in London, the Ontario country music community came together to recognize greatness in the genre over the last 12 months, and it was a party for everyone involved.

The Country Music Association of Ontario awards were handed out at Centennial Hall, with host Jason McCoy (The Road Hammers) keeping the audience entertained and the show moving forward as planned. And as it moved forward it became clear that the 2017 Awards were a coming out party for one small town Ontario singer in particular.

Bowmanville’s Meghan Patrick was the big winner of the evening, taking home trophies for Female Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Rising Star, and Music Video of the Year. With hits and crowd favourites Bow Chicka Wow Wow, Grace & Grit, Still Loving You, and the new single, Be Country With Me, it should be no real surprise to see Patrick recognized to this degree by her peers and industry professionals. And while she may be living in Nashville right now, we know that Meghan Patrick still holds a soft spot and a lot of love for her Ontario hometown.

Meghan Patrick, via CMAO

Other big winners on the night included Tim Hicks (Male Artist of the Year), whose Live album is definitely worth a listen if you haven’t checked that out yet, Cold Creek County (Group or Duo of the Year), who have a busy summer coming up, James Barker Band (Fans’ Choice), who are on fire right now after their tour with Dean Brody, and River Town Saints (Single of the Year), who have a brand new single, Woke Up Like This, and self titled album available now.

It’s a great thing to see the Ontario country music community come together with their peers and fans for a night like this, and it’s amazing to see the smiles and looks of love in the eyes of the winners, their families, and their devoted fans.

Check out the full list of artist award winners, as well as some of our favourite photos of the 2017 CMAO Award winners live in action over the last few years!

FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR

Meghan Patrick

RISING STAR AWARD

(sponsored by Slaight Music)
Meghan Patrick

Meghan Patrick Peller Estate

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

(sponsored by Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario & International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers)
Grace and Grit – Meghan Patrick

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR

(sponsored by Long & McQuade)
Bow Chicka Wow Wow – Meghan Patrick

Meghan Patrick-CMT MusicFest

FANS’ CHOICE

(sponsored by Ontario Media Development Corporation)
James Barker Band

James Barker Band SiriusXM Fan Stage BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR

(sponsored by Havelock Country Jamboree)
Tim Hicks

GROUP OR DUO OF THE YEAR

(sponsored by The Remington Group)
Cold Creek County

Cold Creek County CMT Music Fest

SINGLE OF THE YEAR

(sponsored by KICX 106)
Cherry Bomb – River Town Saints

River Town Saints BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016- River Town Saints CMW 2016 Boots and Bourbon

ROOTS ARTIST OR GROUP OF THE YEAR

(sponsored by Skelton Truck Lines)
The Abrams

The Abrams, via CMAO

SONGWRITER (S) OF THE YEAR

(sponsored by SOCAN)
Deric Ruttan, Craig Wiseman – Came Here to Forget, performed by Blake Shelton

RECORD PRODUCER(S) OF THE YEAR

Jason Barry (Dean Brody, Genevieve Fisher, The Western Swing Authority, Tianna Woods)

Dean Brody Tour-EdmontonMay26

CMAO 2017 Awards Show and Conference Contest!

The 2017 Country Music Association of Ontario Awards are coming, and London, ON is going to do a great job hosting.

We know this because we just experienced a hell of a good time with the country music family during Canadian Country Music Week 2016… ask around and people will tell you the same thing.

Now, because we know this weekend is going to be amazing, we want to send you to experience it!

Yup, we want you to go check out the panels at the CMAO R2I (Road to Independence) TuneUp Conference and the CMAO Awards show on Saturday, June 10 and Sunday, June 11.

It’s going to be a great time. It’s going to be filled with country music’s brightest stars from Ontario. It’s going to be a weekend that you won’t soon forget. Memorable moments will happen. Selfies will be taken. Stories will be told. And you could be there.

If you haven’t been to the awards show in the past, you should know that it’s going to have some amazing musical performances… Your host, Jason McCoy, is sure to sing you a line or two, and backed by house band, The Western Swing Authority, you will see no fewer than 11 artists live on stage.

2017 Country Music Association of Ontario Awards Show Performers

♫ Aaron Pritchett
♫ Cold Creek County
♫ Deric Ruttan
♫ Genevieve Fisher
♫ James Barker Band
♫ Jason Blaine
♫ The Abrams
♫ Jessica Mitchell
♫ Meghan Patrick
♫ River Town Saints
♫ Tim Hicks

At the bottom of this post there’s a widget that you can use to earn up to 7 entries for your chance to win 1 pair (2) of tickets to the R2I (Road to Independence) TuneUp Conference and 1 pair (2) of tickets to the Country Music Association of Ontario Awards Show!

But before we get to that, let’s have some fun. As members of the CMAO, we’ve already cast our votes for the 2017 awards – and now we want to see who you think should win. We’ve picked out six categories featuring some of our favourite, and your favourite, Ontario country artists. Vote for the artist you think should win, then use the widget and enter for your chance to be a winner!

Good luck!













ENTER! ENTER! ENTER!

Note: This prize does not include travel or accommodations. Please keep that in mind when entering and hoping to win!

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 4

Three times before we’ve shared a list of country covers of songs from the world of pop and rock… and now we’re back with a fourth list to share with y’all.

This list has some of our favourite artists on it, singing some awesome songs. And if you haven’t heard them yet, you owe it to yourself to listen.

AND, if you don’t consider yourself to be a fan of country music because of the way it sounds, let this be an introduction for you!

Listen to the tracks, enjoy, and leave a comment telling us which country cover you like best.

10 More Awesome Country Covers

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 2

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 3

Dylan Scott: Love Yourself

Dolly Parton: Shine

Tebey ft. Emerson Drive: Wake Me Up

Lennon and Maisy: Ho Hey

The Washboard Union & Meghan Patrick: Seven Bridges Road

Jessica Mitchell: Chandalier

Charles Kelley: Set Fire To The Rain

Chris Stapleton: Nothing Compares To You

Sturgill Simpson: In Bloom

Jennifer Nettles: Glory Days

1 year ago

Songs, Success, and Standing Ovations: The Overdue Rise of Canadian Women in Country Music

2016 was a big year. A lot of people will look back at it and see all of the turmoil, loss, and general destruction that came from it – but there were positives that some of us will look back on from the year and use a fence posts for timelines and stories.

Some of those highlights came in the form of success for female artists on the Canadian country music scene. While we never hit a complete zero of radio play or live shows – the Bro Country movement, along with the general dominance of the genre by male artists, and the influence and import of American music in the genre certainly hindered the growth and bloom of women making country music north of the border.

And while we haven’t evened the scales, or even come close in some areas of the business, 2016 showed great promise for a 12-month period, and with any continued momentum, the future.

Before taking a deeper dive, let’s take a quick look at some of the accomplishments and milestones reached this year…

☆ Jess Moskaluke won her 3rd consecutive Female Artist of the Year award from the Canadian Country Music Association and was awarded a Platinum award in recognition of the success of Cheap Wine & Cigarettes.
☆ Meghan Patrick (#5) and Madeline Merlo (#9) landed on the Top 10 first week album sales charts.
☆ Jessica Mitchell went viral, saw exciting success, and earned critical acclaim for her single, Workin’ On Whiskey.
☆ Whitney Rose saw plenty of success and critical acclaim for her work on Heartbreaker Of The Year and the upcoming release of South Texas Suite in both Canada and the United States, including multiple mentions from Rolling Stone.
☆ Lindsay Ell continued her ascent in the U.S. playing at the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium half a dozen times.

Participate in a conversation about female artist representation for any length of time and you’re likely to hear someone say “it shouldn’t matter if an artist is male or female, quality will play”, and that’s all well and good to say. But it doesn’t fly. Going back even as recently as May 2015 we had to deal with Tomatogate and Keith Hill’s comments about women not being as important as men on the country radio landscape. That’s only a year and a half ago. We’re not talking about a quote from 1955 and a station manager living in the past generation. This is now and we’re still seeing the real life fight for equality in the entertainment world just like we are in business and personal life.

Jess Moskaluke (MDM Recordings) has seen her presence and success increase in the three years since the release of Cheap Wine & Cigarettes. We first saw and interviewed her in 2014, and named her as one of our breakout stars of that year. In the time since then country music fans in Canada have embraced the Saskatchewan songstress and singles like 2016’s Take Me Home and Elevator, which reached #7 and #15 on the Canadian Country Charts. Her performances have grown stronger, her fanbase has grown larger, and we’ve heard more spins on country radio as her popularity and viability have risen.

Jess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The Phoenix

We asked Moskaluke about the swing in country, with more female success and recognition being seen, and she told us, I think country music is cyclical. In the 90’s, the women dominated. In the 2010’s, it’s been the men’s turn. But it’s coming around, and I think in the next couple of years, it’ll be the women’s turn again (or at least it’ll be 50/50, which would be ideal!). We’re seeing strong content both lyrically and sonically on both sides of the border from female artists such as Kelsea Ballerini, Madeline Merlo, Maren Morris, Meghan Patrick, etc. That’s not going to go away. I have always believed that the music industry is one of the most difficult industries, so musicians tend to be extremely driven. The struggle has only made me want to work harder! I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, as, like I had mentioned earlier, the women are coming back bigger and better than ever before!”

That work ethic, the one that makes Jess Moskaluke want to work harder, isn’t new to this year. In fact, we looked back at our 2014 Q&A where she said, “I would love to be the one that breaks the door down in Canada and makes it easier for women to gain popularity in country music.” And with the first Gold (and now Platinum) single by a solo female country artist in Canada since Shania Twain, we’re tempted to say that she has done a significant job of doing just that.

Along with the accomplishments and accolades have come more opportunities for Jess Moskaluke and other female country artists in Canada. In 2016 alone Moskaluke performed across Canada at shows and festivals that featured some of the biggest names in the country genre. At Trackside Music Festival in London, ON, at the Havelock Jamboree in Havelock, ON and at Country Thunder Music Festival in Calgary, AB, Moskaluke put on shows to thousands on the same stages as big-time acts like Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line, The Band Perry, and Luke Bryan.

Jess mentioned the 90s dominance of country by women. In Canada we saw awesome success in that decade from artists like Shania Twain, Terri Clark, Michelle Wright, Patricia Conroy, and K.D. Lang. And when looking at the Single and Album of the Year Awards handed out by the CCMA from 1990 to 1999 we can see a total of 13 awards won in the two categories out of a possible 20. That’s an impressive 65 percent. However, in the 17 award shows from 2000 to 2016 women have won only 3 Album of the Year awards and 4 Single of the Year awards for a total of seven wins out of 34 awards. A much less impressive or encouraging 20%. The cycle has taken long enough in our opinion, it’s time to see some turnaround.

One of the artists that had a big breakout in 2016, and looks forward to more in 2017 was mentioned in Moskaluke’s quote. Meghan Patrick (Warner Music Canada) burst into the market, playing her own sets at festivals and shows all over the country with some of the genre’s biggest stars, and by the end of the year it has started to feel like she’s been here all along.

Patrick’s album, Grace & Grit, was released in April, following the February release of her debut single Bow Chicka Wow Wow, and quickly became a fan favourite. The lead single and video have combined for nearly 1 million plays (official YouTube and Spotify streams) and reached #17 on the Canadian country charts. The title track follow-up reached #12, and has added another nearly half million plays to her 2016 total.

When we asked Meghan Patrick to talk about 2016 and the role and success that Canadian women saw in country music she said, “It’s very inspiring. It has been great to see these women climb the charts this year, sell albums and make big impressions on the Canadian country music scene, and I don’t say that just because they are women… I say that because they deserve it. These are women with great talent as songwriters, performers and who are so dedicated to their craft. Women who have truly created their own sound and product and stayed true to themselves. That’s where truly great music lives… within artists who are sure of themselves, who know their strengths and who have the drive to make it a reality. I’m very proud to be considered one of those artists amongst both my male and female peers, and I am especially proud of the impression my female colleagues and I have made in country music this year.”

To tell you that you should expect to see Patrick’s name in tier one company on the nominee list for 2017 CMAO and CCMA Female Artist of the Year awards is not a bold prediction. But to tell you that we believe there could be another two or three radio singles (following current single Still Loving You) from the album should give you some indication of how much Meghan Patrick could end up accomplishing with this album, as she actively writes and prepares for her follow-up release.

To get a look at the situation for Canadian women in country music from a different perspective we talked to Jenn Dalen (Program Director at CCMA Medium or Small Market Radio Station of the Year, Real Country 95.5 Red Deer, AB and Newcap Alberta South) and asked her to tell us about the genre and scene from where she sits. And her excitement shined through when she said, My favourite part about Canadian country music at the moment is that it’s filled with strong, passionate, determined, fierce, and talented women who are also as real and genuine as it gets! They are hopping on stage with some of the World’s biggest country stars, shredding it like no ones business, earning Platinum titles, writing award winning songs, earning standing ovations, and stealing everyone’s hearts! As a woman it makes me both excited and proud for what’s going to come in 2017! And I think the rest of the country should get ready… because they’re comin’ in hot!”

To have someone like Jenn making programming decisions is a big deal and should not be overlooked. Her enthusiasm for the genre as a whole is palpable, and her support for women in the industry has the chance to go a long way towards success and recognition for the talented performers we know, and the ones on their way like Lindsay Broughton, Raquel Cole, Livy Jeanne, and Shae Dupuy. With the increase in online streaming and digital listening there are those who doubt the importance or relevance of radio, but don’t be fooled, it still matters and it is important that women, and most importantly Canadian women, are represented at country radio.

The second Canadian mentioned in Jess Moskaluke’s quote is a fellow 2016 Canadian Country Music Award Female Artist of the Year nominee, the reigning British Columbia Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year, and 2015 CCMA Rising Star Award winner – Madeline Merlo. With two successful singles released in 2016 (What Ya Wanna Do About It #10 and War Paint #13) Merlo was seen and heard from coast-to-coast. Adding together her YouTube and Spotify streams for the two songs gives an impressive total of more than 2 million plays on the year… but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Madeline Merlo BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

The power and reach of War Paint was one of the genre’s best stories of the year. Pulled from the real life tragedy of mental illness and suicide, the song tells a story that is real and personal. It connected with many listeners, and Madeline Merlo made the most of that connection. In August, Merlo partnered with Spokehaus in Toronto in support of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). She also talked about the significance of the song in interviews on TV and online. And those appearances helped to show her charity as a person and an artist. The song itself continues in the tradition of country music anthems with a powerful message. On merit alone War Paint is a fantastic song and deserves to be recognized as it has been by fans, critics, and on the charts regardless of gender – which is exactly what happened, and what we’re happy to see.

As a rising star in the Canadian country music community (we named her a breakout performer of the year in 2015), Madeline Merlo has already proven that she belongs. And a strong 2017 will be a surprise to nobody that has been paying attention to her career, has listened to her album (2016’s Free Soul), or has seen her perform live at venues like Boots & Hearts, Lucknow Music in the Fields, Calgary Stampede and more.

One of 2016’s biggest, and most pleasant surprises, in Canadian country music came courtesy of Jessica Mitchell. If you haven’t heard of Jessica by now, you’ve probably been under a rock. Her year was an exciting blur of shows, accolades, standing ovations, viral videos, and the kind of recognition that a hard working artist earns when all of the pieces come together.

Mitchell’s breakout single, Workin’ On Whiskey, is the kind of country song that gets stuck in your head and changes the beat of your heart. It’s country music in all of its heartbreaking, liquor pouring, songwriter glowing glory. And it’s a song that has put Mitchell on the damn map. At the end of May, Mitchell played Workin’ On Whiskey at the Country Music Association of Ontario awards show and earned the night’s only standing ovation with her acoustic performance. And in mid-July the song was the most added track by country radio (week of July 13) across the country. She also earned Rising Star (CMAO) and Roots Artist of the Year (CCMA) nominations, proving that the industry admires and appreciates her soulful, heart-felt country contributions.

It is a refreshing thing to see the same kind of respect that’s being paid to artists like Chris Stapleton, given to a woman with those same talents. Do not be surprised to see Jessica Mitchell’s name on award nomination lists again in 2017 – with Female Artist of the Year nominations more than just an outside possibility.

The list of talented Canadian female artists making country music is long (go listen to Kira Isabella, Lindsay Ell, Whitney Rose, Lindi Ortega, Leah Daniels, Trinity Bradshaw, Olivia Rose, and more). The list of names that the average fan is learning and listening to is growing. And the trend of increased popularity in sales, radio play, and online streams is encouraging.

But we aren’t where we need to be yet.

CanCon rules require radio stations to meet a 35% to 40% Canadian song threshold. And if we’re looking for equality, we should be looking for an even split between Canadian men and women. If we can get there on country radio, if fans make the effort to call and request the songs they want to hear from female artists, if they show programmers and advertisers that the women in Canada who make country music are valued and valuable, then maybe we can stop rolling our eyes when we hear someone say, “it shouldn’t matter if an artist is male or female, quality will play”. Because it will be true, and won’t need to be said in the first place.   

The success of women in Canadian country in 2016 should be a beacon of good things to come. But we need to see continued momentum and success in 2017. We need to see the industry recognize this talent at the highest and most visible levels. We need to see support for grassroots and marque names. And it needs to happen now.

We promise to do our part. We hope you’ll do yours. 

Let quality play.

1 year ago
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