Country Thunder Music Festival 2018 Preview

With four incredible locations, Country Thunder will be back yet again in 2018, and it will be bigger than ever!

With festivals in Florence, Arizona, Craven, Saskatchewan, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, and Calgary, Alberta everyone can have the opportunity to put on their cowboy boots, grab a cold one and dance to an amazing lineup all weekend long!

Get ready for some of the biggest names in country music taking over my city, Calgary, during the weekend of August 17th-19th. I thought the lineup last year was incredible but wait for 2018. The summer of 2017 featured Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Thomas Rhett, Dallas Smith, and Randy Houser to name a few! Country Thunder’s new 2018 lineup is filled with the most successful and chart topping artists yet; Eric Church, Toby Keith, Dierks Bentley, Dean Brody, Midland, Madeline Merlo, Hunter Brothers, Lindsay Ell, Bryan White and Jess Moskaluke and more!

Dean Brody Tour-EdmontonMay26

One of the artists I am most excited to see is Eric Church! I’ve been really lucky to see him a couple of times, and I must say he’s one of the only artists who gives me goosebumps every time he sings. One of the most memorable moments at Eric’s shows is when he strips it down to a solo acoustic performance; I truly believe this is the kind of live music experience we all crave. His acoustic performances are definitely something for the books! I highly recommend getting your tickets as soon as possible, as Eric will be closing off Country Thunder the finale night.

Another artist I cannot wait to see is recently announced CRS 2018 Artist Humanitarian Award winner Dierks Bentley. Sadly I have never seen Dierks perform, but I have only ever heard wonderful things. I’m a huge fan of Dierks, one of the biggest reasons why I adore his music so much is because of the stories behind his writing. Musically what he always tries to do is create records that reflect who he is, snapshots of his life at the time. I can’t wait to sing along to some of his most popular songs; Somewhere On A Beach, Black, What The Hell Did I Say, and Different For Girls.

Dierks Bentley BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

‘m looking forward to experiencing the diversity all these artists will bring; from heart filled songs to heart breaks, celebrating the weekend, living and learning, being outdoors with your friends and growing up in a small town, this festival will have all your country needs checked off.

Because the festival is located in the city, there are no camping accommodations, only hotels. But don’t worry!!! Country Thunder has a list of 19 different hotel partners near the festival site that will suit your budget and requirements. Plus, with your festival passes you are welcome to shuttle back and forth for free. Try not to wait too long to purchase tickets to Calgary’s Country Thunder though, as limited tickets are remaining for the full weekend festival.

So grab your sunscreen, cowboy hat, wear your best dancing shoes and get ready to experience everything that Country Thunder has to offer in 2018!

Boots and Hearts 2017 - MidlandJess Moskaluke-Calgary-StampedeMadeline Merlo - Dean Brody Tour-EdmontonLindsay Ell BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Country Music’s Sexiest Men, 2017

The internet is buzzing with rumours that Blake Shelton will be named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2017.

We aren’t here to tell you that they made the wrong choice, but we are here to put a spotlight on some of the other sexy men in country music.

In the last couple of years we’ve had the chance to see these men perform on stage, and as great as they are with the microphone in their hands, they elicit a whole lot of cheers for their look up there on stage.

Have a look at our list and pics of Blake Shelton and our 10 more sexy country music men, and leave a comment to tell us who you think is tops OR who you think we missed.

Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton-Country Thunder 2017 Blake Shelton is one of the biggest stars in the world today. Between his regular appearances at the top of the country music charts and his seat in the spinning chair on The Voice, he’s everywhere. And as the 41 year old Oklahoman adds more salt and pepper to his look, the sexier he seems to get.

Luke Bryan

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Luke Bryan What do we need to say to share the point that Luke Bryan is sexy?! The dude has women pawing at him so much he’s had to make rules about it. When he rotates his hips, it turns into gifs. This Georgia daddy has got to be on every ‘sexy men in country music’ list.

Brett Eldredge

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Brett Eldredge Boots and Hearts 2017 - Brett EldredgeThis rising star is smooth as silk and dapper as hell. Whether he’s on stage with a couple buttons undone, or he’s in a tux on the way to an awards show, he shines. The eyes, the smile, the voice, and the laugh… they add up for Brett Eldredge.

Dallas Smith

Dallas Smith CNE 2015Dallas Smith-Country Thunder 2017This Canadian country music rockstar has it all going for him. Give him some ripped jeans, roll up the sleeves to see the ink, and give him a little stubble of a beard if you’re into that sort of thing. Dallas Smith is legit.

Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016 Dylan Scott BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016This country boy has muscles to spare, looking like he could lift a truck if he wanted to. And Dylan Scott‘s eyes – staring right to your soul. Dang it, he’s got Mmm, Mmm, Mmm all wrapped up.

Mark Wystrach

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - MidlandAs the lead man of Midland, Mark Wystrach is turning heads. If you didn’t already know, you could probably also guess that he’s had a career as a model. He’s chiseled and has the look and we could probably forgive him if he had a Drinkin’ Problem.

Chad Brownlee

Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad BrownleeAnother good Canadian boy, this hockey player turned country star has it in spades. Chad Brownlee knows how to work the stage, the ladies scream for him every time we see him, and when he sings sweetly, it’s everything you dream about.

Chris Lane

Chris Lane-Trackside_Fest Chris Lane Sugar BeachChris Lane is a 33 year old from North Carolina, sharing a laid back cool that drips with sexy. And with his twin brother Cory on the drums, it’s double trouble when this country boy takes the stage in front of a crowd.

Sam Hunt

Sam Hunt BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016 Sam. Hunt. This quarterback turned country superstar drive women wild, and put tears in their eyes when he proposed to his fiancée. On award show carpets and on stage, Sam Hunt is sexy as hell.

Jake Owen

Jake Owen BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016Barefoot Jake has that Florida beach cool sexy going on. Long hair or short, Jake is sexy – and when he pushes that sweaty hair back and does his thing… he nails it!

Andrew Hyatt

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Andrew Hyatt Andrew Hyatt in the shower - Side Effects Tour - OshawaAndrew Hyatt loves to work with his hands, he’s got a great beard, and this newly minted top 10 charting rising country star from Sudbury is picking up new crushes in every city he visits.

1 month ago

On The Rocks: Midland Album Review

Midland, one of the hottest acts north and south of the border, have dropped their full-length debut album, On The Rocks, and we’ve been listening.

With 13 tracks clocking in at 45 minutes, Midland has released a highly anticipated collection of songs that don’t disappoint. All of the hype that’s grown since the release of their #1 single, Drinkin’ Problem, has been lived up to sonically. And now it’s only a matter of time and fan reaction to see how high this album climbs and where it stays.

From cheeky odes to Colorado weed, to ballads telling the story of playing bars and dance halls up and down the highway, On The Rocks is an album full of stories. It’s country music written as country music is at its best.

And when it’s time to just sit back and listen, Midland continues to do what has brought them this far, they sing. The three voices of Mark Wystrach, Jess Carson, and Cameron Duddy fit like your favourite pair of faded jeans, and are as smooth as the good whiskey you save for special occasions. Add in the guitars, strings, and piano throughout the album and the sound becomes full and complete.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland

Related: Midland at Boots & Hearts 2017

To say that Midland has captured the attention of country music and its fans is an understatement. Their throwback sound and style has been a refreshing reminder that country music has many faces, and that country music fans are free to embrace a band like Midland as well as any of the other chart topping acts they love.

Note: Midland’s photo shoots and stage outfits make us wish we were all in the late 70s/early 80s to see how these boys would stack up in their colourful and sparkly outfits.

We’d be remiss not to mention the band’s newest single and music video, Make A Little. We heard the track like at Boots & Hearts this summer, and are happy to hear that it has been given a wide release. The toe tapper comes in at just over three minutes of good vibes and smiles. It’s catchy, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see it rise on the charts.

There is a lot to like about Midland and this album. And while some may scoff at the outfits and the moustaches, all it takes is a listen to understand that this is legit. These are songs that allow for both escape and connection. This is entertainment and comfort. It’s what we love most about music of any genre. And while we wish songs like 14 Gears and Gator Boys were included with Check Cashin’ Country, Somewhere On The Wind, and Nothin’ New Under The Neon – we aren’t complaining.

BUT, if Mark, Jess and Cameron are listening, we’d gladly take an hour long, 17 track follow-up when it’s time for the next album.

Midland, On The Rocks Tracklist

1. Lonely For You Only
2. Make A Little
3. Drinkin’ Problem
4. At Least You Cried
5. Burn Out
6. Out Of Sight
7. More Than A Fever
8. Check Cashin’ Country
9. Nothin’ New Under The Neon
10. This Old Heart
11. Altitude Adjustment
12. Electric Rodeo
13. Somewhere On The Wind

If you’ve been waiting for this album, you won’t be disappointed. If you’ve never heard Midland and you like country music, we highly encourage you to give it a listen. And if you grew up on country music from a generation past, these boys are a nice bridge that you can stand on.

We asked Ontario country singer/songwriter Ben Hudson for his thoughts on the album and here’s what he had to share… “Midland’s On The Rocks is the album country music fans never knew they needed. Their three-part harmony and steel guitar driven sound paired with radio friendly hooks strikes the perfect balance between traditional and modern country”.

Press play now and listen to Midland’s full-length debut album, On The Rocks.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland

On The Rocks: Midland at Boots & Hearts 2017

They’ve got the number 1 song at Canadian country radio, they’re debut album is coming out on September 22, and Midland had a whole lot of fans grooving with them at the Boots & Hearts Front Porch Stage on Sunday afternoon.

Mark, Cameron, and Jess owned the stage in Oro-Medonte with a mix of charm, humour, and a ton of talent. To say that the hype for these dudes is legit has become an understatement. And it seems 100% likely that this is the last summer you’re going to see Midland play an afternoon slot on the second stage at a major country music festival.

A little while ago we saw a stripped down set from Midland in Toronto, and on Sunday they took that and pushed it beyond what we could have hoped for with performances of songs including Burn Out, Electric Rodeo, Altitude Adjustment, This Old Heart, and a killer rendition of Dwight Yoakam’s Honky Tonk Man.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland

Related: Midland Comes North to Toronto

The harmonies and melodies and lyrics that Midland share through their music are high level. The way they entertain and interact with the crowd feels almost effortless. And their ability to sing and play country music is putting them on all of the radars and Must See lists and should result in more radio hits, award nominations and appreciation for Mark’s moustache.

The crowd was hot (from the sun and the excitement) for the Midland set, and when they started with Check Cashin’ Country the singin’ and dancin’ in the crowd started immediately. And when the set wrapped with their debut smash hit, Drinkin’ Problem (and then a surprise encore of Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down A Dream) it was clear to see that the crowd was satisfied.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland

Note: We are kind of digging all of the dropped Gs in the songs that Midland releases and performs. Here’s hoping there are more like Drinkin’ Problem, Check Cashin’ Country, and Runnin’ Down A Dream in the future.

After seeing Midland on stage Sunday with a few thousand country music fans, it’s pretty clear that On The Rocks is going to be one of the most anticipated albums of the fall. And with 13 tracks, including the five we know from their self-titled EP, country fans are going to have some good stuff to sink their teeth into.

Midland may be telling stories now about playing in empty bars just a couple years ago, but with performances like the one they gave on Sunday at Boots & Hearts 2017, they’ll soon be telling stories about travelling thousands of miles from home, across borders, and singing their songs with fans who can’t get enough of three guys with great hats, facial hair, and voices for country music.

Stay tuned, there’s a lot more Midland coming your way!

Midland, On The Rocks Tracklist

1. Lonely For You Only
2. Make A Little
3. Drinkin’ Problem
4. At Least You Cried
5. Burn Out
6. Out Of Sight
7. More Than A Fever
8. Check Cashin’ Country
9. Nothin’ New Under The Neon
10. This Old Heart
11. Altitude Adjustment
12. Electric Rodeo
13. Somewhere On The Wind

Album release: Friday, September 22, 2017

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland

Drinkin’ Problem: Midland Comes North to Toronto

On a quiet Tuesday in Toronto, with much of the music community still hungover from Canadian Music Week, three dudes from Texas made their first visit to Canada and played a showcase at the Dakota Tavern.

Midland, all the way from small town Dripping Springs, TX, hit the small stage in front of fans and industry and showed everyone why they’re being pegged as fast risers and the next big thing.

Mark Wystrach, Jess Carson, and Cameron Duddy make up the band. Writing, singing, and playing together, these guys are legit. They strum and pick and croon together, offering harmonies that reminded us of Alabama in their smoothness, richness, and quality. Don’t get us wrong, they aren’t Alabama 2.0, that’s not their sound, but they are sweet, sweet, sweet to listen to.

Their debut EP, Midland, was released in October 2016, and features 5 tracks that do an excellent job of introducing the band to fans of country music. They also hooked up with Spotify at SXSW 2016, which turned into the Spotify Sessions playlist that was released in January of this year.

Note: The boys quickly became familiar with Toronto and Canada press, hitting three TV outlets on their day in the city, before even thinking about getting to the Dakota for a cold beer and their stage time.

Having taken a listen to the Spotify Sessions, I felt like I had a heads up for what has going to come in the stripped down live show… and maybe I did, but my expectations were still quickly blown away. To see three guys so locked in, in such a small and intimate setting, was awesome. To hear their voices play off of, and join each other, was fantastic. And to remember that we’re going to have the chance to watch them do it again, bigger and louder, at Boots & Hearts 2017, was the bonus.

We heard Midland move through tracks we’ve heard including, Check Cashing Country (hit play on the video clip), This Old Heart, Burn Out, and Champagne For The Pain… and we were treated to Altitude Adjustment, which is a wonderfully cheeky love song to the state of Colorado, and their legalized weed.

Midland: Check Cashing Country

We also heard Mark, Jess, and Cameron roll through Fourteen Gears, Gator Boys, and their current Canadian country charts top 40 single, Drinkin’ Problem. And through each one of those songs we nodded and tapped our toes and sang along when we felt like we had a handle on the words. It was the small venue gig coming through with the moments and memories that all music fans dream of.

It also needs to be noted that Midland are funny. All three of the hatted performers took their turns hitting punch lines, taking shots at eachother and themselves, and generally having a good time as entertainers. There were laughs and whistles in the crowd, and they were all well deserved.

Country music fans are starting to learn a little about Midland now through their radio play and press… and soon, sooner rather than later, they’re going to know a whole lot more about who they are and what they can do on stage and in the studio.

Stay tuned – you’re going to like it!

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

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.

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