Terri Clark

Moments: Jessica Mitchell, the Feature

Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, Jessica Mitchell knows that, she told us that. But in those moments when it seems darkest, inspiration is abundant, and art is made.

One year ago Mitchell’s life presented two bright moments that changed the course of her career, and thrust her into a spotlight that she didn’t expect to find. But do not let yourself believe that she is some sort of overnight success, or that Workin’ On Whiskey was anything less than the culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and talent.

But before we relive those two moments, we have to go back to other moments that helped shape Jessica Mitchell’s life, music, and direction.

In all of our lives, no matter what our careers or talents may be, there are moments that change us, open us up, and influence the rest of our lives. Some are obvious, some more subtle. Sometimes you know right away that a moment is going to change your life, and sometimes you look back years later and see the impact that it’s had. For Jessica Mitchell, three moments have helped direct her to where she is today. Two she looks back at fondly, and one would break even the strongest of hearts.

Moment #1

When Jessica was 14 years old, living her teenage years in London, Ontario, she was in a neighbour’s basement with friends. The room was dark, black lights were on, states were altered, the stereo was turned up to maximum volume, and Nine Inch Nail’s Hurt blasted through the speakers. The song, the experience, and the moment opened her up to a whole new musical world. She jokes now that people would be surprised if they could see her playlists and what she listens to. The woman that country music fans have embraced, nominated for Ontario and Canadian Country Music Association awards, listening to music so vastly different than the songs she performs with a guitar or piano. And while the music may not be country, it inspires her, influences her, and helps her create her own songs and sound.

Moment #2

Years later, in Manchester, Tennessee, Mitchell stood in awe as Radiohead, her longtime favourite band, put on what is looked at now as a legendary performance. “It felt like I couldn’t breathe for two hours” she says, describing what it was like to see the band on stage. As a fan, those experiences are universal, but individually, we all take away something different from them. Jessica Mitchell, 11 years ago this June, walked away from that show with an awareness of greatness.

Those two moments would be easy for anyone to look back on and smile. The memories of music washing over us and taking us back to a pure and happy time. The third milestone moment, well it puts us back in the dark.

Moment #3

To accurately describe the pain and loneliness that anyone experiences when they lose a parent is impossible. Any of us that have been unlucky enough to go through it know that it’s a confusing mess of feelings and memories and whatever else may come along with it.

Jessica Mitchell’s experience when she lost her mother to a decade long battle with cancer is her own story to tell, not ours, but what she tells us now is that the experience gave her a feeling of freedom to fully and completely pursue her dreams of a career in music. And while she doesn’t speak of her mother often in her public life, we have seen her invoke her memory when partnering with The Lady Ball in Toronto.

That career, the work that she does, and the life that she lives, wasn’t a choice Mitchell told us. “I didn’t choose this. This got chosen for me.” And while we 100% believe her when she says this, and 100% believe that she believes it, her story isn’t that simple. Some artists stories are those of a non-stop, never ending pursuit of music, but Jessica Mitchell’s isn’t. She tried to quit music, she tried to walk away and leave it all behind to live a normal life. But it didn’t work, that wasn’t her path, and now she’s here, doing what she truly believes she was meant to do.

One year ago Jessica Mitchell stood on stage at the Country Music Association of Ontario awards show in Markham, Ontario and performed Workin’ On Whiskey. She stood on that stage alone, guitar in hand, microphone in front of her, and sang the song with all of the emotion and depth that lives in its lyrics. It was a performance so powerful and, quite honestly, unexpected, that it received a standing ovation from the artists, industry professionals, and fans in the audience. At the time the song hadn’t been recorded, released to radio, or streamed online. That changed quickly.

Soon after the CMAO awards show, Mitchell recorded Workin’ On Whiskey with her label, Open Road Recordings, and released the song to radio. And then June 23, 2016 happened.

In a video that’s been watched over 70,000 times on her Facebook page, was featured by Global News and multiple online outlets, Jessica Mitchell cried tears of happiness, disbelief, gratitude and more as she sat in her car and listened to the radio. On her way to Stratford to open for Kiefer Sutherland, Mitchell was shouted out by Country 104’s Matt Weaver as he introed her new single. Nearly a year removed from the video and the response, we asked Mitchell to look back at the moment and tell us what it felt like and meant to her.

More than anything, Jessica saw that moment as validation for all of the work and time and tears that she had put into that song and her career and life in music leading up to that day. She also took away encouragement, a push to keep moving forward with her music, to create more, and to keep doing the thing that the universe decided she should do.

“Jessica is one of those talents that’s undeniable the first moment you lay ears on her. A genuine blue eyed soul singer well beyond her time. It’s like she’s lived many lifetimes and all that experience pours out of her in her songwriting and singing. She’s a rare gem. Whenever I’m around her I feel the need to pull my socks up as a singer and a writer.”  – Amanda Wilkinson, country singer/songwriter, and friend of Jessica Mitchell

The months that followed the release of that landmark single have been busy for the Ontario songstress. Tours with Kiefer Sutherland, Royal Wood, and Ron Sexsmith have put her on a number of stages across the country, playing for new faces as she travelled. The summer of 2016 also saw her stop at Boots & Hearts, Cavendish Beach Music Festival, Niagara Wine Festival, Manitoulin Country Fest, the Canadian National Exhibition and more stages that introduced her to more country music fans, and showed them all the face and smile and charm that brought them the solemn song they all knew.

We asked Jessica about her 2017 tour with Ron Sexsmith, and she glowed. The combination of being able to share the stage with the accomplished artist night after night (the show ran 11 dates in 13 days), and driving solo through the Rocky Mountains and beautiful scenery that Western Canada provides was something that she sees as priceless. From a purely personal and perspective driven point of view, Jessica Mitchell highly recommended that we, and everyone else, make that drive, alone, at least once in our lives.

She explained the feeling of independence that she felt, even after experiencing enough of life in her adult years to feel independent, as incredible. And she pointed out, in a very wise and Zen master kind of way, that it becomes very easy to see how small you really are when you’re standing next to a 3,000 foot tall mountain.

And while the last year has been the sort of whirlwind experience that can make things as hectic as you can imagine, Jessica tells us that she has found her calm. In the last six months specifically she feels as though she has found her centre, and is better equipped and able to handle everything new that comes her way.

Jessica Mitchell - CNE Bandshell 2016 Jessica Mitchell - CNE Bandshell 2016 Jessica Mitchell - CNE Bandshell 2016

As spring 2017 approached, and nearly a year had passed since Whiskey was released to the world, it was time for Jessica Mitchell to release new music to the masses. And while a full album wasn’t yet ready, there were songs to play. So on May 12, 2017, two new songs, Don’t Love Me, and Tear It Down, were released to the internet of things, and links were shared and play buttons were pressed.

We asked if there were any feelings of pressure as she endeavoured to follow the success and experience of Workin’ On Whiskey, and honestly, were shocked when she said no. However, she did tell us that there were other factors. Chief among them, fear. Fear that the songs wouldn’t have the same reception, or the same emotional connection to listeners and fans. She says that she has that same feeling with every release, and that these two songs weren’t an exception, but followed the rule.

To sit and listen to these songs is to take a journey, fall into memories, insecurities, love, loss, heartbreak, and loneliness. But they also serve as a reminder that nobody who feels those things is alone. There are many right there with you. And Mitchell has provided the proof.

Don’t Love Me and Tear It Down also offer hope. Hope that a full album is on the way before the end of 2017 (we are lead to believe it will be). Hope that we’ll continue to hear Jessica’s heart and soul through her music. And hope that people will listen and her music can affect them the way it affects us.

That hope that we’ll continue to hear her heart and soul is as close to a sure thing as you can get. Mitchell knows, and told us that her life will continue to influence her songwriting. And that allowing herself time to live that life is essential to the creative process. To make that happen, balance is key. Balance between work and relaxing. Between home and the road. And between being alone and with a crowd.

Related: Workin’ On Whiskey: Jessica Mitchell at Boots & Hearts 2016!

Related: Dean Brody with Jessica Mitchell at The CNE 2016

She also pointed out that she writes songs for people. She wants her songs to connect and be able to mean something to the people that open themselves to their messages. She does not want to simply write about personal experiences for the sake of getting them out of her system, although she does admit that having this outlet is an important part of her emotion balance and being able to keep moving forward in life with a smile and positivity as often as possible.

Jessica places a premium on her alone time. And gave us half a laugh when she told us how much she loves to just curl up on her couch and watch Netflix while cuddling her cat.

But when she’s not at home, binging House Of Cards, or watching movies, you’ll find Mitchell all over the country, smiling on stage, and showing the love she has for what she does. And one of her favourite things is connecting with her fans. She loves receiving messages through her Facebook page that tell her stories about life and loss and love, and how her songs fit or feel to strangers who have opened themselves up to her.

She also loves meeting fans, and can often be seen giving out hugs and smiles and being caught off guard by compliments and the sincere love for her that pours out of people. We’ve seen it, we’ve experienced it. Jessica Mitchell can be a hard person to give a compliment to.

Jessica Mitchell Jessica Mitchell

We asked if there were any special stories she could share from the road and meeting fans, and two memories came to mind pretty quickly.

1) While on tour with Terri Clark, a woman named Dee came to three meet and greet sessions, bringing with her a bottle of booze as a gift each time. Jessica laughed about it, but was clearly fond of the memory and connection she felt to Dee.

2) She was once given the gift of hand drawn pictures that a young fan had put the time into creating specifically for the purpose of getting them to her. It melted her heart, and we’re willing to bet that it’s a memory that she will carry with her for a long time.

And we can fully imagine that there are more memories and stories like this to come in the future. More heartfelt stories shared through messages and meetings, more drawings from young fans finding their own artistic identities, and more booze, because why not?

Jessica Mitchell is just getting started, the work that she’s done has brought her to where we have all gotten to know her now, and the work that is happening now, and will continue to happen in the future will take her as far as she wants to go. We fully believe that.

You should too.

Jessica Mitchell at The Horseshoe Toronto Jazz Festival 2016 Jessica Mitchell at The Horseshoe Toronto Jazz Festival 2016 Jessical Mitchell Peller Estate Jessical Mitchell Peller Estate CCMA Awards 2016 Jessica Mitchell Green Carpet

5 months ago Views

Country Thunder: Returning to Calgary for 2017!

With four amazing locations, Country Thunder is back again in 2017 and bigger then ever! With festivals in Florence, AZ, Craven, SK, Twin Lakes, WI and Calgary, AB everyone can have the opportunity to put on their cowboy boots and dance to an amazing lineup all weekend long!

Get ready for a weekend full of incredible entertainers in Calgary, Alberta, August 18-20th!

Country Thunder Lineup,
Calgary 2017!

★ Brad Paisley
★ Thomas Rhett
★ Blake Shelton
★ Randy Houser
★ Dallas Smith
★ Old Dominion
★ Chase Bryant
★ James Barker Band
★ Joe Nichols
★ The Dungarees
★ The Washboard Union
★ The Road Hammers
★ Ryan Hurd
★ Terri Clark
★ High Valley

Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley Boots and Hearts 2015
Dallas Smith
Dallas Smith Boots and Hearts 2015

I don’t know about you, but I am extremely excited to have male vocalist of the year & song of the year winner Thomas Rhett as one of the headliners! I am very thrilled to see what he has in store for everyone. We’re also lucky to have critically acclaimed singer and songwriter Brad Paisley who has won numerous awards in his career and is constantly taking over the charts. We also can’t forget about the hilarious Blake Shelton… five-time male vocalist of the year, Grammy nominee and one of my favourite judges on this season of The Voice.

Don’t worry we didn’t forget about the other remarkable artists taking over the stages at this years festival! I am looking forward to experiencing the diversity all these artists will bring; from heart filled songs to heart breaks, celebrating the weekend, grabbing a beer with your friends, and growing up in a small town – this festival will have all of your country needs checked off.

Due to the festival being 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 worth for free. Try not to wait to long to purchase tickets to Calgary’s Country Thunder though, as limited tickets are remaining for the full weekend festival.

Grab you’re cowboy hat, wear your best dancing shoes and get ready to experience everything that Country Thunder has to offer!

Thomas RhettThomas Rhett Boots and Hearts 2015High Valley
Old Dominion
Old Dominion Boots and Hearts 2015Chase Bryant
Chase Bryant BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016James Barker Band
James Barker Band SiriusXM Fan Stage BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016The Washboard Union
Washboard Union CMT Music FestThe Road Hammers
The Road Hammers Boots and Hearts 2015

7 months ago Views

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.

11 months ago Views

Please Welcome to the Stage… Boots & Hearts 2017 Predictions!

We’re just under 9 months away from Boots & Hearts 2017 at Burl’s Creek in Oro, ON – but it really doesn’t feel like that long at all!

In fact, we’ve already been thinking about B&H a lot, and while we can’t give you many details yet, we can tell you that we’re going to have some very, very exciting things coming up between now and festival season next year.

But for now we want to talk about the potential lineup for the 6th annual country music extravaganza… we don’t have any info that you don’t have. We haven’t talked to the Republic Live team for any tips or rumours. But I have come up with a list of 10 country artists that I think have a legit chance to play at Boots & Hearts next August.

This isn’t an old fashioned wish list, which is why you won’t see names like Garth Brooks, Shania, Reba, or Brooks & Dunn… although it would be really cool if any of those artists headlined. This list is made up of talent that we’ve either seen in the past and believe are a good fit for a return next year, or that we haven’t seen yet, and have a good reason to play such a sweet gig.

This wasn’t an easy list of 10 to make, which is why there are a few names at the bottom that could also be at B&H in 2017. And, I want you list too, so leave a comment!

In no particular order, here we go…

Doc Walker

With the release of Echo Road (their greatest hits record) and an upcoming album of new music in March 2017, Doc Walker are the perfect fit for B&H 2017. Whether they play the main stage, or the front porch, there’s no doubt that their collection of hits, and whatever new tunes they release will make for an entertaining set.

Bobby Wills

When The Lights Go Down Toronto Bobby Wills-8043CCMA nominations, top 10 singles, hot videos, and a growing legion of fans all point to Bobby Wills making his Boots & Hearts debut in 2017.

We’ve seen Bobby play some stages over the last few years, and we know that he has what it takes to pull a crowd in, have them singing along, and enjoying the party.

Little Big Town

In 2015 LBT had to pull out of the Boots & Hearts lineup… and we’re still waiting for them to come back and give us a show that we’ll be talking about long after they leave the stage.

We’ve seen them before and we can’t wait to see them again. Hopefully up on the main stage in front of 40,000 people.

Maren Morris

maren-morris-hero-albumMorris is on top of the world with the recognition that’s coming from singles like 80’s Mercedes and My Church. And if you haven’t heard the rest of Hero, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

We haven’t seen Morris live, but I have a feeling that a few thousand of our best friends singing along to My Church could be a highlight of the weekend.

Kelsea Ballerini

Love Me Like You Mean It, Dibs, and Peter Pan have been a strong start to Ballerini’s career. And after her performance at the 2016 Canadian Country Music Awards (where Boots & Hearts won for Country Festival, Fair or Exhibition of the Year) we know that a Canuck crowd can get behind she when she sings.

With another single sure to come soon, there’s no doubting Kelsi’s talent or popularity, or that she belongs at B&H 2017.

James Barker Band

James Barker Band SiriusXM Fan Stage BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016After winning the Emerging Artist Showcase in 2015 and performing on the main stage in 2016 the James Barker Band has certainly earned the love of the B&H crowd. And with the success of Lawn Chair Lazy and the release of Just Sayin’ – plus an EP coming in the (we hope) near future, we know that country fans are ready to cheer and sing and dance with James, Taylor, Bobby and Connor again at Boots & Hearts 2017!

Chris Stapleton

I know from talking to executive members of the Republic Live team that Chris Stapleton is just as adored internally as he is by the rest of the world. And after the success of Traveller, it’s impossible to think that the Boots & Hearts crowd wouldn’t go wild for the country crooner.

Stapleton played the main stage in 2014 – and he’d be welcome to do it again in 2017 we’re sure!

Brett Kissel

Brett Kissel CNE 2015Also a 2014 B&H alum, Kissel played the Coors Banquet Kick Off Party on the front porch stage… but he’s never been on the main stage.

In 2017, after winning the Fans’ Choice, Male Artist, and Interactive Artist of the Year awards at the CCMA’s this year, we know that thousands (tens of thousands) of Canadian country fans would be okay with the chance to sing along to Started With A Song, Airwaves, Come Pick Me Up, and 3, 2, 1. Bring it on Brett!

Runaway Angel

The first time we saw Runaway Angel they were on the Boots & Hearts stage in the Emerging Artist Showcase. And now, after having seen them grow and become more and more entertaining – we’re ready to see them back on the B&H stage.

Take a listen to No End In Sight (the debut album from Runaway Angel), close your eyes and imagine the songs coming from the stage.

Jessica Mitchell

Jessica Mitchell BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016-Jessica Mitchell stole a lot of hearts in the last year… mine included. Workin’ On Whiskey is the kind of song that gets stuck in your soul. And songs like That Record Saved My Life and Grown Up Things prove that she’s not just a one trick pony.

After opening for Kiefer Sutherland on his 2016 tour, playing a short set of her own on the Sirius XM stage at #BH5, and taking the stage as a special guest with Lindsay Ell, we know that Jessica is ready for an full sized audience of her own at Boots & Hearts in 2017.

BONUS: Keith Urban

keith-urban-ripcord-albumIf you’ve ever seen Urban live, you know he’s killer with a big crowd. And if you haven’t seen Keith Urban live, he should be on your bucket list!

Coming into the sixth year of the festival, it makes sense to try and lock up this guitar wizard for a headlining slot. If you’ve been at any other Boots & Hearts festival over the years you can expect the exact same kind of pandemonium for this set. Plus, there’s Ripcord (March 2016) to sing along to!

Also on my list, but just outside the top 10…

Darius Rucker, Lady Antebellum, Dallas Smith, Shae Dupuy, Terri Clark, Endless Summer, and Johnson Crook.

Who do you think we’ll see at Boots & Hearts 2017? Leave a comment telling us and we might just have some swag to send our favourite answers!

 


via GIPHY

1 year ago Views

Who Will Replace Little Big Town at Boots & Hearts 2015

Update: We have an answer…

The Boots & Hearts schedule now shows Dallas Smith moving out of his original time slot on Sunday and into the empty slot on Saturday opening for Eric Church. Emerson Drive will now be joining the B&H lineup, taking over in Smith’s Sunday spot.

Got it? Good!

——————–

Sadly, Little Big Town has announced that they will be cancelling all of their shows for the first 3 weeks of August as Jimmy recovers from his vocal condition by doctors orders.

That means that as of right now (or whenever the announcement is made public by Boots and Hearts) there is an empty time slot of 7:00pm to 8:30pm on Saturday night. And that means we need to figure out who could replace the Girl Crush singers on the main stage before Eric Church headlines the night.

We’ve brainstormed a few options… let us know what you think.

Little Big Town Replacement Option 1: Chad Brownlee

When-The-Lights-Go-Down-Toronto-Chad-8368Chad Brownlee is currently scheduled to play before the Little Big Town slot. So why not just bump the Canadian country star up to 7pm?

It would mean adding a half hour to the 1 hour set that Brownlee has been planning, but we’re confident that he can take tracks from his 3 albums + maybe a cover of Thinking Out Loud to fill that time and keep the fans happy. We just saw him in the spring on the When The Light Go Down tour, and he was excellent!

But, if we move Chad Brownlee up to 7pm, we have to replace him from 5:30pm to 6:30pm… why not Tebey? There are no shows currently showing on his website and we know he puts on a great show. So we say get him in there and let him show the Boots & Hearts crowd why he won the 2012 Emerging Artist Showcase.

Little Big Town Replacement Option 2: Another BIG Name

If you’re itching for another big name to fill the LBT slot and leave Chad Brownlee where he is, we’ve got some options that we think could work based on availability, and awesomeness…

Darius Rucker Boots and Hearts 2015Darius Rucker: We’ve seen Rucker’s name online already as a replacement that people want to see. And we’d agree. The former Hootie and the Blowfish lead singer is on our list of artists we need to see. He’s a member of the Opry and if the Republic Live team can get him – we’ll be happy!

Kacey Musgraves: One of the hottest names in the genre right now, Musgraves is cool, talented, and pushing her Pageant Material album. We can only imagine the volume of the crowd singing along to Biscuits and Gravy, Merry Go ‘Round, and Follow Your Arrow as the evening fades and night begins.

Terri Clark Boots and Hearts 2015Terri Clark: Canadian country legend, member of the Grand Ole Opry, hit maker, crowd pleaser, all around awesome entertainer – why wouldn’t we want to see Terri Clark. With a HUGE career and a list of hits longer than your arm, Clark can own a Canadian crowd. We saw her years ago opening for Brad Paisley in Ottawa, and it was damn near a double headlining show with the pop that she got from the audience. We say yes, bring on live versions of Boy Meets Girl, The World Needs A Drink, Emotional Girl, Dirty Girl, No Fear, etc.

Brantley Girlbert Boots and HeartsBrantley Gilbert: The tattooed singer always looks like he’s having a good time, and more than anything that’s what we need to be looking for here. With the requisite hits (Country Must Be Country Wide, You Don’t Know Her Like I Do, Bottoms Up, One Hell Of An Amen) and a big attitude, he’d be a great fit leading into Eric Church!

Jennifer Nettles: We included Nettles in our 2015 predictions, but she didn’t make it to the schedule. But now she’s got Sugar to share with the world plus That Girl, Me Without You, Who Says You Can’t Go Home – and the entire Sugarland library. In fact, we’d love to see Sugarland play as a duo, but Kristian Bush has a show in Illinois on Friday night, so we’re not as hopeful about that.

Little Big Town Replacement Option 3: Eric Church

Eric Church 2015Right now Eric Church is scheduled to play from 9pm to 11pm… but what if he played longer? What if he took a page out of Neil Young’s WayHome playlist and put on a 3 hour show for the Boots & Hearts crowd?

3 hours is a long time, so we’re probably asking for too much there. But there is a way this could work. If Church comes on at 8:30pm and plays until 11pm we’ve got that covered – and if Chad Brownlee comes on from 6pm to 7:30 instead of 5:30pm to 6:30pm, we’re in better shape. A hour between sets isn’t awful, people could deal with it.

The only thing we don’t like about that plan is that it doesn’t replace Little Big Town…

Now we want to know, who do you want to see replace Little Big Town at Boots and Hearts 2015? Tell us in a comment – we’ll see you there!

Work Hard. Play Harder. Be Awesome!

2 years ago Views

90s Country Playlist featuring Hot Country Knights!

Country music is in the midst of a 90s comeback thanks to Hot Country Knights. The mulleted, dad jeans sporting, neon clothed band have taken Nashville by storm with their infectious energy, hot moves on stage and killer covers of new country classics.

If you haven’t seen them in action yet, take a look at these videos from a recent show in Smashville and just try not to sing along.

In all seriousness, we should all be thanking Dierks Bentley for reminding us just how much we loved country music in the 90s – and how fun it is to go back and listen to some of it now.

So, here are 10 more awesome country songs from the 90s that you can listen to, sing along with, and go back in time to the memories that you made back then…

Deana Carter: Strawberry Wine

Tim McGraw: I Like It, I Love It

Shania Twain: You Win My Love

Dixie Chicks: I Can Love You Better

Diamond Rio: Meet In The Middle

Alan Jackson: Gone Country

Trisha Yearwood: She’s In Love With The Boy

George Strait: Check Yes Or No

Terri Clark: You’re Easy On The Eyes

Paul Brandt: My Heart Has A History

This list could have gone on forever… so leave a comment with some of your favourite 90s country songs and videos so we can keep building the playlist.

Have fun. Be awesome!

3 years ago Views

Welcome to the Women of Canadian Country Music Festival!

TheReviewsAreIn Trinity Bradshaw Interview Boots and Hearts 2014This summer I sat down on a bale of straw with Trinity Bradshaw and talked about her music and career goals and country music – and while we were talking I asked her the same question that I’ve been asking country musicians when I get the chance: Who would you want to go out on tour with?

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

So, because I can – and it seems like fun – I’ve fantasy booked the 1st Women of Canadian Country Music Festival!

Small Town Pistols Boots and Hearts 2015From top to bottom, this 2 day festival is packed with female country singers who are on their way to the top, are at the top right now, or have made their legacy by being at the top and influencing a new generation of country artists in Canada.

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

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

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

Jess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixDay 2
1:00 – 2:00
Leah Daniels
2:30 – 3:30
Trinity Bradshaw
4:00 – 5:00
One More Girl
5:30- 6:30
Carolyn Dawn Johnson
7:00 – 8:30
Jess Moskaluke
9:00 – 10:30
Terri Clark

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

Be awesome!

3 years ago Views
Scroll to top