the Phoenix

On Me: Andrew Hyatt Video Release

Hot on the heels of his Iron & Ashes album release, the critical and fan acclaim for the heartbreaking track, She Ain’t You, and two successful sets during Canadian Music Week, Andrew Hyatt has a brand new song for you to hear, and a video for you to watch.

Related: Iron & Ashes: Andrew Hyatt Album Review and Q&A

Hit play now and watch Hyatt’s new video for On Me. The video features scenes from the capital of country music, Nashville, the studio during recording, the stage of The Phoenix concert theatre during his soundcheck and show opening for Drake White & The Big Fire during CMW 2017, and more.

Related: CMW 2017: Livin’ The Dream with Drake White, Alee, Andrew Hyatt and Friends

And if you haven’t yet seen them, check out these CMT One Shot videos for She Ain’t You and We Only Kiss On Sundays.

Enjoy, and stay tuned for more from the pride of the Nickel City, Andrew Hyatt.

 

5 months ago Views

CMW Preview & Contest: Boots & Hearts Hot Shots ft. Drake White, Alee, Andrew Hyatt and more

Boots & Hearts doesn’t take over Burl’s Creek Event Park until August 10… but that doesn’t mean there isn’t B&H country music for us to celebrate before then!

We’ve already been out to see JJ Shiplett and Kelly Prescott on The Road To Boots, and now we’re prepping to hit The Phoenix Concert Theatre during Canadian Music Week as Boots & Hearts + KX Country present the Hot Shots Concert Series.

In 2016, on the exact same stage, we got to see Blackjack Billy, with Meghan Patrick, James Barker Band, Dani Strong, Kansas Stone, and Eric Ethridge – and it was a helluva good time. Heck, click here to check out the pics, they still make us smile!

And now, in 2017, we’re going to get Drake White and The Big Fire, with Alee, Andrew Hyatt, Kendra Kay, and Kris Barclay. It’s a solid lineup, one that promises to bring energy, volume, and the chance to dance while you singalong.

CMT Music Fest - Drake White & The Big Fire

Drake White, CMT Music Fest 2016

Note: There’s a playlist at the bottom of this post that will give you a taste of the music that’s going to be featured at this showcase… hit play and enjoy!

If you’re a country fan and listen to the radio we’re sure that you already know who Drake White is. But if you don’t know the supporting cast on this bill, be ready to hear some music that you can truly get behind as these artists grow their careers.

We got to see Drake White and The Big Fire last summer – which was a whole lot of fun. From note 1 the band brings the energy that you crave at a live show, and they continue to entertain, involve, and connect with the crowd until they’ve left the stage. We’re quite looking forward to Drake and his hat coming out to sing for us at The Phoenix.

And we’re just as excited for the opening acts as we are for the headliner!

We’ve been on the Alee and Andrew Hyatt bandwagons for a while now, because they’ve have released some killer music that we can’t listen to enough and probably singalong too loud to. And adding new to us acts in Kendra Kay and Kris Barclay brings that element of discovery that Canadian Music Week always delivers, and that we love.

All said and done, this is going to be the most ridiculous Tuesday night we’ve had in a long time. We’re confident in that fact.

We hope to see you there. Click here to learn more about the Boots & Hearts + KX Country Hot Shots Concert Series…

CMT Music Fest - Andrew Hyatt

Andrew Hyatt, CMT Music Fest 2016

Alee, 2016 CCMA Awards Green Carpet

CMT Music Fest - Drake White & The Big Fire

Drake White, CMT Music Fest 2016

 

We’re excited to have a Boots & Hearts Music Festival giveaway for you. We’ve got two prizes to give away!
Prize 1 – 4 passes to the Drake White show on April 18
Prize 2 – 2 Passes to the Drake White show PLUS 2 passes to Boots and Hearts.

Contest closes Tuesday at noon.

7 months ago Views

Triumph Motorcycles Brings The Road Hammers to Toronto!

A funny thing happened on the way to the bike launch…

On a night designed to be an awesome and interesting launch of new bikes from Triumph, a country music show broke out – and a good time was had by all.

Okay, so maybe it was planned. Maybe Clayton and Jason and Chris have been working with Triumph Motorcycles for years. Either way, it was a whole lot of fun.

The night began with a good crowd gathered at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. Propped up throughout the venue were no fewer than 6 bikes, looking shiny and impressive, and pretty much begging us all to hop on and go for a cruise. And that makes sense, because Triumph was celebrating the launch of their 2017 Bonneville Bobber on the Brutal Beauty Tour.

We saw riders walking around with helmets in hand, we saw enthusiasts check tires and tanks and gauges and grips. And we saw a whole lot of people climbing on – just to see how it felt.

And then we saw The Road Hammers!

Jason McCoy, Clayton Bellamy, and Chris Byrne have earned their reputation as modern legends in Canadian music – and on a Wednesday night, even with motorcycles in the spotlight, they brought all of the energy and fun that you’d expect from these three country rockers.

The boys played more than a dozen songs on the Phoenix stage, including fan favourites like Eastbound And Down, Mud, Girl On The Billboard, Hillbilly Highway and I’m A Road Hammer – and some great covers that included Mary Jane’s Last Dance and Honky Tonk Woman (featuring a special appearance by Kelly Prescott) that were a lot of fun for those of us in the crowd.

We know that there’s new music coming from The Road Hammers – and there were whispers that we may see a spring/summer tour from the guys. And if both of those things come, it won’t be soon enough for us!

9 months ago Views

CMW 2016: Boots & Hearts Hot Shots Showcase – Photo Review

On Tuesday, May 3 at The Phoenix, Boots & Hearts brought a country music party to Toronto!

In partnership with KX96 and KX94.7, the Canadian Music Week Hot Shots Showcase featured Blackjack Billy, Meghan Patrick, Eric Ethridge, the James Barker Band, Dani Strong, and Kansas Stone in a 5 hour concert that had the crowd singing, dancing, and stomping along from start to finish.

We were there to shoot the show, and have a ton of photos we want to share with you.

Thanks to Ray Williams for shooting with us, you can find him on Twitter at @aperfectpixel  and he’ll have more photos from more shows coming up soon on thereviewsarein.com!

Enjoy the shots, and click here to check out our full review of the Boots & Hearts Hot Shots Showcase!

Blackjack Billy

Black Jack Billy Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixelBlackjack Billy Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Blackjack Billy Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixelBlackjack Billy Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016BlackjackBilly Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixelBlackjack Billy Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Blackjack Billy Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Blackjack Billy Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixelBlackjack Billy Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Blackjack Billy Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixelBlackjackBilly Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixelBlackjack Billy Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Blackjack Billy Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixelBlackjack Billy Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixel

Meghan Patrick

Meghan Patrick Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixel Meghan Patrick Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixel Meghan Patrick Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixel Meghan Patrick Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixel Meghan Patrick Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixel Meghan Patrick The Phoenix full CMW 2016-2196 Meghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick Band The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick Band The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick Band The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016

Eric Ethridge

Eric Ethridge Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-5267Eric Ethridge Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Eric Ethridge Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-2094 Eric Ethridge Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-2086 Eric Ethridge Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-2042 Eric Ethridge Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-2041 Eric Ethridge Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-5281 Eric Ethridge Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-5286 Eric Ethridge Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-5294 Eric Ethridge Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-5296 Eric Ethridge Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Eric Ethridge Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Eric Ethridge Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Eric Ethridge Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Eric Ethridge Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Eric Ethridge Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016

Dani Strong

Dani Strong Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Dani Strong Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Dani Strong Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Dani Strong Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Dani Strong Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Dani Strong Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Dani Strong Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Dani Strong Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016

James Barker Band

James Barker Band The Phoenix Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016James Barker Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 James Barker Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 James Barker Band The Phoenix Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 James Barker Band The Phoenix Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 James Barker Band The Phoenix Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 James Barker Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 James Barker Band Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016

Kansas Stone

Kansas Stone The Phoenix Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016Kansas Stone The Phoenix Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Kansas Stone Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 - Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixel Kansas Stone Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixel Kansas Stone Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixel Kansas Stone Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Photo Credit Ray Williams - @APerfectPixel Kansas Stone The Phoenix Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Kansas Stone The Phoenix Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Kansas Stone The Phoenix Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Kansas Stone The Phoenix Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016 Kansas Stone The Phoenix Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016

 

1 year ago Views

CMW 2016: Boots & Hearts Hot Shots Showcase!

Tuesday night CMW went country at The Phoenix, when Boots & Hearts, KX96, and KX94.7 took over the joint and brought 6 acts up to the stage to take their turns making boots stomp and drinks flow.

The party was a pre-celebration of Boots & Hearts 5th anniversary festival this August, but it was also a showcase event for some up-and-coming talent that was more than ready to do their work in front of a crowd that was hungry for action on a Tuesday night. And before we continue, I know that Tuesday isn’t generally a party kind of night, but from the first note to the last, you’d have had a hard time proving it.

Before the show there were ticket holders ready and waiting and lined up down the lane and onto the sidewalk on Sherbourne. And when the doors opened at 7pm a rush of people came in, looking for their spot to catch the show, checking out the merch at the back, and making their way to the bar for round 1 of the night.

Boots & Hearts Hot Shots CMW Showcase Lineup

★ Kansas Stone
★ Dani Strong
★ James Barker Band
★ Eric Ethridge
★ Meghan Patrick
★ Blackjack Billy

First up was Kansas Stone, a Barrie band ready to make waves with their rock/country vibe and ready to party persona.

The boys were handed a tough task, a cold crowd eager to see the headliners later in the night, but they didn’t back down, and they didn’t disappoint. Matt and Brian gave The Phoenix a taste of what they have to offer with Country In The City, Hand In Mine, Country 101, Drink On, and a sweet little cover of FGL’s ‘Round Here.

With a new album coming in the next few months and an EP coming at the end of May, we’re betting that Kansas Stone is going to be around here a lot more in the very near future.

Kansas Stone The Phoenix Boots and Hearts Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-1744

Dani Strong took the stage with the crowd in a party mood, and she did not let them down. With a full band behind her the room was full of sound, and smiles almost as big as the one of Dani’s own face. The BC born Strong looked genuinely happy to be playing, and it came through in her songs.

We got an upbeat, good timing set that featured some big power moments and notes that reminded me of Sheryl Crow… and we can call that a good thing.

Dani impressed, and we can’t wait for more of that full band party atmosphere when we see her again.

Dani Strong The Phoenix Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-5212

Third to hit the stage, and certainly up to the task, was the James Barker Band!

These 5 boys are the reigning winners of the Boots & Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase and will be back on stage at B&H this August. And while it’s been a few months since we’ve seen them, it doesn’t look like they’ve missed a beat.

Tracks like Livin’ The Dream, Babe Watch, Lawn Chair Lazy (coming to radio soon), and even a medley that included Lose Yourself and Killin’ In The Name Of were perfect for a party, and again, even on a Tuesday, the crowd was ready and willing to play along and party with them. The band is tight, the harmonies are well worked, and these boys aren’t hard to look at… which makes it easy to predict that we’ll see more of them soon.

James Barker Band The Phoenix Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-1981

Eric Ethridge followed the Barker boys, and in a leather jacket that many of the women in the crowd wish he would have just taken off, provided another level of excitement as Tuesday night wore on.

A huge 7 man band took over the stage and filled The Phoenix with sound, and they did it with a ton of energy. Nobody stood still, nobody took a song off, and nobody in the crowd was disappointed. Eric had people dancing and singing and grooving with a set that included Stay A Little Longer, Between Me & You, and The South – and if given the chance we know he would have stayed up there longer and given more.

Next time… we’re sure of it.

Eric Ethridge Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-2042

2nd to last, but maybe most anticipated was Meghan Patrick.

Meghan took the stage to a big pop from the crowd, her full band behind her ready to play, and a smile on her face that told us she was ready for the party.

Check out our full review of Meghan’s set, photos, and her setlist HERE!

Meghan Patrick The Phoenix full CMW 2016-2196

Last, but most certainly not least, came Blackjack Billy.

We’ve talked about bands getting a party started, and keeping a party going, but these boys, when they step on stage, they ARE the party!

Right out of the gate Blackjack Billy brought an energy pop to the crowd that felt perfect after the build up throughout the night. They got a little loud, they got a little crazy, and they gave just as much as they possibly could to the audience.

The crowd sang and danced and drank along with tracks like Slow Dancin’ Under The Sheets, Blood Sweat, And Beer, Working On You, and a crowd favourite that they wrote with Tim Hicks… an unofficial Canadian anthem… Stronger Beer.

If you haven’t seen Blackjack Billy live, no matter what night of the week, you owe it to yourself to keep tabs on when they’re coming to a town near you.

Trust us.

Black Jack Billy Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-2345Black Jack Billy Boots and Hearts KX Hot Shots Showcase CMW 2016-2458

Want more photos & videos from the Boots & Hearts Hot Shots CMW Showcase!

1 year ago Views

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

Canadian Music Week is just around the corner, and I’m in love.

I was a CMW attendee long before I started writing about and shooting shows. I love this festival so much, I’d book vacation time so I could take in as many bands as possible. I love the way it makes our city feel, filling the streets and clubs with musicians, and I love covering this festival. My only regret is that there’s no possible way to see all of the bands that I’d really like to see. It’s just not possible!

CMW 2016 will feature over 800 bands, appearing in 58 venues, over 7 days, with the lion’s share happening Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Trust me, you’ve gotta plan and pace yourself kids!

If you’re a regular reader you won’t find anyone absolutely new on my list, all of my picks are bands I’ve written about before. I’ve either seen them before or I’ve interviewed them, and I can’t wait to see them live. In chronological order, here are my top 5 picks.

Meghan Patrick at Phoenix Concert Theatre on May 3rd – 10:00 PM
The Hot Shots CMW Showcase
Presented by: KX Country and Boots & Hearts

Meghan Patrick CMW 2016I have a special spot for Meghan Patrick in my heart. She was the lead singer in the first band I ever shot. Let me just say, she set the bar very, very high and she continues to raise that bar every single time I see her. She’s warm, sweet, charming and real when you talk to her, and then there’s her talent. When she sings soft and low it gives me goosebumps and when she lets it rip, her voice is rich and strong. In three short years she’s come a long way, and I like to say I knew from the second she opened her mouth that she was destined for big things. Meghan is an absolute must-see!

Poor Young Things at Lee’s Palace on May 4th – 10:00 PM
The Julian Taylor Band Showcase
Presented by: 94.9 The Rock

Poor Young Things CMW 2016Originally from Thunder Bay, Poor Young Things now call Toronto home. The five-piece rock band is made up of lead singer and guitarist Matt Fratpietro, Michael Kondakow on guitar and vocals, Dave Grant on guitar and vocals, Scott Burke on bass and Konrad Commisso on drums. You can expect great musicianship, intense energy, amazing harmonies, laughs, and feeling the need to jump up and down, seriously!

I’m sneaking this one in here, I’ll definitely be sticking around to check out The Julian Taylor Band!

Ivory Hours at The Horseshoe on May 5th – 1:30 AM
Tommy Stinson w/ Special Guests Showcase

Ivory Hours

The London-based band features Luke Roes on vocals and guitar, Chris Levesque on bass, and Thomas Perquin on drums. I’ve fallen hard and fast for this band. Their version of pop-rock is catchy, sassy, with lyrics that make you think. I love the tone of Luke’s voice, and I can’t wait to see them live. Ivory Hours have lots of great videos on their YouTube channel, you should check it out and maybe I’ll see you at The Shoe.

Petric at Boots and Bourbon on May 6th – 8:00 PM
Cold Creek County w/ Special Guests Showcase
Presented by: KX Country

PetricJason and Tom Petric hail from Transcona, just outside of Winnipeg, and this handsome country duo are steaming up Canadian country radio. Their current single All She Wrote is full of sweet guitar and banjo, seamless harmonies, and a great story. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason and Tom and they’re smart, funny, talented and super likable. I’ll be riding east to Boots and Bourbon to see Petric, and I’m sure they’ll be worth the trip.

The Lazys at The Cameron House (back room) on May 6th – Midnight

The Lazys CMWThe Lazys will be performing an acoustic set at The Cameron House in the back room Friday, May 6th. They’ll be hitting the stage at midnight. When they were here last they blew up The Horseshoe with their balls out, no holds barred, ridiculously energetic rock and roll show. The Lazys have come all the way from New South Wales, Australia for this showcase and while I’m not quite sure what an acoustic set from this band will sound like, I can’t wait. The Lazys are Leon Harrison on vocals, Matty Morris on guitar, Glenn Williams on bass, Liam Shearer on guitar, and Andy Neilsen on drums.

It was a real challenge narrowing my must-see list down to  5 bands. I have to mention that my CMW schedule also includes spending my Saturday afternoon at the Aussie BBQ. There’s nothing like live music on a Saturday afternoon!

Get your CMW 2016 wristbands here, and start building your must-see list.

We’ll have coverage throughout the festival. Stay tuned!

1 year ago Views

GTA Music City: Musicounts at The Phoenix Concert Theatre

Thursday night we joined Canadian music fans and supporters at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto in support of MusiCounts.

Musicounts 2016With a great lineup of Canadian talent on stage, nobody in the audience was disappointed with what they heard, or why they showed up on a less than stellar winter weather night. There was singing and dancing and laughter as the night went on, and we are very glad that we were there to take it all in.

MusiCounts does great work bringing music to schools and communities where it’s needed most. Their belief that music can be used as a tool to benefit children of all ages and abilities is one we share… it’s why we ran our TILT fundraising campaign in 2015, why we were happy to be at The Phoenix on Thursday, and why we’ll continue to support one of our favourite Canadian charities.

The night of music kicked off with a drumline performance by the 5 dudes of Hitmen Drumline… they played their way into the theatre, marched and danced and played all over the space, and then played their way out again after an impressive performance of speed and rhythm.

And then, after a few words from the evening’s hosts Steve Anthony (CP24) and Talia Schlanger (CBC Radio 2), the stage got its first action when, Juno nominated, God Made Me Funky plugged in and started a party.

Leah Daniels God Made Me Funky Musicounts 2016Accompanied by our pal Leah Daniels, God Made Me Funky put the audience through their paces with uptempo covers of Uptown Funk, Forget You, Get Lucky, Twist & Shout, Shake It Off, and more. The 8 people on stage made for a full and deep sound that was a lot of fun and filled the room.

Lee Aaron Musicounts 2016And in a trend that would continue throughout the night, God Made Me Funky invited 2 special guests to share the stage before they left. 1st, Simone Denny of Love Inc. came up to grab a microphone and belted out 90’s hit Broken Bones to the delight of all of us old enough to remember dancing to it… and then 80’s rocker Lee Aaron jumped in to take over and gave us all a punch with an awesome rendition of her 1989 hit Watcha Do To My Body!

After a quick break to look around at the silent auction items (guitar signed by Blue Rodeo, WayHome VIP pack, Arts & Crafts package, Nick Jonas/Demi Lovato tickets, etc.) the music continued when The Elwins started playing for us.

The Elwins 2 Musicounts 2016The boys joked and sang and played their hearts out to a crowd that had started to find their groove, and tracks like It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over, Bringing Out The Shoulders, and their cover of Beyonce’s Countdown (complete with crowd participation) made sure that nobody was sitting quietly on their hands, but truly involved in a live music event.

Finishing the night on stage, with more surprises, was Bucket List. This group of accomplished session musicians filled the stage, with no fewer than 10 people on stage at any given time they had a Broken Social Scene feel as new members stepped into lead singing roles, picked up new instruments, and went with the flow of the set.

They kicked off their set with Bowie’s Let’s Dance, added Springsteen’s Born To Run, and kept the good times going from there.

Joey Landreth with Bucket List Musicounts 2016Special guest #1 popped up early as Joey Landreth, from The Bros. Landreth grabbed a guitar and microphone and wailed without so much as a warm up. If you aren’t familiar with The Bros. Landreth yet, you’re missing out… get on that when you’re done here.

Special guest #2 came up a short time later… after we got to hear Listen To The Music and Take It Easy… MusiCounts Director, Vanessa Thomas wowed the crowd with Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot! It’s always cool when people who run organizations are into the product, and that performance showed us that Vanessa is into music.

John Tory The Hockey Song Musicounts 2016Special guest #3 was none other that Mayor John Tory who took on the role of Stompin’ John to help with Canadian classic, The Hockey Song. The mayor didn’t seem to do a lot of singing… but he was happy to be up there, especially since he was also sharing the stage with his son Chris, who was in the band.

Special guest #4 was co-host Talia Schlanger, and she knows what she’s doing when it’s time to sing, so nobody had a complaint to make at all! When Canadian talent gets together to celebrate music, you can hear the smiles in the sound, and that’s what happened when Talia sang.

All said, Thursday night was a great night for Canadian music and for MusiCounts. I don’t know how many dollars were raised, but each and every one of them (and more) belong with that charity as they continue to make a difference in the lives of children using the power of music.

Check them out online at musicounts.ca and keep being awesome!

Bucket List Let's Dance Musicounts 2016Vanessa Thomas Musicounts Director 2016God Made Me Funky Musicounts 2016 1The Elwins Musicounts 2016Simone Denny with God Made Me Funky Musicounts 2016

2 years ago Views

Headstones: Un-Silent Night at Toronto’s The Phoenix

‘Fuck It’

For most of 30 years Headstones have been working on, playing, and enjoying the hell out of their brand of music.

And while it hasn’t always been a smooth and easy ride, the fans who loved the band at their commercial peak in the mid-90s are still out there and VERY HAPPY to be buying tickets to see Headstones on stage, and supporting Pledge campaigns to get their ears on new music from frontman Hugh Dillon and the band.

Note: For the uninitiated, Hugh Dillon of Headstones is in fact the same Hugh Dillon you’ve seen on TV in series like Flashpoint, Durham County, and Continuum – and movies like Dance Me Outside, Hard Core Logo and Trailer Park Boys: The Movie.Headstones

It’s true that the band isn’t as prolific as they once were, but that hasn’t stopped them from commanding the stage the way they used to. And while Hugh isn’t throwing lit cigarettes into mosh pits anymore, they’re still wholly capable of inciting an emotional response to their music and its “nothing’s off limits” philosophy.

Nostalgia is a funny thing, we can all agree that it’s particularly strong when we talk about music. But when you find those old memories and songs, and combine them with new material that brings things back to the present – you’ve found a sweet spot. And that’s exactly what Headstones are offering the fans that have been with them on this long and winding road.

I did get a peek at their new EP ‘Fuck It” last night. Not sure how, but someone in the front row had a copy. You can check out their Pledge Music Campaign and get a copy of the very limited vinyl edition.Headstones Fuck It Cover

Shout out to Towers who had the fun job of opening the show at The Phoenix. The Toronto based band put on a tight, energetic set. They’re getting a name for themselves playing gigs around the city and you can check them out in January at The Horseshoe. Their self titled EP is available on iTunes. (More Towers photos below)Towers

We were antsy and ready when Headstones hit the stage. The sold out performance was a hot, sweaty, intense, fantastic, punk odyssey. They dipped into the back catalogue with crowd favourites like Tweeter and the Monkey Man, Cemetery and Smile and Wave, threw in a great medley which included Oh My God!/Sympathy for the Devil/Heartbreaker/Low Rider/New Orleans is Sinking/Straight Outta Compton, what?!. And we were treated to a taste of the new EP with ‘Fuck It’ in the encore.Headstones

There was moshing, swearing, drink throwing, mic tossing, amazing bass lines and drumming, monitor pushing, hard driving guitar and of course destruction. The crowd was a mix of ages and everyone was all in.Headstones

Punk is alive and well in Canada. The next time you see them driving by, make sure you smile and wave…

More Headstones Photos
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2 years ago Views

Bright Lights, Big Country: Jess Moskaluke, Madeline Merlo, The Lovelocks & Friends in Toronto

On a Thursday night, at the start of the Holiday Season, country music fans from across the GTA packed The Phoenix Concert Theatre for a busy night of music from new artists, radio favourites, and free pizza.

The Bright Lights, Big Country show (hosted by KX96, KX94.7 & Pizza Nova) brought 7 artists to the stage, including 2015 CCMA Rising Star, Madeline Merlo and 2014 & 2015 CCMA Female Artist of the Year, Jess Moskaluke – and from 8 to 11:30 the place was in a constant state of happy as fans sang and clapped and danced along to the songs coming from the speakers.

Note: We sat down with Madeline Merlo pre-show to talk about 2015 highlights, plans for 2016, Christmas, whiskey, and more. Check it out HERE!

Eric Ethridge Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixThe Bright Lights, Big Country show did a great job of keeping the action hot on stage by bringing up 3 emerging artists for showcase opportunities. Eric Ethridge, Dani Strong, and Sykamore all hopped up to sing one song each for the crowd, and none of them disappointed.

Keep any eye on Eric Ethridge in 2016, this dude has got the sound and energy and look to end up on more stages and more venues, and in front of more people as he continues to make a name for himself. And here’s a little shoutout to Travis Wood and Gavin Slate for writing the song that Eric sang on Thursday night, Lips Don’t Lie. Keep an ear out for that one.

The night of country was kicked actually kicked off with a little acoustic fun from another rising star, Jesse Labelle.

Labelle came out to greet the crowd, guitar in hand, and did a great job of warming up the crowd. Why Wouldn’t We and Heartbreak Coverup for feet moving and smiles on faces… and then the big pop came when Jesse invited an old friend up on stage to turn up the heat.

Mike Robins (one half of Autumn Hill, who had a HUGE 2015) added his voice and guitar and screaming fans to the mix, and together with Labelle, belted out Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ and Keith Urban’s Somebody Like You. It was a treat for the fans, and it certainly looked like the boys enjoyed it too.

After Mike left, Jesse finished things off with Some Kind Of Good. A pretty apt description of his set.

Also with a full band set, playing a hometown show, and doing a great job of it, were The Lovelocks.

Ali and Zoe have been hard at work making new music, playing shows all over the place, and sending out Christmas cards to supporters over the last little while, so it was extra nice to get a hello and hug backstage before the show… but the real treat, as always, came when they took the stage.

With a nice selection of songs we’ve heard the girls sing before, including I Do Not, Dance, and Born To Love PLUS a cover of Joni Mitchell’s River, we got songs we could sing along to and a little taste of Christmas.

We can’t wait for the new music coming from The Lovelocks in 2016, and for more live shows to enjoy.

Madeline Merlot Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixNext in the feature spotlight was 2015 CCMA Rising Star, and overall sweetheart, Madeline Merlo.

Madeline took the stage with her band and got a nice pop from the country fans in attendance, which must have made an impact because it didn’t take long for her to look out and say, “Wow, there’s a lot of people here!”.

Madeline mixed her songs with a little cover action to put on a fun little set at The Phoenix. Originals including I’m Alive, Sinking Like A Stone, and Honey Jack, paired well with a taste of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind and a funky mash-up of Miley’s We Can’t Stop and Sam Hunt’s House Party.

There are bigger stages coming for Madeline, and a new record in spring 2016 is going to give her more fuel for the fire, and the crowd more to sing along to.

Jess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixLast, but 100% certainly not least, was the Bright Lights, Big Country headliner, back-to-back CCMA Female Artist of the Year, Gold Certified, sweetheart of a person, Jess Moskaluke!

It was easy to see that this was what the crowd had been waiting for when the noise level and energy in the room found new heights as Jess grabbed her microphone. And she didn’t waste any time getting in gear and rewarding them for waiting for her turn.

We’ve seen Jess a few times, on stage and off, over the last couple years, and we can tell you that she is getting better and better and better each and every time. The power in her voice rings through the speakers and right to your music loving ears, her energy reflects that of the crowd, giving it back and not just taking what she’s being given, and she looks happy to be doing what she’s doing.

Jess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixThursday night was Jess Moskaluke’s first headlining show in Toronto, and much of the MDM Recordings family was there to see it. It was a celebration of success and love for a woman who is leading the way for a new generation of female singers in Canadian country. It’s pretty safe to say that they’re all pretty proud of her – and it won’t be the last time she anchors a concert in the GTA.

Before we get to the set list we have to tell you the little secret Jess told us all… the new single, coming in the not too distant future, will be Elevator, which is an awesome choice from the Kiss Me Quiet EP. AND to close out the show, during the encore of Cheap Wine & Cigarettes, Ms. Moskaluke got an assist from labelmate and crowd favourite, Chad Brownlee. It was a great way to end a great night of country music in Toronto.

Jess Moskaule Bright Lights, Big Country Set List

♫ Night We Won’t Forget
♫ Used
♫ Kiss Me Quiet
♫ Good For You
♫ Good Lovin’
♫ Light Up The Night
♫ If You’re Not In it For Love
♫ When He’s Drunk
♫ Strong As It’s Ever Been
♫ Leave The Night On
♫ Lightning Bolt
♫ Take Me Home
♫ Elevator
♫ Alone
♫ Cheap Wine & Cigarettes

More Photos from Bright Lights, Big Country

Dani Strong

Dani Strong Biright Lights Big City Toronto The Phoenix

Eric Ethridge

Eric Ethridge Bright Lights Big City Toronto The Phoenix

Madeline Merlo

Madeline Merlot Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixMadeline Merlot Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixMadeline Merlot Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixMadeline Merlot Bright Lights Big City Toronto The Phoenix

Jess Moskaluke

Jess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixJess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixJess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixJess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixJess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The PhoenixJess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The Phoenix

2 years ago Views

Catching Up with Madeline Merlo: Live in Toronto

If you’re looking for a great way to introduce yourself to the country music fans in Canada, there’s not much better way than winning a major award on the biggest night of the year.

And while it might not be what Madeline Merlo had planned, that’s what happened at the 2015 CCMAs when her named was announced as the winner of the Rising Star Award.

Madeline Merlot Bright Lights Big City Toronto The Phoenix-0031We sat down with Madeline before she hit the stage at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto with Jess Moskaluke, The Lovelocks, Jesse Labelle, Eric Ethridge, Dani Strong, and Sykamore for a little pre-holiday country extravaganza to talk about her big year, honey flavoured whiskey, what’s coming up in 2016, and what she wants for Christmas this year.

The first thing we asked about was Madeline’s recent addition to the Spotify Canada Spotlight on 2016 list… she told us that she was (and still is) super excited to be on the list, and to be the only country artist included is just a little bit sweeter and rewarding. It’s a cap on what Ms. Merlo calls “the greatest year of my life”, and also one of the busiest.

Next we backtracked to Sunday, September 13 when Madeline sat in the audience at the CCMA Awards in Halifax and heard her name read along with the other nominees in the Rising Star Award category. She tells us that she didn’t expect to win. Didn’t have anything prepared, and really was just enjoying taking in her first CCMA experience. And then it happened… her name was read, she stood up, made her way to the stage, and did her very best to get through her speech.

Madeline Merlot Bright Lights Big City Toronto The Phoenix-9999We asked what it felt like, and in one word she described the moment as a blur.

We also asked how long it took to sink in, and with little surprise Madeline told us that it was a few days before she really had a grasp on it all. She would wake up and kind of ask herself if it had really happened… and she got to tell herself yes every time.

The last question we asked about 2015 centred on her time on tour with Paul Brandt and Dean Brody. Here are the highlights as described by Madeline…

▸ Watching Paul and Dean up on stage killing it every night. Just seeing them do what they do, connecting with the crowd and putting on a great show.
▸ Experiencing such a professional and fun tour as her first big one. Extra bonus: The Candy Table!
▸ Puppies! Yup, the SPCA brought itty bitty puppies to every venue and before every show Madeline and everyone else got to snuggle up to some adorable little balls of fur for some love.
▸ Performing for new fans. Coming from BC to play Ontario dates on the tour meant new faces in the crowd every night. And it also meant new country music fans to win over. By all accounts, she did.

Madeline Merlot Bright Lights Big City Toronto The Phoenix alternate crop-0039After all of our looking back at 2015, we started asking about what’s coming in 2016. There’s a bunch!

Coming up in April 2016, Madeline will release her first full length album. It’s a record 2 years in the making, which has her very excited. But she’s not done tinkering just yet. Songs are ready, but before she’s done, Madeline will be heading to Nashville to write and record a couple more in hopes of capturing the moment she’s living in right now. Together with the songs that got her to where she is now, it should be a great ride of a record, covering her experience and growth.

Also coming up in the spring (tentatively) is the release of Country Crush, a movie Madeline acted in along side Jana Kramer and Sophie Simmons. It was a great experience she tells us. Not necessarily something she planned, but something she’s very glad she did. PLUS, it’s a country musical, so we’re excited to see it and sing along too.

The last 2016 question we threw was about other people’s music, asking if there are any artists she’s looking forward to hearing from. Her top two answers: Miranda Lambert (she can’t wait to hear what she has to say after everything that’s gone on in her life. Neither can we) and Chris Stapleton who wowed the world at the CMA Awards in November.

Madeline Merlot Bright Lights Big City Toronto The Phoenix-6663Just before we let Madeline escape to eat some dinner and get ready for the stage we asked three more questions, just for fun.

1) If you could pick any Canadian country artist to duet with, who would you choose.
This always seems to be a hard question for artists to answer (because they can’t choose), but Madeline did give us two names at the top of her list… Dean Brody (who she shares a producer with, and loves as an artist with a great sound) and Dallas Smith, who has been named more often than any other artist when we ask this question.

2) What are you most excited to get for Christmas this year?
There’s nothing big on the list this year, but when we started talking about the essentials that her mom wraps up under the tree there was a smile on her face. Sometimes it really is the little things 🙂

3) Do you have an open bottle of Honey Jack at home?
The answer, yes! In fact, with the success of her Honey Jack single, Madeline has received bottles of Honey Jack Daniels from family and friends to celebrate. She’s not complaining, but we do agree with her that it can seem to go down a little to smooth.

Thanks to Madeline for sitting down. We can’t wait to do it again – and check out the full show review from the Bright Lights, Big Country show for more info from the night and photos!

Be awesome!

2 years ago Views

Bright Lights, Big Country: Jess Moskaluke in Toronto [Q&A]

It’s been wild to watch the ride that Jess Moskaluke has been on since we first chatted with her in March 2014 in a Boots & Hearts preview post.

Since then she’s been up on the B&H stage twice, she’s been named the Canadian Country Music Association Female Artist of the Year twice (2014, 2015), she’s gone Gold (Cheap Wine & Cigarettes), she’s recorded a duet with modern Canadian country legend Paul Brandt, and she’s shown no signs of slowing down!

Jess Moskaluke Boots and Hearts 2015As Jess prepares for the Bright Lights, Big Country stop at The Phoenix in Toronto on December 10, she took a few minutes to answer our current burning questions… which should hold us over until the next time we chat.

Thanks to Jess for taking the time. AND if you still don’t have tickets to this show (which also features The Lovelocks, Madeline Merlo, Dani Strong, and Eric Ethridge) you can get them here – OR enter for your chance to win 1 of 10 pairs of tickets that include a VIP pre-show experience with Jess at The Phoenix!

It’s going to be a fun night, and if we’re lucky we’ll hear some of our favourite Christmas songs!

Q. The Light Up The Night album really put you on the map in Canadian country – and now the Kiss Me Quiet EP is here as a follow up. Do you feel like you’re capturing that momentum from fans with the release?

A. For me it’s just about the fans deserving some new music. It was getting to be that time, and we had the right songs together, so the timing was right to release a new album.

Q. We really dig the acoustic versions of Kiss Me Quiet and Lightning Bolt, is there something special that you like about playing and recording acoustic?

A. Thank you! It takes me back to my “cover days” a little bit. I love taking a song, and stripping it down to the core. I think it helps you to focus on the lyrics and the story of the song.

Jess Moskaluke Dec 10 TorontoQ. The Bright Lights, Big Country show is bringing you to Toronto just before the holidays. Is this your last big night on stage before Christmas back home with friends and family?

A. It’s not the last night on stage before Christmas for me! I’ve got a couple more after that before I head home to be with my family. But I’m really looking forward to the show!

Note: Last week we talked to the boys from The Dead South who will be playing with Jess at the McMorris & McMorris Fundraising Gala in Regina on December 22. That’s going to be a fun night.

Q. Before this show you hit the stage on the Road Trip Tour with Paul Brandt and Dean Brody, how much fun was that experience, including getting to sing I’m An Open Road with Paul?

A. It was a blast! It certainly was an experience for the books.

Q. Every time a new video comes out for a single it looks like you’ve had more fun than the last one. How was the Kiss Me Quiet video process for you, and are you happy with how it turned out? (we’ll have the video in the post)

Jess MoskalukeA. I’m so happy with the way it turned out. The process was amazing. Video shoots are fun, but they’re always gruelling to get the best shot, and of course, this video was no excuse to the rule. I was climbing mountains in heels and a ball gown, falling into glacier water, taking helicopter rides… Lots of things I never thought I would have to do, haha!

Q. The last time we hung out was at Boots & Hearts this summer, and next year you’re going to be at the Havelock Country Jamboree. Are you excited to have another big Ontario country festival on the schedule?

A. I certainly am!

Q. Last one, what’s on your Wish List this Christmas?

A. Just lots of time spent with my family and friends at home. That’s all I really want!

2 years ago Views

The Unison Jam at CMW 2015!

On Wednesday night, The Phoenix hosted a special night of fundraising and entertainment to the delight of Canadian music fans and Canadian musicians.

The Unison Jam brought together a bunch of great acts to play quick sets for the enthusiastic crowd, and to explain why they were all there.

The Unison Benevolent Fund is a non-profit, registered charity that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community. We are here to help professional music makers in times of hardship, illness or economic difficulties.

Through partnerships with Canada’s major record labels, industry supporters, and now the fans through Wednesday’s event, the fund is dedicated to helping Canadian musicians through tough times when they may not have anywhere else to turn. It’s a commendable goal with the opportunity to help a lot of people in need. I’m glad I was there to be a part of the Canadian Music Week party – and chip in a couple bucks.

I Mother Earth with Jason McCoy and Clayton Bellamy

I Mother Earth with Jason McCoy and Clayton Bellamy

note: Congratulations to whoever ended up winning some of the awesome silent auction prizes, particularly the trip to Dublin, Ireland.

The entertainment at The Phoenix was also a whole lot of fun on Wednesday with a list of performers that you won’t see together in 1 room very often…

The Unison Jam Performers

Canadian Red Maple Leaf

  • I Mother Earth
  • The Trews
  • Finger Eleven
  • Matthew Good
  • Kim Mitchell
  • Jason McCoy
  • Clayton Bellamy
  • Tom Wilson

Both Finger Eleven and Matthew Good took turns playing solo sets (with Finger Eleven debuting 2 new tracks from their soon to be released album).

 Wilson (Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) MC’d the event, and sang us a song.

And everyone else teamed up in 1 combination or another to play some good old fashioned rock and roll.

Unison Jam Highlights Included…

and…

and…

Much love to The Phoenix for hosting the event, the performers for donating their time, and everyone who came and had fun and made donations.

Learn more about the Unison Benevolent Fund here: unisonfund.ca

I tried to take some pics… here ya go.

CMW 2015 Unison Jam Photos

Finger Eleven.

Finger Eleven.

Matthew Good.

Matthew Good.

I Mother Earth.

I Mother Earth.

Kim Mitchell with The Trews.

Kim Mitchell with The Trews.

I Mother Earth with Jason McCoy, Clayton Bellamy and Kim Mitchell.

I Mother Earth with Jason McCoy, Clayton Bellamy and Kim Mitchell.

The Trews with Kim Mitchell.

The Trews with Kim Mitchell.

2 years ago Views

I’ve Seen The Heart of Toronto…

This week I saw Toronto’s heart. It was beautiful.

Let me elaborate. With the holiday season upon us there have been a lot of fundraisers and holiday parties and opportunities to help the less fortunate. On Wednesday and Thursday night I was able to attend two of these events and see just how caring, giving and amazing the people of Toronto can be.

On Wednesday night we were lucky enough to go to the 7th annual Andy Kim Christmas Show (at The Phoenix) and while we were being entertained there were thousands of dollars being raised for Juliette’s Place. A safe place for abused, alone and in need women and children. Each year Canadian music legend Andy Kim chooses a new charity as the recipient of the funds raised at his event and this year I think we can all agree that he chose well.

With a line up including The Arkells, Honeymoon Suite, Ron Sexsmith, Buck 65, Lights, Sarah Harmer and Sam Roberts there was no shortage of amazing Canadian talent on the stage. There were Christmas songs, introductions by Steve Anthony of cp24, John Moore of News Talk 1010, Jian Ghomeshi of (Moxy Fruvous) and the CBC and a musical interlude by comedian Sean Cullen.

Without a doubt though, the 2 highlights of the night were Andy Kim and all of his friends singing Rock Me Gently in one of the most epic live performances I’ve ever seen AND the announcement that 1,100 people had packed the venue and that $50,000 would be donated to Juliette’s Place this holiday season!

On Thursday night I was also fortunate as I had a ticket (thanks Rayanne) to #HoHoTO, the party that Twitter built, the 4th Christmas event, 5th overall and the biggest holiday/Christmas/awesome fundraising party I’ve ever been to.  It was awesome. My new office went as a group, the SUPERFRIENDS were all in attendance, and the Mod Club was packed with some of Toronto’s greatest party people.

The sponsors that stepped up for this years’ event were unreal. The list just seemed to keep going and going and going on the screens inside the club. The raffle prizes were off the hook as the kids say and everyone was having a great time. Food donations were also being accepted at the door, which makes sense since #HoHoTO is a fundraiser for the Daily Bread Food Banks in the city. And the Twitter announcement was that over $70,000 has been raised to date with the Hangover Auction still to come this week coming up!

That is over $120,000 raised at 2 events, in 2 days, in Toronto, for people in need, by people who care.

If that number doesn’t make you feel good about this city… I don’t know what will.

Politics were cast aside (for the most part), drinks were flowing, Christmas spirit was in the air, and there was more love and joy and hope than you could shake a stick at.

So, when times get hard, mean, loud, hurtful and less than ideal in Toronto – remember that there is a lot of good here.

I’ve seen the heart of Toronto and it’s a beautiful thing.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.

6 years ago Views
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