A Long And Happy Life: Delta Rae at Boots & Hearts 2017

Delta Rae came from the south to play for the Canadian country music fans at Boots & Hearts 2017, and we’re willing to bet they put themselves on more than a few new playlists with their Sunday afternoon set.

The six piece folk/Americana/country act took over the main stage in the sun and showed off their well crafted sound, filled with harmonies, sweetness, soul, and then some as fans sang along, danced, swayed, and cheered in the field in front of them. From the start, their cover of Seven Bridges Road set the tone for the sound that the Boots & Hearts faithful could expect from the band.

We caught up with Elizabeth, Brittany, Eric, Ian, Mike, and Grant after the set to talk about coming to Canada, what we need to eat in the south, sports, and harmonies… and we’re pretty sure that we might have found six new best friends.

When we asked the band what it’s like coming to Canada, they told us that this trip started with the smoothest border crossing of all time, but in more general terms, it seems there are a lot of things these southern sons and daughters love about coming north of the border. They started with the people, and talked about how they’ve encountered so many nice people. But they weren’t satisfied with nice as a description, and Canadians were upgraded to kind and warm, and we could see in their eyes that they were happy to be sharing that opinion.

Delta Rae also showed a fondness for sports in the conversation, as we talked about the Canadian Football League, college basketball, touched on fantasy football, and realized that we were going way longer on all of those topics than we intended when we started our time together.

Note: I didn’t know it at the time, but Ian and Eric both graduated from Duke University, so when I brought up the University of North Carolina basketball program we started a well-natured argument about the superiority of each of our favourite programs. Names like Christian Laettner, Vince Carter, and Michael Jordan were thrown around before a truce was called. However, we may have to reach out to the band to talk hoops again in the spring.

On stage, as Delta Rae belted their way through tracks like A Long And Happy Life (the title track from their new EP) Ain’t Love, No Dry Eye In The Chapel, No Peace In Quiet, If I Loved You, and more, we soaked it all in. These voices, and the instruments that accompany them feel like they were made for each other. There is a smoothness and sweetness that flows through the speakers when they play. And there’s a pureness that exudes.

While we were talking, the Delta Rae members talked about their love for the multiculturalism in metropolitan Canada, and highlighted the fact there are always so many varied ethnic food choices available when they come to Canadian cities. So, naturally we asked about food in the south, and what one thing we need to try on a trip. We were told, without hesitation, that southern BBQ was the way to go. However, there is a disagreement in the band as to the best choice of BBQ sauce. It seems that there’s some strife within the band when it comes to the choice between vinegar and tomato based sauces to cover the meat.

And before we finished our hangout, we talked about those harmonies. I asked if the band they found inspiration in genres of music outside country, and they told me that they grew up with country and gospel flowing together. And that they find inspiration in those gospel harmonies as much as anything else.

Here’s hoping that next time we hang out with Delta Rae we get to hear them sing even more songs for us, and maybe a couple of hymns too.


Giddy Up: Budweiser County Fair Toronto!

In the heart of the city, country took over. The Budweiser County Fair brought country music, BBQ, beer and more to King Street West, and country fans were there to soak it all in while they soaked up the sun.

The two day festival featured a list of rising stars on stage, and paired with the food, drinks, games, line dancing, pie eating, bull riding, and general good times, we’re calling it a win for Toronto and the live music scene in the city.

We were at the County Fair on Saturday, and to say there was a lot going on would be an understatement…

Line dancing lessons popped up between sets all day, with beginner, and more advanced dances being taught to the crowd. It was awesome to see the combination of men and women, in everything from flip-flops to broken in cowboy boots.

The mechanical bull was a hot spot all day, with some entertaining rides – and a contest that saw male and female winners take home tickets to Boots & Hearts 2017.

Budweiser County Fair Toronto

The pie eating contest was a hot mess of cherry pie filling and crust all over contestants, the table, and the ground… but it was also awesome.

There were well deserved lineups for food, including the pig roast by Chef Kevin Castonguay and the hot dogs from Chef Stephen Payne.

And the live music from MacArthur Clark, Kaitlin Kozell, Jesse Gold, The Reklaws, and Emily Reid was on point!

MacArthur Clark took the stage first with a stripped down set of tunes that showed off his rich voice. With sweet, sad, true, and real notes that come from good singer/songwriter music.

The Peterborough, ON native is strong on stage, and songs like Blinded rang through the early afternoon crowd with the kind of soul that MacArthur Clark is known for to their fans. And, the cover of Cash’s Ring Of Fire was an excellent end to the set, offering a personal take on the classic song, and a dedication to Travis Berlenbach’s dad made it extra special.

Budweiser County Fair Toronto Budweiser County Fair Toronto

Kaitlin Kozell took the stage after a break for line dancing and festival fun. And along with her band, they filled the King Street West space with the country sound we’ve heard from her at events like Boots & Hearts and Steak Stock in the past.

Songs like Highway 28 and Right As Rain gave the crowd a taste of who the singer is and what she does. Kaitlin’s crowd work was also great, with a great highlight leading into Incognito. Her request for a little help from the crowd if the form of a baseball cap lead to one dude tossing her his Detroit Tigers lid, which probably looked better on her than it did on him.

Kaitlin Kozell is one to keep your eye on… trust us.

Budweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair Toronto

After another break for line dancing, food, games, and the search for shade, Natasha Zimbaro hit the County Fair stage, accompanied by her band and some awesome silver balloons displaying her initials.

Natasha’s energy was a perfect fit for the late afternoon crowd, with some pep in her step, and her songs, she let her strong voice and solid performing chops show everyone what she has to offer.

Tracks like Cardboard Box (now available at CMT Canada) and Obvious, as well as her covers of Rascal Flatts’ Riot and Mötley Crue’s Home Sweet Home, rang across the space, and made new fans out of the Toronto country fans.

Budweiser County Fair Toronto Budweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair Toronto

As afternoon turned to evening, Jesse Gold took the County Fair stage, and the combination of his guitar picking + his accompanying guitar picking + and the songs he brings to the stage, he put on a show worth seeing.

The vibe reminds us of a Jack Johnson or Ed Sheeran – acoustic picking, sweet words, and the kind of music that you’re very comfortable listening to. The Electric/Acoustic hybrid on the stripped down set brought an interesting and appreciated feel, and songs like Lake Girl, and Chris Stapleton’s I Was Wrong were the hook Gold needed to grab our attention and make us take note that we’ll be seeing more of him in the future.

Jesse Gold Budweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair Toronto Jesse Gold Budweiser County Fair Toronto

As the dinner hour passed, the beers continued to flow, and the pie eating and bull riding contests were wrapped – The Reklaws prepared for their turn on the stage.

The Hometown Kids, duo had been seen at the County Fair all day in their position as hosts, but in new outfits, with amped up energy, and their entertaining vibes turned up to 11, Jenna and Stuart hit the stage with their band, and put on the kind of show that we were hoping for.

The downtown Toronto crowd was given everything they hoped for as the brother/sister act rang through their set of originals and covers, allowing even the most casual of country fans to get in on the action.

The Reklaws Budweiser County Fair Toronto

We got to hear The Reklaws jam out to originals, Wish You Were Beer, Boys Don’t Cry, Last Call, and their current single, Hometown Kids – and they sounded great doing it. And when they dipped into their bag of tricks for covers of Shaggy’s Angel, The Steve Miller Band’s The Joker, Rihanna’s Four Five Seconds, Sum 41’s In Too Deep, and Kip Moore’s Somethin’ ‘Bout A Truck – there were jumps and sways and singing along all throughout the County Fair.

And with an awesome little acoustic medley that had everyone singing along, the Budweiser County Fair got to hear Stuart and Jenna slip together clips of Snapback (Old Dominion), Better Man (Little Big Town), Body Like A Back Road (Sam Hunt), My Church (Maren Morris), and H.O.L.Y. (Florida Georgia Line). We love a good medley, we love country music, and we loved this little addition to the set.

We know we’re going to see The Reklaws again soon, you will too.

And we’re already looking forward to next year when the Budweiser County Fair comes back to Toronto. See you there.

The Reklaws Budweiser County Fair Toronto Stuart Walker The Reklaws Budweiser County Fair Toronto Jenna Walker The Reklaws Budweiser County Fair Toronto

More Photos from Budweiser County Fair, Toronto – 2017!

Budweiser County Fair Toronto Backup DJ Budweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair Toronto Budweiser County Fair TorontoKaitlin Kozell mechanical bull Budweiser County Fair Toronto Budweiser County Fair Toronto Budweiser County Fair TorontoJesse Gold Budweiser County Fair Toronto Budweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair Toronto The Reklaws Stuart Walker The Reklaws Budweiser County Fair Toronto Jenna Walker The Reklaws Budweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair Toronto Budweiser County Fair Toronto Jenna Walker The Reklaws Budweiser County Fair TorontoBudweiser County Fair Toronto

Cowboy Up: Budweiser County Fair is Coming to Toronto

For the last few years we’ve been talking about Toronto’s emergence as a country music hot spot. And now, the city is getting their own country music festival when the Budweiser County Fair comes to 525 King Street West, July 14 and 15, 2017.

The County Fair is offering a full experience, including:

Carnival Games And Prizes
Succulent BBQ Eats From 6 Of Toronto’s Hottest Chefs
The County Fair Mechanical Bull Championships
Carnival Food Classics
Drink Samplings
Tomorrow’s Stars Of Country Music
Line Dancing Lessons And Coyote Ugly Dancers

Don’t have your tickets for the fair yet? Stop wasting time and get them now: Budweiser County Fair Tickets!

2017 Budweiser County Fair Lineup and Schedule

Friday, July 14th

6:00pm – Jade Eagleson
7:00pm – Vanessa Marie Carter

Vanessa Marie Carter The Ranch

8:30pm – Johnson Crook

Johnson Crook at The Dakota Tavern

10:00pm – Andrew Hyatt

CMT Music Fest - Andrew Hyatt

Saturday, July 15th

2:00pm – MacArthur Clark
3:30pm – Kaitlin Kozell

Kaitlin Kozell BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

5:00pm – Natasha Zimbaro
6:30pm – Jesse Gold
8:30pm – The Reklaws

The Reklaws Boots and Hearts 2015

10:00pm – Emily Reid

via YouTube

Do you remember that line about Succulent BBQ Eats From 6 Of Toronto’s Hottest Chefs? Well, it’s legit.

Via, The Budweiser County Fair has rounded up 6 of the city’s well renowned chefs to showcase their unique style in a fire fuelled BBQ experience. Satisfy your cravings and indulge in some succulent BBQ eats and local fare. From heat to sweet, this is one tasty experience you don’t want to miss out on!

Steve Gonzalez
Executive Chef, Baro Restaurant
Kevin Castonguay
Executive Chef & Founder, Provisions
Elisa Corrigan
Executive Chef & Owner, The Green Wood Restaurant
Matt Blondin
Chef & Owner, OMAW Restaurant
Stephen Payne
Executive Chef & Owner, Kung Fu Dawg
Nate Middleton
Executive Chef, Home of the Brave

We don’t know exactly what’s going to be on the menu(s), but given the pedigree of the chefs coming to party… we’re damn sure that things are going to get tasty!

Note: Please remember to grab a napkin, good BBQ gets messy, and this should be good.

All in all, this 2-day country party in the heart of downtown looks like it’s going to be a blast. From the afterwork excitement of Friday night, to the all-day festivities of Saturday, there will be feet stompin’, drinks pourin’, and good country singin’.

Check out the promo video, get your plaid and boots ready, and we’ll see you at the Budweiser County Fair in downtown Toronto!

Steak Stock Brings Country to Ajax Downs

Ajax Downs is Getting Ready to go Country!

Steak Stock 2105 FB AdThe Downs is already home to weekly Quarter Horse racing, they’re upping their game July 18 and 19 with the inaugural Steak Stock. It promises to be a Saturday and Sunday packed with BBQ, Beer, and live country music – something for everybody and fun for the whole family.

I’ll get to music in a minute – but first, let’s talk about food and entertainment.

There’s a long list of Food vendors coming to Ajax Downs for the weekend to serve up some really tasty goodies – but most importantly BEEF & BEER!

And since I’m sometimes in the business of giving suggestions, here are 4 joints that I think you should make a point of visiting at Steak Stock…

Steak Stock Beer & Food Recommendations

Brock Street Brewery: This Whitby brewery just celebrated their Grand Opening! These Durham brewers have a mission of creating great tasting beer with all-natural ingredients – and Steak Stock is going to give them a chance to make some new fans. I’ll be ready to taste it.
Horn Dawgs: They pride themselves in providing their customers with the best Authentic Southern BBQ this side of the border. They’ll be fresh off Whitby Ribfest, and ready to serve up some samplings from their menu that also includes Brisket, Pulled Pork, Wings and more. Can’t wait.
Underdog BrewhouseCaplansky’s: This Toronto staple will be rolling in and I’m hoping they bring some smoked meat and corned beef for sandwiches – plus a healthy assortment of their awesome mustards. Seriously, they have Classic Ballpark, Super Extra Hot, Hot and Horseradishy, and Mild and Delicious. I really love mustard.
Underdog’s Brewhouse: Beer with no excuses! Brothers Jeff and Eric Dornan are bringing their All Or Nothing Hopfenweisse to Ajax from Oshawa – and hoping that people like it enough to look for it at The Beer Store and LCBO. I’m ready for a taste. Who doesn’t like to cheer for the underdog?

Now, you’re going to need something to do while you eat, and if you still haven’t made your way to the stage to hear some music you can check out the Live BBQ Cook-off, or you can finish your eats and take a spin on the mechanical bull. I don’t know if the BBQ contestants will be giving out samples of their meet – but I’m hoping yes. Oh, and while you’re watching other people cook, don’t miss out on the chance to enter to win a brand new BBQ of your own – and then invite me over for steaks and burgers and hot dogs!

Mechanical Bull Riding Tips

I’ve had a little experience riding mechanical bulls… and it’s awesome – but I want you to keep these tips in mind.
1) Don’t wrap the rope around your hand. As the bull whips you around that rope gets tighter and tighter and squeezes a lot and can put a hurt on your hand.
2) Let yourself fall. I know that you want to stay on the bull as long as you can, but when it’s time to go, let go. Don’t risk an injury.
3) Keep your balance forward. This is a personal experience tip. Scoot up as close as you can to the head, bring your legs forward and get ready.
4) Have fun!

Now, the Steak Stock Music!

Starting with Livy Jeanne at on Saturday and wrapping up with Leah Daniels on Sunday, Steak Stock has a pretty great country music lineup. Here’s the set schedule…

Saturday July 18

Livy Jeanne Steak StockLivy Jeanne: 12:15pm
We just got to catch up with Livy in our Cavendish Beach preview, and can’t wait to see her Dixie Chicks and Katy Perry inspired live show.
Kaitlin Kozell: 1:15pm
Kaitlin is coming to Boots & Hearts this summer, which makes Steak Stock a great little preview for that. Looking forward to hearing her voice, seeing her interaction with the crowd, and maybe even eating some BBQ after?!
Lindsay Broughton: 2:30pm
Much love to Lindsay, looking forward to this one – she’s sweet, has a great voice, and we know that the 2013 CMAO Rising Star Award Winner is going to give everyone a great show.
Cold Creek County: 5:00pm
These 5 dudes have opened up for Dallas Smith, Emerson Drive, Kira Isabella, and more – and they’re doing an awesome job. Their single Our Town is whole lot of fun, and seeing it live should be a real good time. 
Autumn Hill: 6:30pm
Great choice for a Saturday headliner. Tareya and Mike have been putting in huge work, and Steak Stock comes just weeks after the release of their new album, Anchor. It’s also going to be a great chance to celebrate the current Top 5 success of Blame. Give it a listen so you can sing along! 

*There’s also a TBA slot on Saturday at 4pm… that could be fun!

Sunday July 19

Live Quarter Horse racing starts at 12:50 pm! 

Steak Stock 2015Casey Spencer: 12:40pm & 1:00pm
Casey kicks off the music on Sunday and will be getting the crowd ready for a full day of racing, BBQ, beer, and country!
Jack Connolly: 1:25pm & 1:50pm
Originally from Vancouver Island and now working out of Toronto, this folk-country singer/songwriter will be bringing his tunes to Ajax Downs to fill the break between horse races and keep the party going!
Sara Mione: 2:15pm & 2:35pm
19 year old Sara Mione has had her sound compared to Sheryl Crow, and that’s fine by me. She’s and up and comer and Steak Stock attendees should be ready to hear her single Bring It On Back live and in living colour.
Sawmill Road: 3:30pm & 3:55pm & 4:20pm
These Northumberland boys are known to put on a good live show. WIth 2 albums under their belts, and tight harmonies that fill the air with sound, this show should pair perfectly with BBQ and beer.
Leah Daniels: 4:50pm
Leah closes out the weekend, and with good reason. Fresh off her Rising Star award from the Country Music Association of Ontario the Uxbridge girl is well on her way to the top. With a top 20 track in Go Back, her new single Dream Without You out now, and a new album in the works, I can’t wait to see her belt out her songs!

Click here to get your tickets. $25 to see this lineup is a bargain any day of the week. Trust. 

Can’t wait to see y’all there!

Leah Daniels at the 2015 CMAO Awards.

Leah Daniels at the 2015 CMAO Awards.

Lindsay Broughton at the 2015 CMAO Awards.

Lindsay Broughton at the 2015 CMAO Awards.

Autumn Hill at the 2015 CMAO Awards.

Autumn Hill at the 2015 CMAO Awards.

3 years ago

The Weekend Is Here – Let’s Go To The Country!

The weekend is here (for some of us and coming soon for the rest of us) and I am excited!


Let me tell you!

Tomorrow is @photojunkie‘s birthday. You know, that guy who takes the pictures and is well known and loved and has that website that I write at ( and is an all around good dude. And to celebrate Rannie’s bday we’re going out to my mom’s place for some country relaxation.

There will be water (pond)

There will be meat (bbq)

There will be fire (pit in the back yard)

There will be booze (beer for me, amaretto & coke for him)

There will be a trampoline (I don’t know if anyone will get on it)

And there will be good times for all.

I love being out there (for a few days at a time) to sit on the deck and look at the grass and trees and the dog playing in the yard. It’s a good time. It’s quiet. You can see the stars at night. And the cops only drive by once a month or so instead of every hour.

I also love the friend time. And that’s what is so great about this weekend coming up. It’s not just me hanging out back home with my mom. It’s me and my friends hanging out back home with my mom.

If you have a friend who lives out in the country. Or family. Or a friend of a friend. I highly recommend taking a weekend and getting out there. It’s a good idea to refresh and get out of the lights and sound of the city.

On the flipside. If you’ve got a place out in the country and friends or family that live in the city, invite them out. Tell them to bring food and beer and enjoy the weekend.

I’m ready to get out there tomorrow morning.

What ever you’re doing, I hope you have a great time.

And don’t forget to wish Rannie a Happy Birthday!

Stay Awesome!

5 years ago

You Guys, It’s So Nice Out – Let’s Do Stuff!

The weather seems to have turned (for now) in Toronto and it’s making me want to do things outside.

I haven’t wanted to do things outside for months!

So now that it looks like double digit temps may be sticking around (maybe) here are some of the things I wanna do.

Let me know if you want to do them with me or if you have other ideas to add to the list.

* Have a picnic

* Go to the zoo

* Walk Queen West on a Saturday Afternoon

* Walk Roncy on a Sunday

* Read outside in the sun

* Go for a run (this is new)

* Drink coffee on the porch


* Drink beer on a patio

* Walk around in flip flops

* Play with a parachute in the park

* Go camping

* Go fishing

* Be at the ball park

* Listen to live music outdoors

I think that’s a pretty sweet list of things to do in awesome weather. Let me know if you’re around and wanna hang out. Or make me jealous with your own plans that I’m not invited to.

Have fun!

6 years ago

Have A Great Weekend, I’m Outta Here!

I love Parkdale, I really do. So much so that not so long ago I posted about it a little bit in a Friday, Have A Great Weekend kinda post.

Parkdale on King!

However, there are certain times when it’s really awesome to not be in the neighbourhood. This weekend is one of them. The Air Show is in town for the last weekend of the CNE. It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be busy. It’s going to be a gong show.It’s the same thing when the Indy is in town. The cars wake me up in the morning and there are people walking all over the place when I try to go out and get coffee or breakfast in my weekend gear.

The craziest though, of all of the weekends in Parkdale, is Caribana. It’s absolutely nuts. In a good way mostly. A lot of people come from near and far to enjoy the festivities, support local business and have a good time. There are negatives, the violence and stupidity of some of the patrons is always a downer, but that’s just the way life goes.

My favourite thing to do during all of these weekends is leave. Yup, I said it.

MMM Burgers!

So, this weekend I will headed 104 kilometres east to my mom’s house. As you’re aware, she celebrated her birthday this week so we’ll be bbqing some burgers and hot dogs and veggies and drinking some wine and beer and sitting in the back yard and enjoying the deck and the hot tub and the pond and friends and family. It will be awesome.

The Back Yard!

Odds are that I will also get up Sunday morning and go to church with her because I try to be a good son and I haven’t been in a while.

The Back Yard!

Side Note: I also like the minister. He’s pretty awesome.

Let me make this point again, I love Toronto and I adore Parkdale… I just don’t wanna be there this weekend.

I hope all of you have a great, fun, relaxing, special, safe, awesome long weekend. You’ve earned it. We all know you have.

So pack up your stuff, shut down the computer and make your way for the door. It’s alright, you can tell your boss I said it was okay.

Smile Big. Be Awesome!

6 years ago

I Effin’ Love Me Some Summer BBQ!

Summer Was Made For BBQ!

Ain’t much better in the world than a weekend bbq.

I know I love coffee. I know I drink a lot of it. I know I even use the #xocoffee hashtag on Twitter almost every day.

But I would rather have a bbq.

That’s a big statement. Maybe I don’t love it more than coffee. But man, a summer time bbq is one of the greatest things ever. Being with friends, family, neighbours and more around a hot grill and cold drinks is awesome.

Mostly, I love meat. I really love meat. I made mention a little while ago that I was thinking about going veggie. Turns out I’m full of hot air. I just can’t give up steak and burgers and chicken and sausages.

Side note: I do like bbq’d veggies as well, nothing wrong with that. Some corn on the cob, onions and mushrooms in a tin plate… mmm.

Tomorrow I get to hit a bbq. There’s some trepidation there, but that’s on me. I’m sure that once I have a plate of food in my hands I’ll be a happy dude who is happy to talk to everyone and smile and shake hands and kiss babies and get elected.

The point is – bbq is awesome! It’s more than just food. It’s more than just beer. It’s more than just friends and family. It’s a perfect combination of all ingredients. It’s a freaking recipe.

Alright kids – time to check out. Maybe next time I’ll say something with substance.

Bets can be laid in the comment section below!

Have a great effin’ weekend!

Summer Was Made For BBQ!

6 years ago
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