Boots and Hearts

Trish’s Highlights and Top Memories of 2017!

2017 was a year loaded with lots of hard work, unbelievable experiences, and of course, music. I got to meet, and spend time with some amazingly talented people. I got to listen to live music from my favourite artists and bands, new and old, and I had the pleasure of being able to share it with all of you. Below are my five live performance highlights for the year.

Every day I’m aware of how privileged I am to do this job, to bring together my love of music, writing and photography and to live a life where music is everywhere.

Were you at any of these shows? Let me know in the comments.

Hip Hop Set of the Year

Oddisee at Lee’s Palace, Toronto (May 27, 2017)

It’s not very often I take a pass on free music and photo access but in this case, I didn’t even apply to shoot and review the Oddisee show.

I’d been listening to The Iceberg since it’s release in February and was so looking forward to just being a fan. It was a beautifully warm May day and I met up with people I knew in line who were just as excited as I was. It was a sold out show and Lee’s Palace was packed to the back with fans of 24-year-old Amir Mohamed el Khalifa. Opening for Oddisee was Good Compny, his band, and they were brilliant. Showing off their amazing musical skills the band got the crowd ready for Oddisee to take the stage, and take over the crowd.

From the second he took the stage, Oddisee connected with us and he didn’t let go until he walked off the stage. Going into the show, I was pretty comfortable with the songs and thought I knew all the words, but there were people in the audience, singing every single word and he noticed. If this is a new name for you, and you have any interest in rap, hip-hop, jazz or even pop, you need to give his music a listen. I promise you won’t regret it.

Note: This is my only club show set highlight.

Oddisee performance taken from Facebook

Rock and Roll Set of the Year

Cage the Elephant at WayHome, Oro-Medonte (July 28, 2017)

I’ve been a fan of Cage the Elephant since their debut release in 2008 but they’d kinda fallen off my radar.

That completely changed this July when I saw them live for the first time. Wow! This show gets my Rock and Roll set of the year highlight for all the right reasons. It was full of hits, it delivered the new music from Unpeeled, it was loud, it was vibrant and it was the most energetic set of 2017. There was running and jumping and there was confetti, all perfectly timed and amazing.

As a photographer, this set gave me everything I could have hoped for and it also gave me my favourite image of the year. I smile every time I think about this set, that’s a win in my book.

Whole Wide World: Cage The Elephant at WayHome 2017

Emotional Moment Set of the Year

Imagine Dragons at WayHome, Oro-Medonte (July 29, 2017)

Right smack in the middle of WayHome, I had the most emotional moment I’ve ever experienced at a live show.  That encounter was delivered by Day 2 headliner, Imagine Dragons. And I wasn’t alone.

While in the photo pit, amongst 25+ other photographers, Dan Reyolds reached out and touched my heart. It was electric. It was the music and it was the message, “Spread peace, spread love.”. It was real and it was heartfelt.

If there was a masterclass on how to deliver three opening songs for photographers, while not taking away from the crowd, Imagine Dragons could lead this class. They gave us everything including smiles, jumps, close-ups, add in Dan leaving the stage and getting behind us to lean on the barricades, so that he could get as close as possible to the crowd, all the while singing his ass off. It was spectacular showmanship and we ate it up.

As we left the pit, there was chatter between photogs exclaiming, that they gave us everything we could have hoped for. Full disclosure here – I cried twice during the first three songs. This isn’t a normal thing, normally I’m working, I’m in work mode and while I enjoy the music and experience, it doesn’t normally affect me like this. Kudos to Imagine Dragons for connecting on a level I’d never experienced before.

Whatever It Takes: Imagine Dragons at WayHome 2017

Country Set of the Year

Keith Urban at Boots and Hearts, Oro-Medonte (August 11, 2017)

After a super hot steamy early August Friday, the weather took a little turn, and by little, I mean from cloudy threatening skies to a full out tornado warning.

Tens of thousands of people, who’d been waiting all day for headliner Keith Urban to take the stage, were surprised to be told that they had to leave the stage area and return to their tents. After quite a delay, the thunder and lightning passed and everyone was allowed to return to the stage area. Fans ran for the front and Keith opened the set with Long Hot Summer and proceeded to put on a show like nobody’s business. We were not surprised when his name appeared on the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year nominee list, this was easily one of my top five highlights of the year.

Urban played a full set, in spite of the delay, and thanked us all for coming back, like we wouldn’t. During his set, two more showers made their way through the area but he carried on like it was business as usual even giving us a sassy, “Rain ain’t nothing but a thang”.

Keith Urban is an amazing guitar player, fantastic singer and I’d stand in the rain all day for another performance like this one.

Ripcord: Keith Urban at Boots & Hearts 2017

Classic Set of the Year

Midnight Oil at Budweiser Stage, Toronto (August 25, 2017)

In the category of bands, I forgot how much I loved, I give you Midnight Oil.

Following two amazing opening bands (The Living End and Matthew Good), Midnight Oil turned up at the Budweiser Stage on a warm August night, and blew it up!

The energy level was intense, the messages were genuine and the music brought it all together. They played all of their hits and everyone sang along, including me. Peter Garrett moves and sings like a man in his 20’s and the band’s lyrics are just as relevant today as the day they were written. In addition to being my classic set of the year, they’re also my Aussie set of the year.

Midnight Oil, Matthew Good and The Living End at Toronto’s Budweiser Stage

Thank you to the artists, the teams that help bring us together, and thank you to our readers. Thank you all for supporting us and thank you for filling my life with music. I’m looking forward to 2018 and more highlights.

I Don’t Believe We’ve Met: Danielle Bradbery Album Review

Four years after she burst onto the scene as the season four winner of The Voice, Danielle Bradbery has reintroduced herself to the world with her sophomore album, I Don’t Believe We’ve Met.

The title of the 10 track record sets the tone, this is a new Danielle Bradbery. This isn’t the 17 year old that the world met on TV, and that’s good. None among us knew at 17 what we were going to be like at 21. And those of who looked back at 17 when we were 21 surely saw some differences in perspective when it comes to nearly everything in life.

With heavy hitters like Thomas Rhett and Rhett Akins in her corner, and the support of her label (Big Machine/BMLG) Bradbery has had the chance to embrace her growth, learn about herself as an adult and an artist, and use the experience of life to fuel her new music.

We saw Bradbery on the main stage at the Boots & Hearts Music Festival in 2014, and the performer we saw that afternoon had all the signs of potential that you’d ever hope to see. Her voice was strong, her charm shone through, and now that she’s had three years of growing and evolving musically, we can’t wait for the chance to see her on stage again to play Potential, Worth It, Hello Summer and more from I Don’t Believe We’ve Met.

Related: Danielle Bradbery at Boots & Hearts 2014

The lead single, Sway, was released on June 2, 2017 and was the world’s introduction to the Danielle Bradbery the Texan songstress wanted us all to meet. With nearly 9 million streams on Spotify and YouTube, radio play all over, and a whole lot people inspired to sway, it’s safe to say that it’s all working out so far.

Bradbery has been quoted as saying, “With I Don’t Believe We’ve Met, I got the opportunity to work with amazing writers and producers that brought out my unique style and allowed me to tap into so many different influences. This is the beginning of a new chapter for me, and I am so excited for everyone to hear what we’ve made.”. And she should be excited. This is a fun record that has songs that can be danced to, sung along with, and that show off stories and feelings that make country music what it is. It might not be stripped down pickin’ and pedal steel – but it’s country music, and Danielle Bradbery should be proud of the work she put in and the album she has to show for it.

The strength in her voice that we were all first introduced to on songs like The Heart Of Dixie is still present on his follow-up album, and it would be impossible to tell you now that we don’t still believe that Bradbery has what it takes to be a big star in country music.

Back to the growing up… as an artist Bradbery has discovered and cultivated the songwriter inside of her artist’s heart. And on this new album, the 21 year old has been able to express herself for their first time, not only through her performances, but through the songs themselves. Danielle Bradbery co-wrote seven songs on the new album, and welcomed writers including Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Jaren Johnston, Emily Weisband, Molly Reed, and Nicolle Galyon (and more) to work with her on the project.

Whether you choose to embrace the love stories that music brings, or the deeper personal emotions, or songs to dance to, or you’re open to all of it, Danielle Bradbery’s I Don’t Believe We’ve Met is here for you if you’re here for it.

We are.

Danielle Bradbery, I Don’t Believe We’ve Met Tracklist

1. Sway
2. Potential
3. What Are We Doing
4. Worth It
5. Can’t Stay Mad
6. Messy
7. Red Wine + White Couch
8. Hello Summer
9. Human Diary
10. Laying Low

Danielle Bradbery Promo Photo via Facebook 2017

Boots & Hearts 2018 Lineup Announcement #1: Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson, Thomas Rhett, and more

Boots and Hearts is one of the biggest weekends on our calendar every summer. We’ve been at each of the first six festivals, and are looking forward to lucky number seven in 2018.

And now we know who to start getting excited for as B&H have announced their first round of performers, including three headliners that will take the main stage and run the show at Burl’s Creek.

We don’t know which night each Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson, and Thomas Rhett will take the stage, but we’ll be ready to share that info with y’all when it becomes available.

Now, let’s have a look at the first six names on the Boots and Hearts 2018 artist roster…

Florida Georgia Line

Back again after a Sunday night gig as headliners, Florida Georgia Line, will hit the Boots and Hearts stage in front of tens of thousands of fans who should be in a party mood.

Yes, this is Florida Georgia Line, so there will be a whole bunch of people who complain about their return to the festival… but the truth is that Tyler and BK are headlining stars who know how to command a crowd, have a list of radio hits, and put on a show.

If we’re lucky (fingers crossed) we’ll hear the entire crowd singing along to H.O.L.Y. like we did in Toronto in 2016. It was an amazing live music moment, and we’d love to try to duplicate it at B&H 2018.

Florida Georgia Line Boots and Hearts 2015

Alan Jackson

I’m not entirely sure that I’ve processed this news to its complete extent yet. True story.

Alan Jackson is one of the country music stars that shaped my fandom when I was young. I listened and learned and sang along… and as when he starts singing Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow, Don’t Rock The Jukebox, and Chattahoochee, I’ll be the adult feeling like a kid who’s singing along as loud as I can.

This is huge. Really big. I’m excited.

Thomas Rhett

In our Boots & Hearts 2018 predictions post I included Thomas Rhett as the bonus name… and we nailed it!

Rhett’s Life Changes album will give him an expanded live library, and his showmanship and entertainment value are sure to get the crowd going. We know he loves to dance, and we’re sure we’ll see it on Crash And Burn, and we can’t wait to hear new songs like Smooth Like Summer and Sixteen this August.

We said we wanted to see Thomas Rhett in a headlining role – and here he is.

Thomas Rhett Boots and Hearts 2015

Billy Currington

Currington has 11 US Country Airplay #1 hits, and six other songs that made it into the Top 5 on the country music charts. He’s been making music that’s been hitting country radio since 2003, and we’re finally going to see the Georgia native at Boots and Hearts this year.

We can’t wait to sing along to Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right, People Are Crazy, and the Sam Hunt penned, We Are Tonight. It’s gonna be fun!

Dallas Smith

One of the biggest country music stars in Canada is coming back to Canada’s biggest country music festival… and it’s going to be good.

We’ve seen Dallas Smith headline Thursday night’s kick off party, we’ve seen him main stage as the evening crowd poured in, we’ve seen him play arenas and amphitheatre stages – and this dude rocks every stage.

Related: Side Effects Tour: Dallas Smith, The Cadillac Three and Friends Rock Oshawa

Be ready for the hits, high energy, and the chance to give some Canadian love to Dallas Smith next summer!

Dallas Smith CNE 2015

Brett Young

Here’s another we got right in the prediction post… and man we’re happy about it. Brett Young is an emerging star and he’s got a ton of talent.

He’s going to get up on that stage, and he’s going to kill with songs like Sleep Without You, In Case You Didn’t Know, and Like I Loved You. Be ready for it to get loud and happy and give you goosebumps when the country music loving crowd starts singing along.

Stay tuned for more names to be added to the Boots and Hearts 2018 lineup – and if you’re wondering who else we predicted for next year, check out our 15 Boots & Hearts 2018 Artist Predictions.

Country Music’s Sexiest Men, 2017

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

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

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

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

Blake Shelton

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

Luke Bryan

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

Brett Eldredge

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

Dallas Smith

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

Dylan Scott

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

Mark Wystrach

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

Chad Brownlee

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

Chris Lane

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

Sam Hunt

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

Jake Owen

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

Andrew Hyatt

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

Goals: Andrew Hyatt, the Feature, presented by New Country Spirit

Presented by New Country Spirit

Andrew Hyatt is goal oriented, he told us so. Whether those goals are releasing an EP and full length album, getting his songs on the radio, or even just getting good enough at music to open for a local band, he’s willing to work to achieve them.

Hyatt told us that the last one mentioned there is the one that kind of got him started. He knew he wanted to give music a try, and so he set a goal of being good enough on his guitar and on the microphone to open for Parry Sound band, Red Umbrella. And now, as 2017 comes to a close, Andrew Hyatt has well surpassed that original goal.

We’ve had the chance to catch up with the Sudbury native a few times over the last couple of years, most recently in Oshawa on a Friday afternoon before he took the stage with Dallas Smith to sing a duet of his first Top 10 hit single, On Me. And as we’ve become more familiar with Andrew (and kept tabs on him through his social media accounts), we’ve known him to be a dude that likes cold beer, good whiskey, and isn’t afraid to take or make a joke.

In fact, before we sat down to talk to Andrew in Oshawa, he was 100% game when we suggested standing in the visitor’s locker room showers at Tribute Communities Centre for a photo op. Hell, he even turned on the water behind him before he posed for his shots.

Andrew Hyatt in the shower - Side Effects Tour - Oshawa

While Andrew is dedicated to setting and achieving his goals, there’s a certain amount of opportunity and perseverance that comes with launching a career in music, including Hyatt’s.

When we asked him what moment made him want to go all-in on the idea of music as a career, he told us about a chance he got in 2012 to open for Dean Brody at a sold out show in Sudbury. He had been playing local shows and open mics, and the right person saw him and asked if he and his band would be interested in opening for Brody (who was touring his latest release at the time, Dirt). Hyatt said yes, and the band plugged in to play for a sold out crowd. And that was the moment that he knew what he wanted to do.

He told us that there was video available online somewhere from that show… so we went looking for it! Watch Andrew Hyatt and his band on stage in front of his hometown Sudbury crowd, as Dean Brody’s opener on September 15, 2012 at the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre.

The idea that it would all be fast and easy after that show was quickly, and repeatedly nixed for Hyatt. He told us that he moved to Toronto three times to try to make music for a living, finally getting a foothold on the third attempt. He also told us that he put in his share of time in shitty apartments, with sketchy roommates that he didn’t trust. He also worked any and every job he could find – quitting to play a show if he couldn’t get the time off, and then finding another job when he needed to pay the rent.

It would be enough to make anyone wonder if they were doing the right thing. But Andrew Hyatt had goals.

On January 1, 2014, Andrew Hyatt released Love Drunk, his first track that country fans could find and buy from iTunes. And while that might have been one goal, it wasn’t enough.

Note: Texas, an earlier song from Hyatt, was released in 2012 on the Up & Coming Hitmakers, Round 1: East album – which can still be found iTunes.

Hyatt continued to write and work after the release of Love Drunk, and in 2015 he released Livin’ The Dream as a single, and followed it up with his EP, Never Back Down. The EP was a collection of six songs that achieved another goal, and afforded him the chance to release his first official lyric video.

He kept working, doing everything he could to get his music on the radio and out to the world. And when it was time for MGR (Me And A Girl And A Radio) to be released to radio, Hyatt put together some handmade six pack beer can holders in his shop to send out to stations.

As many artists do when they’re starting out, Andrew Hyatt followed up the release of his EP by playing as many shows on as many nights in as many towns as he could. A look back through his dates on shows him on stages across Ontario and as far as Calgary in 2015.

And he hasn’t slowed down since.

In May 2017 we did a Q&A with Andrew and asked him about playing live. Here are two questions and answers from that interview…

Q. What is your favourite thing about playing a stripped down set?

A. I love being able to tell the stories and let people in a little more on the intimacy of the songs.

Q. What is your favourite thing about playing a set with the full band?

A. The energy of standing in stage with some of your best friends is amazing. Before shows, no matter how tired we are we always remind each other that at 65 (if we make it) we will be wishing for it!

Note: In that same interview, Hyatt gave one of my favourite answers of all-time when he told us that he’d choose to be in an Alan Jackson cover band… so he could “grow a duster and water ski in jeans!”.

While we had Andrew with us in the locker room in Oshawa, we got him to play a quick round of 5 Quick Questions with us. Find out where Andrew’s going for a late night snack, his favourite Shania jam, who he thinks you should be listening to, and more…

On May 12, 2017, Andrew Hyatt released his debut full-length album, Iron & Ashes, crossing another goal off of his always evolving list.

The 12 track record quickly gained traction with some love from CMT and two One Shot videos for She Ain’t You and We Only Kiss On Sundays. Pairing those views with the pre-release hype that Andrew helped create with Canadian Music Week shows at The Phoenix and Boots & Bourbon Saloon in Toronto, and the pre-album single releases of MGR (Me And A Girl And A Radio), That’s How I’m Livin’, and She Ain’t You, Hyatt found himself with an album that fans were excited for, and ready to dive into right away.

We asked about the songs and if there was a theme for Iron & Ashes and he told us that he had been going through a lot of personal changes in his life, and that he really needed to write it all down.

He also told us that there’s a quote from Tolstoy, “truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.”, that helped set him in the direction of writing the record and explains how refining life can be uncomfortable but worth it.

Fast forward a couple months to the summer of 2017, and the release of On Me to country radio. The single quickly became Hyatt’s highest charting release, climbing into the Top 30, the Top 20, and then this September the track moved into the Top 10, crossing another goal off of every country singers list.

When we talked to Andrew in August 2017 at Boots & Hearts we asked him about hitting the Top 20 with the single. He told us that his first calls after he got the news were to the band. And to celebrate, he cracked a bottle of Crown Royal special reserve that he had been saving for this specific special occasion.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Andrew Hyatt

We aren’t sure what Andrew did to celebrate moving into the Top 10 for the first time, but we’re hoping there was another bottle involved.

Jump forward again with us to fall 2017 and Hyatt’s guest spot on Dallas Smith’s Side Effects Tours. This is part of the news Andrew Hyatt told us that he couldn’t share in August… the other part being that Dallas Smith (the four time #1 hit maker) has become his manager. It’s a big step for the Sudbury native, having someone that knows the ropes, the ins and outs, and has made his own climb to the top, on his side.

We asked Smith about working with Andrew while we were in Oshawa at the Side Effects Tour stop, and the Sky Stays This Blue star told us that he was excited to be working with the emerging star. He also tipped us off to new music being on the way…

And then, on October 27, 2017, Andrew Hyatt dropped a brand new single. Do It With You isn’t from the album, it isn’t a song we’ve heard Hyatt play live, and it isn’t something we knew was coming so soon.

But, Andrew did tell us that new music was coming, and that it was giving him a chance to continue to grow as an artist and find out who he is. And in listening to Do It With You, we can hear the new perspective and story. This isn’t a post-breakup song, this one’s for the girls.

He also told us that there’s a trip to Nashville coming soon so he can get some more writing done, which will mean even more new music again in the future.

Andrew Hyatt - Northern Comfort Saloon - CNE 2017

Andrew Hyatt told us that things have felt like they’re snowballing in the last few months. He’s gaining momentum, things keep moving forward and getting bigger. And that’s a good thing.

He also acknowledged that it’s been a lot of hard work since we first talked to him about MGR (Me And A Girl And A Radio) at those CMAOs in Markham. And that it’s been a long ride… and a good experience.

We don’t know exactly what’s coming next for Hyatt, his career is still in a fast moving, ready for action mode. But we do know this…

Andrew Hyatt will continue to set goals, because that’s what he does. And if he continues to put the work in, and pairs it with his talent, dedication, and the opportunities that continue to come his way, he’ll be crossing more goals off of his list – and often.

Andrew Hyatt in the locker room - Side Effects Tour - OshawaAndrew Hyatt in the shower - Side Effects Tour - OshawaAndrew Hyatt with Joshua Murray in the locker room - Side Effects Tour - OshawaBoots and Hearts 2017 - Andrew HyattBoots and Hearts 2017 - Andrew HyattCMT Music Fest - Andrew Hyatt

Hometown Kids: The Reklaws Interview and Performance, Toronto

The first time we interviewed The Reklaws they were coming off of their 2013 Emerging Artist Showcase win at Boots & Hearts and preparing for their performance at the 2014 festival in Bowmanville, ON. A lot has changed in the three and a half years between then and our afternoon hangout in Toronto this fall.

The sister/brother duo of Jenna and Stuart Walker have had their share of ups and downs in their young musical careers, from singing on big stages at major festivals to playing shows to small crowds in dark rooms. From releasing songs to country radio to wondering if it was time to give it up and try something new. But through the journey so far, The Reklaws have managed to come out on the positive end of things, signing with Universal Music Canada and releasing their 2017 single, Hometown Kids.

The Reklaws at Rock'n'Horse Toronto

Before the country duo signed their Universal deal, they made the move to Nashville to write. They put their heads down, they worked day after day, and they learned that this whole thing was going to be a process. There was no overnight success coming, no snap of the fingers that was going to make them a household name, just more work and dedication and perseverance needed if they were going to accomplish the things they had set their hearts on from the beginning.

The Walker siblings also made a point that we’ve heard from other artists in the past… the people around you matter. The Reklaws have been careful and deliberate about the people they’ve surrounded themselves with over the last few years. Knowing that the support, guidance, and opportunities that they needed would come from the relationships they built.

While we hung out with Jenna and Stuart at Toronto’s Rock N Horse Saloon, we played a round of 5 Quick Questions. Hit play to learn their favourite Shania jams, childhood nicknames, and more!

That work, dedication, and perseverance that The Reklaws have displayed landed them in a pretty good spot this summer. Hometown Kids made a splash, offering The Reklaws the chance to play shows like The Budweiser County Fair in downtown Toronto, Trackside Music Festival in London, ON and The Kee To Bala on Canada Day. The track also ended up as the only country song on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Summer Playlist with Spotify.

It’s a banger of a track that puts all of the youthful enthusiasm and energy that The Reklaws have on display. And in listening to it, we can hear the growth in Jenna and Stuart’s voices since we first came across their music.

We asked about the summer of 2017 and the hometown kids told us that things were crazy – in the best way. Between their shows and appearances, they filmed and released a music video for the single, and put in work on the music that will make up their debut album in 2018. And while all that was happening, Hometown Kids was climbing the charts, breaking the top 20, marking the first time the duo had reached that plateau.

To see where The Reklaws are now without context is to see a young duo making their way into the country music mainstream in Canada. To see where they are now as part of a longer timeline is to see the culmination of hard work and patience and taking advantage of opportunities.

It’s a story that’s been lived and told many times by many artists, and one that never gets easier for any of the emerging acts involved. However, the upside, the top 20 singles, videos, record deals, interviews, features, TV appearances, concerts and more are the payoff for the dedication that The Reklaws and many others can look to as the reward for sticking it out.

It hasn’t been fast or easy, but Jenna and Stuart Walker are closer to reaching their dreams and achieving their goals than they’ve ever been before. They aren’t unknowns playing for a panel of judges at Boots & Hearts anymore.

Before we finished our hang with The Reklaws we got Jenna and Stuart to give us an acoustic performance of their breakout single, Hometown Kids. Watch the video now and stay tuned for more from these two farm kids from Cambridge, ON – they’re comin’ for ya!

The Reklaws at Rock'n'Horse TorontoThe Reklaws at Rock'n'Horse TorontoThe Reklaws at Rock'n'Horse TorontoThe Reklaws at Rock'n'Horse TorontoThe Reklaws at Rock'n'Horse TorontoThe Reklaws at Rock'n'Horse TorontoThe Reklaws at Rock'n'Horse Toronto

Country Closet Cleanout Contest

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

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

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

Entering is easy. We promise!

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

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

Country Closet Cleanout Contest CD Collage

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

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

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

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

On The Rocks: Midland Album Review

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

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

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

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

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland

Related: Midland at Boots & Hearts 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Midland, On The Rocks Tracklist

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

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

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

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

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

There Goes The Neighbourhood: Nice Horse Album Review

Nice Horse is in the saddle and ready to ride with the release of their debut album, There Goes The Neighbourhood.

The four talented women out of Calgary, Alberta have put together a solid collection of eight tracks as a follow up to their four track EP release earlier this year (A Little Unstable). And after multiple listens to the new album, the chance to see Kaley Debra, Krista Lee, Brandi Caroline, and Katie Marie play live, and a little educated guessing for the future – we’re here to tell you that it won’t be long until there are more songs, and more people clamouring for Nice Horse content.

There Goes The Neighbourhood comes out of the gate with Pony Up, a banger that will get toes tapping, shows off the vocals and harmonies of the band, and serves as an excellent start to the party. If hitting play on this song is anyone’s introduction to the band, they’ll get an instant taste of the good timing capabilities of these country musicians.

The record continues with a selection of songs that makes you want to dance and maybe have a drink or two… as well as a slowed down tracks that show off even more range, and the ability of these songwriters and performers to take listeners on the full journey that country music offers to its fans. The collection of voices on these eight songs is impressive. With no single member of the band overshadowing the rest, this truly feels like a four woman act, not a lead singer and supporting musicians. And whether they’re taking turns on the microphone, or coming together with smooth harmonies that blend together so very nicely, Nice Horse makes his album sound like a full band showcase.

Note: We had the chance to see and meet Nice Horse at Boots & Hearts this summer, and we’d be lying if we said we aren’t looking forward to our next chance to hang out with them. These women are funny, genuine, don’t pull any punches, and are ready to have a good time doing what they love. When you get the chance to see them live, take it.

While we’re not sure if it will ever be a radio single, we want to shout out the fan favourite potential of Mansplainin’, a clever and catchy track that could very easily become a rallying cry and anthem for women who are 100% sick of men being as cliched and ridiculous as they can be.

From start to finish, There Goes The Neighbourhood is a strong debut full length release from Nice Horse. Yes, we wish there were three more tracks, but that’s just a further testament to the quality of the eight tracks on the album. The weaving back and forth of upbeat front porch party songs and slowed down songs that let you slip away into the music is well executed. The energy and levity of the four friends mixes perfectly with the more tender side that they share when things change direction.

If you don’t know Nice Horse yet, now’s the time. Check out the photos from Boots & Hearts 2017 and press play on the album stream to get started.

Nice Horse, There Goes The Neighbourhood Tracklist

1. Pony Up
2. Jim, Jack, Johnnie & Jose
3. Six Strong Outlaw
4. Mansplainin’
5. Tonight
6. Beer Baby Banjo
7. Put Your Lips On Me
8. Hold Your Horses

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Nice Horse

15 Boots & Hearts 2018 Artist Predictions

With the dates for Boots & Hearts 2018 released and our recovery from the 2017 festival complete, it’s time to look at our predictions for BH7 next August.

As always, the names listed below have been picked because we fully believe there is a chance that they could play the festival. Yes, we’d love to see Garth and Reba, but the odds are very, very, very long on that happening. So, we’ve put together this list of 15 country artists that we’re predicting for Boots & Hearts 2018.

When you’re done reading, please leave a comment telling us who you think we got right, and who you think will be at Burl’s Creek next summer.

Note: All artist names have been listed in alphabetical order… not in order of preference or how certain we are with the prediction.

Boots and Hearts 2018 Headliners

Chris Young

Chris Young Trackside Fest 2016

The newest invitee of the Grand Ole Opry is on quite a run. With 5 studio albums (plus a Christmas record) on his resume, there’s no shortage of material for Young to bust out in a 90 minute headlining set. And with songs that are guaranteed to get people singing along at the top of their lungs… this would work.

Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney may be the biggest gamble here. The four-time CMA Entertainer of the Year winner has a reputation for putting on a great show, and with 14 studio albums worth of material, we know that he could have 40,000+ country music fans singing along from start to finish.

Little Big Town

Little Big Town was on the original schedule for Boots & Hearts 2015, but had to cancel due to medical issues. We’ve been hoping and waiting ever since for them to be added back to the list. In these last couple of years the quartet has elevated themselves to legitimate headlining status, and we truly hope that the Canadian fans that love B&H get to see them sing.

Zac Brown Band

CMT Music Fest - Zac Brown Band

We’ve seen the Zac Brown Band headline for at CMT Music Fest in 2016… and we’d gladly do it all over again at Boots & Hearts 2018. With a long list of hits and fan favourites, and a reputation for playing amazing covers of songs people love, ZBB could headline any night of the festival.

We’re good with all four of these options. None of them have played Boots & Hearts in the first six years of the festival, making them exciting options for year seven, and all of them come with hits, fan favourites, and star power.

Supporting Talent

Andrew Hyatt
Andrew Hyatt - Northern Comfort Saloon - CNE 2017With his first Top 20 single on the books, upcoming tour dates with Dallas Smith that will earn him new attention and fans, and the kind of energy that delivers a great show – Andrew Hyatt should make his main stage debut at Boots & Hearts 2018.

Brett Kissel
Brett Kissel - CNE 2017We’ve been waiting for a Canadian opener since Boots & Hearts year 1, and while Brett may be at the top of our list to nab that spot – we’re look at him as the direct support for someone like Zac Brown or Little Big Town on Saturday or Sunday night

Brett Young
Brett Young’s star is rising fast! We saw him this summer on tour with Lady Antebellum, and this dude has what it takes to entertain a crowd. Look for him late in the afternoon as party heats up.

Carly Pearce
Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017Pearce is another rising star in American country. Her debut album drops this fall, and with success already coming to her with her first single, Every Little Thing, we’d be surprised not to see her bring the Big Machine bus to Boots & Hearts 2018.

Dan Davidson
Dan Davidson - Rod, Gun and Barbers ParkdaleLikeable, talented, and always ready to play music, Dan Davidson is a great bet to come east to Ontario and play for the Boots & Hearts crowd. Fans already dig Found and Barn Burner, and by next summer we’re guessing they’ll be ready to sing along to even more.

Dustin Lynch
A cowboy hat, jeans, and t-shirt looks good on the Boots & Hearts stage, we’ve seen it before. And if Dustin Lynch shows up in that outfit and plays his hits (the dude’s top 10 Spotify tracks have more than 200,000,000 plays) we know the Canadian country fans would be seein’ red.

Jojo Mason
JoJo Mason BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016The first time Jojo Mason played Boots & Hearts the crowd chanted his name and made it a day he’ll never forget. Now, fans have had a chance to learn more about Jojo with his debut album, Both Sides Of The Bar, and his CCMA nomination for 2017 Rising Star. If Jojo were to come back with his energy and those songs, it’d be all good.

Kelsea Ballerini
Kelsea Ballerini has been number 1 with Dibs, Peter Pan, and Love Me Like You Mean It, and fans are in love with her voice and her style. We’ve seen her live, and the chance to see it again at Boots & Hearts with some of the biggest names in country music makes perfect sense to us.

Madeline Merlo
Madeline Merlo - Dean Brody Tour-EdmontonMadeline Merlo rocks a summer vibe like almost nobody we’ve ever known, so seeing her back on the Boots & Hearts stage on a sunny summer afternoon seems like a perfect fit. Whether she plays the main stage, or a late slot on the front porch, we know a crowd of Canadian country fans would be there to sing along with the B.C. native.

Maren Morris

A post shared by Maren Morris (@marenmorris) on

Maren Morris is quickly becoming one of the young queens of country music. Her debut album, Hero, is filled with jams from front to back, and her duet with Thomas Rhett on Craving You earned her two CMA nominations (Vocal Event and Music Video of the Year) to go along with her Female Vocalist of the Year nomination. Let’s see her on the big stage!

The Reklaws
Budweiser County Fair The ReklawsThese Boots & Hearts vets are due back to the country’s biggest summer festival after releasing a banger with Hometown Kids, and the promise of more new music on the way. Be ready to see them back at their old stomping grounds.


Thomas Rhett
Thomas Rhett Boots and Hearts 2015With main stage talent and charisma, Thomas Rhett could headline Friday night, or be the perfect lead in to Kenny Chesney or Little Big Town. I’d lean towards headlining option, only because we’ve already seen him in the direct support spot at Boots & Hearts already. Also, if you haven’t heard it yet, go listen to Thomas Rhett’s brand new album, Life Changes!

Who do you think I got right? Who do you think I got wrong? Who do you think I missed?

Leave a comment and tell me!

Side Effects: Dallas Smith Backstage Interview, Toronto

Before he surprised the crowd at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto as a special guest of Dean Brody, Dallas Smith hung out with us to talk about his upcoming tour, what it feels like to go #1, and more.

The first time we saw Dallas Smith playing live country music was at Boots & Hearts in 2012. It was year one of the festival, Smith was still new to the country genre, and he played in the middle of the sunny afternoon to country music fans who sang along to covers and listened to him play songs from his first album, Jumped Right In. We asked him about that day, and the journey since then to playing bigger stages for bigger crowds.

Dallas remembers the afternoon show, and then jumped ahead to talk about the 2014 Thursday night kick off party at the same festival. Smith headlined that night, to a monster crowd on the front porch stage, and he remembers that feeling. We were there, and we remember that night too. He was on fire, running all over the stage and showing the country music fans that he belonged on the list of rising stars in the genre. He jumped again to put a highlight on his 2015 visit to Boots & Hearts when he played the lead in to Eric Church on the Saturday night main stage. We could see in his face that he remembers that night with a special feeling. He told us that he took a bunch of video of the crowd because it was such a significant moment in his live performance career.

Dallas Smith Boots and Hearts 2015

Staying on the live show topic, we talked about Dallas Smith’s recently announced, Side Effects Tour that will see him play 27 dates between October 12 and November 18. He told us that the tour has been in the works for months, and that it was exciting to be able to make the announcement this week. It’s also exciting, he said, to be hitting the road with the likes of The Cadillac Three, Lauren Alaina, Michael Ray, and for one night, the James Barker Band. Here’s our recommendation, if the Side Effects Tour is coming to a city anywhere near you, get tickets and be there.

A common thread throughout our chat were the feelings that have come at different moments in Dallas Smith’s career. With Sky Stays This Blue recently becoming his fourth #1 single, we asked about the feelings that have some with those milestones. Dallas told us that they all felt special of course, but the first one, Wastin’ Gas was something he’d never felt before. And when it stayed at the top for a second week, that was truly a feeling to remember. We asked who got the first call after he found out about his number one status, and while he couldn’t remember exactly, he’s sure it was either his dad or his wife… and both of those options sound good to us.

Dallas Smith also told us there’s one feeling that never changes and never goes away; the feeling that comes when thousands of people in the crowd take over and sing his songs back to him. We’ve seen and heard it, and we told him that we watch for the reactions from artists when it happens, and he confirmed for us that it’s all legit. The smiles and expressions he, and other singers, give when a choir of country fans starts singing are 100% real, and it never gets old.

Dallas Smith CNE 2015

Before our time was up, we asked Smith about the music video for Sky Stays This Blue and how special it was to be able to include his daughter, Vayda. Dallas told us that he’d had the idea to include her in a video to capture her at a young age and create a memory that they can both hold onto in the future. He said that the song fit perfectly with that idea, and that with a scaled down version of director Stephano Barberis’ original idea, a small crew was able to capture the feeling and vibe that Smith had hoped for from the very beginning.

During Dean Brody’s set on Thursday night at the Budweiser Stage, Dallas Smith was introduced to a thunderous round of cheers and applause. The crowd, already pumped up from Carly Pearce, Tim Hicks, and the start of Dean Brody’s set went wild when the B.C. native came out in a Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays jersey. And when he teamed up with Dean for a duet of Brody’s 2009 single, Undone, and then borrowed the band to play Somebody Somewhere, it stayed loud. Really loud.

Smith was ready for that moment, excited, he told us it was the first time he’d be coming out as a surprise guest. We saw it all, and we can tell you this, it worked, he just jumped right in.

Homemade: Cold Creek County at Boots & Hearts 2017

Cold Creek County are no strangers to big Canadian country music stages, and at Boots & Hearts 2017 they took the main stage in the Sunday afternoon sun to share their hits, fan favourites, and more with the B&H crowd.

The 2016 CMAO Group of The Year, Rising Star, and Fan’s Choice award winners pulled triple duty at Boots & Hearts, also hitting the SiriusXM popup stage in the VIP barn, and climbing up to the Coors Banquet rig stage, all in an effort to entertain as many music fans as possible at the biggest country music festival in Canada.

And with performances of songs Beer Weather, Our Town, and their new single, from their EP of the same name, Homemade, the six dudes of Cold Creek County did exactly that.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Cold Creek County

Note: Ches Anthony has done a fantastic job joining CCC and taking over the lead man duties. The band hasn’t missed a beat, and they continue to be as entertaining and talented as ever.

On the Boots & Hearts main stage, the band pumped out a full sound, providing sing along moments to songs that the crowd clearly loves. And their excitement for the opportunity to play the festival on the same night as headliners Brett Eldredge and Luke Bryan was clear.

Cold Creek County are a whole lot of fun, a whole lot of talent, and put out a whole lot of sound, no matter what stage they’re on. And when you get the chance to see these country rockers play live, we recommend that you get yourself a ticket and enjoy the show!

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Til The Goin’ Gets Gone: Lindi Ortega at Boots & Hearts 2017

Lindi Ortega is as original a talent as their is on the 2017 country music landscape. With a sound that is revered by fans and critics alike, she popped up on the Boots & Hearts 2017 Front Porch Stage and showed everyone why she’s making waves in music.

Singing songs like Run Amuck, Angels, I Ain’t The Girl, and Demons Don’t Get Me Down, Ortega showed the Saturday afternoon crowd why she’s a Rolling Stone favourite, and why her 2017 EP, Til The Goin’ Gets Gone has received praise and love from listeners.

Note: Mainstream country fans in Canada may know Lindi Ortega’s name from her work with Dean Brody on the 2013 #1 hit, Bounty. But if you haven’t listened to her solo work, we highly recommend it.
Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega

And it’s not just music fans that believe in Lindi. JJ Shiplett told us before and during the festival that he was excited to see her set, adding, “She’s the best singer in Canada right now. Her voice has the warmth of Emmylou Harris and the attitude of Dolly Parton.”. That’s pretty high praise.

Lindi was fun, energetic, charming, and sweet on stage as she and the band rolled through their set. And we can tell you right now, when we get the chance to see her again, we’re going to jump on it!

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi OrtegaBoots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi OrtegaBoots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega Band Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega Band Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega BandBoots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi OrtegaBoots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi OrtegaBoots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega Boots and Hearts 2017 - Lindi Ortega

Don’t Love Me: Jessica Mitchell at Boots & Hearts 2017

Jessica Mitchell is a treasure and a talent, and on Friday at Boots & Hearts 2017 she climbed up on the Front Porch stage and showed it.

In the middle of the afternoon, Jessica and her band played and sang and entertained. They filled the space with sound, they expressed the emotion and depth of Mitchell’s music, and they proved that this is still just the start of something special.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell

Related -> Jessica Mitchell, the Feature

We’ve been on the Jessica Mitchell bandwagon for the last 18 months or so, and in that time we’ve watched as she found the spotlight with Workin’ On Whiskey and earned standing ovations. At Boots & Hearts she put her soulful voice in the spotlight again, sharing songs including Workin’ On Whiskey, Tear It Down, That Record Saved My Life, and one of our favourite moments of the weekend when she stripped it down on the piano for Don’t Love Me.

Related -> Jessica Mitchell at Boots & Hearts 2016!

Jessica Mitchell is on the rise, and music fans across Canada are only going to see and hear more from her as new music is recorded and released.

Be ready. Be excited. We are.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Band Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Band Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Band Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Band Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jessica Mitchell

El Rio: Frankie Ballard at Boots & Hearts 2017

When he was 19 years old, Frankie Ballard used to take trips across the border to Windsor, ON from Michigan to have a drink, a Cuban cigar, and gamble a little. But on Friday at Boots & Hearts 2017, Ballard came north to put on a show!

Frankie Ballard and the Wildcat Band hit the main stage looking like a million rockabilly bucks, and sounding just as good. Hell, they might be the coolest looking band we’ve seen on stage in a long, long time.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Frankie Ballard

From the very start, and all the way through their set, Frankie Ballard and the boys showed that they have the musical chops to hang with any live country band, and Ballard himself reminding everyone in the crowd that he can pick it on both his electric and acoustic guitars.

Along with the sweet instrumental sounds, Frankie Ballard’s voice rang true as he started his Boots & Hearts main stage set with Young & Crazy, and moved onto tracks like Little Bit Of Both, Started With A Beer, Helluva Life, El Camino, You’ll Accomp’ny Me, Sunshine & Whiskey, and more. And when Ballard launched into a cover of Johnny Cash’s Big River, we got a peek at what it might have looked like to see James Dean channeling Elvis while covering Cash.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Frankie Ballard

Throughout the set fans were singing along with their favourites, dancing and swaying in the crowd, and having an overall great time. It’s important to remember these moments before the rains came – because they were a whole lot of fun!

When you get a chance to see Frankie Ballard playing on any stage, take it. When you get a chance to sing along, do it. And when you have a chance to look as cool as Frankie Ballard, go for it!

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