Canadian Country Music Association Awards

Forever Rebels: Tim Hicks Backstage Interview, Toronto

From the small stage of a downtown Toronto bar to making dreams come true in front of thousands of country music fans on the Budweiser Stage, Tim Hicks has been on a hell of a ride.

Canadian country music fans know Tim Hicks as the singer of top 10 hits, fan anthems, and major tour appearances with some of the genre’s biggest names. But before all of that success, Hicks fronted the house band at Grace O’Malley’s, singing covers of country favourites and drunken rock and roll standards like Pour Some Sugar On Me.

We caught up with Tim Hicks backstage before his Budweiser Stage show with fellow Canadian star Dean Brody to talk about the highlights, family, his live record, CCMA weekend and more.

It was clear that Tim was excited for the amphitheatre show. Even if he hadn’t told us about the excitement specifically (he did), it was plastered all over his face. He called it a bucket list event, a highlight that he’ll not only look back on as a big moment, but that he could appreciate as it was happening.

Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017

That feeling of excitement flows over into everything that is happening in Tim Hicks’ career. He’s still very happy to be writing, recording and performing his music. But as much as he enjoys making a living doing what he loves, he fully admits that it isn’t always easy. “It doesn’t come with a manual”, he told us when we talked about the process of creating music, being on the road and juggling that with his responsibilities as a husband and a father. He told us that when he’s home he makes a conscious effort to put his phone away and just be dad. Whether that means colouring, crafts, puzzles or playing outside, that time is important to him and his young family.

While there may not be a manual, there has been help along the way. In 2014, at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto we talked to Tim and he told us that Dierks Bentley had become an amazing resource of advice and information as they prepared for their tour dates together. And as the years add up in his own career, Hicks feels like he’s ready to start sharing his insights and advice to the next wave of Canadian artists coming through the pipeline.

Note: As we talked on a balcony backstage, a group of Tim Hicks fans lined up for their meet and greet with him below us. When they saw him, they called his name, waving and trying to get his attention. We stopped for a second as he turned and smiled and waved at them. And when he turned back around he looked at us with a look of awe and told us that he was a little speechless. It was real and endearing and one of the small moments that still hasn’t gotten old for the homegrown star.

Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017

While we had Tim we asked him about his live record, Tim Hicks Live, that dropped in May. Hicks told is that the 6 song release was a happy accident. He had been recording his shows live from the board and listening back to them to see where things could get tighter, better, and more exciting at the next stop – and then it happened. When Tim listened back to the Sudbury show he loved it. The sound was strong, his vocals were on point, and it got the wheels turning. After sharing it with his label, the tracks were sent to Nashville for a little cleanup and mastering, and from there all that was left as the release. Hicks told us that he’s especially proud of the fact that his vocals weren’t tuned or touched in the production of the record. And he also told us that he’d love to see more Canadian country artists follow his lead with their own live releases. He didn’t go so far as to challenge anyone by name, but as a fan himself, we’re sure there are some live releases he’d love to hear.

We also talked to Tim about the upcoming CCMA awards and weekend in Saskatoon. He told us what so many other artists have, that he’s looking forward to seeing all of the industry friends that he so rarely gets to hangout with. Tour stops like the Toronto show offer quick chances to say hi to local radio hosts and fellow artists, but Canadian Country Music Week will offer the chance for some real catch up time, and maybe a drink or two. Tim is also up for two awards on Sunday, September 10 – Male Artist and Interactive Artist of the Year – and taking home either of those trophies would most certainly be another highlight to add to Tim Hicks’ growing list.

On stage in Toronto, Tim Hicks and his band let it all hang out. With fire shooting into the sky, guitars ringing, and the fans singing along, it was a special night for the folks in the back row all the way to the man standing at the microphone. And don’t for a second think that he’ll forget it.

Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017

2 months ago Views

Deal With It: Alee at Boots & Hearts 2017

After a little hop and a couple deep breaths, Alee took to the Boots & Hearts 2017 main stage to kick off the Sunday music… and she killed it.

With an energetic and strong set, the 2-time Alberta Country Music Association Award winner for Female Artist of the Year proved that she’s earned her nomination for the 2017 Female Artist of the Year award from the Canadian Country Music Association. And while her set may have only been six songs long in the Sunday sun, there was dancing and singing and cheering along to songs including; Bad Habit, Deal With It, and Moonshine, in the field at Oro-Medonte.

Later in the afternoon we caught up with the Edmonton native to talk about the summer, what’s next, her CCMA nomination, and even got a tip for everyone going to Saskatoon for Canadian Country Music Week.

She told us that the summer has been great, with shows at Big Valley Jamboree, Boots & Hearts and more already, and Lucknow Music in the Fields still to come. And that she’s been learning to squeeze in writing time every chance she gets so she’s ready to go when it’s time to start laying down tracks for her next album.

We asked her about the feeling of getting on the big stages, and she said that it’s exciting. And through her smile and energy on the Sunday stage, we could see that excitement. Alee also told us that the band all looked at each other and had a little moment to appreciate that this may be the best that their music has ever sounded.

Note: We spotted Alee’s label mate, occasional writing partner, and fellow Boots & Hearts 2017 performer, Andrew Hyatt up in the wings watching the set and jamming along.

We landed on her CCMA nomination more than once while we were hanging out, and learned that this feels pretty great for a few reasons.

1) The obvious one, to be regarded as one of the top 5 female country artists in Canada is special. She mentioned that being in the top 10 is special itself, but to make the final ballot is something else.

2) She found out about the nomination while she was south, just outside of Nashville, and the first person she wanted to call was her grandmother, who lives in the Saskatoon area and will be coming to the awards with her.

3) Alee suggests that first-time visitors to Saskatoon take a trip down to the river for some hangout time.

We asked Alee what’s coming next, and she told us that she hopes to set some time aside for songwriting this fall. And she added that she’d love to take a trip to really get away and get in a writing space. She has a few ideas of where she’d like to go, but nothing is concrete yet. We can tell you this though, she’s got good ideas.

Note: We’ve also learned that Alee is a big fan of chicken wings. We don’t know her favourite flavour yet, but we’ll find out!

With her debut label album, Bad Habit, becoming a hit with country music fans, and her CCMA nomination putting her name in a brighter spotlight, Alee is poised to make some noise on the Canadian country music scene.

Deal with it.

Alee, Boots & Hearts 2017 Setlist

Turn This Night On
Deal With It
When I Do
Don’t Wait
Bad Habit
Moonshine

Boots-and-Hearts-2017-Alee-Interview-1Boots-and-Hearts-2017-Alee-Interview-2

3 months ago Views

Laugh When You Lie: Dan Davidson, Live in Toronto

Dan Davidson may be becoming known for his wacky videos, but country radio and country music fans know that he’s the real deal, And he’s just getting started.

We met up with the former Tupelo Honey rocker at Parkdale’s Rod, Gun & Barbers during a stop in Toronto to talk about his music, DIY videos, dad life and more.

As Davidson’s current single Say We Did rolls through country radio, CMT, and streaming services across the country (and beyond) the singer/songwriter continues to put in work on new music and his live show.

We asked about an album and Dan told us that he’s be perfectly happy to be a singles guy. Writing, recording, releasing and playing a new song and then moving onto the next one… but he also understands the importance of an album, and told us that there will be an EP release this fall after the CCMA awards in Saskatoon.

With two nominations (Rising Star Award, Songwriter of the Year + Video Director of the Year: Travis Nesbitt for Davidson’s Found) at this year’s awards, Dan Davidson is quickly making sure his name has been added in the up and coming crop of country music talent in Canada. And with bangers like Found and Barn Burner leading the way, he is definitely making it easy to put his name in that group.

Dan Davidson - Rod, Gun and Barbers Parkdale

We would have been foolish not to ask Davidson about the video for Say We Did. The fan favourite features a DIY construction of the Starship Enterprise’s bridge in Dan’s garage… with costumes to complete the look. He told us that the build took about two days, and was a lot of fun. Added to his previous videos, the reputation as a dude who has fun with this part of the process is becoming more solidified – and he’s happy to be that guy, and not just another dude standing in a field or on a river bank to shoot a country video.

He also told us that his indie status allows him to come up with these kinda ridiculous ideas without worrying about anyone telling him that he can’t. And he loves that freedom.

When he’s not on the road, Dan Davidson is probably at home having tea parties or playing in the sprinkler with his little girls. It’s easy to tell when you talk to him that dad time is important to him and he truly loves it. And while he’s not sure his girls understand what dad does (it all seems like a lot of playing dress up and singing songs with his friends), we’re sure they’ll figure it out sooner than later.

As we hung out by the pool table at the back of Rod, Gun & Barbers, we hit the subject of the Canadian Country Music scene and Dan echoed what we hear so often, that it’s a good place to be. He told us about the supportive feel that flows from artist to artist. And he shouted out artists like Brett Kissel, Dallas Smith, and Chad Brownlee who he’s toured with and given him their time along the way.

Dan Davidson - Rod, Gun and Barbers Parkdale

We also talked about the country music fans, and how cool it’s been for him to see them cheering and singing along when he takes the stage all over Canada. We saw it in person this spring at Boots & Bourbon during Canadian Music Week, and the assembled mass of music lovers that night certainly got into it. They sang along, danced and whooped it up – showing Davidson that his tracks had travelled from the west to Ontario, and were working.

He told us about not being sure if anyone would know who he was while on tour with Chase Rice… and then being blown away by the fans in London as they popped for him and his songs. And with more music coming for those country fans, we’re betting that those reactions are going to continue – and his surprise at them should fade.

Dan Davidson - Rod, Gun and Barbers Parkdale

While we had Dan Davidson for photos and hangs, he pulled out his guitar and played a sad one for us… with haircuts in the background and Parkdale’s Queen Street West in the far background, we were pulled in.

Plugged in on stage, or on a stool next to a pool table, Dan Davidson is one to watch.

Stay tuned for new music, show announcements and more from Dan… it’s coming soon.

And press play now for a special live performance of Laugh When You Lie, recorded at Rod, Gun & Barbers on Queen Street West in Parkdale, Toronto.

Dan Davidson - Rod, Gun and Barbers Parkdale Dan Davidson - Rod, Gun and Barbers Parkdale

4 months ago Views

Have Your Say: 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Awards Nominees!

The Canadian Country Music Association has announced the full list of 2017 CCMA Awards nominees… and it’s an impressive list of Canadian country talent!

We are lucky and privileged to have covered, met, and seen these artists put on amazing lives shows, record fantastic music, and grow into their careers.

But now, because we know you have an opinion, we want to know who you think should win at the 2017 CCMA Awards in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Sunday, September 10th. Use the polls to vote and support your favourite artists, and use the link at the bottom of the list to cast your official vote for the Fans’ Choice Award!

Have fun – and congratulations to all of the nominees in 2017, you should all be proud of your accomplishments, we can’t wait to hear what you’ve got coming for us next.

Click Here to submit your official vote for the Fans’ Choice Award!

And Click Here to see the full list of nominees in all 2017 Canadian Country Music Association categories! 

4 months ago Views

Joshua’s Highlights and Top Memories of 2016!

2016 was a long, hard year for many of us. Personally, and in the music industry, we experienced loss and heartbreak – BUT, in the midst of all of that, we also had some great moments and we have to remember that!

So, to celebrate what was good about the year, here are 5 of my best memories and highlights of 2016…

Arkells at WayHome

In July we hit WayHome for year 2 and enjoyed the hell out of the weekend, but the lasting memory of the weekend for me will probably be the Arkells on Saturday.

In the afternoon we sat down in the woods with Max and Mike for a pre-show interview that had a super laid back vibe, was a fun little connection, and gave some insight to the direction that the band has taken on stage and on record in the Morning Report era.

And then (after a quick and awesome braid appointment in the VIP salon) we watched the band hit the WayBold stage – where they proceeded to kick ass and take names. From start to end the energy was hot, the horn section and backup singers were on point and a great addition to the show, and the crowd was on fire. Check the videos from the performance and see Arkells at your very next opportunity. I would live that day again right now if you’d let me.

WayHome - ArkellsWayHome - Arkells

Music Video Debut – Tebey: Old School

We knew that Tebey and his team were shooting for a new video when they were at Boots & Hearts… but I never expected to see myself in the official Old School music video!

At 0:11 and 1:32 you can see my Toronto Raptors hat turned around backwards in the summer heat as I sit with Tebey for our pre-show interview. It was a fun vibe while we were hanging out, and an even cooler surprise when the video premiered and I saw myself on the screen.

Let’s not be confused, this isn’t a starring role, but a cool little moment to remember from the year.

It’s also cool seeing Trish in the pit at 2:02 mark snapping the pics that ended up in our post from the show.

Introducing My Mom To Jess Moskaluke And High Valley

For Christmas 2015 my mom wanted High Valley music. So, I picked up a CD, and in her card I told her that we would try to catch Brad and Curtis the next time they played in the Toronto area.

Just our luck, High Valley and Jess Moskaluke came to the CNE in Toronto just days before my mom’s birthday at the end of August, and we were in the crowd to see the show together. BUT, even cooler for us was the chance to bring my mom backstage during our interviews with both Jess and High Valley.

I owe so many thanks to everyone for being so kind and gracious with their time before the show, and for being so sweet to my mom. I was a really cool night, and a memory that I’m happy to have.

High Valley CNE 2016 Bandshell

Garth Brooks In Hamilton, ON

Near the end of March we drove to Hamilton, ON to see the man, the legend, and the reason there’s a website I’m posting on right now… Garth Brooks.

We didn’t have press passes, Trish wasn’t in the photo pit, I had three browser tabs open while I tried to buy tickets to the show – and it was all worth it. We sat in the crowd, packed in with Garth fans that were eagerly awaiting the show. And not a single one of us was disappointed.

Garth Freaking Brooks was freaking awesome!

Hit after hit blasted from the stage, and Mr. Brooks showed us all that he’s still got it. He is still the man at the top of the mountain, and everyone else is tasked with building their career to get as close as possible to what this man has done in the last 25+ years.

Canadian Country Music Week & The CCMA Awards

For the first time we hit Canadian Country Music Week and the Canadian Country Music Awards in London, ON… and it was awesome!

The days were a blur of amazing people, parties, performances, interviews and a little bit of sleep. We got to talk to a heap of artists. We got to reconnect with friendly faces. We had the chance to make new friends. And all of it was against the backdrop of the biggest weekend of the year.

On awards night we had an amazing opportunity to take in all of the action. Trish and I both got to hang out at the green carpet to see everyone make their entrance. And during the show Trish was inside with her camera and I was in the media tent with the chance to see the CCMA winners just moments after their big moments on stage.

It was awesome, and we both hope we get to experience that again.

CCMA Awards 2016 Strut Social House JJ ShiplettDean Brody CCMA 2016 Win

11 months ago Views

2016 CCMA Awards Green Carpet Photo Review

Tim and Amanda HicksCCMA Awards 2016 Tim Hicks Green Carpet CCMA Awards 2016 Tim and Amanda Hicks Green Carpet CCMA Awards 2016 Tim and Amanda Hicks Green CarpetJessi Cruikshank
CCMA Awards 2016 Jessi Cruickshank Green Carpet
Chris Lane
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Two Shine County, Tenille Arts, Eric Ethridge, Runaway Angel, Livy JeanneCCMA Awards 2016 Discovery Green CarpetTwo Shine CountyCCMA Awards 2016 Two Shine County Green CarpetMeghan PatrickCCMA Awards 2016 Meghan Patrick Green CarpetCCMA Awards 2016 Meghan Patrick Green CarpetCCMA Awards 2016 Meghan Patrick Green CarpetCCMA Awards 2016 Meghan Patrick Green CarpetGord BamfordCCMA Awards 2016 Gord Bamford Green CarpetBobby WillsCCMA Awards 2016 Bobby Wills Green CarpetShahir Massoud, Steven Sabados, Amanda BainCCMA Awards 2016 Shahir Massoud, Steven Sabados, Amanda Bain Green CarpetHigh ValleyCCMA Awards 2016 High Valley Green CarpetCCMA Awards 2016 High Valley Green CarpetChad BrownleeCCMA Awards 2016 Chad Brownlee Green CarpetCCMA Awards 2016 Chad Brownlee Green CarpetMurray McLauchlan and Denise Donlon
CCMA Awards 2016 Murray McLauchlan and Denise Donlon Green CarpetWestern Swing AuthorityCCMA Awards 2016 Western Swing Authority Green CarpetTom PowerCCMA Awards 2016 Tom Power Green CarpetDavid JamesCCMA Awards 2016 David James Green CarpetCCMA Awards 2016 David James Green CarpetCCMA Awards 2016 David James Green CarpetDean BrodyCCMA Awards 2016 Dean Brody Green CarpetCCMA Awards 2016 Dean Brody Green CarpetYoanCCMA Awards 2016 Yoan Green CarpetCCMA Awards 2016 Yoan Green CarpetMadeline MerloCCMA Awards 2016 Madeline Merlo Green Carpet CCMA Awards 2016 Madeline Merlo Green CarpetCold Creek CountyCCMA Awards 2016 Cold Creek County Green CarpetMichelle WrightCCMA Awards 2016 Michelle Wright Green CarpetCCMA Awards 2016 Michelle Wright Green CarpetDeric Ruttan, Kristian Bush, Jason BlaineCCMA Awards 2016 Deric Ruttan, Kristian Bush, Jason Blaine Green CarpetLeah DanielsCCMA Awards 2016 Leah Daniels Green CarpetCCMA Awards 2016 Leah Daniels Green CarpetGeorge CanyonCCMA Awards 2016 George CanyonCCMA Awards 2016 George CanyonBrett and Cecilia Kissel ccma-awards-2016-brett-kissel-green-carpet-3081ccma-awards-2016-brett-and-cecilia-kissel-green-carpet-3104ccma-awards-2016-brett-and-cecilia-kissel-green-carpet-3093Carolyn Dawn Johnsonccma-awards-2016-carolyn-dawn-johnson-green-carpet-3116ccma-awards-2016-carolyn-dawn-johnson-green-carpet-3119Terri Clarkccma-awards-2016-terri-clark-green-carpet-3048ccma-awards-2016-terri-clark-green-carpet-3043River Town Saintsccma-awards-2016-river-town-saints-green-carpet-2889ccma-awards-2016-river-town-saints-green-carpet-2895Aleeccma-awards-2016-alee-green-carpet-3028ccma-awards-2016-alee-green-carpet-3033Lindsay Ellccma-awards-2016-lindsay-ell-green-carpet-2927ccma-awards-2016-lindsay-ell-green-carpet-2929Damien Warner and Melissa Bishop
ccma-awards-2016-damian-warner-and-melissa-bishop-green-carpet-2919Sam Huntccma-awards-2016-sam-hunt-green-carpet-2960ccma-awards-2016-sam-hunt-green-carpet-2984ccma-awards-2016-sam-hunt-green-carpet-2982ccma-awards-2016-sam-hunt-green-carpet-2981Kira Isabellaccma-awards-2016-kira-isabella-green-carpet-3015ccma-awards-2016-kira-isabella-green-carpet-3022Billy (The Exterminator) Brethertonccma-awards-2016-billy-the-exterminator-green-carpet-2996ccma-awards-2016-billy-the-exterminator-green-carpet-2998Mike Robins – Autumn Hillccma-awards-2016-mike-robins-green-carpet-3053ccma-awards-2016-mike-robins-green-carpet-3057The Baeumler Familyccma-awards-2016-baeumler-family-green-carpet-3073Lindi Ortegaccma-awards-2016-lindi-ortega-green-carpet-3010ccma-awards-2016-lindi-ortega-green-carpet-3009ccma-awards-2016-lindi-ortega-green-carpet-3013Johnny and Jennifer Reidccma-awards-2016-johnny-and-jennifer-reid-green-carpet-3113

1 year ago Views
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