Canadian National Exhibition

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

1 month ago Views

Anthem: Brett Kissel and Friends at the 2017 CNE

As Friday night grew darker and the music played on, Brett Kissel looked out over the CNE crowd and exclaimed, “I think it’s safe to say that country music is alive and well in Toronto!”.

The Alberta native couldn’t have been more correct on a day when 5 Canadian country artists took the stage at the Canadian National Exhibition. On the Northern Comfort Saloon stage both Ty Baynton and Andrew Hyatt played three hour sets for exhibition attendees, and on the legendary bandshell stage, Abby Stewart and Beamer Wigley opened for Brett Kissel himself, the 2016 Canadian Country Music Association Male Artist of the Year and Fans’ Choice Award winner.

Note: Not on stage, but also seen catching the music and enjoying The Ex were Elyse Saunders and Lindsay Broughton, talented country singers in their own rights!

As the bandshell stage began with Abby Stewart and Beamer Wigley, the crowd began to build. The two teenage country singers and songwriters played a selection of original songs and covers of popular duets including Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert’s We Were Us, Chris Young/Cassadee Pope’s Think Of You, and Jason Aldean/Kelly Clarkson’s Don’t You Wanna Stay. Both of the up-and-comers showed the kind of stage presence that will carry them into the future of their careers, and their talent (which continues to grow) is apparent now to anyone who sees and hears them.

Keep your eyes open for more from Abby Stewart and Beamer Wigley on the Canadian country music scene.

During a break in the bandshell action we jumped over to the Saloon to see Andrew Hyatt on stage, and the Nickel City native didn’t disappoint. As we know him to do, Hyatt put on a show that featured covers like Keith Urban’s Cop Car, his own fan favourites including, MGR (Me And A Girl And A Radio) and She Ain’t You, plus his first radio Top 20 single, On Me.

When the time came for the main event on the bandshell stage, Toronto was ready.

Brett Kissel and his band hit the stage hard, opening the set with Started With A Song and continuing with a string of hits, covers, and new songs that stretched into the night and kept summer alive as the Labour Day long weekend started.

As cheers rang out, Kissel and his dudes gave their last show of the summer everything they had. Their enthusiasm and energy were likely boosted (very reasonably) by the pre-show presentation of gold records for Started With A Song and Pick Me Up – his first two golds – but not his last.

It’s obvious to say that Brett Kissel is one of Canadian country music’s biggest stars, but what has become clear to us is that he keeps getting better and better as the songs, albums, shows, and years accumulate in his career. The differences are small, but visible. The showmanship, the engagement, the comfort levels, the willingness to take a chance, the heart on his sleeve, the passion for the show – they have all increased since we first saw him in 2014, and when he played the CNE bandshell stage two years ago in 2015.

Related: Brett Kissel at the 2015 CNE!

One of our favourite moments in the set came when Brett introduced Take It Easy by his favourite band, The Eagles. He told the crowd that it was his band’s favourite song to play by the legendary rockers, and that they’d like to play it in tribute of Glenn Frey, who passed away in 2016. Kissel also sent the song out to his dad who is currently in hospital, but we hope will be home very soon. It was emotional and sweet, and everything we love about moments that come from live music experiences.

Note: We would like to send our best wishes to Brett, his family, and his dad. If you would like to pass on your positive vibes, click here and send him a tweet.

Another of our favourite moments came earlier in the show when a five year old named Reggie and his dad came up on stage to meet Brett. Reggie was a little shy on stage, but his fandom was rewarded with a signed guitar from the singer, and his name being chanted loudly by the Toronto crowd. It was a special moment, and one we hope he repeats as often as possible.

This Canadian kid, the dude nominated for five Canadian Country Music Association awards (Male Artist, Single, Video, Songwriter, and Interactive Artist of the Year ) in 2017, and performing on the award show Sunday, September 8 on the CBC, is the real deal. He’s legit. He’s a star. And we’re happy that we’ve seen him along the way.

Friday night in Toronto, Brett Kissel and his band finished their summer with a bang. They were loud, they were happy, they were strong, and they made everyone in the crowd hope that they’ll be back again soon.

Brett Kissel Setlist, CNE 2017

🇨🇦 Started With A Song
🇨🇦 Something You Just Don’t Forget
🇨🇦 She’s Desire
🇨🇦 Canadian Kid
🇨🇦 Tough People Do
🇨🇦 Anthem
🇨🇦 Pick Me Up
🇨🇦 Cool With That
🇨🇦 Take It Easy (The Eagles)
🇨🇦 We Were That Song
🇨🇦 I Didn’t Fall In Love With Your Hair
🇨🇦 Airwaves
🇨🇦 Ordinary Day (Great Big Sea)
🇨🇦 Callin’ Baton Rouge (Garth Brooks)
🇨🇦 Raise Your Glass/Pour Some Sugar On Me (Def Leppard)
🇨🇦 Thank God I’m A Country Boy (John Denver)/Honey, I’m Good (Andy Grammer)/Mountain Music (Alabama)
Encore:
🇨🇦 3,2,1

Brett Kissel at the 2017 CNE

Andrew Hyatt at the 2017 CNE

Abby Stewart and Beamer Wigley at the 2017 CNE

2 months ago Views

City Turned Country: Chad Brownlee and Leaving Thomas at the 2017 CNE

Country took over the city for a couple of hours on Saturday night at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto as Chad Brownlee and Leaving Thomas took to the legendary bandshell stage. The MDM Recordings artists took their turns belting out country hits and entertaining the assembled crowd.

Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017

Leaving Thomas opened the show with Annika and Bryton taking another chance to introduce their live show to eager country music fans. The upstart duo didn’t waste their opportunity, charming the crowd with their banter and energy, and showing off the chops that have them on a lot of Canadian country music playlists and must watch lists.

Their eight song set included the duo’s first two radio singles, Waiting Kind Of Girl and Best Adventure, and also gave the Toronto crowd a listen to their upcoming single, Blame It On The Neon, coming to your local country radio station on September 8.

Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017

Country music fans will be hearing more and more from Leaving Thomas, y’all should be ready for it.

Leaving Thomas Setlist, CNE 2017

🎤 Call It A Night
🎤 No One Needs To Know (Shania Twain)
🎤 Best Adventure
🎤 Blame It On The Neon
🎤 Shame On Me
🎤 From This Valley (The Civil Wars)
🎤 Dibs/ Cruise (K.Ballerini/Florida Georgia Line)
🎤 Waiting Kind Of Girl

Chad Brownlee, one of Canadian country music’s biggest stars, headlined the night, playing a full 17 song set, and showing all of his leading man skills on the stage.

The B.C. native played songs from the start of his career through to his most recent release, Out Of The Blue, watching and listening as fans sang and danced along, and waved their arms in the air at his direction. He held them in his hands, and they welcomed it – and it was fantastic to see. And as improbable as it might seem, the cheers and singing got louder and louder as the night went on.

Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017

Things may have been loudest when it got quietest on stage. Brownlee stood front and centre, solo with his acoustic guitar, and strummed as he sang a mashup of Thinkin’ Out Loud and Happy Man, and the crowd sang along, and everyone loved it in one of those very special moments that live music provides.

Toronto may not yet be the hotbed of country music that Calgary or Nashville are, but shows like Saturday night with Chad Brownlee showing his ability to make fans sing along to radio hits they know and love, continue to foster the growing community of country fans in the city, and will bring more shows to us in the future.

Be ready to be there and be ready to love the heck out of it!

Chad Brownlee Setlist, CNE 2017

🎤 Hood Of My Car
🎤 Smoke In The Rain
🎤 Fallin’ Over You
🎤 His Own Terms
🎤 Something We Shouldn’t Do
🎤 Hearts On Fire
🎤 Might As Well Be Me
🎤 Mercy
🎤 Out Of The Blue
🎤 Carried Away
🎤 Where The Party At
🎤 Just Because
🎤 Thinkin’ Out Loud/Happy Man (E. Sheeran/T.Rhett)
🎤 Free Fallin’ (with Leaving Thomas)
🎤 Listen
Encore:
🎤 Love Me Or Leave Me
🎤 Hate Your For It

Chad Brownlee at the 2017 CNE

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Leaving Thomas at the 2017 CNE

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2 months ago Views

TerraForm: Sam Roberts Band with Jane’s Party at the 2017 CNE

The next time someone tries to tell you that rock and roll is dead, or if you yourself feel that thought rolling through your brain, remember the Sam Roberts Band.

On Saturday night, at the legendary CNE Bandshell, we caught the Montreal rock outfit and were completely sucked in and entertained by their straight ahead, no gimmicks, Canadian summer night rock and roll show. There were no flames, fireworks, or lasers. But there were guitars, bass, drums, keys, and a whole lot of energy at the bandshell park as the boys played a mix of new songs, fan favourites, and their biggest hits in a 90 minute set.

CNE 2017 - Sam Roberts Band

It’s also important to shout out Jane’s Party, the Toronto band that opened the show and did an excellent job of representing their hometown’s rock and roll vibe. Tracks like Til You Got Yours, Cigarette Buzz, and It’s Been Years showed off their sound, and allowed the guys to put on a fun set to warm up the park. We also need to give love for the versatility in the band, with three of the four members taking a turn at lead vocals during their time on the CNE Bandshell stage.

CNE 2017 - Jane's Party

I’ve been listening to Sam Roberts and the Sam Roberts Band for all of the summers in my adult life, starting with the, The Inhuman Condition EP, in 2012, and have sung along to the hits, watched the videos, and being a fan of their rock and roll vibe. So to see them on stage in 2017, with that same spark and enthusiasm for what they do, paired with the appreciation that Sam repeatedly showed for the opportunity to play in Toronto at such a venerable venue, was a wonderful thing.

Note: Sometimes I miss Sam’s longer, floppy hair, especially when he’s dancing and playing guitar on stage.

With a 15 song setlist, and a three song encore, the Sam Roberts Band filled their time on stage completely. And from TerraForm to kick things off to Brother Down to send us all home, the Toronto crowd was engaged, singing, dancing, clapping, and raising their hands in the air with glee and gusto. Heck, Sam Roberts has so many hits to pack into his set now that it wasn’t until morning that I realized the band hadn’t played Don’t Walk Away Eileen, but if that’s the only thing missing from my idealized show, we all should be happy with what the Sam Roberts Band shared on Saturday night.

CNE 2017 - Sam Roberts Band

These five rock and rollers know what’s up. They put on a show that would have worked in a smaller, sweaty room like the Horseshoe Tavern, or in a bigger setting like the Budweiser Stage. And the fans in Toronto at the 2017 CNE knew it.

When you get the chance to see the Sam Roberts Band live, take it. The Inhuman Condition and We Were Born In A Flame put them on the map 15 years ago, but their songs, skills, and dedication to what they do has made TerraForm and their new music just as compelling and entertaining as ever.

We can’t wait to see the band again. After all, we’re all in this together.

Sam Roberts Band, 2017 CNE Setlist

※ TerraForm
※ Shapeshifters
※ Fixed to Ruin
※ Rogue Empire
※ Human Heat
※ Metal Skin
※ Hard Road
※ Spring Fever
※ Bridge to Nowhere
※ Where Have All the Good People Gone?
※ Detroit ’67
※ Roll with the Spirits
※ If You Want It
※ Them Kids
※ Chasing the Light
Encore:
※ We’re All in This Together
※ FIEND
※ Brother Down

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Jane’s Party at the 2017 CNE Bandshell Stage

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2 months ago Views

Out Of The Blue: Chad Brownlee at Boots & Hearts 2017

Chad Brownlee is a Canadian country music star, and on Saturday we got to catch up with him, and see him perform twice at Boots & Hearts 2017!

Country music fans had two chances to catch Chad Brownlee on Saturday as he took the main stage for his full set, and made an appearance on the SiriusXM stage earlier in the afternoon. And both times the fans in front of him sang and cheered for the B.C. boy as he showed them why he’s a legit nominee for the 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Fans’ Choice Award.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee

Early in the afternoon, before Brownlee started singing for the fans, we caught up with him for some photos and a chat. We learned that there’s new music coming soon, with songs written about his own life (both positive and the opposite of that), and a new album, his fifth, planned for an early 2018 release. But before that, the CCMA Awards weekend is coming up in Saskatoon, and that’s a big deal. We talked about the weekend, the parties, having the chance to catch up with industry friends that you may not have seen for the last year, and trying to find time for sleep – and trust us, all three of those things are important, but the last one often gets ignored.

On stage, Chad Brownlee looked anything but tired. Starting his main stage set with Hood Of My Car and rolling through 14 more after that, he owned the Boots & Hearts faithful. The singing was strong at every opportunity, we saw dancing from the front row to the back of the field, and the cheers rang loud for him.

This wasn’t Chad’s first Boots & Hearts experience, so he knew what to expect when he got out there. But we wanted to know about more shows this summer, so we asked for highlights, and he told us that Cavendish Beach Music Festival was great, and that it was awesome to be back at Nashville North and the Calgary Stampede for the fourth time. And if the crowds there were anything like the crowd he had on Saturday, we can see why they’d be highlights.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee

Note: We took Chad back a couple of years and asked him for the craziest thing that happened during pre-show floor hockey on the When The Lights Go Down Tour in 2015… and he told us a story about playing in Calgary and asking Bobby Wills for a one-time pass. Now, Chad told us that he was feeling pretty comfortable in his shot (which he should), and his ability to pick the corner on the small shinny net. However, his shot sailed on him and smashed an empty glass water pitcher. Now, we haven’t talked to Bobby about this, so we don’t want to blame his pass… but we’ll let you make your own judgements on the reason.

We’ll be seeing Chad Brownlee again soon as he takes the stage at the 2017 Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto on Saturday, August 26 with Leaving Thomas. If you’re going to be near Toronto that weekend, we’d highly recommend that you come down to the fair for that.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee

We know, that at that show, just like Saturday’s Boots & Hearts show, there will be singing along from the crowd when Brownlee plays his hits. When we brought that up he told us that it’s still surreal, and while he may be more experienced more than he once was, it still gives him butterflies to be up on stage. And he says that if those butterflies ever stop showing up, it’ll probably be time to hang ‘em up.

It makes sense to hear him say it, but we’re hoping that moment doesn’t come any time soon. And based on the show that he put on Saturday, and the reaction from the fans, they’re hoping to see a lot more of Chad Brownlee for a long time.

Chad Brownlee, SiriuxXM Stage Setlist

👨‍🎤 Something We Shouldn’t Do
👨‍🎤Out Of The Blue
👨‍🎤Hate You For It

Chad Brownlee SiriusXM Boots and Hearts 2017

Chad Brownlee, Boots & Hearts 2017 Setlist

👨‍🎤Hood Of My Car
👨‍🎤Smoke In The Rain
👨‍🎤Fallin’ Over You
👨‍🎤Something We Shouldn’t Do
👨‍🎤Hearts On Fire
👨‍🎤Might As Well Be Me
👨‍🎤Mercy (Shawn Mendes)
👨‍🎤Out Of The Blue
👨‍🎤Carried Away
👨‍🎤Just Because
👨‍🎤Thinking Out Loud/ Happy Man (Ed Sheeran/Thomas Rhett)
👨‍🎤Listen
👨‍🎤When The Lights Go Down
👨‍🎤Love Me Or Leave Me
👨‍🎤Hate You For It

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2 months ago Views

Blame It On The Neon: Leaving Thomas at Boots & Hearts 2017

We’ve said it before, playing the opening slot of the day on the main stage at a festival isn’t easy. You’ve got to set the tone, get people engaged, pull them into the crowd… and Leaving Thomas did all of that on Friday at Boots & Hearts 2017.

Annika and Bryton hopped up on the main stage and rolled through a 7 song set, including their latest single, Best Adventure and a banging cover of Shania’s No One Needs To Know. They worked the catwalk, they brought the energy that the afternoon slot needed, and they were fantastic.

We caught up with Leaving Thomas after their set for a little sit down in the grass to talk about how things are going, how crazy festival season is, and alter egos… and while Bryton told us that he doesn’t yet have one, we know from LT’s latest YouTube video that Annika’s alter ego of Suzie can be a real piece of work. But craziness aside, these two are enjoying the heck out of festival season right now. They told us that it’s a little wild to look back to a year ago, when they weren’t playing stages like Boots & Hearts and Big Valley Jamboree, but here in 2017, they’ve done both.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

Bryton also described the experience of looking out into the BH crowd and seeing fans singing and dancing and fully embodying Waiting Kind Of Girl as surreal.

And while it may be surreal to the duo, it’s no surprise to us. The harmonies that Leaving Thomas roll out are smooth and full. The melodies they’re producing grab listeners. And their energy brings people in. The more stages they play, the more they’re going to see people singing and dancing out the in the crowd.

I asked about what’s coming next for Leaving Thomas and we learned a few things…

1) Blame It On The Neon is scheduled to be released as their next single on September 8, 2017.
2) The duo will be at the CNE on the bandshell stage opening for Chad Brownlee on Saturday, August 26, 2017.
3) They’re excited for Canadian Country Music Week and the CCMAs in September – including the always fun MDM Recordings Party, where they’ll hop up on stage to play.
4) They are looking at an early 2018 release of an EP that we can’t wait to hear.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

Annika and Bryton are a ton of fun on stage, and we heard people talking about how good they are up there as we walked through the crowd. Those people are right, they are good. And you should keep an eye on them.

Leaving Thomas just might be the next big duo in Canadian country music.

Leaving Thomas, Boots & Hearts 2017 Setlist

🎤 Best Adventure
🎤 Call It A Night
🎤 No One Needs To Know
🎤 Blame It On The Neon
🎤 Shame On Me
🎤 Dibs/ Cruise
🎤 Waiting Kind Of Girl

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving ThomasBoots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving ThomasBoots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

2 months ago Views

On Me: Andrew Hyatt at Boots & Hearts 2017

Rain was falling on the Friday afternoon crowd at Boots & Hearts 2017… and then it cleared and the sun came out as Andrew Hyatt and his band, The Good Intentions, took over the Front Porch stage and played their hearts out.

We caught up with Andrew after his set, and we talked about the crowd that came in to watch him play. It was a great assembly of music fans, and they were there for a good time, which always helps things. And while Andrew does love greasy, sweaty club shows – he told us that being in front of the Boots & Hearts crowd and watching them engage with the music and the band was fantastic. He told us that looking out and seeing people singing his songs back to him, the singles and the deep cuts that made the record (Iron & Ashes) because he loves them, was special because it means they’ve listened to the record that he worked so hard on.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Andrew Hyatt

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

On stage the boys, lead by Andrew, gave it everything they have. The sound was full, with every guitar part and bass line doing its job to create a live music experience for tracks like She Ain’t You, Most Of Me, and his very first Top 20 song at country radio, On Me. The transitions from uptempo tracks to slowed down songs was seamless and well received by the crowd, with everyone willing to follow wherever they were taken.

I asked Hyatt about landing in the Top 20 with On Me, and he told me that it’s a sweet feeling. His first calls he says were to the band to share the good news. And to celebrate, he cracked a bottle of Crown Royal special reserve that he had been saving for this specific occasion.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Andrew Hyatt

Andrew Hyatt isn’t slowing down any time soon. With the CNE booked, and showcases and performances coming up at Canadian Country Music Week and the CCMA celebrations in September, there’s still lots to prep for and look forward to.

AND, there’s big fall 2017 news that he would love to tell you about, and that we would love to tell you that we know – but we’re all going to have to stay tuned for that.

Andrew Hyatt, Boots & Hearts 2017 Setlist

🥃 That’s How I’m Livin’
🥃 Most Of Me
🥃 Girl I Do
🥃 MGR (Me And A Girl And A Radio)
🥃 We Only Kiss On Sundays
🥃 She Ain’t You
🥃 On Me

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2 months ago Views

2017 Canadian National Exhibition Northern Comfort Saloon Lineup and Schedule

If you like cold drink and hot country music, the Northern Comfort Saloon at the Canadian National Exhibition should be on your to do list this summer!

We’ve been checking out the Northern Comfort Saloon since year one in 2014, and every year there’s a pretty fantastic selection of country music to sing, drink, and dance to. In fact, just last year The Washboard Union took their turn for six days, and then won Rising Star and Roots Artist of the Year at the 2016 Canadian Country Music Awards… so ya, these are talented artists.

The 2017 lineup has some of our favourite up-and-coming artists, including Northern Comfort Saloon returnees, Cory Marquardt, Kelly Prescott, and Buck Twenty – and artists with new releases in 2017 including Johnson Crook and Andrew Hyatt.

We’ve put together the full schedule with dates and times, so you know which days to come see some of your emerging country music favourites on stage, playing originals, covers, and having a party.

Mark your calendar, and then use the poll and/or leave a comment to tell us who you’re most excited to see at this year’s CNE country bar stage!

2017 Canadian National Exhibition Northern Comfort Saloon Lineup and Schedule

Buck Twenty

Aug 18, 19, 20 – 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Related: CMAO Artist of the Month – Buck Twenty

Blue Radio

August 18, 20 – 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM

Ultimate Urban

August 19 – 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM

Johnson Crook

August 21, 22, 23 – 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Related: Call Me Home – Johnson Crook EP Release Party

Marshall Dane

August 21, 22, 23 – 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM
August 28, 29 – 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Cory Marquardt

August 24, 25, 26 – 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM

Cory Marquardt CNE 2015

Jerry Serada

August 24, 25, 26, 27 – 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Kelly Prescott

August 27, 28, 29 – 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM
Related: CMAO Artist of the Month – Kelly Prescott

Elyse Saunders

August 30, 31 – 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Andrew Hyatt

August 30, September 1 – 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM
Related: Iron & Ashes Album Review – Andrew Hyatt

CMT Music Fest - Andrew Hyatt

Ty Baynton

September 1, 2, 3 – 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Chris Buck Band

September 2, 3 – 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM
September 4 – 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Related: 5 Quick Questions with Chris Buck Band

4 months ago Views

2017 Canadian National Exhibition Bandshell Stage Lineup and Schedule

Every Toronto summer ends the same way, with the Canadian National Exhibition and its rides, food, and entertainment.

And now, still a month and a half away from opening day, we have a schedule and lineup for the legendary CNE Bandshell stage.

As always, all concerts are included with the price of CNE admission, making these some of the best value buys of the summer concert season for all music lovers.

Note: Monday to Thursday (excluding the Labour Day holiday) the CNE will offer an $8 a
After 5pm admission deal. We recommend taking advantage of it!

 

CNE 2013 Ill Scarlett

The 2017 schedule is packed with some awesome talent across genres. Canadian rock and roll veterans, Sam Roberts Band are an early must-see, joined by local favourites, USS and Dear Rouge, and former Rolling Stone cover boys, The Sheepdogs. And on the country music side, Chad Brownlee, Aaron Pritchett, and Canadian actor/singer/songwriter Kiefer Sutherland will all headline the Bandshell stage.

We would also encourage you to check out the opening acts on this year’s schedule.

Madeline Merlo, The Zolas, Leaving Thomas, Jane’s Party, and Ascot Royals will all be worth being at the stage early for… trust us.

Note: There may be more opening acts added as we get closer to the Exhibition, there are some spaces open. And remember, all of these acts and dates are subject to change.

Now, get your calendar out, look at the schedule and make your plans for the CNE.

2017 Canadian National Exhibition Bandshell Schedule

Saturday, August 19
Jane’s Party
Sam Roberts Band

Sunday, August 20
Meghan Patrick
Kiefer Sutherland

Kiefer Sutherland Band at The Horseshoe Toronto Jazz Festival 2016

Monday, August 21
The Box
Michel Pagliaro

Tuesday, August 22
Port Cities
Colin James

Wednesday, August 23
Jay Douglas
Marcia Griffiths

Thursday, August 24
Madeline Merlo
Aaron Pritchett

Friday, August 25
I Mother Earth
The Watchmen

Saturday, August 26
Leaving Thomas
Chad Brownlee

Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2015

Sunday, August 27
Ascot Royals
John Kay & Steppenwolf

Monday, August 28
Pavlo

Tuesday, August 29
The Sheepdogs

Wednesday, August 30
Virginia to Vegas
Shawn Hook

Thursday, August 31
The Zolas
Dear Rouge

Dear Rouge

Friday, September 1
Beamer Wigley & Abby Stewart 
Brett Kissel

Saturday, September 2
USS

USS GreaterTorontoDay

Sunday, September 3
Desi Sub Culture
A Tribe Called Red

A Tribe Called Red OMDC Mod Club 2016

4 months ago Views

Cavendish Beach Music Festival 2017 Preview: High Valley Top 10

On Friday night (July 7, 2017) at Cavendish Beach Music Festival, country music fans will see two of Alberta’s favourite sons come to Prince Edward Island, take the stage and make it theirs.

High Valley, perhaps the most successful Canadian country act in the United States right now, will bring their bluegrass inspired songs the beach, and it’s going to be a good time. We’ve had the chance to see Brad and Curtis on a few occasions, including in a festival setting at Boots & Hearts and the Canadian National Exhibition… and we can tell you, with 100% confidence that these boys from the countryside, will put on a show that will entertain the heck out of you.

We also want you to know that you should be prepared to sing and dance throughout the show, and to get you ready for that, we’ve put together our High Valley Top 10.

So, hit play on one or all of these tracks and have a karaoke dance party wherever you are. And if we missed a High Valley song that’s in your Top 10, leave a comment to tell us!

High Valley Top 10

Make You Mine

She’s With Me

I Will Stand By You

On The Combine

County Line

Come On Down

Love You For A Long Time

I Be U Be

Dear Life

Every Week’s Got A Friday

 

4 months ago Views

Beautiful and Tragic: The Trews at the CNE 2016

For more than a decade we’ve been listening to the rock and roll stylings of The Trews, and on Saturday night we took it all in up close and personal at the CNE in Toronto.

The Antigonish, Nova Scotia natives took the stage to an awesome reception of fans who knew exactly what they were getting themselves into, and couldn’t wait to hear the hits and sing along for the night. It’s those same fans (and you too) that need to be ready for Friday, September 9 when Time Capsule hits stores and online outlets.

The Trews CNE 2016Trish caught up with John Angus MacDonald backstage to chat before the show and asked him about the album’s greatest hits & new music combo and found out that it was essential to the band that the four new songs be part of the offering. They did not want to fall into the stigma that a best of or greatest hits album is signaling the beginning of the end – because the band feels like they’ve got a lot left in them to give.

And with a 19 song set in Toronto on Saturday, they showed us all that they aren’t ready to ride off into the sunset at all. With Colin on the microphone, leading the charge, The Trews held the crowd in the palms of their hands. And when it was time to sing, the Ex got loud and proud to support the band, and we loved it. The band did too, or so we expect…

Trish: In 5 words or less can you describe how it feels when the crowd sings your songs back to you?

John Angus: Fu – cking A – maz – ing… there’s 5 syllables.

As the set played on it became clear to me that I had forgotten how much I really loved the songs that The Trews have put out since 2002. And then I realized that I was really happy that we had a Canadian band headlining a Saturday night rock and roll show, with a bunch of fans really into it. Sometimes we take CanCon for granted, but Saturday night we were proud.

The Trews CNE 2016

Trish asked about the changes in the Canadian music scene since the band broke in, and it almost seemed like John Angus didn’t know where to start. He mentioned the scaling down on the industry side with fewer people working for labels and bands. He also talked about the advent of social media, streaming, and iTunes. It’s sometimes easy to forget that all of those things are so new, and a band with a 15 year career has been on both sides of the shift. John Angus also talked about the change in crowds over the years, and how they’ve seen their fans grow up from their early twenties to their thirties – with kids. But they still see the new 20 somethings that are into the music too. It’s a mix that keeps tickets sold and makes the shows a lot of fun.

Note: When Colin stood on stage alone with his guitar and strummed and sang Highway Of Heroes I got chills. You could have heard a pin drop. It was powerful and beautiful. And when it ended I was almost surprised that the crowd didn’t burst out into Oh Canada.

Related: The Trews at 102.1 The Edge – Sugar Beach Sessions

Before Trish let John Angus get ready for the show she got to ask him about Canadian music, and got him to pick 1 band that we should be listening to right now, AND 1 band from the east coast that he thinks should be more popular across the country.

New Band: Towers. There’s new music coming, and John Angus has been in the studio to work on a couple songs with them already, so be ready.

East Coast Band: The Novaks. From St. John’s, NFLD, they started coming up about the same time as The Trews and John Angus thinks that they def. could have gotten a bigger chance. Give ‘em a listen.

The Trews are Juno nominees, East Coast and Independent Music award winners, and Canadian favourites in the genre. They’ve worked hard, and often over the last decade and a half, and by all indications, they’re ready to keep pushing.

the_TREWS_time_capsule_FINAL_Album+Cover+smColin, John Angus, Jack, Gavin, and Jeff put on a show for us at the CNE. From Lotta Work Little Love, through hits like Not Ready To Go, Hope & Ruin, and Tired Of Waiting, and the encore that included a nod to The Hip with Putting Down, and then a collaboration with Leon and Matty of The Lazys on Hold Me In Your Arms and Highway To Hell to close the show – we were all given what we were hoping for, what we expected, and what The Trews have been doing since the start.

We can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings!

The Trews Set List, CNE Toronto 2016

Lotta Work Little Love
Beautiful and Tragic
Not Ready to Go
So She’s Leaving
Paranoid Freak
Hope & Ruin
65 Roses
Power of Positive Drinking
Love Is the Real Thing
Tired of Waiting
Highway of Heroes
Dark Highway
What’s Fair Is Fair
Sing Your Heart Out
I Can’t Stop Laughing
Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me
Encore:
Putting Down (Hip cover)
Hold Me In Your Arms
Highway to Hell

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1 year ago Views

Howling Woman: The Lazys, Live at the CNE 2016

Rock and roll fans, listen to us, if you’re not already in on The Lazys, it’s time. Right now.

On Saturday night at the CNE in Toronto, the stage took an Australian beating when Leon, Matty, Glenn, Liam, and Andy took over and rocked their hearts out as the opening act for Canadian vets, The Trews.

We’ve had a chance to meet and chat with the boys before, and see them on stage, so we thought we were prepared for the show – but the difference between the size of the stage at the Ex and the Horseshoe is significant, and the boys took full advantage.

The Lazys CNE 2016-8631And they knew they would… Trish caught up with Leon and Matty backstage before the show and when she asked them about getting up on the big stage they were instantly excited and told her they were born for this shit!

She also asked them how their current Canadian tour has been going so far with their western shows done, and the band seemed quite happy with things. The crowds have grown since their last time through, the clubs are full, and the response has been awesome.

Here’s the thing about The Lazys when they play live – it’s a show. A real live, full blast, top volume, over the top rock and roll show. The guys put it all out there with their energy and movement and attitude from the minute they step on stage to the minute they step off. They sing and scream and dance and spew water and do everything they can to get every single person in the crowd into the party. It’s a huge piece of why we’re into the band really, the live experience is A+ top notch.

Since the boys have started spending more and more time in Canada every year we decided we wanted to ask them a couple questions that would give us some insight into the Aussie experience in the great white north.

First, we asked what 1 Canadian thing they would take home to Australia – and at almost the exact same time Leon and Matty said Caesars and Tim Hortons… which we can’t really argue with,  both are very Canadian!

Next, Trish asked the reverse, and Leon told her that he’d love to bring the Australian weather to Canada so we could all enjoy some sun and warmth all year long. And as much as we love a good snowball fight, it’s really tempting to agree with him on that!

The Lazys CNE 2016-8801

We also asked The Lazys about the bands they’re into. But before we get to that, here are some more points that we took away from the CNE show…

⭐ Matty has some of the best guitar faces and showmanship we’ve seen in a long long time.
⭐ The band is tight, which we don’t want people to overlook when they’re busy watching and listening to Matty’s solos.
⭐ Leon looks, probably 5 times per show, like he’s ready to jump straight into the crowd. And while we haven’t seen it happen yet, we’re not counting out the possibility of it happening one day.
⭐ When Matty, Glenn, and Liam sing with Leon, or around him, it fills out the sound perfectly.
⭐ Andy did one of our favourite things: Singing along at the drum kit even though he doesn’t have a mic. It’s a sure sign for us that a drummer is all in and loving what he’s part of.

Ok, so we asked the guys to tell us who their top 3 Canadian bands are, but they had some trouble with the math, so we doubled it and let Leon and Matty have 6 bands combined.

🍁 Billy Talent
🍁 The Trews
🍁 One Bad Son
🍁 The Wild
🍁 Whale and the Wolf
🍁 The Glorious Sons

Then Trish asked if there was an Australian band that we should be listening to and Leon told us that The Dead Love were the ones. Which is great for us because we saw and chatted with at CMW 2016 and already in. And we 100% agree with the boys that you should check them out and start getting as excited for new music from the Aussie rockers as we are!

The last thing we asked before the let The Lazys get ready for the stage was what they’re up to after the tour wraps. And we loved the answer, because they’re going to Vancouver to record a new record!

The Lazys CNE 2016-9042The boys have 6 weeks booked with Garth “GGGarth” Richardson (Rage Against The Machine, Rise Against, Red Hot Chili Peppers) to record. And if the new tracks sound as good as Shake It Like You Mean It, which Richardson did with the guys, then we’re pretty sure we’re going to have a full record worth yelling and dancing and singing along to.

But, before they get to that there are still a bunch of tour dates left including September 15 in Oshawa and September 16 in Toronto at the Rivoli. And we would like to strongly recommend that you get to one of those shows to see The Lazys play Howling Woman, Shake It Like You Mean It, Black Rebel, Love Your Gun, Show Me What You’re Made Of and all kinds of other high intensity bangers.

See you there!

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1 year ago Views

Every Week’s Got A Friday: High Valley at the CNE 2016

They’ve come a long way from home up in La Crete, Alberta… and the way things are going, it looks like High Valley have a lot further to go before things are all said and done.

On Sunday night we headed out to the CNE in Toronto to catch up with Brad and Curtis and check out their set, which closed out three nights in a row of country music in the city. The last time we caught up with the boys was at Boots & Hearts 2015, so there was a bunch to find out, in our few minutes before Jess Moskaluke hopped up on stage to kick-off the night.

Note: It’s amazing how great the members of the Canadian country music community are, it really is. On Sunday we were able to bring my mom to the show as a birthday present, and High Valley were awesome when she had a chance to say hello at the start of our interview. Class acts, as we expected, and as she’ll always remember.

High Valley CNE 2016 Bandshell

It turns out Sunday was a long day for High Valley. In fact, it started in Wisconsin, and the bus rolled all the way to T.O. in time for the boys to get themselves ready for a Canadian crowd in the middle of a busy summer. If you’ve been following Brad and Curtis’s adventures via social media you know that they’ve had shows on stages all over the place in the last 12 months, playing to new cities and new crowds along the way.

We asked them about some highlights, and they told us that Boston was pretty cool with about 7,000 strong singing Make You Mine back at them at the tops of their lungs. But it was London (yes, the big London) that blew them away when the entire crowd seemed to know the words to every song they played. They knew the Canadian radio hits, they knew the b-sides, they knew the acoustic YouTube stuff… as a non-traditional country market, that’s pretty awesome.

High Valley CNE 2016 BandshellWe haven’t been able to ask them how the CNE crowd compared to London from a sing along standpoint, we can tell you that a whole lot of people were out having a good time on a Sunday night. There were rows of people crowded in at the front of the stage to dance along, there were rows and rows and rows of people in the bench seats (sitting for a while, then standing with the rest of us) and all of them were clapping and moving, and yes, singing.

On stage the Rempel brothers gave us all the energy we could have hoped for, some laughs, some faith, some chances to get loud – and all the songs we love from the band… except maybe On The Combine, we missed that one. Throughout the show they moved and joked and told stories about family and songs, giving us the things that we love about country shows.

We know the guys didn’t have their families with them on the trip, so we asked about being able to balance the road and home (Nashville), and they told us that they work really hard to make it fit for them. Whether that means going home for a day or two, or bringing their families out on the road with them for a few days at a time to make sure everyone gets together time. They don’t want their kids to feel like they were raised on a bus, and we get that, but it sure does sound like it’s tough to be away, and that they’re doing everything they can to put it all together.

High Valley CNE 2016 BandshellAnd lastly, and maybe most importantly, we asked about the new album coming later this year! Brad and Curtis both seem to be really excited about this one, and there’s reason to be for sure. The November release will be their biggest, with a full international release on the same day, giving fans all over the world access to the tunes at the same time for the first time. The record also starts their recording and release career with Warner Music Nashville, which is a huge step for two brothers who started things with a 4,000km trip from La Crete to Nashville.

Check out the brand new single from their upcoming release, Every Week’s Got A Friday (call your local country station to request it) and stay tuned for more from the Rempel brothers soon!

High Valley Set List, CNE 2016

Come On Down
I’ll Be
Rescue You
She’s With Me
Young Forever
Be My Baby Tonight
Love You For A Long Time
NEW SONG
A Father’s Love (The Only Way He Knew How)
I’ll Fly Away
Make You Mine
County Line
Every Week’s Got A Friday

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1 year ago Views

Take Me Home: Jess Moskaluke at the CNE 2016

It had been a full year since we last hung out with Jess Moskaluke at Boots & Hearts 2015, but on Sunday night in Toronto at the CNE we caught up with the Kiss Me Quiet singer for a quick pre-show chat… and then watched her leave it all out on the stage during her 15 song, hour long set.

With the Canadian Country Music Awards just around the corner in London, ON we had to ask about the possibility of winning Female Artist of the Year for a third consecutive year. Jess told us that it would great if it happens, but it’s not something you can plan for. She added that the recognition and the accomplishments hit her at random times, giving her a chance to take it all in. But maybe more than anything else it seems that she’s most looking forward to see her friends in the Canadian country music industry as everyone gathers for Canadian Country Music Week.

Jess Moskaluke CNE 2016 BandshellNote: I need to thank Jess for being so cool when we introduced her to my mom, who celebrates her birthday this week. She was sweet and kind, and everything that we already know her to be.

We also asked Jess about the video for Elevator and we learned that it was a lot of fun – but really hot all day. AND that CMT’s Paul McGuire singing of Take Me Home wasn’t entirely scripted going into shoot day… which makes it way funnier to me.

On stage we got to hear Jess sing all of our favourites, leaving nobody wanting anything more than she gave, even with a torn up ankle and brace keeping her on the go! From Night We Won’t Forget to start the show, through covers of Heart, Maren Morris, and Elle King, a Shania medley, and closing with her 2014 breakout hit, Cheap Wine & Cigarettes – Jess Moskaluke had the Toronto crowd into the gig. There was singing and dancing and a whole lot of love coming from The Ex crowd to the Saskatchewan star, and it was pretty cool to see.

It had been a year since we got to say hi to Jess, and a lot happened. Here’s hoping another 12 months doesn’t go by before we get to do it again!

Jess Moskaluke Set List, CNE 2016

✹ Night We Won’t Forget
✹ Used
✹ Good Lovin’
✹ Amen Hallelujah
✹ Strong As It’s Ever Been
✹ Alone
✹ Kiss Me Quiet
✹ Good For You
✹ If You’re Not In It For Love/ Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under/ Man I Feel Like A Woman
✹ Ex’s And Oh’s
✹ My Church
✹ Elevator
✹ Take Me Home
✹ Lightning Bolt
✹ Cheap Wine & Cigarettes

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1 year ago Views

Dean Brody with Jessica Mitchell at The CNE 2016

On Saturday night we had the chance to hang with Jessica Mitchell before her set, opening up for Dean Brody at The CNE. We chatted about her time at Peller Estates Wine Country Fare and how she ended up on stage, the weather during  the Cavendish Beach Music Festival and how she graciously gave up her wrap to a poor fan who was cold and we joked about selfies.

Thanks to Jessica for hanging out!Jessica Mitchell - CNE Bandshell 2016 Jessica Mitchell - CNE Bandshell 2016-6161The crowd was in fine form and singing along to Jessica’s songs, a thing which we know makes her get a little bit choked up. The seats were full and the crowd continued to build during her set.Jessica Mitchell - CNE Bandshell 2016-6175Jessica Mitchell - CNE Bandshell 2016-6229The crowd started to chant “Dean Brody, Dean Brody, Dean Brody” and then the lights dimmed. Dean came on stage with his signature smile and the crowd exploded. Dean came with amazing energy and he was in fine form, he owned the stage.

There wasn’t an empty seat in the park and people were filling the aisles and the space at the back. It was a beautiful night in Toronto and Toronto country music fans were happy to be there.
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MORE PHOTOS OF JESSICA MITCHELL
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1 year ago Views
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