Carly Pearce

Why Maren Morris Hitting Number One Matters, And Why It Shouldn’t

On Friday morning, Maren Morris excitedly announced on her social media channels that I Could Use A Love Song will become her first solo #1 hit on the Billboard Country Airplay Chart. It is a major achievement for the young country singer who has turned heads with her voice, energy, and most importantly talent since she introduced herself to country fans.

It’s a big deal for Maren Morris, it’s exciting for her fans, and it should be. Having the number one song in the country should always be seen as an achievement. However, in the case of Maren Morris, and other female country stars, this achievement and excitement comes far too infrequently and that matters too.

Almost 2 years ago exactly (Jan 19, 2016) Morris released her debut single My Church. The song launched her career, became her first top 10 single on the country airplay charts (reaching #9), and went on to win a Grammy for Solo Country Performance of the Year in 2017. Now, I understand that it takes time for new singles to chart and climb the charts to reach their highest point, including #1. But, if we use the last two years as a sample size of 104 weeks, we can see the ongoing trend, and unfortunate reality, that it really doesn’t matter how long a female country artist waits, or how good her song is, number one probably isn’t coming.

In 2016, four weeks of 52 saw solo a female artist at #1 On the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Both Carrie Underwood (Heartbeat, Church Bells) and Kelsea Ballerini (Dibs, Peter Pan) earned and celebrated those spots, as they should have. In 2017, only two weeks out of 52 saw the same result, with Lauren Alaina (Road Less Travelled) and Carly Pearce (Every Little Thing) each earning one week at #1.

In two full years of country music releases from women, six songs accounted for less than 6% of weeks spent at #1 on radio in the country. That’s not good.

If we want to start splitting hairs and getting generous to make the numbers look better we can add six more songs that were duets featuring female artists. But it should be noted that all of them were released and listed as singles by male artists featuring their female duet partners. With that increase 5.75% turns into 12.5%, and that’s still not good.

ArtistSongArtistsSong
Carly PearceEvery Little Thing (Nov. 25, 2017)Kane Brown ft Lauren AlainaWhat Ifs (Oct. 28, 2017)
Lauren AlainaRoad Less Travelled (Apr. 22, 2017)Thomas Rhett ft Maren MorrisCraving You (Jul. 22, 2017)
Kelsea BalleriniPeter Pan (Sept. 24, 2016)Kenny Chesney ft PinkSetting The World On Fire (Nov. 5, 2016)
Carrie UnderwoodChurch Bells (Jul. 30, 2016)Dierks Bentley ft Elle KingDifferent For Girls (Oct. 1, 2016)
Carrie UnderwoodHeartbeat (Mar. 26, 2016)Chris Young with Cassadee PopeThink Of You (Mar. 14, 2016)
Kelsea BalleriniDibs (Mar. 5, 2016)Luke Bryan ft Karen FairchildHome Alone Tonight (Feb. 13/20, 2016)

I’m going to take one minute to try to ensure that none of this is twisted. I believe that male country artists deserve to reach #1 on the charts if they release good music and the achievement is warranted. And there are groups and duos with female members that have topped the charts as well. But, like all requests and attempts to reach equality and/or fairness, this is not about putting down one side to raise the other up. This is about recognizing, and acknowledging that all the pats on the back we’ve given ourselves as fans and industry have not remedied the issues that became widely recognized with Tomato Gate in May of 2015.

And that brings us to something else that happened on Friday. About an hour and a half before Maren Morris tweeted about going number one, Kelleigh Bannen tweeted about a meeting she had where and she was told, “the numbers still say women don’t want to listen to other women”.

To learn that an artist was told this in a business meeting about her career is sad and discouraging. And I acknowledge that as neither an artist, or more importantly, a woman I truly cannot comprehend the full weight and impact of that kind of statement.

But as a man I do feel qualified to say that a three-part response to that tweet talking about how great of an ally you’ve been to female artists in country music is misplaced at best and a “not all men” statement at worst.

I have great respect for the career, accomplishments, philanthropy, and work of Bobby Bones. However, I don’t believe that replying to Kelleigh Bannen’s frustration and displeasure with statements like “All the meetings I’m in while discussing format in macro sense, it’s the opposite.” and “Rome won’t be rebuilt in a day. But some of us started nailing together boards a long time ago” is helpful.

We get it Bobby, you’re a friend to women and support them on your show. But it doesn’t change the systematic flaws that resulted in 5.75% solo female #1 hits in 2016/17, or an even smaller 3.3% since the chart started in October 2012 (9 of 271 weeks).

The list of women who have made great country music in the last two, three, four, five years is incredible. And yet, artists including Miranda Lambert, Cam, Jennifer Nettles, Kacey Musgraves, Reba, and even Taylor Swift (before her genre-shift) haven’t reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Country Airplay charts since its debut on October 20, 2012.

Note: This post has been entirely focused on the US market, but could be replicated for Canada where the charts are eerily similar in their lack of female representation, and have seen no Canadian women reach the top in that five year period.

Country music fans, artists, and other industry members have long known about the quality and talent that Morris brings to the table. Hell, her album, Hero, reached #1 on the sales chart. But here we are, 43 weeks after I Could Use A Love Song debuted, celebrating it as her first number one single. It has earned and deserves every single one of the spins that it receives at country radio. It is a well written, well sung, and well produced track. And, it has certainly earned that #1 spot on the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

Note: In September 2016 during 5 Quick Questions interviews, Shae Dupuy and Kira Isabella both named Maren Morris as the artist they thought people should be paying more attention to. And in October 2017, three-time Canadian Country Music Association winner for Female Artist of the Year, Jess Moskaluke gave the same answer in her 5 Quick Questions segment. It is no secret that Maren Morris has been, and continues to be, one to watch.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any quick and easy solution for this situation. It seems to me that the only remedy would be the decision of country music radio program directors to play more songs by women more often.

As fans we have the opportunity to use our personal platforms, like social media, to advocate for the female country artists we love. We can request their songs be played by our local country stations, and we can continue to stream, download, and share their music.

Leave a comment here with the name of the female county star and the song you think deserves more radio spins. And if you know the contact information for your local radio station (Email, Phone, Twitter), include that too. Every little bit helps.

I would encourage you to do all of those things while we wait to see a more advanced shift in the country music radio landscape and charts.

In the end, we should celebrate every artist and song that reaches #1 on any chart. But we should be celebrating because of the achievement, not because it hit the 1 in 30 women’s #1 lottery.

2017 Breakout Country Artists of the Year!

With 2017 coming to a close, we’re looking back at the year that was and some of the success stories that came from it. In country music, we saw some new names and faces come to the front of the stage to show off their talent, music, and charm as they enjoyed breakout years.

The six artists on this list are all deserving, and we are aware that there are other artists that may be as well, so leave a comment if you think there’s someone else in country music that had their first big year in 2017 and should be recognized.

Congratulations to the artists on this list, as well as all of the others who made their names more well known in 2017. We can’t wait to see your success grow next year, and to see who presents themselves as the breakout artists of 2018!

Female

Carly Pearce

Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse TorontoCarly Pearce became one of the biggest stories in country music with the success she found with her debut single, Every Little Thing.

The soul and emotion that drip from the lyrics caught the attention of listeners and turned many into fans of the breakthrough female artist of the year. And when Pearce released her debut full-length album later in the year, folks took notice and latched onto the rest of the music that the former Dollywood performer had to offer.

We talked to Carly Pearce this fall, and saw her perform in an intimate Toronto setting just after the album’s release. What we can tell you is that she was genuinely touched by the response to her music from country music fans.

We can also tell you that we firmly believe that this won’t be the last any of us hear from Carly Pearce.

Alee

North of the border, Alee turned heads in 2017 with the release of her full-length label debut, Bad Habit. As she played stages across Canada, Alee showed off her new music, watched as Canadian country music fans, and the industry took notice, and was rewarded with a Female Artist of the Year nomination at the Canadian Country Music Association awards.

We had the chance to see Alee in Toronto during Canadian Music Week (opening for Drake White) and on the main stage at Boots & Hearts 2017. Both sets were opportunities for the Alberta native to prove that she belongs in the conversation with artists like Jess Moskaluke, Madeline Merlo, Meghan Patrick, and Lindsay Ell when anyone is talking about the talented Canadian women making country music.

Male

Brett Young

Brett Young Caliville via Facebook

via Facebook

Brett Young burst onto the scene in 2016 with his #2 single, Sleep Without You – and then he doubled up on his success and boosted his profile this year with the release of his debut full-length album, and two more hit singles, In Case You Didn’t Know and Like I Loved You. Both singles hit #1 on the US Country Airplay and Canadian Country charts, putting Brett Young in rarified air in 2017.

The tall, handsome, talented singer has shown his ability to captivate listeners acoustically, and with a full instrumental background… and his connection to fans through his voice and songs is a gift, and he’s using it well.

We saw Young open for Lady Antebellum in Toronto this summer, and in the bright sunlight with the early crowd paying attention, we saw first hand just what he has to offer!

Andrew Hyatt

Andrew Hyatt - Northern Comfort Saloon - CNE 2017In Canada, Andrew Hyatt took 2017 and ran with it. The Sudbury, ON native released his first full-length album, Iron & Ashes (which landed on my 10 Most Listened to Albums of 2017 list) and played shows all over the country.

We saw Hyatt on stage, back stage, and in the crowd at shows throughout the year, and the constant from start to finish was his drive and desire to play music.

The second half of the year got especially busy as Andrew Hyatt entered the top 10 on the Canadian Country charts in 2017 with On Me – and then hit the road with Dallas Smith as a guest performer on the Side Effects Tour. That exposure and success combined to put Hyatt’s name and music in front of a lot of people, and we’re looking forward to what comes next.

Groups

Midland

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland

Midland have found themselves on nearly every country music year end list you’ll find. From fan support, to critical acclaim, Mark, Jess, and Cameron have earned the praise of many in 2017.

With their debut full-length album, On The Rocks, Midland shared their music with the masses. And through live shows on as many stages as they could get on, the Texas boys showed off their harmonies, charm, and talent.

2017 was a breakout year for Midland… 2018 could be even bigger!

Leaving Thomas

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

Canadian country music duo Leaving Thomas introduced themselves to fans at the very end of 2016 when they released Waiting Kind Of Girl… and as 2017 progressed, they made even more introductions with the release of two more singles, Best Adventure and Blame It On The Neon.

Annika and Bryton have shared a talent, charm, and connection with country music fans through their live shows, interviews, and social media channels – making themselves accessible as more than just two voices that listeners hear on the radio or online.

With new music coming early in the new year, Leaving Thomas is looking to turn a breakout 2017 into a booming 2018.

Joshua’s 10 Most Listened to Albums of 2017!

As we get ready to put a wrap in 2017, it’s time to look back at some of the music that we loved most from the year. And while this post isn’t a ranking of best albums and likely won’t match your most played records of the year… it is a list of my 10 most listened to albums of 2017!

Like years past, these 10 albums aren’t listed in any order. I don’t have the spin numbers to rank them 1 to 10, and all of them deserve to be played over and over, so it’s honestly too hard for me to put them in order just for the sake of doing so.

Unlike years past, all of the albums on this list were released in 2017… in other years I’ve listed holdovers and classics, but this year I’m keeping it current.

It’s exciting for me to note that this list includes 6 debut full-length albums, 4 albums by Canadian arists, and breaks down in a 7/2/1 split for country/rock/pop.

The truth is that this list could have been way deeper, with more and more albums listed and shared and showed off… so at the bottom of the post you’ll find the honourable mention section. It might be cheating, but those albums deserve a listen too!

The truth as well is that this list could have been way deeper, with more and more albums listed and shared and showed off… so at the bottom of the post you’ll find the honourable mention section. It might be cheating, but those albums deserve a listen too!

Ready? Here we go!

Joshua’s 10 Most Listened to Albums of 2017!

 Taylor Swift: Reputation (2017)

Most played track: Don’t Blame Me

From the moment I woke up on release day, Reputation has been in high rotation. Taylor Swift showed everyone that she’s still capable of swinging for the fences, and connecting – just like she did on 1989.

Yes, she’s a divisive artist and personality – but I’ve been team T.Swift since day 1, and if she insists on releasing bangers like these, I’m not going anywhere.

Carly Pearce: Every Little Thing (2017)

Most played track: Every Little Thing

The breakout female country star of 2017 is Carly Pearce. And on her debut album, Pearce showed that Every Little Thing is just the start of what she’s going to bring to the country music world. Her follow up single, Hide The Wine is catchy as hell, and tracks like If My Name Was Whiskey get stuck in my head on a regular basis.

Midland: On The Rocks (2017)

Most played track: Drinkin’ Problem

I saw Midland live twice in 2017, and when they played songs from their debut album, my ears were happy.

These three dudes did good work breaking into the Nashville scene, and they’ve earned a Canadian following too, with Drinkin’ Problem going to #1 north of the border before it did in the US. Listen to songs like This Old Heart and Check Cashin’ Country for that semi-throwback vibe that I can’t get enough of.

Foo Fighters: Concrete & Gold (2017)

Most played track: Run

When I shared my review of Concrete & Gold earlier this year a friend replied that it could have been summed up in one word, “awesome”.

While I’m happy to have written a little more than that, he was right. With the release of this record, Foo Fighters showed that they’ve still got it. And while we highly encourage the growth of young rock and roll acts, it’s fantastic to have these guys still ripping things up in the studio and on the road.

Foo Fighters Concrete & Gold

Little Big Town: The Breaker (2017)

Most played track: Better Man

I’ve been a fan of Little Big Town since the beginning. I can tell you where I was when they followed me on Twitter. So when an album as good as The Breaker is available to me from a band I love, you can’t be surprised that I played the hell out of it.

With the song of the year (Better Man) included, this album served as a reminder that Little Big Town are major country music stars, belonging in the upper tier of acts when we talk about Nashville.

Little Big Town The Breaker album cover

Andrew Hyatt: Iron & Ashes (2017)

Most played track: She Ain’t You

Andrew Hyatt had a hell of a year in Canadian country music. In the spring we watched him play two shows in Toronto during Canadian music week, and nearer the end of the year we caught up with him on tour with Dallas Smith.

The Iron & Ashes album is packed with tracks that Hyatt needed to share with the world and country music fans. And with a little grungy rock and a little country sweetness mixed together in his heart, Andrew Hyatt showed everyone that listened that he’s got what it takes to hang.

The Beaches: Late Show (2017)

Most played track: Money

That thing we said about encouraging the growth of young rock and rollers – The Beaches embody all of it. These women from Toronto have been ripping it up on stage, and now fans have a chance to rock along at home while listening to Late Show.

With the release of the album, radio support for their single, Money – and a US/Canada tour opening for Death From Above, The Beaches introduced themselves to a lot of new fans this year… and if I had to bet, I’d say there are more fans to be made in 2018.

The Beaches Late Show Album Cover

Thomas Rhett: Life Changes (2017)

Most played track: Life Changes

This record earned its spins from me with catchy songs, great lyrics, and Thomas Rhett’s continued ability to capture my attention. It also became a memory that I’ll never forget when it attached itself to the story I tell about learning I’m going to be a dad in 2018.

I reviewed the Life Changes album for its September release, talked to friends, family, and industry folks about songs like Life Changes and Rhett’s journey of fatherhood – and then, a week later I found out that I’m going to be a first time dad.

I’ve listened to the album a bunch more since then, and when I do, I think of that.

JJ Shiplett: Something To Believe In (2017)

Most played track: Higher Ground

JJ Shiplett’s debut album didn’t surprise me, because we’d had the chance to see him play the songs live on a few occasions before the release – but wanting to hear them again on the record and playing them a bunch is a testament to their quality and how much I like them.

Shiplett’s voice is unique, his fans are all in, and Something To Believe In album serves as an introduction to what should be a career full of music and stories from one of our favourite redheads.

Johnson Crook : The Album (2017)

Most played track: Call Me Home

Johnson Crook may not be a household name, but they’re making people take notice playing shows in Toronto, across Canada at festivals, and by teaming up with the legendary Tom Cochrane on Mr. Nobody. Songs like Call Me Home and their debut single, Minnedosa, will get you moving… you’ll dig ’em.

We’ve been covering Johnson Crook for the last few years, and have watched as they’ve developed their live show, and the songs on their album. And with four part harmonies, a roots based sound, and a touch of rock and roll thrown in when it fits best, The Album is exactly what we hoped to get from the boys on their debut record.

Johnson Crook The Album cover

And now, as promised, the list of albums that I listened to a whole bunch, but not quite enough to crack the top 10…

Honourable mentions

Shania Twain: Now, Jess Moskaluke: Past The Past, Lady Antebellum: Heart Break, The Katherines: To Bring You My Heart, Joey Landreth: Whiskey, Lindsay Ell: The Project, Jojo Mason: Both Sides Of The Bar, River Town Saints: River Town Saints, The Cadillac Three: Legacy, James Barker Band: Game On, Arkells: Morning Report (Deluxe)

Texoma Shore: Blake Shelton Album Review

Blake Shelton is right on schedule with the release of 11 new songs on his new album, Texoma Shore. It’s a collection of very Blake tracks, that country music fans have been waiting for.

We aren’t kidding about Shelton being right on schedule. If you look at the releases of his last 6 albums, you can look at approximately a year and a half between records. And here we are in November 2017 with the follow-up to the May 2016 release of If I’m Honest.

The new album comes in at just under 40 minutes of music, and while we do wish that number was a little higher, it’s hard to complain about an 11 song album in an era of EPs.

Blake Shelton’s signature mix of sweet and smart-ass is available throughout the album. His fans love it. It fits the big Oklahoman’s personality, and since we’ve gotten used to both sides of him and his music over the last 15+ years, it’s both expected and reassuring to hear it done and done well on Texoma Shore.

The lead single, I’ll Name The Dogs, was released on September 8, giving it a two month lead into the record, and Canadian country fans got a treat when Blake performed the track on the CBC broadcast of the Canadian Country Music Association Awards on Sunday, September 10.

We don’t know what the radio single plan is coming up for Shelton from this album, but if the early release of Turnin’ Me On and I Lived It are teases that they’re headed in one of those two directions, I’d be okay with that.

Note: The first time I listened to Turnin’ Me On I had a real Eagles feel hittin’ me. And that’s not a bad thing. Who knows, maybe I just have a craving for the Eagles, but I think there’s something there.

We’re a little disappointed that Blake Shelton’s Country Music Freaks Tour isn’t going to be bringing Brett Eldredge, Carly Pearce, and Trace Adkins north of the border to play these new songs… but here’s hoping it’s not too long before the five time winning coach of The Voice brings his stage show back to Canada.

For now, all fans can kick back, pour a beverage of their choice and hit play on Texoma Shore. From I’ll Name The Dogs off the top to I Lived It at the end of the tracklist, Shelton and his team at Warner have put together another collection on songs that fit him well, will work for country fans, and will make for some fun additions to the live show.

Leave a comment to tell us which song from Texoma Shore is your favourite!

Blake Shelton, Texoma Shore Tracklist

1. I’ll Name The Dogs
2. At The House
3. Beside You Babe
4. Why Me
5. Money
6. Turnin’ Me On
7. The Wave
8. Got The T-Shirt
9. Hangover Due
10. When The Wine Wears Off
11. I Lived It

Blake Shelton-Country Thunder 2017

If My Name Was Whiskey: Carly Pearce Green Room Interview, Toronto

For the second time in the last few months, Carly Pearce came north to Toronto and shared her music with country music fans. And this time, with her debut album, Every Little Thing, released to the world, she was wowed by the response.

We stopped in at Rock N Horse Saloon on Wednesday night to see Carly play an acoustic set for some lucky contest winners, and just like at the Budweiser Stage earlier this summer, she was strong, charming, and showed off a mountain of talent.

As she sang her set (Color, If My Name Was Whiskey, Doin’ It Right, Hide The Wine, Every Little Thing) she noticed people in the intimate crowd singing along with songs and immediately told everyone that this was going to be a night that she wouldn’t forget. When we sat down with Carly on Thursday morning we asked her about it and she shared those same feelings again. To be this far from home, playing songs that aren’t at radio and have only been available for the 5 days since the album’s release, and seeing people sing along was special for her.

Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto

We asked her about that same thing on bigger stages this year when fans sang along to her first hit single, Every Little Thing, and she said that the feeling is more than she can explain. She also admitted that there have been times that it has overwhelmed her and she’s started to cry on stage as the band plays on and she brings herself back to the microphone. It’s something Carly told us that she used to dream about, and now, it’s turned into a dream come true.

There will soon be more chances for Carly Pearce to see the crowd singing as she hits the road with Brett Young on his tour. She told us that it’s an exciting opportunity, and one that she’s never had before. She’s had the chance to play on tours and open shows, but this tour will be the first that she’s officially on and part of all the way through.

While we had Carly with us, we got her to play a quick round of 5 Quick Questions… have a look and find out what album she loves, her favourite Shania jam, and more.

Note: Carly Pearce is charming as all get out. Whether she’s got a microphone in her hand or she’s sitting on a couch in the morning drinking coffee, she’s got it. With a laugh/ smile/ joke combination she has the ability to light up a room, and she uses it.

We talked to Carly about her new album, and the process that brought it together. Knowing that she’s a songwriter, we were curious about the songs she wrote that made the final cut. Carly told us that she wrote eight of the 13 songs on the record, and that seven of them were done and ready when it was time to start working with Big Machine. The eighth track, If My Name Was Whiskey, was written just three days before it was cut, sliding in at the wire.

Carly also told us that she is appreciative of the chance to make a full album of 13 songs. She remembers listening to and loving the 90s albums from Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and other powerhouse women in country music, and she wanted to release the same thing. She added that Scott Borchetta’s “go get it” attitude was a big help and piece of encouragement when it was time to start working on the project.

Carly Pearce at Corus in Toronto

We flipped the script on a question Carly’s heard before when we asked her what she thinks 16 year old her, the girl who moved from Kentucky to Tennessee to work and perform at Dollywood would tell her now. She laughed a little and told us that her 16 year old self was confident and absolutely sure that she was going to make it, so the success of her single, and the release of her record probably wouldn’t be a surprise. She did add that she thought it was going to happen sooner. That she was sure that when she moved to Nashville at 19 she was going to be Carrie Underwood, but that’s she’s glad now that it didn’t happen then, and that she had a chance to live and grow and write the songs she has now with the experience of the last 10 years or so.

Carly Pearce is an emerging star. Her voice, songwriting, charm, and overwhelming talent are going to grant her more opportunities in her career, and music fans will be lucky to be along for the ride.

For now, we’d recommend you press play on Every Little Thing and learn the words so you can sing along when you see her on stage. We know she’d love to see it.

Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto Carly Pearce at Corus in Toronto Carly Pearce at Corus in Toronto Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto

Every Little Thing: Carly Pearce Album Review

Carly Pearce has released one of the most highly anticipated country albums of 2017, and Every Little Thing is living up to the hype.

The Big Machine Label Group artist has had the push behind her with the fan and radio reaction to the title track, Every Little Thing, earlier this summer. Since then, Pearce has been becoming more well known, sought after, and poised for a continued breakout with the release of this album.

We saw the Kentucky native earlier this summer when she came north to Toronto to open the show for Tim Hicks and Dean Brody at the Budweiser Stage, and the Canadian crowd ate her up. It was easy to see in her short set that Carly has real deal talent, and the tracks to back it up.

Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017

That night we heard her sing Careless, Doin’ It Right, and If My Name Was Whiskey – and hearing them now on the album, the same thought emerges; Carly Pearce can sing the hell out of her songs.

Whether she’s uptempo on Everybody Gonna Talk, or slowing it all the way down with emotion and impact on Every Little Thing and I Need A Ride Home, the former Dollywood performer and future household name country star is on point. And from top to bottom, the 13 songs of this record allow Pearce to hold her own and announce her presence on the country scene.

With appearances all over the United States with Brett Young, and into Canada, Carly Pearce is putting in work to support the release of Every Little Thing, and her fans are taking notice. The grassroots movement, paired with the effective marketing clout of her label, has created a growth spurt for Pearce that most artists only dream about. And while there are always sceptics when there’s a concentrated and calculated focus on an artist, know this: Carly Pearce isn’t a manufactured product, she’s a country singer that has all the talent it takes to do the job and stand in her hard earned spotlight.

Note: I’m a sucker for a heartbreaking song with Whiskey in the title, and if you are too, press play on If My Name Was Whiskey, and prepare for the feels.

Be ready to hear a lot more of Carly Pearce. Whether it’s on your radio, streaming platform playlists, or on a stage near you, the songs from Every Little Thing are going to be all around country music fans… and they’re going to like it.

Carly Peace, Every Little Thing Tracklist

1. Hide The Wine
2. Careless
3. Every Little Thing
4. Everybody Gonna Talk
5. Catch Fire
6. If My Name Was Whiskey
7. Color
8. I Need A Ride Home
9. Doin’ It Right
10. Feel Somethin’
11. You Know Where To Find Me
12. Honeysuckle
13. Dare Ya

Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017 Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017

Side A: Jillian Jacqueline Album Review

In May of 2016, Rolling Stone Magazine put Jillian Jacqueline on a list of 10 Country Artists You Need to Know… and if you didn’t get to know her then, the time is now with the release of her brand new album, Side A.

The nine song album comes in just under 30 minutes, and the time flies by as Jacqueline’s voice announces its presence on the country scene alongside modern country music making women including: Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Carly Pearce, and Lindsay Ell.

Keen observers will notice that the nine track album is truly six songs, with three acoustic versions (Reasons, Hate Me, God Bless This Mess) added in. And while we do wish that we were listening to nine or more songs on Side A, the acoustic cuts are truly a pleasure to listen to, so we’re into it.

Note: Jacqueline has Side B planned for early 2018, and if we get another six or more originals, plus some acoustic versions, live versions, or something like that to make it sparkle, we’ll be quite happy with the combined offering from the Chester Springs, Pennsylvania native.

Side A offers chances to sing along and smile, sit back and think, and in the end, a half hour to enjoy new country music. Tracks like Bleachers are catchy and will catch attention with the beat and hook in the chorus, while a song like God Bless This Mess does its best to grab reach out to touch, deep and personal like country music does when it’s doing its best work.

Jillian Jacqueline holds her own on this album, and country music fans will be smart to remember her name as she releases more new music, hits the road to tour across the United States, across the Atlantic in the UK, and if we’re lucky, back to Canada again before too long. Already she’s taken the stage at shows with Dwight Yoakam, Ryan Adams, and counts country legend Kenny Rogers as her road mentor. We’re sure there will be more big names on that list soon.

Jillian Jacqueline, Side A Tracklist

1. Reasons
2. Sugar And Salt
3. Holier Than Thou
4. Bleachers
5. Hate Me
6. God Bless This Mess
7. Reasons – Acoustic
8. Hate Me – Acoustic
9. God Bless This Mess – Acoustic

Listening through this album reminds us of all of the things we love about artists like Morris, Jessica Mitchell, Madeline Merlo, and all of the women in country music that paved the way for artists like Jillian Jacqueline to be where she is right now. It has feeling, wit, fun, and features a voice that we’ve already listened to on repeat without regret. We’re in.

We can’t wait to hear Side B and pair it up with Side A.

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.

Bonus

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!

Dean Brody, Tim Hicks, Carly Pearce and Special Guests Take Over Toronto

On a summer Thursday night down by the lake, Toronto embraced Canadian country music at the biggest homegrown show in our memory. Dean Brody & Tim Hicks put their Canadian names on the tickets, with U.S. rising star Carly Pearce as their opener, and special guests promised – and everyone, from the start to the finish – delivered a night that thousands of fans are glad they were a part of.

Before the show on the big stage got started, Leah Daniels hit the River Bar for a pre-show set as the gates opened. We talked to Leah for a minute and she told us that there are some exciting things coming soon. So stay tuned for more news from the Canadian country singer.

The Budweiser Stage show started with Kentucky native, former Dollywood performer, and Top 20 charting, Carly Pearce. The Big Machine artist, preparing to drop her debut full length album this fall (October 13, 2017) made her first Canadian performance count, wowing the crowd from start to finish.

With songs including her single, (and the title track to her upcoming album) Every Little Thing, and songs that we’ll hear on the new record including, Careless, Doin’ It Right, and If My Name Was Whiskey, Pearce showed that she’s ready for that release.

The tracks offered an opportunity for Carly to showcase her voice, and it’s impressive. The notes, inflection, and emotion that she’s able to share through the words in her songs are strong, and those qualities are exactly why there’s hype from outlets like Rolling Stone for her young career.

Be ready to hear a lot more about Carly Pearce here and everywhere.

Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017

After Carly Pearce finished her Canadian debut, the true north country show started with Tim Hicks and his band hitting the Budweiser Stage… hard. The moment Hicks and the boys hit the stage, it got loud. The Toronto country fans love this dude, accepting him as one of their own over the last few years as he’s put out hit after hit.

Hicks made a point of telling everyone in the crowd how special this show was to him. Making the journey in his career from fronting the house band at Grace O’Malley’s to playing the amphitheatre by the lake is big for him, as it would be for anybody.

Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017

Note: Many thanks to Tim for hanging out with us for a little chat and catch up session before the show. It’s always a good time.

Hicks also made an announcement at the end of the set, just before playing his last song, that the track, Forever Rebels, will be released as his next radio single. And, having listened to the track, and having seen the reaction of the fans to it, we’re pretty comfortable telling you that we think Tim Hicks has another Canadian Top 10 on his hands.

We should also tell you this… Tim Hicks had the second loudest singalong we’ve ever heard at the Budweiser Stage. When Stronger Beer was being belted out by thousands of voices we could feel it just as much as we could hear it. It was special. It truly was. And the only time we’ve heard it louder was when Florida Georgia Line stripped it down to perform H.O.L.Y in 2016.

Even though it’s only a 15 minute drive, Tim Hicks has come a long way from playing covers in downtown Toronto. And every stop along the way has been a hell raisin’ good time.

Tim Hicks Setlist Budweiser Stage, Toronto

🍻 Shake These Walls
🍻 Burn
🍻 Hell Raisin’ Good Time
🍻 Slide Over
🍻 She Don’t Drink Whiskey
🍻 I Got A Feelin’
🍻 Stompin’ Ground
🍻 Get By
🍻 Stronger Beer
🍻 Forever Rebels

Dean Brody headlined the Thursday night concert in every sense of the word. With a boatload of energy, and more special guests than we could have predicted, the B.C. native took over the Toronto stage and showed everyone what he’s got.

It was immediately clear, from the moment he walked on stage and started playing Bush Party with the band, that the crowd was in love with him. They were loud, attentive, out of their seats, singing and dancing at every opportunity. And that was before the surprises started popping out onto the stage.

Note: Dean told the crowd that he’s a Toronto resident now, so if you see him walking around reenacting the Mountain Man video, say hi.

Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017

Six songs into the show the first special guest came out to play – and Toronto got loud for Dallas Smith as he partnered with Brody on Undone, and then borrowed the band to play Somebody Somewhere. Then, just a new moments later, Madeline Merlo (fresh off the bandshell stage at the Canadian National Exhibition) came out to sing Lindi Ortega’s part on Bounty. Next, after Dean pulled on our heartstrings with acoustic versions of Time and Brothers, his duet partner, Shevy Price, came out to hammer home a high energy performance of Beautiful Freakshow.

And just when we thought that had to be it, Alan Doyle, a repeat partner in Dean Brody’s career, came out on stage to collaborate on both Soggy Bottom Summer and It’s Friday, before borrowing the Brodeo for Great Big Sea’s classic, Ordinary Day.

Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017

It was highlight after highlight. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the special guests were the only high spots. Dean Brody worked the stage, commanded the crowd, danced, smiled, and rolled through his biggest hits for the Toronto crowd. He headlined the hell out of that concert, proving that he was more than ready for that big city spotlight on the Budweiser Stage.

Dean Brody is a stud and a homegrown star. And he showed that Canadian talent can not only compete, but can put thousands of butts in seats, get them back out of those seats to sing and dance, and headline shows for country music fans.

We’re glad we were there to see it. And we can’t wait to see Dean, and a whole crop of Canadian artists follow in those footsteps.

Dean Brody and Special Guests Setlist, Toronto

🍻 Bush Party
🍻 Dirt Road Scholar
🍻 Upside Down
🍻 People Know You By Your First Name
🍻 Roll That Barrel Out
🍻 Monterey
🍻 Undone (with Dallas Smith)
🍻 Somebody Somewhere (Dallas Smith)
🍻 Love Would Be Enough
🍻 Bounty (with Madeline Merlo)
🍻 Time
🍻 Brothers
🍻 Beautiful Freakshow (with Shevy Price)
🍻 Soggy Bottom Summer (with Alan Doyle)
🍻 It’s Friday (with Alan Doyle)
🍻 Ordinary Day (Alan Doyle)
🍻 Canadian Girls
Encore:
🍻 Mountain Man
🍻 Bring Down The House

More Photos of Dean Brody at Budweiser Stage, Toronto

Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017 Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017 Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017 Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017 Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017 Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017 Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017 Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017More Photos of Tim Hicks at Budweiser Stage, Toronto

Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks Band - Graham Mallany - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks Band - Geoff Torrn - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks Band - Chris Altmann - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks Band - Rob Wells - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks Band - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017 Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017

More Photos of Carly Pearce at Budweiser Stage, Toronto

Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017 Carly Pearce Band - Budweiser Stage 2017 Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017 Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017 Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017 Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017 Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017 Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017 Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017 Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017

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