country music

2018 Havelock Country Jamboree Lineup Announcement

The 29th annual Havelock Country Jamboree is set for action this August, and promises to give fans a weekend of country music hits.

The festival, one of the largest in Ontario, has a long history of bringing hit makers and fan favourites from all over Canada and the United States to their Twin Stages. And in 2018 they will continue that tradition with some of the best and brightest in the genre.

Today, the Havelock Country Jamboree announced the addition of Dean Brody, Ned LeDoux, Genevieve Fisher, Mudmen, Kris Barclay, and Dave Bush to the 2018 lineup. These six newly added acts bring the current total of announced names to 16, including headliners Toby Keith, Tim Hicks, and legends Tanya Tucker and Charlie Major.

With more names left to come, Havelock is looking like it’s going to be a great time this summer, and a four day weekend that country music fans will be thrilled to be a part of.

Have a look at the full list and day-to-day breakdown of the 2018 Havelock Country Jamboree lineup so far, and stay tuned for more information as we get closer to the summer festival season!

2018 Havelock Country Jamboree Lineup

Thursday, August 16, 2018

🎙 Dean Brody
🎙 Hunter Brothers
🎙 Mudmen
🎙 Kris Barclay

Dean Brody - CNE Bandshell 2016

Friday, August 17, 2018

🎙 Toby Keith
🎙 Doc Walker
🎙 Charlie Major
🎙 Ned LeDoux
🎙 Greg Williams

Saturday, August 18, 2018

🎙 Tim Hicks
🎙 Tanya Tucker
🎙 JJ Shiplett
🎙 The Good Brothers
🎙 Genevieve Fisher

Sunday, August 19, 2018

🎙 Shania Twin
🎙 Dave Bush

Brett Kissel’s We Were That Song Tour Sells Out Toronto

Brett Kissel rolled into Toronto for two sold-out shows on Saturday, turning the Danforth Music Hall into a honky tonk.

The We Were That Song Tour brought Kissel (the reigning Canadian Country Music Association Male Artist of the Year) and Dan Davidson to the stage, thrilling GTA country fans. From Davidson’s energy in the opening slot, to Kissel’s cover of Callin’ Baton Rouge to end the show, there was no shortage of memorable moments for the crowd.

Brett Kissel and band on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre

First on the stage, as the fans filed into the Danforth Music Hall, was Dan Davidson. Fresh off wins for Male Artist of the Year, Single of the Year, and Song of the Year at the Association of Country Music in Alberta Awards, the rocker turned country singer went full speed ahead from the jump.

With a full band on stage with him, ramping up the sound, and filling the room with music and energy, Davidson wasted no time getting into things. And while his set was short and tight, country fans still had plenty of chances to sing along with favourites like Found and Barn Burner. It was also great to hear a couple of our favourites in Say We Did and No Last Call from DD’s 2017 EP, Songs For Georgia.

The Toronto fans in attendance also got to be part of a music video shoot for Davidson’s latest single, Let’s Go There, which is always a thrill.

It’s safe to say that Dan Davidson is an artist that Canadian country music fans should get used to hearing on radio and seeing on cross-country tours. This dude has got it, and we’ll continue to be happy to experience it every chance we get.

After the brief changeover of equipment, the lights came back up on stage, and Brett Kissel and his band came out to main event Saturday night’s festivities. The immediate pop from the crowd was loud, the loudest we’d heard to that point, and served as an excellent welcome to the Canadian Kid.

Kissel and the six dudes playing with him in the band, went all in from the very start, opening with the tour’s title track, We Were That Song. And from there things only picked up as Brett and the boys rolled through a 21 song set, including a medley of country favourites, covers of huge hits, and his own songs.

The release of the We Were That Song album in December 2017 gave Brett Kissel 13 new songs to work with and share with fans. But what we saw in his live show in Toronto was a well-executed mix of songs from all three of his albums (Started With A Song, Pick Me Up, We Were That Song) that gave the audience a chance to sing along to their favourites from his entire career to date.

With cameras rolling for an upcoming project (we’ll let you know when we know more) the Toronto crowd kept the energy level high all night. There was a reciprocating feeling flowing from Brett and the band on stage, to the packed general admission audience, and back again.

Brett Kissel on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre

We asked Kissel about country music in Toronto in our pre-tour interview, and he told us, “Deep down inside, I believe people from Toronto have always loved their country music… 2 shows at the Danforth Music Hall proves that. Having record crowds for the “country night” at the CNE proves that. Toronto loves its’ country music – and we love Toronto!”

And during the show, as the Danforth Music Hall attendees sang and cheered and danced along to the music, Brett Kissel looked out to the crowd and exclaimed…

“Anybody that says country music isn’t big in Toronto… that’s bullshit!”

There was no shortage of moments with huge cheers throughout the night And while we can’t list them all, here are three that made a lot of impact…

1) When Brett sang “with my 5% beer and Canadian girls”. It’s loud every time we hear it, and Saturday night was no different!

2) During the medley, Kissel’s guitar player Matty played the opening riff to Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like A Woman, and the place damn near exploded!

3) At the end of the set, after Started With A Song and before the encore, Brett threw a bunch of merch into the crowd, and predictably, everyone went nuts!

Brett Kissel on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre

There was another moment we loved, even though it may not have drawn the biggest cheer of the night. After Brett finished his medley, he played Cecilia, from his new record, and named for his wife. We could see the real-life Cecilia in the crowd, smiling as he sang. It was sweet and special to catch a little glimpse of that.

From beginning to end, Brett Kissel showed that he has earned his spot in the upper echelon of Canadian country music stars. He is a bona fide headliner as he crosses Canada on what is now booked as the largest Canadian country music tour in history, and he is still growing.

As a performer, we’ve seen growth in the sound, style, and polish of his live shows and records. We’ve watched as he’s learned how to both take control of and connect with a crowd. And we’ve seen his rise from the first time we interviewed him and saw him live at Boots & Hearts 2014 to the We Were That Song Tour in 2018.

If you’ve seen any of the shows on the tour so far, you know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t seen the show, and it’s coming to your town soon, get a ticket if you can. And, we’d be willing to promise that Brett’s got a whole lot more left in the tank, and we’ll all have more chances to see him again!

Brett Kissel, We Were That Song Tour Setlist, Toronto

🎙 We Were That Song
🎙 Something You Just Don’t Forget
🎙 Guitars and Gasoline
🎙 Canadian Kid
🎙 She’s Desire
🎙 Raise Your Glass
🎙 Cool With That
🎙 Pick Me Up
🎙 Drink, Cuss, Or Fish
🎙 Tough People Do
🎙 I Didn’t Fall In Love With Your Hair
🎙 Airwaves
COUNTRY HITS MEDLEY:
🎙 Boot Scootin’ Boogie / Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident) / I Swear / Goodbye Earl / Man, I Feel Like A Woman
🎙 Cecilia
🎙 Anthem
🎙 Damn!
🎙 Ordinary Day w/ Dan Davidson
🎙 Started With A Song
ENCORE:
🎙 3, 2, 1
🎙 Thank God I’m A Country Boy / Honey I’m Good
🎙 Callin’ Baton Rouge

We Were That Song Tour Photos – Brett Kissel – Toronto

Brett Kissel on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Brett Kissel on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Brett Kissel on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Matty McKay - Brett Kissel band on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Justin Kudding - Brett Kissel band on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Brett Kissel band on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Brett Kissel band on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Brett Kissel band on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Brett Kissel and band on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Brett Kissel and band on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Brett Kissel on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Brett Kissel on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre

We Were That Song Tour Photos – Dan Davidson – Toronto

Dan Davidson on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Dan Davidson on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Dan Davidson on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre Dan Davidson on the We Were That Song Tour at Toronto's Danforth Music Theatre

Long Live The Night: The Reklaws EP Review and Interview

After a summer 2017 Top 15 hit with Hometown Kids, The Reklaws are back with three new tracks on their first EP of 2018, Long Live The Night.

We’ve been keeping track of Jenna and Stuart’s journey since we first saw them on the Boots & Hearts stage in 2013. In that time the sibling duo have grown as artists, travelled a winding road, and have now found themselves with an opportunity make their mark on country music in Canada.

We caught up with Jenna Walker of The Reklaws to talk about the new EP, more new music on the horizon, and more. As the duo prepared for the release of their first packaged presentation of music things were busy but certainly exciting. In fact, they only made their way back from Nashville mid-week to be home for Friday’s drop.

The Reklaws at Rock'n'Horse Toronto

And while the prospect of releasing new music is always exciting itself, The Reklaws had an extra exciting moment when their new single, Love Live The Night was released to radio on Wednesday. Jenna caught the track while she was in the car at the Starbucks drive-thru, snapping a quick video, and (as she told me) screaming at the girl in the window. Every time an artist hears one of their new songs on the radio for the first time they tell us how great it feels, and this one was no exception.

The single is a fun listen, packed with nostalgia-inducing lyrics that offer listeners a chance to close their eyes and remember their favourite nights. Jenna told us that the video will follow that same vibe, and when it’s released shortly, we’ll all see for ourselves. She told us to expect a more laid back clip than we saw for Hometown Kids. Long Live The Night will be less rowdy house party, and more intimate friend group enjoying their time together.

With Long Live The Night and the three songs included, The Reklaws hope to introduce themselves a little more to country music fans. Over the last few years, there have been single releases, but never an opportunity for listeners to dig in for more than one new track at a time. Now, they’re aiming for a deeper connection. Jenna also told us that these new songs will add immediately to their live shows, and they’re looking forward to the audience having heard them before.

The Reklaws Boots and Hearts 2015

We asked Jenna specifically about Wish You Were Beer, which we’ve been hearing live for about a year, and includes James Barker Band as featured guests on the track. As label mates, it makes perfect sense that JBB would hop on a song with The Reklaws, but Jenna told us that it was still very cool to have the boys say yes. She also said that the success the Barker boys have experienced over the last couple of years has set a bar and that they want to live up to it. The combo of the two young, energetic, fun loving acts makes for 3:46 of country music entertainment and should end up on a lot of playlists.

Note: While we were talking about Wish You Were Beer, we asked Jenna which James Barker Band song she would choose to have The Reklaws jump on for a collaboration. She gave us two choices, Good Together (the brand new single), and It’s Working. We’d be totally into either one of those choices but would also like to add Living The Dream to the mix, just for kicks.

And speaking of playlists, we couldn’t help but look back to last summer when Hometown Kids landed on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s summertime playlist for Spotify. We asked, to follow that up, who Jenna would most love to see add The Reklaws on a list of their own… and her answer of Ellen Degeneres was both unexpected and wonderful. We agreed that Ellen is one of the most amazing people on the planet and that it would be a whole lot of fun to be included on a playlist of songs she loved.

Last Call, the Jenna-driven, Girls Night Out worthy jam is a pop-infused track that includes slick production, a cute story, and strong vocals. Fans may recognize a comparison to Kelsea Ballerini in Jenna’s voice as she takes the lead and tells that boy in the bar to make his move. We didn’t tell her this on the phone, but we’ve already got a video treatment in mind that includes a night at the bar just before last call, some girlfriends singing into hairbrushes while they pre-drink at home, and maybe a happy ending for a new couple.

The Reklaws BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Before we wrapped our conversation with Jenna, we asked what goals The Reklaws have set for themselves. There’s a bunch the duo wants to accomplish, but it can essentially be broken down into three things…

1) Follow up Hometown Kids making the Top 15 by pushing forward into the Top 5 and finding themselves at #1. They feel it’s attainable with the work they’re putting in and the songs they have. And it would be cool to see.

2) Build a foundation of family and fans across Canada and into the United States as they continue to release new music and connect with audiences through live shows and radio.

3) Make this the Year of The Reklaws. With the release of the Long Live The Night EP, and more new music coming in 2018 as well, Jenna and Stuart Walker are ready to make a big move in their career. Keep your eyes on them, it’s going to be an exciting ride!

The Reklaws, Long Live The Night Tracklist

1. Long Live The Night
2. Last Call
3. Wish You Were Beer ft. James Barker Band

Bonus: Check out the videos of Hometown Kids and 5 Quick Questions we recorded with The Reklaws last fall at Rock N Horse Saloon in Toronto!

SiriusXM and Canadian Country Music Association Announce Top of the Country Contest

SiriusXM and the Canadian Country Music Association are ready to give emerging country artists from coast-to-coast a chance to make it big with the announcement and launch of Top of the Country!

The contest, sponsored by the country’s leading audio entertainment company, has some amazing and invaluable prizes available up for grabs, including $25,000 and an invitation to a SOCAN songwriting camp in Pender Island, BC.

And that’s not all.

Entrants from across the Canada are invited to enter the Top of the Country contest, with three (3) artists each from Western, Central, and Eastern Canada, as picked by a jury of industry professionals, moving forward. These artists will record in-studio videos with SiriusXM for Canada-wide voting.

After Canadian country music fans have their say, three (3) finalists will emerge. These homegrown country talents will receive a stage spot at one of three major country festivals in summer 2018 (Big Valley Jamboree, Cavendish Beach Music Festival, plus one SiriusXM sponsored festival in Ontario), as well as an invitation to Nashville for a SOCAN songwriting camp.

The CCMA’s Interim President, Tracy Martin said this about the new Top of the Country program… and we’re happy to hear it!

“We were focused on expanding our Discovery Program and our new artist development efforts, and we have done just that with our partner, SiriusXM. We are very excited to launch Top of the Country.”

The Top of the Country contest culminates at Canadian Country Music Week (September 2018) in Hamilton, Ontario where the three finalists will strut their stuff on stage as opening acts for a headlining star, live on SiriusXM – with industry professionals and audience votes coming together to crown the Top of the Country 2018 winner!

The chance to make a splash in a Canadian country music career is something that a lot of people dream about. And this year, with the help of some heavy hitters, there’s a chance for someone to take a big step forward.

REGISTER NOW FOR SIRIUSXM TOP OF THE COUNTRY 2018!

We can’t wait to see and hear all of the talent that takes the chance to enter, and push themselves and their careers to the next level.

This is going to be fun to watch, and a game changer for some very talented Canadian country music makers!

2018 Juno Award Nominations Announcement

The 2018 Juno Award nominations have been announced, setting the stage for the winners to be crowned March 24-25 in Vancouver at the 47th annual celebration of Canadian music excellence.

We would like to congratulate the nominees across all 42 categories, and recognize the work, love, and dedication that went into creating the music that landed them on this list. While artists will tell you that they don’t make music to win awards, we all know that it’s fantastic to be nominated for them… and to win them.

Because the list of categories and nominees is so long, we’ve picked 20 categories to share with you here, and you can see the full list of nominees at junoawards.ca/nominees.

Leave a comment to tell us who you think should win a Juno in 2018, and who you think was left off of the nominations list this year!

Ready? Here we go…

2018 Juno Award Nominees

Juno Fan Choice Award

Jessie Reyez
Shawn Hook
Shawn Mendes
The Weeknd
Theory
Walk Off The Earth
Justin Bieber
Hedley
Arkells
Alessia Cara

Single of the Year

How Far I’ll Go – Alessia Cara
Everything Now – Arcade Fire
Knocking At The Door – Arkells
There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back – Shawn Mendes
I Feel It Coming – The Weeknd

International Album of the Year

24K Magic – Bruno Mars
÷ – Ed Sheeran
DAMN. – Kendrick Lamar
Stoney – Post Malone
reputation – Taylor Swift

Album of the Year

Everything Now – Arcade Fire
Revival – Johnny Reid
Nobody But Me – Michael Buble
Safe Haven – Ruth B
Now – Shania Twain

Artist of the Year

Ruth B
Shania Twain
Gord Downie
Daniel Caesar
Lights

Group of the Year

A Tribe Called Red
Arcade Fire
Alvvays
Broken Social Scene
Hedley

Breakthrough Artist of the Year

Allan Rayman
Charlotte Cardin
Jessie Reyez
Nav
Virginia To Vegas

Breakthrough Group of the Year

James Barker Band
The Beaches
The Dead South
The Franklin Electric
The Jerry Cans

Pop Album of the Year

Cageless – Hedley
Skin & Earth – Lights
My Love – Ria Mae
Safe Haven – Ruth B
Hôtel de Ville – Scott Helman

Rock Album of the Year

Feed The Machine – Nickelback
Young Beauties and Fools – The Glorious Sons
Wake Up Call – Theory
Grace Street – Big Wreck
Outrage! Is Now – Death From Above

Country Album of the Year

Game On – James Barker Band
Past the Past – Jess Moskaluke
Shake These Walls – Tim Hicks
Beautiful Freakshow – Dean Brody
Dear Life – High Valley

Alternative Album of the Year

Life After Youth – Land of Talk
Retribution – Tanya Tagaq
Everything Now – Arcade Fire
Wide Open – Weaves
Antisocialites – Alvvays

Adult Alternative Album of the Year

Twin Solitude – Leif Vollebekk
New Mistakes – Terra Lightfoot
Sincerely, Future Pollution – Timber Timbre
Panther In The Dollhouse – Whitehorse
Introduce Yerself – Gord Downie

Traditional Roots Album of the Year

Jayme Stone’s Folklife– Jayme Stone
What We Leave Behind – The East Pointers
Illusion & Doubt – The Dead South
The Willow Collection – Cassie and Maggie
Rove – Còig

Electronic Album of the Year

Tenderness – Blue Hawaii
Someone Else – CRI
Two Hearts – Dabin
Music To Draw To: Satellite – Kid Koala
Mass Manipulation – Rezz

Rap Recording of the Year

Coach Fresh – Maestro Fresh Wes
001: Experiments – Lou Phelps
Shooters – Tory Lanez
Mumble Rap – Belly
Lil Mont from the Ave – Clairmont The Second

Dance Recording of the Year

Not Going Home – DVBBS
Get What You Give – Felix Cartal
Deeper – KAPRI
Closer – Nick Fiorucci
Almost Home – Sultan + Shepard

R&B/Soul Recording of the Year

Foreign Water – Jahkoy
Kiddo – Jessie Reyez
Human – Jhyve
Unbound 01 – Keshia Chanté
Freudian – Daniel Caesar

Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year

Voice of the Void – ANCIIENTS
Relentless Mutation – Archspire
II: Vanishing – Longhouse
Strange Peace – METZ
Striker – Striker

Comedy Album of the Year

I Wanted To Be A Dinosaur – Ivan Decker
Sorry! (A Canadian Album) – K. Trevor Wilson
In Living Kohler – Rebecca Kohler
Fatherhood – Charlie Demers
[Indistinct Chatter] – DJ Demers

Brett Kissel: We Were That Song Tour Q&A

Brett Kissel, the Juno, CCMA, and ACMA award winning country artist from Flat Lake, AB is on the road, doing what he does best for country music fans across Canada. To get ourselves ready to see Brett in Toronto on February 17, 2018, we caught up with the Airwaves singer to talk about the tour, his inspirations, Garth Brooks, and a bunch more.

The We Were That Song Tour has already hit the road, and part 1 of the run will see Kissel travel between Ontario and British Columbia, with part 2 still to come. There will be thousands of fans in (and out) of their seats to watch BK and his opener, Dan Davidson play their hits, fan favourites, and throw a great big sing-along in every city and town they stop in.

Related: Dan Davidson, Laugh When You Lie, Live In Toronto

Since the first time we saw Brett Kissel at Boots & Hearts 2014 he has grown into one of Canada’s biggest music stars. In the country genre there are only a handful of artists who have toured, charted singles, and taken home awards at a rate that matches or exceeds him, and Brett doesn’t look like he’s ready to slow down one bit.

Check out the 10 questions in our Q&A to see who Brett wants to see in concert (soon) and who’s waiting for him on the bus after every show.

Thanks to Brett for playing along. We’re sure we’ll be ready to do it all again soon!

Brett Kissel - CNE 2017

Brett Kissel We Were That Song Tour Q&A

Q) The tour started with sold out shows – how big of a confidence boost is that for you as you and the boys get into the groove of playing all of these shows?

BK) The confidence boost is huge. To look at the calendar and see sell out after sell out is a big thing for our entire organization. Having fans that care as much as they do means the world to me, my family, and my band.

Q) Aside from new music, have you changed anything else about the stage show on this tour that fans can look forward to?

BK) Our live show is evolving every night. No two shows are the same. Just when I think we get in a groove and the set list will be solid, something magical happens with that crowd that forces us to do a different song, or change our plan, or even pull out a cover song from the old days of ‘Brett Kissel’. Plus we added a medley of songs we all grew up on that has been a highlight for me…

Q) We know you’re a big Garth guy, and we saw you open for him in Hamilton, is there anything from Garth’s live show that you have tried to, or want to be able to bring to fans in your shows?

BK) My band laughs because they see so many “Garth-isms” in me… I’ve tried everything he’s done because I watched him like a hawk when we toured together over the last 2 years. If there’s one thing I took away from his live show it’s this: ‘Play for the crowd. It’s all about the crowd. When you want to do something for yourself, stop. It’s all about the crowd.’

Garth Brooks and Brett Kissel Hamilton 2016

Photo by Ray Williams – A Perfect Pixel

Q) Are there any other artists that you have at the top of your “must see” list for live concerts?

BK) John Fogerty is a guy I’d love to see now. Brad Paisley talked a lot about his encounters with Fogerty, and the friendship they’ve built, so because of that (and his countless hits), I want to see him. And, now that Elton John announced his retirement from touring, I think it’s important to see him again… this time… I’ll pick a killer city I want to visit, and get tickets there!

Q) The fans and their willingness to embrace you has been a big part of your career and success, what does it mean to you to see them come out to see you live in cities and towns across Canada?

BK) In one word – “everything”. My fans mean so much to me, they’re so amazing, everything I do in this career – I do for them!

Q) You used to say, “make a sign, front of the line” is that still something you encourage with your fans?

BK) It was a fun gimmick a few years ago, and making signs is something I’ll always encourage. But because I’m not doing autographs after the shows on this tour, I’m actively seeking out signs in the crowds, and often walk off the stage to autograph the signs during the show to make it a moment! With two daughters on the road (Mila is 2 and Aria is 9 months), it’s important for me to get off the stage and back to the bus for story time and bedtime!

Brett Kissel Trackside Fest 2016

Q) Toronto hasn’t always been a hot spot for country music, but that’s changing. As a country artist from Alberta, how cool is it to have two Toronto shows lined up on the tour and to have played the Canadian National Exhibition bandshell stage in two of the last three years?

BK) Deep down inside, I believe people from Toronto have always loved their country music – it’s just a lot more popular and mainstream now, so you see people rockin’ in their blue jeans and plaid shirts! Country Radio is strong in the GTA (possibly stronger than it’s ever been), and I feel very blessed that timing wise, I’m in the heart of the good years of the industry nationally and internationally. 2 shows at the Danforth Music Hall proves that. Having record crowds for the “country night” at the CNE proves that. Toronto loves its’ country music – and we love Toronto!

Q) What does it mean to you to be able to bring emerging talent to the stage as openers like you’re doing with the Country Music Association of Ontario and artists like Ben Hudson, Nicole Rayy, and Buck Twenty?

BK) It’s pretty simple. I remember what it was like as an artist starting out, looking for gigs, and looking to get noticed by anyone. That’s why on this tour, and last tour, I wanted to incorporate emerging artists and give them an opportunity to showcase their talents to the fans. Nowadays, I think it’s harder to get in front of people to play, so if there’s anything I can do to help the next generation – well, I’ll do it!

Brett Kissel - CNE 2017

Q) There are a lot of reasons people love live music and concerts, what is your favourite thing about going to see live music?

BK) The energy in the building and the energy coming off of the stage. Watching the “real performers” is what I love. Guys like Garth. Springsteen. McCartney. The Stones. The real performers. It’s the “entertainment business” I’m a part of. So when I go to a show, I want to be entertained!

Q) Last one, before you step out on stage every night, is there anything you think of, or say to yourself and the band?

BK) Yes. Pre show I’ll have the band and crew all gather around where we talk about the show, the things we need to remember, and how we’re going to execute it. I then touch on how thankful we ought to be to be in that specific town or city. And last, we all put our fists in the circle, and yell: “3 – 2 – 1 – IT’S TORONTO (insert name of town) BABY! WOOOOOO!”

Thanks again to Brett for taking the time to catch up with us. If you’re anywhere near one of the We Were That Song Tour (part 1 or 2) stops, we highly recommend that you do your best to get a ticket!

Leaving Thomas Album Review, Interview, and 5 Quick Questions

Leaving Thomas is one of the most exciting young country acts in Canada. And with their self-titled debut album, increased exposure at home and in the United States, and a willingness to push themselves as far as they can go – we have no doubt Annika and Bryton are well on their way.

We caught up with Leaving Thomas on the phone to talk about the album while they worked in Nashville on new music that could very well end up on their next record.

I asked Annika and Bryton about Blame It On The Neon being played on SiriusXM The Highway and having the video in rotation on CMT in the United States and they told me that it was exciting to say the least. Annika (a longtime SiriusXM listener) compared it to hearing your song on the radio station that you grew up on, but with the added wide audience satellite radio brings to the table. They also said that they’re proud to represent Canada and Canadian country music south of the border with this exposure.

Canadian country should be proud and excited to have them as representatives.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

By the numbers not many Canadian bands particularly and country music make a splash in the US market. However, the talent, drive, and energy that Leaving Thomas put into their music and career should give them as much chance as any to make it work.

I told Leaving Thomas that Sykamore mentioned them in a recent round of 5 Quick Questions as the artist she thought people should be paying more attention to, and that she mentioned the LT show and how much she liked it. I asked the duo what it means to them to have social media platforms like YouTube Facebook and Instagram to create and share content that connects them to their fans.

Annika and Bryton told me that as they approach the one year anniversary of the LT show on YouTube, they recognize how effective it has been for them. They told me that had people have come up to them, having seen them on YouTube first, and then going to find their music. They also told me that they’ve had fans of the music check out the LT Show and find a deeper connection with the duo.

Note: The character of Sue-Z is a certified hit. She is mentioned by fans on a regular basis and Annika told us she has been asked in person by fans when they can hang out with her over the top alter ego.

It should be noted that these two have other fans and admirers in the industry. Dallas Smith (he of the four straight number one hits at Canadian country radio) had this to say about Leaving Thomas last September…

“I saw Leaving Thomas perform at the CCMA Awards Industry Lunch and Annika’s vocal performance on ‘Blame It On The Neon’ knocked me off my seat. What a jaw dropping performance!” – Dallas Smith

Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017

While we had leaving Thomas on the phone we got them to play a quick round of 5 quick questions with us. Check it out…

5 Quick Questions with Leaving Thomas

Q1) What was the first song you performed in front of an audience together?

Both) Jo Dee Messina – I’m Alright

Q2) Do you remember the first album you bought ?

Annika) Gavin Degraw – Chariot
Bryton) Avril – Let Go

Q3) Do you have a dream collaboration partner?

Both) Dan + Shay

Q4) What is your favourite place on earth to be?

Annika) At her family home, at the kitchen table with loved ones.
Bryton) At his parent’s place in Phoenix with the family
Both) On stage together, performing

Q5) Is there an artist you think people should be listening to more?

Annika) Fatai
Bryton) Gavin James

Other names mentioned as we talked about this one included Jillian Jacqueline and JP Cooper.

Leaving Thomas Album Review

We’ve had the chance to listen to Leaving Thomas’s debut album over the last few weeks, playing all eight tracks, and learning the words to the ones we didn’t know.

From the top of the record and Call It A Night, to Heart In Me at the end, Leaving Thomas show off everything that makes them who they are as a duo. Annika’s soaring vocals and the pair’s energy, enthusiasm, and passion for what they do shine through the entire album.

Leaving Thomas’s first three singles, Waiting Kind Of Girl, Best Adventure, and Blame It On The Neon certainly shine on this debut offering, and all three songs have become fan favourites at live shows as crowds have had the chance to be exposed to them. And adding the five other tracks to that small collection will allow for more singing along and emotional connection at home and in the audience when Leaving Thomas plays from coast-to-coast in 2018 and beyond.

At 27 minutes long, Leaving Thomas’s debut album is a quick listen that doesn’t drag. And yes, we do wish it was about three songs and 10 minutes longer, but honestly, the strength here is that there are no fillers – no songs to skip over, and nothing to take away from the heart of the matter.

Another strength, from our point of view, is that there is no clear fourth single. Depending on the direction that Annika, Bryton and the MDM Recordings team decide to go, we can easily see Call It A Night or Shame On Me coming to radio next.

And while we may not see If This Is Love, Thinking, and Heart In Me getting the chance to be released as singles (we’ve been wrong before), they hit a ton of marks when it comes to the emotion, story telling, and connecting that we love from country music.

Over eight songs, Leaving Thomas has shared a legitimate offering of who they are musically, and what they want to present to the world.

Annika and Bryton should feel proud of this album, and we hope they take the chance to revel in the excitement of their release, and everything that is coming next in their career.

Leaving Thomas Tracklist

1. Call It A Night
2. Waiting Kind Of Girl
3. Blame It On The Neon
4. Shame On Me
5. If This Is Love
6. Best Adventure
7. Thinking
8. Heart In Me


Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

2018 Trackside Music Festival Main Stage Artist Lineup

On Tuesday, Trackside Music Festival announced their full 2018 lineup… and it’s a good one. The two-day festival, scheduled for the Canada Day weekend (June 30 & July 1) is bringing a dozen exciting country music acts to the stage, and it should be one hell of a party.

There is a disclaimer to add that this is the main stage lineup, so there’s still a chance that more artists will be announced for secondary performances, but now we have a clear look at what’s going to make Trackside 2018 special in London, ON.

At two days and 12 artists, Trackside may not be the biggest festival on the circuit, but the combination of Canada Day weekend, a great crowd, and talented and entertaining artists on stage will make this weekend in London a beauty!

Trackside Music Festival 2018 Lineup
London, Ontario

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Dierks Bentley

There shouldn’t be much we have to say to get country music fans excited to see Dierks Bentley on stage.

However, we’ll say this…

1) Bentley has new music coming in 2018, so there will be new songs and energy for him to add to his live show.
2) There are more hits and fan favourites in his library than he can fit in a show, which means that some people will leave without hearing their personal favourite Dierks Bentley song, but nobody will leave without hearing a set full of hits.
3) Dierks is a maniac on stage. We’ve seen it, lived it, and loved it.

Dierks Bentley BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Dean Brody

If you wanted to bet on something, you could bet that Dean Brody is going to bring down the house when he hits the main stage at Trackside. This Canadian superstar has songs and stories to share – and he’s great in front of the crowd.

If you’ve seen him before you know it will be good. If you haven’t seen him before, you should.

Dean Brody - Budweiser Stage 2017

LANCO

These five dudes are big time up and comers in country music, and 2018 could be a HUGE year for them. Trackside fans should be ready for a lot of energy as LANCO continues their quest to gain fans everywhere they go – including their stops with Bentley on the Mountain High Tour.

Emerson Drive

These Canadian stars have been playing stages all over for years, and they haven’t lost a step. Emerson Drive will bring a list of hits and fan favourites that will have the Trackside crowd singing along, dancing, and having a great time!

Emerson Drive BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Eric Ethridge

Ethridge has been putting in work to take his career to the next level. And with an energetic show, radio singles to sing with the crowd, and an effort to win some new fans, we’re sure this one will be fun!

CMT Music Fest - Eric Ethridge Band

Julia Haggarty

This London, ON native will be in a mood to party with her hometown at Trackside! Julia Haggarty brings a powerful voice and a solid selection of songs to the stage with her, and will be a great way to start the weekend.

Trackside Lineup – Sunday, July 1, 2018

Dustin Lynch

We’ve heard a lot of great things about Dustin Lynch live on stage, and we can’t wait to see it. With hits and momentum and fan love, Canada Day is going to close with a bang!

Tim Hicks

He’ll bring the thunder and stronger beer to the party, and we have no doubt that the London crowd will blow up for Tim Hicks. This guy knows how to get everyone involved and fired up, and it’s going to be good!

Tim Hicks - Budweiser Stage 2017

Chase Rice

Chase Rice‘s career is blooming and his star keeps rising… and when he comes to Trackside, it’s going to get loud. Be ready for a good time!

Chase Rice BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Jojo Mason

2017 CCMA Rising Star nominee Jojo Mason is a blast on stage. He’s got hits and fan favourites from Both Sides Of The Bar, he kills some surprise covers, and there’s new music on the way. Good dude, good music, good fun.

Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Jojo Mason

Midnight Shine

We caught Midnight Shine on the fabled Horseshoe Tavern stage during Canadian Music Week 2017, and have no doubts that they can hit the Trackside stage and entertain the crowd!

Runaway Angel

Cadence, Ann, and Stacey will play Trackside and share tracks from Runaway Angel‘s first and second albums (No End In Sight, Zero) and we know that they’ll facilitate the country music party atmosphere. Enjoy!

Runaway Angel CD Release Boots and Bourbon

New Music Spotlight: Taylor Swift, James Barker Band, No Liars, Justin Timberlake, Oh Geronimo

This instalment of the New Music Spotlight offers a varied playlist to give you a taste of some of the tracks we’re into right now. From the top of the world’s playlists to a couple acts we think you should be discovering, we’ve got you covered.

In this spotlight, we’ve got five videos from pop, rock, and country. There are big label productions and indie offerings, and we are digging all of them.

Let’s do this!

Artist: Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran, Future
Hometown: Reading, PA
Genre: Pop
Related Artists: Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Selena Gomez
Single: End Game
Notes: One of my favourite tracks from the reputation era, T.Swift kills it with bff Ed Sheeran and Future on End Game. Honestly, if this is what it sounds like to have a big reputation, we’re in.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: James Barker Band
Hometown: Woodville, ON
Genre: Country
Related: Dierks Bentley, Old Dominion, Kieth Urban
Single: Good Together
Notes: JBB has moved past their 2017 EP, Game On, with their new single, and it’s working. Fans are connecting with Good Together the same way they have to earlier releases – online, and live.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: No Liars
Hometown: Victoria, BC
Genre: Punk
Related: Farewell Letter, MakeWar, Light Fire Down
Single: Guilt Trip
Notes: The second track off their forthcoming album, The Cause & The Cure, Guilt Trip reminds me of the hits and fan favourites I loved earlier in the 2000s from Brand New, The Used and more. Turn this one up.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Justin Timberlake
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Genre: Pop
Related: Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Beyoncé
Single: Supplies
Notes: This is the second single from the upcoming Man Of The Woods album, and it’s still not what we thought was coming based on the trailer. Timberlake is keeping everyone on their toes with Supplies, bringing some powerful imagery to the screen.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Oh Geronimo
Hometown: Burlington, ON
Genre: Rock/Folk
Related: Hey Rosetta!, Texas King, Ivory Hours
Single: Mountains
Notes: The band explains that Mountains is a song about wholeheartedly pursuing your passions, while straddling the fragile line between ambition and humility. The track comes from the 2018 album, The Sled, and serves as a teaser for what we should all be ready to hear.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

1 month ago

Neon Smoke: Gord Bamford Album Review and Tour Preview

Gord Bamford is a Canadian country music star. He has 16 Canadian Country Music Association awards, he’s played stages from coast-to-coast, and with his brand new album, Neon Smoke, and tour, the Alberta artist is already back in the Top 10.

We caught up with Bamford in Toronto before the holidays to talk about the album, the tour, and more. And now that 2018 is in flight, we’re ready to share all of it with you!

We asked Gord about goals, 2018, and what he hopes to achieve in the new year and beyond. And while we didn’t know what to expect (sometimes artists can be vague or hesitant to share specific goals) we were pleasantly surprised when Bamford very strongly stated “oh yeah, I’ve got goals.” He went on to tell us that he’s been lucky enough to put some (16) CCMA Awards on his shelf, but he hasn’t added a Juno to the trophy case. And he wants to. Whether it comes from this album, or over the next few years, it’s on his list.

We also talked about goals for the new album, and Gord told me that when he put Neon Smoke together the goal was to find songs that could be hits. He wants his fans to love his music, he wants them to sing along, but he knows that the best way to get the music in front of them is to make it hit music. And while we can tell you that there won’t be 15 singles released from Bamford’s Neon Smoke album, we can agree with his song selection and the potential.

Note: Previously released single, Livin’ On Summertime, has already been a Top 10 hit, and that’s a good start. And the title track has now been released and can be requested at country radio!

As we sat and talked, we asked about Gord’s life outside of music, and the house that the Bamford’s are building as their new family home. He told us that he’s been onsite as much as possible, overseeing the construction and being part of the process. He’s enjoying it, though we know it’s a lot of work. And he told us that the family, including his three children, are looking forward to a 2018 move in.

That same desire to be involved in every step of the process was there during the making of Neon Smoke. Bamford told me that he had more to do with every piece of this album than he ever has before. It’s the first time that I’ve ever had the chance to compare making a record and building a house, but Gord and I both agreed that, in this case, it fit.

While 13 of the songs on the album are the solo Gord Bamford work that we’re accustomed to, Neon Smoke also features collaborations with Jim Cuddy and Tracy Lawrence, two voices with heaps of experience that make for a good combination with the Canadian country star. We asked Bamford if he had any dream collaborations in mind and the two names that he shared with me were Merle Haggard and Reba McEntire.

Sadly, Gord didn’t have the chance to work with The Hag before his passing. But, there’s still a chance that someday he’ll get to record with Reba.

In fact, Bamford told us that he and Reba have become friends over the years (since his time on tour with her in 2013). And that they’ve had the chance to stay in touch. So here’s hoping, that in the not too distant future, we get to hear that combo.

Those two collaborations from the album that we mentioned earlier both work for Bamford. The first, Ain’t It Grand (featuring Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, released as a single in September 2017 and performed live at the CCMA Awards show), is an ode to Canadiana, mentioning the Blue Jays, the east and west coasts, strong beer, buck deer, and more in the process. It’s a fun track, the kind that Canadian country fans attach themselves to, and should become a favourite at Bamford’s live shows.

The second duet, The Out Crowd (featuring Time Marches On hitmaker, Tracy Lawrence) is the last track on the album, and it’s perfectly placed. As the 15th and final song, the duet serves as a special treat, and wraps up the 48 minutes of country music on Neon Smoke.

The length of the album is something else we talked to Bamford about, pointing out the current EP and digital singles trend that we’ve seen across genres, but particularly from Canadian country artists. Gord told us that he understands the strategy, and that he sees the success that artists have had, but that he still wants to produce full bodies of work that he can release and that his fans can listen to.

From top to bottom, this is a Gord Bamford album.

It fits perfectly in his discography, his fans should absolutely latch on to it, and while we can’t predict the future, Bamford has certainly put himself in a position to add more Top 10 hits to his resume (and setlist). And who knows, he might just find himself with another Juno nomination and a chance to take home a trophy.

Gord Bamford, Neon Smoke Tracklist

1. Neon Smoke
2. Dive Bar
3. That’s What Grandpas Do
4. Down
5. Love Takes Time
6. Livin’ On Summertime
7. She Looks Good In It
8. Slow Roll It
9. When I’m Drinking
10. Works The Way
11. Ain’t It Grand ft. Jim Cuddy
12. Gold To Me
13. Off The Grid
14. Little Cowboys
15. The Out Crowd ft. Tracy Lawrence

With his eighth record, Gord Bamford has shown that he understands what his fans want, what he wants to do, and how to make all of it come together.

He also knows what he wants out of a live show, and he believes he knows what the fans want too.

We asked if this tour would be the opportunity to slide in the new album’s songs and Bamford told us that a couple would be in there (we’re guessing the first two singles, and the next), but that more than anything else, this would be a show of hits.

Much like Garth Brooks told us in March 2016 during his Hamilton, ON show, Gord said he hates buying a ticket for a show only to see the artist play all the new stuff nobody knows, and none of the songs they’ve loved forever.

So, with that said, fans should expect the Neon Smoke Tour to be packed with hits, fan favourites, and all kinds of songs that you can sing along to. We’re betting that it’ll be an impressive setlist… and if we were being greedy, we’d say it would probably make a pretty good opportunity for a live greatest hits so far album. Just sayin’.

Gord Bamford won’t be alone on tour, with Aaron Goodvin set to join him on the 29 dates, starting in Ontario and heading west. The Lonely Drum singer should make for a great opening act on tour, getting the crowds into the action and ready for a good night.

We also asked Bamford about the venues he’s playing, and he told us that the opportunity to play some smaller, more intimate rooms is something that he’s looking forward to. And as much as we love big production arena tours, we know how special a theatre experience can be too, and a tour that embraces that has the chance to create a lot of special moments.

The Neon Smoke Tour runs from January 24 to March 2, starting in Brampton, ON and finishing up in Kelowna, BC. If you want to see Gord Bamford play some of the new album, and load you up with hits, get your tickets!

Gord Bamford, Neon Smoke Tour Dates

🎤 January 24, 2018 – Brampton,ON
🎤 January 25, 2018 – Nepean, ON
🎤 January 26, 2018 – Windsor, ON
🎤 January 27, 2018 – Richmond Hill, ON
🎤 January 28, 2018 – St. Catherines, ON
🎤 January 30, 2018 – Meaford, ON
🎤 January 31, 2018 – Brantford, ON
🎤 February 1, 2018 – Burlington,ON
🎤 February 2, 2018 – Milton, ON
🎤 February 3, 2018 – Kingston,ON
🎤 February 4, 2018 – Guelph, ON
🎤 February 6, 2018 – Peterborough, ON
🎤 February 7, 2018 – Belleville, ON
🎤 February 8, 2018 – Sherbrooke, QC
🎤 February 10, 2018 – Halifax, NS
🎤 February 11, 2018 – Moncton,NB
🎤 February 12, 2018 – Sudbury, ON
🎤 February 14, 2018 – Thunder Bay, ON
🎤 February 15, 2018 – Winnipeg, MB
🎤 February 16, 2018 – Regina, SK
🎤 February 17, 2018 – Lloydminster, AB
🎤 February 18, 2018 – Whitecourt, AB
🎤 February 20, 2018 – Fort Saskatchewan, AB
🎤 February 21, 2018 – Camrose, AB
🎤 February 23, 2018 – Lethbridge, AB
🎤 February 24, 2018 – Medicine Hat, AB
🎤 February 27, 2018 – Nanaimo, BC
🎤 March 1, 2018 – Sidney, BC
🎤 March 2, 2018 – Kelowna, BC

CCMA Awards 2016 Gord Bamford Green Carpet

1 month ago

Country Music Made Me Do It: Meghan Patrick Q&A and Game On Tour Preview

Meghan Patrick has a brand new album on shelves, she’s on tour with the James Barker Band, and she’s got a lot of feelings about it.

We had the chance to catch up with Meghan for a Q&A that touches on her sophomore record, Country Music Made Me Do It, the Game On Tour, her latest music video, busking to make money for boots and beer, and more.

Get ready for Meghan Patrick to come to a venue near you on the Game On Tour, and as shes adds more live shows to her 2018 schedule.

Related: Game On Tour Preview, Interview and 5 Quick Questions with James Barker

If you’ve never had the chance to see Meghan live, we highly recommend that you take advantage of any chance you have to do so. It’s a kick ass show that blends energy, hit songs, fan favourites, and everything we love about live music!

We’ve seen photos and reviews of early shows on the Game On Tour, and so far it looks like the Bowmanville, ON native is doing exactly what we know she can. We can’t wait to see the show with Jojo Mason, Meghan Patrick and headliners, James Barker Band when it comes to Toronto on Friday, January 19.

Thanks again to Meghan for taking the time to catch up with us. Check it out now, and listen to Country Music Made Me Do It today.

Meghan Patrick Q&A

Q) How does it feel to have Country Music Made Me Do It as a follow-up to Grace & Grit ready to share with the world?

Meghan) As with Grace & Grit, it’s a mixture of excitement, anticipation and anxiety haha. I’m really proud of this record, as I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a writer and artist, and I just hope my fans love it as much as I do.

Related: Country Music Made Me Do It, Meghan Patrick Album Review

Q) Going into the writing and recording of Country Music Made Me Do It, did you find yourself making an intentional effort to try new things, explore new ideas, etc.?

Meghan) Definitely. But I also wanted to be cognizant of what my fans responded to on the last record, so that I could give them more of what they love. It was extremely important to me to be really honest and real on this record… both in the way I deliver my music sonically and in my lyrics. I think it’s something my fans expect of me and love about me, and as an artist and writer, it’s the most fulfilling (and only way in my opinion) to make music.

Meghan Patrick BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Q) Was there anyone new that you got to work with on this record that you were really looking forward to, either on the writing side or production?

Meghan) When I met Jeremy Stover (my producer) that was a huge part of how this record came to be. It started with us writing together, and lead to him setting me up with some of his writers at Red Creative such as Kelly Archer and Adam Hambrick. There are so many talented songwriters in Nashville, but it’s all about finding the ones you have chemistry with and Stover and I definitely hit it off when it came my music and the vision we both had for it. I loved that he was as passionate about making this record as I was and he really brought out the best in me throughout the whole process. Kelly was a big part of this record too, she co-wrote nearly half the record with me, including Feel Me Gone which is the only song on the record I didn’t write. Every writer I worked with on this record brought something amazing to the project and helped me further find out who I am as an artist and a writer and I have so much love and respect for them all!

Q) The reaction to Country Music Made Me Do It has been positive so far, including for the video. What was it like to have the streets of Nashville act as your set when you think back to first getting to town and walking them as a visitor and new-comer?

Meghan) It was a pretty incredible full-circle moment for me shooting that video on Broadway. The first time I came to Nashville was about 8 years ago… I was broke and trying to make it, and I had paid a lot of my bills through gigs and busking. We were heading to Bonnaroo and I could barely afford the trip to begin with, but when we got down to Broadway I saw this pair of cowboy boots that I loved. So I stood on the corner and busked for a few hours till I made enough money to buy the boots and a few beers (which is basically what I still spend all my money on haha). To go from that moment where I had no money, no record deal, nothing… to having Broadway shut down to shoot my video was huge, it’s a moment I’ll never forget.

Q) We remember shows and albums from The Stone Sparrows, how important do you feel those years and experiences have been to you as you’ve built your solo career?

Meghan) Every single thing I’ve done, and every band I’ve played in has had an influence on who I’ve become as an artist today, as well as influencing my writing. I am so grateful to have worked with so many great musicians over the years and I’ve learned something and been inspired by every one of them.

Q) You’re not the new kid in town anymore after the success of Grace & Grit, the CCMA Award, etc., has that changed the way you approach making new music or putting on a show?

Meghan) I wouldn’t say it’s changed me, if anything I just feel more pressure sometimes as if there are more expectations of me now. But regardless I am always trying to top myself… write better songs, put on a better show, and connect with my fans. To have the recognition I received this year at CCMA’s and CMAO’s just gives me the boost I need on the hard days to keep pushing, and know I’m doing something right.

Q) The Game On tour is ready to go, what are you feeling as you get ready to cross the country and play some of these new songs for country fans?

Meghan) I am so excited. A little anxious, because of course I’m curious as to how my fans will respond to the new music… but I’m very proud of this record and I’m excited to finally play some new tunes!

Meghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016

Q) In 50 words or so, can you share some thoughts about what Country Music Made Me Do It means to you as a collection of songs at this point in your life?

Meghan) For me this record represented a few things. It represented some more freedom, but also higher expectations. As I said before, I want every record I put out to be better than the last. I want to keep trying new things and growing while remaining the Meghan that my fans love.

As with my last record, it’s a collection of stories… my hurt, my happy, and everything in between. I hope it serves as further insight into who I am, because it’s really important to me to be approachable and relatable to my listeners… I hope they love this new music as much as I do!

1 month ago

Country Music Made Me Do It: Meghan Patrick Album Review

Meghan Patrick, the reigning Canadian Country Music Association Female Artist of the Year, is set to release her second album, Country Music Made Me Do It, and country music fans from coast to coast should be ready for it.

The album is the follow-up to Patrick’s 2016 debut, Grace & Grit, which put her in the Canadian country music spotlight, and landed four songs (Bow Chicka Wow Wow, Grace & Grit, Still Loving You, Be Country With Me) in the Top 20, including her first Top 10 single, Still Loving You, featuring Joe Nichols.

Country fans got their first taste of Meghan Patrick’s sophomore record when the title track was released on October 26, 2017. The song, Country Music Made Me Do It, and the accompanying music video have been a hit with fans, approaching half a million plays on Spotify and YouTube since it premiered.

It also fits well as an introduction to the album, and as a stark change to the first look fans got of the small town Ontario artist when she released her first solo music a month short of two years ago.

Country Music Made Me Do It sounds like the album I imagined when Megan Patrick told us she was going solo. It’s a more traditional country record that sounds like the music Megan was influenced by in country as she grew up. It feels like a true, genuine, honest offering of songs that does exactly what country music does best: tells stories.

Whether Megan is telling the story of living in a small town after a breakup (Small Town), being sucked in and struggling to let go (The Way You Apologize), or using George Strait as a guide for how to win someone’s heart (George Strait), she finds a way to be relatable and accessible through these song.

Meghan Patrick at Liuna Station Gibson at the Junos 2015

One of my favourite tracks on the album is George Strait. I’m a sucker for the references to the King of Country Music and his hits, and I have a feeling I’ll find myself asking, “What Would George Strait Do?”, from time to time.

Underrated, the last track on Country Music Made Me Do It, is another personal highlight, and reminds me of another Canadian country songstress, Whitney Rose, as it hits that retro kind of vibe. It gives listeners a chance to smile, look at their baby, and bop along with the music.

All of this isn’t to say that Megan Patrick’s Country Music Made Me Do It should surprise country music fans. But the 12 songs on the new record are more in line with tracks like Be Country With Me, I Won’t Drink, and Still Loving You then they are with Grace & Grit and Bow Chicka Wow Wow. And while we may be experiencing a softer side of the singer/songwriter, we have no doubt that she still knows how to crank it up and kick ass.

Meghan Patrick BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

We look forward to speaking with Megan soon to learn more about the making of the album where she’s at artistically, and how she feels about her own new music. And, we can’t wait to see her live on the Game On Tour with James Barker Band when they roll through Toronto on January 19th.

Country Music Made Me Do It is a country record. There are no tricks or gimmicks. This is an album the country music fans who yearn for a more straight ahead country music should embrace. it’s also an album that hardcore country radio listeners and casual fans will have the opportunity to connect with on some level.

Megan Patrick has already proven that she’s a rising star on the Canadian country music scene. Now, with a new album, new stories, and new experiences to share, she has the chance to prove but she’s here to stay, and we should all be ready for that.

Meghan Patrick, Country Music Made Me Do It Tracklist

1. Country Music Made Me Do It
2. George Strait
3. Walls Come Down
4. The Bad Guy
5. Small Town
6. The Buzz
7. Feel Me Gone
8. Hardest On My Heart
9. We Got It All
10. Case Of Beer And A Bed
11. The Way You Apologize
12. Underrated

Meghan Patrick GuitarMeghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick The Phoenix CMW 2016 Meghan Patrick Peller Estate CCMA Awards 2016 Meghan Patrick Green Carpet

1 month ago

Game On: James Barker Band Tour Preview, Interview and 5 Quick Questions

The James Barker Band has put four singles in the Top 10 on Canadian country radio, including Chills, which hit #1 in June 2017. And now, with a fanbase that continues to grow from coast to coast, JBB are hitting the road on their first Canada wide headlining tour.

The Game On Tour (named for the debut EP from the band) will see James Barker Band put on 21 shows, starting in Halifax, NS on January 11 and ending in Vancouver, BC on February 10. Joining the boys on the road will be 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Female Artist of the Year, Meghan Patrick and 2017 CCMA Rising Star nominee, Jojo Mason.

The reaction and excitement for the tour can be seen daily on social media, as fans and the artists post about the upcoming shows. It has been fantastic to see the reactions, and it’s certainly exciting for James Barker, Taylor Abram, Connor Stephen, and Bobby Martin as they get ready to get things started.

We caught up with James on the phone the day before the first tour date in Halifax to talk about their live show, how they’re feeling, their supporting acts, and more. And when we asked for three words to describe how they’re feeling as they prepare to start the tour, Barker gave us: All Fired Up!

As we talked about the tour we also got James to give us three words to describe tour mates Meghan Patrick: Ass-Kickin’ Country Girl and Jojo Mason: The Nicest Guy. (James made it clear that this was not easy, and we did grant him an exemption on the hyphenated ass-kickin’ for Meghan)

Headlining a cross country tour is a big step for any band, and we talked to James about that step up from headlining a venue like Boots & Bourbon in Toronto to The Phoenix Concert Theatre, in the middle of their own tour. He told us that it’s kind of crazy to look back even to last April when they played their album release show to now. James also said that it’s wild to be able to look back at his calendar from year to year and see the progression in venues and shows that the band has played. From small bars in small towns, to opening on tour with Dean Brody, to having their own name at the top of the ticket, he can track it.

We asked about looking back on that progression and reflecting on it, and James said that the holidays have always been a time when he finds himself looking back on the year and taking it all in. And while 2017 was a big one, we’re sure 2018 will bring even more to look back on when it’s over.

James Barker Band-Country Thunder 2017

While we had James on the phone we got him to play a quick round of 5 Quick Questions… here we go!

5 Quick Questions with James Barker Band

Q1) What was the first song you played as a band?

James) Drift Away

Q2) What was the first album you bought?

James) Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin

James told us that he was given Led Zeppelin IV as a gift, which put him on the path to buying the debut album on his own.

Q3) Do you have a dream duet/collaboration partner?

James) Eric Church

He’s The Chief, we’ve seen him live, listened to the records, and can’t argue with this choice!

James Barker Band SiriusXM Fan Stage BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Q4) What city or venue is at the top of the James Barker Band goal/wish list?

James) Madison Square Garden

It is THE arena. End of story.

Q5) Is there an artist you think people should be paying more attention to?

James) Corb Lund

James said he has always been a fan of Lund’s songwriting, and things other people should be in on the Alberta native.

The Game On Tour is possible because of the success that James Barker Band have had on Canadian country radio, and the fanbase they’ve cultivated, but they’re still just getting started.

The band recently spent time travelling throughout the United States, visiting radio stations and playing their songs for a new audience south of the border, with the intention of proving that they’re more than just a Canadian favourite.

We asked James about going to the U.S. and he told us that for about 12 weeks in a row they flew down to American markets and hit radio stations all over, promoting the band, introducing new listeners to Chills. There were a lot of flights, from city to city, and back to Canada to play shows and festivals on weekends, but the song is starting to gain traction, and the band is starting to get noticed.

It was cool to hear James talk about the positive reception the band and the song have received in America. He acknowledged that they didn’t know what to expect, or how it would go. But from the jump things have been good and the band couldn’t be happier about it.

James Barker Band SiriusXM Fan Stage BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

JBB has more plans for the U.S. too, and while James couldn’t give us any specific details, he did tell us that JBB will be in Nashville in early February for CRS (Country Radio Seminar) 2018, and are hoping to get on the extended summer festival season circuit south of the border, and as we get to fall and winter 2018, the band hopes to be on a tour in America.

Before we got off the phone, we asked James about what’s coming next in the form of new music… and we heard exactly what we were hoping we would.

1) James has been writing constantly, working on songs that he hopes will turn into the next James Barker Band record.

2) A brand new single is coming on January 19, 2018. Tour crowds will have a chance to hear Good Together live, and country fans everywhere will be able to hear it starting next Friday!

The very last thing we talked about before we were done, was the live show and what fans can expect on the Game On Tour.

James told us that it’s going to be the full James Barker Band experience. The boys like to keep things loose and fun, and they are looking to do that on every date from Halifax to Vancouver. And when I asked if we’ll hear Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident), he laughed and told us that he wasn’t sure it would be a full JBB show if we didn’t.

We’re looking forward to catching up with the boys in Toronto at The Phoenix to celebrate the tour, the release of Good Together, and the continued success of four dudes from small town Ontario.

James Barker Band, Game On Tour Dates

January 11, 2018 – Halifax, NS
January 12, 2018 – Moncton, NB
January 13, 2018 – Charlesbourg, QC
January 14, 2018 – Montreal, QC
January 16, 2018 – Kingston, ON
January 17, 2018 – Ottawa, ON
January 18, 2018 – Kitchener, ON
January 19, 2018 – Toronto, ON
January 20, 2018 – Guelph, ON
January 22, 2018 – London, ON
January 23, 2018 – Sudbury, ON
January 24, 2018 – Sault Ste Marie, ON
January 26, 2018 – Winnipeg, MB
January 27, 2018 – Brandon, MB
January 28, 2018 – Saskatoon, SK
January 29, 2018 – Red Deer, AB
February 1, 2018 – Edmonton, AB
February 2, 2018 – Calgary, AB
February 3, 2018 – Lethbridge, AB
February 10, 2018 – Vancouver, BC

Looking for tickets? Click Here!

1 month ago

Better Half: Sykamore Feature and 5 Quick Questions

2018 is just getting started, but Sykamore is already in a groove.

The 26 year old country music singer/songwriter from Carseland, Alberta has a brand new EP, Self + Medicine, her first music video (Better Half) has been released, and Jordan Oström is taking it all in as she prepares for what comes next.

We caught up with Sykamore on the phone to talk about her music and more – and we already can’t wait until we get to do it again… in person.

The first thing we talked about was the release of Self + Medicine, and what it’s felt like for the young artist. Sykamore told us that the album had a series of potential release dates that lead to the official release on January 5, 2018… and that because of the three or four times she thought it was going to come out before, she feels really good that it truly is now out to the world.

While we talked about the EP, we asked if there were any points of inspiration (from people or experiences) that shaped her writing. We learned that the songs from Self + Medicine were written over the period of a few years, with no singular point of outside inspiration connecting them. However, she did tell us that she feels they are connected, that they all share her point of view, her vantage point of the human experience and how she’s processed people and events in her life.

Two of the songs on this new EP have already lived a life to early fans of Sykamore’s music. Houseboat and Better Half have already been released as singles, nearing a combined 250,000 spins on Spotify. But now, with their inclusion in this releases, they’re getting a second life. We asked about it, and Jordan told us that she’s especially seeing that with Better Half. The EP release and the music video have combined to put the April 2017 single back in front of people, and they’ve been responding with wonderful positivity. She told us that she’s frequently seeing tweets and messages from people shouting out the track and sharing it with their social circles.

As we talked about Better Half, we talked about the music video. Sykamore still sounds almost surprised that this is her first official video, but she certainly sounds happy with the way it turned out.

She told us that she always knew she wanted to wait until everything was able to come together to make a video the right way. She didn’t want to cut corners or rush the process, and so when the small and passionate team came together to make the video for Better Half, it was done the right way. And over two days they shot, with an airplane, motorcycle, and a bad ass car to create the visual spectacle she wanted to present to the world.

We also talked about what comes next, as this project sees the light and hits the public. And for Sykamore, that means it’s time to start working on the next one. She told us that she’s chomping at the bit to get moving on what comes after this 2018 EP. That she’s ready, and that part of her will always feel like the reason you release an album is so that you can make the next album.

And when we asked what she sees when she thinks about those songs and that next album, she told us that she hopes to take a chance, to present and share something that people haven’t seen and heard from her before. As an artist, it’s clear that Sykamore wants to push herself, to see what she’s capable of and how far she can go. This isn’t about finding and staying in a comfort zone – and we’re sure we’ll see that reflected in the next new music from the Calgary-based performer.

While we had Sykamore on the line, we got her to play a round of 5 Quick Questions with us – a sequel to her first round during 2016’s Canadian Country Music Week in London, ON.

5 Quick Questions with Sykamore

Q1: First song you performed in front of an audience?

Sykamore: You Are My Sunshine
– Jordan told us that she sang the song when she was about 4 years old at a family reunion, thanks to her grandparents pride in the talent of their grandchildren.

Q2: First album you bought?

Sykamore: The Road To El Dorado soundtrack.
– As a big fan of Elton John, the album purchase made a ton of sense to her.

Q3: Dream duet partner?

Sykamore: Lady Gaga and Florence Welch (Florence + The Machine)
– After their collaboration on Hey Girl from Gaga’s latest album, Joanne, Sykamore has both of these talented women on her list.

Q4: Favourite place on earth to be?

Sykamore: The family farm at home in Alberta.
– She was worried about this seeming like a lame answer, but with some very understandable perspective she explained that the more she’s away the more she appreciates going home to the familiar and calm and happy place.

Q5: Artist you think people should be listening to?

Sykamore: Leaving Thomas.
– Sykamore singled out the Calgary duo for their sound as well as their social media presence. And we wholeheartedly agree with her recommendation that you check out the LT Show on YouTube, featuring Sue-Z. AND we think you should be ready for their self-titled debut EP coming January 26, 2018.

Related: 5 Quick Questions with Sykamore at Canadian Country Music Week 2016

Self + Medicine isn’t the only big thing that’s happened recently for Sykamore…

In mid-November 2017, Jordan announced that she’d been signed to Home Team Publishing, joining Rhett Akins, Thomas Rhett, and other hit makers to hone her skills and keep pushing herself as a writer.

We talked about how it all came to be, and the “followed a tweet to Nashville” story, asking for a little longer tale than that, and Sykamore helped fill it out for us. She told us that she had followed Rhett Akins on Twitter, and he followed her back, which sounds simple enough, and cool when you think about her as an emerging artist and him as a successful writer and singer. After that Rhett listened to some of Jordan’s music that she had tweeted out and had online, he sent her a DM (she told us that she thought she might be getting catfished at first) and invited her down to Nashville to meet and talk music.

After she was convinced that it was for real, she made the trip, went to Akin’s house, saw all of the dead animals on the wall, and they started talking about songwriting. He told her he wanted to help her grow as a songwriter (talent recognizes talent) and after more time and more conversations, Sykamore was signed to Home Team Publishing.

Sykamore told us that it’s been really cool to work with Home Team. That it’s been amazing to go to Nashville and be surrounded and supported by these prolific and talented and successful writers. She told us that it’s humbling to be in the room and watch what they do, to see how they accomplish things. And, that she’s learning and doing her best to act like a sponge, soaking in all of the knowledge that these colleagues and mentors have to share about the craft.

To finish up our call and conversation we asked more about what comes next in the form of shows, writing, plans, goals and more.

We learned that plans are being made for the next single release from Self + Medicine (but we aren’t allowed to know what it is yet), and that Sykamore hopes to be on a bunch of stages this summer to play her new songs for country music fans. We also learned that when it comes to goals, she has two sets.

The artistic goals, the ones that Jordan wants to keep in mind every time she’s working on music, include being vulnerable, taking chances, and pushing herself to see what new things she can write about and connect with listeners on.

The career goals include some big ones (we love ‘em) that include playing at The Opry and the Ryman Auditorium, as well as headlining her own tour(s) as her career progresses.

The last thing we asked Sykamore was if she had any final thoughts she wanted to leave with readers and listeners, and she told us that most of all she hopes that people listen to the new music and like it – that they find a connection point and can feel the music.

We like that. That’s what music is about. So hit play and listen to Self + Medicine now and find your connection.

Stay up to date with Sykamore online (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for all of the important updates to come…


1 month ago

Country Thunder Music Festival 2018, Craven Lineup Preview

From Thursday, July 12 to Sunday, July 15, Saskatchewan will be home to some of country music’s biggest stars as the Country Thunder Music Festival rolls into Craven for four days of hits and fan favourites.

So far, Country Thunder Craven has announced 17 acts for the festival, with the promise of more to come on both Friday and Saturday’s lineups. The headliners, Dierks Bentley, Chris Young, and Luke Bryan all bring a bevy of hits to the stage, and have track records of entertaining the heck out of fans. And we have no doubt that they’ll do exactly that when they take their turns this July.

There’s also a ton of 90s nostalgia that’s going to take the stage, with big radio hits and fan favourites that will have the Craven crowd singing along at the top of their lungs.

Related: Calgary Country Thunder Music Festival 2018 Preview!

If you want to be in that crowd, get your tickets now, you don’t want to find out that they’re all gone later… Country Thunder Music Festival 2018 – Craven, Saskatchewan Tickets!

And now, let’s have a look at the lineup!

Country Thunder Music Festival 2018 Lineup
Craven, Saskatchewan

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Big & Rich

One of the biggest duos in country music since the release of Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy – Big & Rich are a helluva choice to kick off a four day country music festival!

Clay Walker

Walker has had a fantastic career, with big hits, songs that have connected with country music fans, and a legacy that lives on in 90s country nostalgia to go along with his five Top 10s in the 2000s. This is a great add to a kick off party.

Williams & Ree

Bruce Williams and Terry Ree are a music and comedy duo that will be served up for the Country Thunder crowd in Craven to help get the weekend started. Be ready to laugh!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Dierks Bentley BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Dierks Bentley

Dierks Bentley has gone from stealing the show as a lead-in act, to a bonafide headliner that owns the spotlight. We’ve seen the What Was I Thinkin’ star thrill tens of thousands of fans with his festival show, and have no doubt that he’ll do it again in Craven this summer!

Chris Janson

This dude is talented and looks like he’s a good time waiting to happen. We haven’t seen Chris Janson live yet, but we are looking forward to the day when we can sing along to Buy Me A Boat!

LANCO

These five dudes are up and comers in the world of country music, and 2018 could be a HUGE year for them. Country Thunder fans should be ready for a lot of energy as LANCO continues their quest to gain fans everywhere they go.

Hunter Brothers

It’s about a three and a half hour drive from Shaunavon to Craven, which makes the Hunter Brothers defacto hometown boys for the weekend. And when these five brothers (and their unbelievable harmonies) take the stage, Saskatchewan should get right into it!

More…

We don’t know who more is going to be… but it will only add to an already good day in Craven!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Chris Young

Chris Young has graduated to headliner status as he continues to pump out hits to country radio. And Craven will get the chance to enjoy the show as the Murfreesboro, Tennessee native takes the Country Thunder stage.

Dean Brody

Canadian country music will be well represented on Saturday night at Country Thunder when Dean Brody takes the stage to Bring Down The House. We’ve seen Dean a bunch of times, and every one of them is a great show. Be ready for that!

Tracy Lawrence

Lawrence had 7 #1 hits between 1991 and 1996, that’s a hell of a run, and when he added Find Out Who Your Friends Are in 2006, a lot of younger country fans discovered those hits. Now, in 2018, Tracy Lawrence is headed to Saskatchewan to play for the Craven crowd, and we’re sure it’s going to be a fun.

Lindsay Ell

Lindsay Ell keeps earning new fans every time she and her guitar take the stage. Her 2017 album, The Project, was well received and fans should be ready for Waiting On You, Criminal, and more this summer.

More…

There are more names coming to Saturday at Country Thunder in Craven… and we don’t know who they are, but it means a bigger and better party!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Luke Bryan

Luke Bryan

What can we say about Luke Bryan? He’s one of the biggest music stars in the world of any genre, we’ve seen him live and he lights up the crowd with hits and energy, and when the set is over your voice will be mostly gone from singing and cheering. Be ready, it’s gonna be good!

Midland

One of the biggest breakout acts in 2017, Midland are turning into big stars and they put on a great show. Get ready for harmonies, humour, and a throwback vibe to the 90s country that we all loved when these Texas boys hit the stage.

Jess Moskaluke

It’s about two and a half hours on the highway from Jess Moskaluke’s hometown of Langenburg to Craven, which should make her the guest of honour on Sunday at Country Thunder. Be ready for the hits, new music from Past The Past, and a lot of energy and fun from one of Canada’s biggest stars in country music.

Roots & Boots

Sammy Kershaw

With 11 top ten hits in the 90s, Sammy Kershaw is all of the nostalgia that country music radio lovers should be waiting for. If you can’t get up and excited to sing along to Queen Of My Double Wide Trailer and She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful, we don’t know what to tell you.

Aaron Tippin

Tippin is another star from the 90s that country fans should be happy to see. With seven Top 10s, including Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With The Radio and That’s As Close As I’ll Get To Loving You going all the way to #1, there will be sing along opportunities throughout this set!

Collin Raye

Collin Raye had 18 Top 5 hits between 1991 and 2000, putting himself on country radio all the damn time, with good reason. And Country Thunder fans are going to have a great time singing along to some of the biggest songs of the 90s when he’s on stage.

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