Jason Aldean

Crying for Las Vegas: Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting Has Me Shook

This morning I woke up and opened Twitter as an easy start to my Monday morning. Within minutes I was crying, scrolling through tweets telling the horror story of what happened in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay hotel and Route 91 Harvest Festival.

As I write this, still choked up and feeling a pain in my heart, 50 people are confirmed dead and more than 400 are wounded or were taken to hosptial. This is the largest, deadliest mass shooting in the modern history of the United States. And it happened while thousands of country fans celebrated the music they love and the community and camaraderie that comes at music festivals.

I’m shook. I’m sad. I’m angry and confused and want nothing more than to believe that this is a bad dream or that it’s something so tragic and senseless that it will never happen again. But I know it’s not. Not long ago the music world mourned along with Manchester after the attack at Ariana Grande’s concert at the Manchester Arena. Before that we were outraged and saddened by the attack in Paris at the Bataclan theatre during the Eagles of Death Metal show. People will look at these three incidents and call them unrelated. They will point out the three different countries, the two continents, different genres of music, ethnicities and religions of the attackers, and a hundred other things that make them different from each other. But the pure, sad, hateful, honest fact is this – love, peace, and freedom were attacked in Las Vegas, just as they were in Paris and Manchester.

Note: If you are in Las Vegas, please take a moment to click here and check in as safe on Facebook. Your friends and loved ones will appreciate it and maybe breathe a little easier. xo

We don’t know why 64 year old Stephen Paddock brought multiple guns to a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and opened fire on Sunday night. It doesn’t really matter. The truth is that he spread terror. This was a cowardly, focused, hate filled, terrorist action that has taken the lives of at least 50 people, changed the lives of hundreds more, and has caused more fear and tears than we can truly comprehend in Las Vegas and around the world.

As music fans, concert goers, festival attendees, and members of multiple music communities, we are sad and scared. We have concerts coming up this week. We have plans to attend multiple fairs and festivals in 2018. We love what we do, and we love that hundreds and thousands of music fans feel compelled to come and sing along and dance and fall in love to the live music at the shows we’re at. And it’s terrifying to think that at any one of these events, one person could change everything.

We hope, pray, and trust that this will never happen. But it’s impossible to know.

Nobody thought that Jason Aldean’s set at the Route 91 Harvest festival would be interrupted by a nightmare come to life.

Without getting partisan, we would like to express our support for stricter gun control legislation in the United States that can help to prevent these tragic attacks in the future. We understand the second amendment and the rights it gives. But the facts and statistics are overwhelming… it’s time.

We will continue to watch the news reports roll in. And we will continue to send all of our love, positive energy, and prayers to the victims and families and communities who are feeling loss and pain today.

The Ones That Like Me: Brantley Gilbert at Boots & Hearts 2017

There was no rain on Saturday at Boots & Hearts 2017, but Brantley Gilbert definitely brought the thunder!

The headlining hit maker revved up the B&H crowd from the moment he walked onto the main stage, kicking things off with It’s About To Get Dirty, and not letting up for more than a moment to catch his breath. And the crowd didn’t stop either. The excitement was building in the lead up to the set, so much so that you could feel a buzz in the air 30 minutes before Gilbert hit the stage.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Brantley Gilbert

The 16 songs Brantley Gilbert and his band (who are really good. really, really good.) played on Saturday night included hits he wrote (My Kinda Party, Dirt Road Anthem), that Jason Aldean took to the charts, and his own hits including Small Town Throwdown, The Weekend, One Hell Of An Amen, his current single, The Ones That Like Me, and more.

Note: The dedication that Brantley Gilbert gave to military personnel, veterans, and to everyone touched by cancer, was sweet and emotional. And even though I’ve seen it before, it still hit me with the feels.

Early in the set Gilbert pegged the Boots & Hearts crowd at 25,000 – but we walked through the mass of people in the field at the main stage, and we’re willing to put that number at 35,000 if we had to guess. And those thousands of people danced and sang and cheered for Brantley Gilbert just like they did for Keith Urban on Friday night. This was a party of a set, and the kind of collection of moments that live music fans live for.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Brantley Gilbert

But as much as the crowd loved the Georgian country singer, he loved them back. More than once Gilbert expressed his love for the fans in the crowd, and the Canadian fans that he’s encountered in his career. He gave credit for our ability and willingness to party, and he said thank you for the steadfast support that he has received from country music fans north of the border. His words were thoughtful, but didn’t feel contrived. This truly seemed like a genuine expression of thanks for his opportunity to do what he loves to do, thousands of miles away from home.

If there were any questions about Brantley Gilbert’s status as a headliner at a major country music festivals, they have all been dispelled. Ask the thousands of people that hung out with him on Saturday night in Oro-Medonte and you’ll hear exactly how much he proved that he belongs on that big stage.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Brantley Gilbert

If and when you have the chance to see Brantley Gilbert on any stage, take it… and be ready for a rowdy time, because that’s what you’re going to get. And you’re going to love it.

Brantley Gilbert, Boots & Hearts 2017 Setlist

💀 It’s About To Get Dirty
💀 My Kinda Party
💀 Country Must Be Country Wide
💀 Rockin’ Chairs
💀 Dirt Road Anthem
💀 My Baby’s Guns N Roses
💀 You Don’t Know Her Like I Do
💀 Small Town Throwdown
💀 The Ones That Like Me
💀 One Hell Of An Amen
💀 The Outlaw In Me
💀 The Weekend
💀 Take It Outside
💀 Kick It In The Sticks
💀 Bottoms Up
💀 Read Me My Rights

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Six String Circus Tour Photo Review: Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, A Thousand Horses

On Thursday, May 12 a country powerhouse concert rolled into Oshawa’s General Motor’s Centre and damn near blew the roof off of the arena!

Jason Aldean’s We Were Here Tour brought the headliner – Aldean + Thomas Rhett & A Thousand Horses to town as part of their Canadian leg, and the fans were 100% ready. All three acts did a great job of providing a Thursday night party, and we have the pics to prove it.

Have a look, and next time any of these guys come to a city near you – go see them!

Jason Aldean

Jason Aldean-Oshawa-1Jason Aldean-Oshawa-5Jason Aldean-Oshawa-8Jason Aldean-Oshawa-7Jason Aldean-Oshawa-3Jason Aldean-Oshawa-4Jason Aldean-Oshawa-6

Thomas Rhett

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A Thousand Horses


2 years ago

Kick It In The Pit: Brantley Gilbert live in Toronto!

Brantley Gilbert looks like he might be rock and roll disguised as country music. But when you watch and listen to the songs (live or recorded) you know it’s legit. Yes, it can be loud and aggressive. And maybe your grandma isn’t lining up for his show, but plenty of fans were at The Opera House in Toronto on Thursday night.

The 30 year old Georgia native has been rising in country since Modern Day Prodigal Son was released in 2009. And now, as 2015 hits its home stretch, Gilbert is on fire with four #1 singles now under his belt, and another #1 on his writing resume with Dirt Road Anthem (Jason Aldean) – and the Kick It In The Pit tour is showing just how ready the fans are to take the rockin’ country boy to the top and keep him there for a while.

Cory Marquardt Opera House TorontoSupporting Brantley Gilbert on these Canadian dates is Cory Marquardt, who we dig, and was a great choice. It’s pretty clear that Marquardt knows his job is to get the party started. And he’s good at it. But we already knew that. Supporting his first full-length album, This Man, Cory keeps working hard, and we’re sure you’ll have a chance to see him on a stage near you soon. It was great to see him give the crowd what they were looking for with performances of Smart Phone, 21, This Man, and really got all of his new friends into the show with a very danceable version of Footloose.

It’s a good think that Marquardt is a party starter, because on the first of back-to-back sold out Toronto shows, we all partied. Some sober, like Brantley Gilbert, some not, like half the crowd (quite visibly).

From the minute Gilbert and his band stepped on stage, the sold out Opera House was alive and ready for whatever he was going to give them. On the floor and in the balcony they sang and shouted and cheered before, during, and after songs.

Like we said, it was a party… so we don’t have a full set list to share with you – but we can tell you that we all got to have a whole lot of fun with live versions of…

Brantley Gilbert Opera House TorontoKick it in the Sticks – You Don’t Know Her Like I Do – My Baby’s Guns and Roses – Dirt Road Anthem – One Hell of an Amen (dedicated to soldiers and cancer fighters) – Bottoms Up – Stone Cold Sober – Take it Outside – Small Town Throwdown – Lights of My Hometown – Read Me My Rights – Country Must Be Country Wide

Note: It was a lot of fun listening to Bottoms Up live, after hearing it all season as Justin Smoak’s walk-up music. #GoJaysGo

The “I’ve got chills” moment of the show came when Gilbert and the band played One Hell of an Amen. The song was sweetly dedicated to all soldiers in Canada and the US, as well as every person who has fought cancer as a victim, family member, or friend. The crowd sang along to every word at the top of their lungs and it was special. Given one word, special is the one I would choose.

While Brantley Gilbert may never reach peak Jason Aldean or Eric Church levels of fame and popularity… it’s clear to see that he’s not going away any time soon. There will be more albums, more parties, more anthems, and more hard rock country to go with the sweet ballads that make up his musical persona. Brantley Gilbert is in the middle of what will end up being a very successful career. One we know many people are paying attention to.

And you can include us in that group.

Brantley Gilbert Opera House Toronto October 1, 2015Brantley Gilbert Opera House Toronto 2015Brantley Gilbert Opera House Toronto Close UpCory Marquardt Opera House Toronto 2015

2 years ago

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 2

Earlier in the year I posted a list of 10 countrified covers of pop songs in response to a list posted by Buzzfeed. It was a lot of fun to put together, but also hard because there were songs that I knew I missed when I was done with my 10 picks.

So, here we are back again with another list of 10 songs covered by country artists and twanged up to varying degrees. Have a listen and see if there are any new versions that you connect with better than the originals.


1. “The Chain” – Little Big Town

2. “Drunk” – Jess Moskaluke

3. “Heaven” – Jason Aldean

4. “Just The Way You Are” – Dustin Lynch

5. “Never Tear Us Apart” – Carrie Underwood

6. “Take It Easy” – Brett Kissel

7. “Riptide” – Taylor Swift

(She might be making pop records now, but she’ll always be a little bit country to me)

8. “Night Moves” – Brett Eldredge

9. “All Apologies” – Zac Brown Band

10. “Free Bird” – Tim Hicks

Thank you and goodnight!

3 years ago

Real Men Love Jesus – Thomas Rhett Live at the Rock N’ Horse Saloon Toronto

Thomas Rhett Live at the Rock N' Horse Saloon Toronto HeaderWednesday night a crew of Toronto country music fans were given a special treat when Thomas Rhett played an intimate acoustic set at the Rock N’ Horse Saloon in the Entertainment District.

In town to play with Miranda Lambert at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, country radio stations KX96 and KX94.7 brought in winners to see the show and give fans a chance to see Thomas Rhett up close and personal. And that they did. We may have been 15 feet from the dude as he stood and swayed and sang his 10 song set.

Thomas Rhett Live at the Rock N' Horse TorontoFirst thing’s first, I’ve been listening to country music for a couple decades and have been familiar with Rhett Akins (Thomas’ dad) since 1995 – and now almost 20 years later I’m becoming a fan of what his son is bringing to country radio on a regular basis. That’s a pretty cool thing.

And make no doubt, Thomas Rhett deserves to be where he is. Forget his songwriting ability and voice – this 24 year old Georgia boy is all kinds of charming and has stage presence that is going to take him to big places. Add in the songs and the voice and young Thomas looks like a star.

Note: Congratulations are in order as Thomas Rhett was nominated for New Artist of the Year by the Country Music Association on Wednesday morning.

The set opened with the announcement that there wasn’t really a set list and that invited the audience to start yelling out requests (from start to finish) that included that the first song of the night, and first of his career, Something To Do With My Hands. From there things moved quickly with Round Here, written by Thomas Rhett and released by Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett’s newest single, You Make Me Wanna, and Parking Lot Party which was a huge hit for Lee Brice and again written by Thomas Rhett.

Thomas Rhett Live at the Rock N' Horse Saloon TorontoThe next track was probably the one that I wanted to hear most (other than a very unlikely cover of his dad’s That Ain’t My Truck) – Get Me Some Of That. Check the bottom of the post for the video and get a sense of the singalong atmosphere we were in all night.

Next up was a brand new track, not yet recorded, called Real Men Love Jesus. It’s a slow, calm, song that should land on his next album. He followed it up with crowd-pleasers Front Porch Junkie and It Goes Like This before waving goodbye.

But in that small space, lined with fans and looking for more, the ENCORE chant came quick and loud. So Thomas Rhett came back to sing his own Take You Home and the first song he ever got released by another artist, Jason Aldean’s top 20 hit, 1994.

It was a nice mid-week break to catch the short show at the Rock N’ Horse – and I’m confident that everyone who sees Thomas Rhett on stage opening for Miranda Lambert on the rest of this tour are going to enjoy the show.

Keep an eye on this guy, he’s going all the way to the top.

Check out more pics from the show at Trish’s blog HERE.

Stay awesome!

Thomas Rhett Live at the Rock N' Horse Saloon Toronto Guitar

3 years ago

Boots & Hearts 2014 Preview – The Reklaws: Exclusive Interview

In 2013 brother and sister duo The Reklaws took the stage at the Boots & Hearts Music Festival as competitors in the Sirius XM Radio Emerging Artist Showcase contest. They endeared themselves to the crowd, took the main stage in their final attempt to win over the judges… and will return to Boots & Hearts in 2014 on the main stage as part of their prize for winning the competition.

To help get everyone ready for Bowmanville in August, we’ve sent some questions over to Jenna and Stuart to see what’s going on with them and what we can be prepared for.

If you haven’t checked out The Reklaws yet, find them on their websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.


The Reklaws Pool TableQ. Was winning the 2013 Boots & Hearts Sirius XM Radio Emerging Artist Showcase the biggest moment of your career so far, and what doors has it opened for you since?

A. Winning the Emerging Artist showcase at Boots and Hearts was definitely the most life changing moment of our careers. The funny thing about the whole weekend is that we actually bought tickets to go with our friends and then everything changed, once we were accepted into the showcase! So winning it became the cherry on top of what was already planned to be an amazing weekend!

The doors that winning this has opened are still blowing us away. Allowing us to travel to Nashville and meet with one of the top Record Labels (Big Machine) where we were introduced to amazing writers, producers, and musicians who helped us to put together a song that we are so proud of.

Q. What are the best and worst things about being a brother/sister band?

A. Hmmmm… Best and Worst… lol We get asked this a lot, because it is easy for people to put themselves in our position (because many people have siblings). So, for some, they understand that it would be cool, but other tend to have some biased assumptions! But we think its one of the best things about us, travelling and touring around can be tough on a person, but to be able to do it with someone who comes from exactly the same place as you, they become your rock… we do pretty much everything together! Of course we have your normal sibling uproars but once we hit the stage we are partners, and nothing can change that!

The Reklaws Outdoor ShootQ. Which country acts have you seen on stage that have given you ideas for your own shows and where you want to go in your career?

A. We love to watch other acts, the more shows we can see the better! We love to learn from the pros, because they are where they are for reason. Last year at Boots and Hearts, we were given the chance to open up for Dierks Bentley! We knew we were always a fan of him and his music, but he blew us away with his show, connecting with the fans was his speciality! He made everyone feel like you knew him really well and he was just one of your friends up on stage! This is something we would love to be able to accomplish!

Note: Dierks Bentley was amazing at Boots & Hearts in 2013 when he opened for Miranda Lambert. If you asked who stole the show for them over the entire weekend, you’d hear a lot of people tell you it was Dierks.

Q. If we hijacked your iTunes, which 3 artists would we find on the most played list?

A. We are both huge fans of country music, like even before it was cool! Growing up on a farm kind of does that to you. On Jenna’s iTunes you would find (at the moment) Kacey Musgraves, Fleetwood Mac, and probably Brett Eldredge. On Stuart’s iTunes you would most likely find Jason Aldean, Neil Young, and Eric Church. Its great that we have the same taste in music, that makes car rides seem like a breeze!

The Reklaws Boots and HeartsQ. In 50 words or less tell us what can we expect from your set on the main stage at Boots & Hearts 2014?

A. BIG THINGS! We have been given the opening time slot on the Thursday night, which means we need to bring the fire! lol You can expect some of our new music, that we wrote we are just so excited to introduce our new selves to Canada’s biggest country music fans! Our dreams are coming true and Boots and Hearts are holding the door! We are so excited for this year and cannot wait to hit the stage!

Thanks to Jenna and Stuart for taking the time to answer our questions. We can’t wait for more new music and to see them take the stage on opening night of Boots & Hearts 2014.

Work Hard. Play Harder. Be Awesome!

The Reklaws at Boots and Hearts 2013

The Reklaws Logo Banner

4 years ago

Hey Toronto, It’s Time To Cowboy Up!

Rock N Horse SignThere’s a new place to wear your hat and boots downtown with the launch of the Rock ‘N’ Horse Saloon at 250 Adelaide St. West.

Wednesday night I went to check out the private launch party (Thank you Liz & Strut Entertainment for the invite) and get a look at the newest country getaway in the city.

Note: At the exact same time I had friends checking out the preview party at Boots & Bourbon in Riverside and they made it clear that I need to get east of Yonge to check it out too.

As a country boy and a country music fan I was excited and sceptical going in. It didn’t take long for me to lose the scepticism.

When we checked in I could hear the music coming from upstairs and the night started with Luke Bryan (can’t wait to see him at Boots & Hearts 2014). From there the DJ did a great job all night long. At a country bar in downtown Toronto it took 2 and a half hours before Taylor Swift came through the speakers. That’s not a bad thing at a country bar! As much as I love T. Swift, she’s not the be all and end all of country music.

Rock N Horse Elvis Pinball and 8 SecondsIt was also awesome to see 8 Seconds (1994, Luke Perry as Lane Frost) and sports playing on the TVs in the joint. I’ve already got a list of cowboy movies in my head that I would love to see playing when I walk in again.

And oh ya, there’s an Elvis pinball machine against the wall, just past the pool table with a brand new red felt. not too shabby.

Rock N Horse Saddle StoolsOutside of the obvious “every country bar ever” decor, there are also some other special tidbits like the bar stools with saddles for seats and the mechanical bull and inflatable ring set up in the far corner of the bar.

I didn’t ride the bull last night. I thought about it. But I didn’t do it. I regret it a little bit, but I’m sure that I’ll get another chance some day.

The night was hosted by CMT Chevrolet Top 20 Countdown‘s Paul McGuire who was good on the mic. Made some semi-adult jokes while one of the Spurlesque (the country dancer girls) ladies rode the bull and he did a great job handing out trivia questions and prizes throughout the evening.

He also made sure to point out the fact that Gord Bamford and Kira Isabella showed up to say hi and have a drink. The DJ noticed too and played Bamford’s Is It Friday Yet? as soon as he got in the door.

Back to the trivia, the 1st question of the night was “Who Wrote Wagon Wheel?” and I totally knew the answer. But some other dude got it first and my hand in the air got me nothing. BUT, Paul McGuire saw my hand in the air and called me out in front of the entire bar to tell me that I was going to get the 1st crack at the next question…

Rock N Horse Prize PackMy question, “Name 3 Dolly Parton Songs”. Now, I love country music, that’s an established fact. And I LOVE Dolly. But I don’t love being caught off guard in a crowd of strangers. So, I immediately spit out I Will Always Love You and 9 To 5 – but then I went quiet and couldn’t come up with number 3. However, I was saved by the crowd which included the adorable Kira Isabella yelling

No items found.

at me.

The answer made me a winner of a prize pack that included Miranda Lambert‘s Four The Record, The Pistol Annies’ Annie Up, Jason Aldean‘s My Kinda Party and Country Heat 2014. But that’s not all. I also got a Jabra Soulmate Mini bluetooth speaker that will work with my phone or laptop or whatever I want it to. Not a bad prize. And thanks to Kira for the help.

Note: Bob Dylan wrote Wagon Wheel. I had the right answer.

Rock N Horse Rye and CokeHere’s the final skinny: the drinks were strong (rye and diet for me), the food was tasty (try the Pulled Pork Sliders and Jalapeño Bacon Corn Bread), the music was good, the bull looks fun, the staff were friendly and cute, the decor isn’t too cheesy and I enjoyed myself. I look forward to going back soon (maybe Friday) to see what it’s like with the public.

I do wonder what the pricing is going to look like for drinks and food since it was an open bar event on Wednesday. Remember that this is a downtown, Entertainment District bar. But overall I think that the Rock ‘N’ Horse Saloon has a strong chance to succeed for a while and capitalize on the revitalization of country music and its current pop culture relevance.

Rock N Horse: Gord Bamford, Kira Isabella, Paul McGuire
Rock N Horse Crowd at the Bar

The Bull Still Doesn't Have A Name. Any Ideas?

The Bull Still Doesn’t Have A Name. Any Ideas?

4 years ago

The Boots and Hearts 2013 Wrap and 2014 Predictions!

The Boots and Hearts 2013 Crowd - Oh Canada! [credit: Trish Cassling]The 2013 Boots & Hearts Country Music Festival has been wrapped for a couple of weeks and it’s a good time to look back at it… and forwards to 2014!

The 2013 fest was great in my eyes. Yes, there were issues with the pouring rain on Friday night and campers and ticket holders not being able to get in to see shows. And that sucks hard. But, please remember that it was not a decision made quickly and it was made by the municipality and not Republic Live.

Inside the gates the music was fantastic and in the stage area things were (soggy on Friday night) entertaining as all hell. The performances by early acts and headliners alike made people cheer and sing and dance – and that’s exactly what I was hoping and expecting to see.

Trish Shooting Boots and Hearts 2013!Note: You may have seen some of the reviews that we posted (there were a bunch, I hope you didn’t mind) and the photos that Trish took of the acts. Special thank you goes to Trish for those photos. She got in there and took the shots she wanted (and the ones I asked for) and did an awesome job. Without those photos all we would have to share would be iPhone pics taken 50 feet from the stage. That wouldn’t have been very good. Trish’s pics were a game changer. Thank you!

It’s hard to look back at the performances and pick a favourite. It really is. The Stone Sparrows, Mackenzie Porter and Whitney Rose were all great on the Front Porch Stage which featured many emerging country artists. And on the main stage I enjoyed (and that’s putting it lightly) Dean Brody, Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Rascal Flatts, Joe Diffie, Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert. There was 0 let down from the 2012 lineup, and the bar needs to be met again in 2014.

Speaking of 2014… there’s 1 name that everyone is already excited for. Yes, it’s true, I was wrong about Blake Shelton showing up at the 2013 Boots & Hearts weekend. But he did make an appearance by video just before Miranda took the stage to announce that he will be headlining next year in Bowmanville. The crowd went wild, as expected. Now all that’s left to do is wonder who else is going to play the main stage 12 months from now.

If I had to make some guesses… and I will… I’d be looking for:

Little Big Town – who have been on fire for the last 18 months.
Hunter Hayes – who I incorrectly guessed this year.
Kellie Pickler – who is one of the most adorable and talented people in country music.
Luke Bryan – who makes nothing but hits and has a new album out now that he will be touring.
Gord Bamford – who has been nominated for the 2013 CCMA Fans’ Choice Award.

And my longshot pick is… Lady Antebellum!

Because Hillary Scott just gave birth in late July I am hesitant to think that they will make the trip to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park next summer. But it could happen. Babies travel with their musician mamas all the time.

Could I be wrong about all of these predictions? Yup. I was wrong about most of my picks for this year. But man, it would be awesome to see those acts taking the stage a year from now.

Thanks to everyone who read our reviews of the 2013 Boots and Hearts Country Music Festival. We hope that you like the words and pics and that you’ll keep coming back for more as we start the countdown to 2014!

Work Hard, Play Harder, Be Awesome.

The Rascal Flatts Crowd at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]
The Boots and Hearts 2013 Crowd - Me and My Old Pick Up Truck [credit: Trish Cassling]

4 years ago

Boots & Hearts 2013 Spotlight: Country Music Legend, Joe Diffie

Joe Diffie at Boots and Hearts 2013 Header [credit: Trish Cassling]Picture this: The sun is shining, there are thousands of people sitting and standing within sight and ear shot of the Boots & Hearts Main Stage and the opening notes of 3rd Rock From The Sun come over the speakers through live instruments.

If you’ve been a country music fan for as long as I have (and really, 20 years isn’t that long) you were probably transported back in time. That’s what Joe Diffie did this weekend. He took country music fans back to his heyday and it was an awesome ride to be on.

When Pickup Man (it’s about trucks, not pick-up artists) came on the 12 year old inside of me smiled while the 31 year old sang along with reckless abandon. And I wasn’t alone. It was amazing to see and hear so many voices singing along to country hits that aren’t less than 3 years old.

There were 2 great moments in the middle of the set that I want to write down so I remember them.

1) Joe Diffie and his band cover the chorus of Jason Aldean’s hit 1994 which goes like this: 1994, Joe Diffie comin’ out my radio, I’m just a country boy with a farmer’s tan, So help me girl I’ll be your Pickup Man, How ’bout a night to remember and a fifth of Goose, ‘Bout to bust out my honky-tonk attitude, A little feel good you ain’t never felt before, I’m talkin’ 1994, Hey Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie – Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie – Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie 

The crowd loved it, they sang along as loud as they could and it was a really fun moment.

2) Diffie pays tribute the great and now gone, George Jones with a cover of He Stopped Loving Her Today. The crowd was into it. The cheer when he finished singing was fantastic and felt like more than just applause for the performance, Jones was getting some love in Bowmanville.

The set ended with what I consider to be the greatest hick love song of all time, John Deere Green. If you don’t know the song I’ll wrap it up for you, a boy (Billy Bob) falls in love with a girl (Charlene) and decides to declare his feelings in graffiti. However, rather than use a typical red like the whole town suggested, Billy Bob used John Deere Green to write Billy Bob Loves Charlene in letters 3 feet high and she loved it. Bonus, it always showed through no matter how it was painted over and works as a metaphor for everlasting love!

I love that damn song and the rest of the Diffie setlist too. It was a great show from a country legend. I can’t wait to see who they bring in next year to give us that same feeling.

Work Hard, Play Harder, Be Awesome.Joe Diffie at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]
Joe Diffie at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]

4 years ago

Boots & Hearts 2013: Dean Brody and Jason Aldean, Singing In The Rain

Boots and Hearts 2013 - Friday Night CrowdOn a day filled with rain, lightning and mud, there was still plenty of desire to party at Boots & Hearts.

Here’s the thing… The weather wasn’t great. In fact, it sucked. It was rainy and people were soaked and cold and covered in mud. But when it came down to it, they didn’t care.

It’s true. For the 2nd year in a row this point was proven: The fans of Boots & Hearts will stand in the rain and sing along with every word that they know when a great country act takes the stage and puts on a helluva show.

Last year for me it was Alabama, country’s original super group, they were freaking outstanding.

This year we had Cassadee Pope, Colt Ford, Dean Brody and Mr. Jason Aldean play parts of or all of their sets in rainy conditions in Bowmanville. And while we all wished that the sun had been shining (and our sunscreen hadn’t been applied in vain) there wasn’t a single person I saw that looked like they weren’t enjoying themselves.

While Trish and I are at Boots & Hearts with media passes to cover the shows and blog and tweet and facebook and such about what’s up – I will fully admit that last night I really enjoyed being a fan during both Dean Brody and Jason Aldean’s sets.

Trish met me in the bullpen after her photos were taken and we watched, listened, sang along, people watched, smiled, danced (a little) you know, all of those things that you do when you’re enjoying a concert. Yes we were wearing raincoats, but we didn’t care. Our feet we soaked and our hearts were warm. That might be the cheesiest thing I write for a long time, but the thought is true!

Note: I get that not everyone loves, likes or even tolerates country music. I get it. But if you’re a rock and roll fan and you look at a show like Jason Aldean and his band put on, you might change your mind.

Dean Brody at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]Dean Brody was the surprise guest last year, rolling out from behind the stage on a flatbed trailer. But this year he was on the main stage for a full set that gave me 1 clear highlight: Brody finished playing the emotionally charged military tribute, Brothers and went right into Oh Canada which is always amazing in a crowd that size. And then, to finish his set he rolled the national anthem into his biggest hit, Canadian Girls which had everyone singing and dancing again until he left the stage.

When Jason Aldean came on stage to start his set you could hear the excitement across the festival grounds. And through the rain one of country’s biggest stars played loud, hard, fun music that everyone had been anticipating and waiting for. I’d never seen Aldean live, but man am I glad I have now. From Johnny Cash to the new single Night Train, the sound was tight, the energy was high and these guys put on a proper show.

The biggest tease came when the band started playing Don’t You Wanna Stay (Aldean’s hit duet with Kelly Clarkson) and she appeared on screens to the left and right of the stage to sing her part. Believe me when I say this – the place would have blown up if Kelly Clarkson had walked onto the stage last night. As it was, the place was at peak excitement throughout the Jason Aldean set and absolutely loved him til the end of his 2 song encore that wrapped his set.

It was a crazy day logistically at Boots & Hearts. But to everyone’s credit there was still a party going on for those of us lucky enough to be inside the gates.

I can’t wait to see what memories today brings!

Work Hard, Play Harder, Be Awesome.Dean Brody at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]
Dean Brody at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]
Jason Aldean at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]
Jason Aldean at Boots and Hearts 2013 [credit: Trish Cassling]

4 years ago

Boots & Hearts 2013 Full Schedule and Set Times!

Boots and Hearts 2013 HeaderThere have been more than a few people looking for the Boots & Hearts schedule online without any luck. It seems that as great as the app is, it is only available on ios and android devices (and not everyone has one) – so, I’ve taken screenshots of the entire schedule and stitched them together so everyone can see and plan and be ready for August 1-4 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park!

We’re gonna go, Front Porch Stage – Main Stage – Lug Stage. Ready? Here we go!

Front Porch Stage!

Boots and Hearts Front Porch Thursday Schedule
Boots and Hearts Front Porch Friday Schedule
Boots and Hearts Front Porch Saturday Schedule
Boots and Hearts Front Porch Sunday Schedule

Main Stage!

Boots and Hearts Main Stage Friday Schedule Boots and Hearts Main Stage Saturday Schedule
Boots and Hearts Main Stage Sunday Schedule

LUG Stage!

Boots and Hearts Lug Stage Schedule
It’s going to be a great festival – and if you don’t have an iphone or android device, I hope this helps you plan your time.

Have a great time – it’s only a week away!

4 years ago

Boots and Hearts 2013 – The Countdown T-149 Days

Boots and Heart Countdown BannerLadies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages… we are now inside of 150 days until the beginning of Boots and Hearts 2013. I’m excited.

I know I’ve written about being excited and counting down before… 50 days ago to be precise. But I can’t help it. I keep seeing tweets and Facebook updates and people talking about the festival and it makes me want to fast forward to August.

So to get in the countdown spirit – here are 5 songs by 5 artists that I really, really, really hope to hear at Boots & Hearts 2013.

Dierks Bentley – What Was I Thinkin’?

Rascal Flatts – Fast Cars And Freedom

Joe Diffie – John Deere Green

Miranda Lambert – Famous In A Small Town

Jason Aldean – Tattoos On This Town

Here’s some honest truth for you. That wasn’t an easy thing to do. I had to leave out The Band Perry and High Valley and Dean Brody. And there wasn’t 1 of the 5 artists on the list that only has 1 song I want to hear!

Just like last year, this festival looks like it’s going to be packed full of good times and good music. Probably good people too.

If you’re still looking for more info about Boots & Hearts you can check out…

The Website: bootsandhearts.com

The Facebook: facebook.com/BootsandHearts

The Twitter: twitter.com/bootsandhearts

The YouTube: youtube.com/bootsandhearts

There you have it – all the info you can find is in those places.

All the excitement you’re looking for is right here!

And it’s growing!

Get ready – 149 days will countdown faster than you think!

Boots and Hearts Countdown Clock - 149 Days

5 years ago

Boots & Hearts 2013, February 1st Line-Up Announcement!

Boots and Hearts 2013 Line Up HeaderThe day we’ve (I’ve) been waiting for is finally here! Boots & Hearts have made their 2nd line-up announcement and the list of acts hitting the stage between August 2 and 4 has grown from 5 to 16.

Now, previously I did some guessing at who may be added to the list of performers. I was right on one of them. 1, that’s all – way to come through for me Jason Blaine!

Here’s the message that Boots & Hearts posted on their Facebook page:
Boots & Hearts Music Festival, are pleased to announce that Dierks Bentley, Aaron Lewis, Joe Diffie, Chad Brownlee, Jason Blaine, Colt Ford, High Valley, Kira Isabella, The Stellas, Parmalee and Dee Jay Silver have all been added to the 2013 event.

The name that most excites me is Dierks Bentley. I’ve been a big fan for years and can not wait to sing along to What Was I Thinkin’.

I’m also liking the addition of Joe Diffie, John Deere Green & Pickup Man were really fun songs when I was a kid and to see him up there singing them on stage will be a great throwback to those days.

Chad Brownlee, High Vallery and Kira Isabella are all good adds too – they’ll have good sets, folks will cheer and sing along and it will be great.

The 16 act line-up looks promising – and I have a feeling that while we’re going to have to wait a little while, we’re in for another great treat when the next set of acts are announced!

Until then, check out the announcement video that Boots & Hearts threw up online today and check out Boots & Hearts on rdio! 

Boots and Hearts Line Up Announcement, February 1

5 years ago

Boots and Hearts 2013 – The Countdown

Boots and Hearts 2013 BannerThere are now 199 days left until Boots and Hearts 2013 and I’m getting more and more excited.

However, we are still looking at the same 5 names in the line-up: Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry and Dean Brody. Fans are anxious and excited to see who will be added to the list for the weekend music festival and so we wait.


I’ve done some digging and have found that the 4 major American acts on the bill all share the same booking agency. Which is the same booking agency that represents Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Big & Rich, Lionel Richie and Alabama – stars of the 2012 concert.

So, with this new information at hand I’m willing to make some educated guesses when it comes to filling in some of the blanks for this years hoe-down.

Billy Ray Cyrus: He has a new album, loves Canada and would be great to see in front of the crowd made up of fans of all ages.

Carolyn Dawn Johnson: Canadian country royalty in the singer/songwriter category.

Hunter Hayes: Young, pretty, has made award show appearances and toured with last year’s headliner, Carrie Underwood.

Jessie James: Young, pretty, new album may be on the way after she had 1 single released in 2012.

Small Town Pistols: The grown up name for Amanda and Tyler Wilkinson’s music career with new singles and videos being released. The Wilkinson’s are listed on the agency’s roster.

Gary Allan: Not in the spotlight anymore, but a hit maker in the past including a fantastic cover of Vertical Horizon’s Grey Sky Morning (Best I Ever Had).

Jim Cuddy Band: Last year we got Gord Downie’s band, why not Jim this year?

Jason Blaine: Canadian rising star with a new album coming out in 2013.

Gretchen Wilson: A down home, mud-loving, redneck princess. She could fit right in.

Darius Rucker: Former Hootie and the Blowfish front-man and now a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

There you go, 10 educated guesses for the 2013 Boots and Hearts line-up. And if I do say so myself, they are pretty darn good choices and guesses.

Note: I would also love to see Canadian country star Jason McCoy and The Voice season 3 winner Cassadee Pope, but they aren’t on the same roster. Fingers crossed anyway!

Here’s hoping that in the next few days and weeks we find out if I’m right about any of them.

Remember, only 199 days left until we drive down the 401 and up the 115 to Canadian Tire Mosport Park!

See you there!

Stay awesome!Miranda Lambert, Boots and Hearts 2013

5 years ago
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