Kelsea Ballerini

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cavendish Beach Music Festival 2018 Headliner Announcement: Luke Bryan

If the first artist announcement for the Cavendish Beach Music Festival is any indication, country music fans in Prince Edward Island are going to have a lot of fun July 6-8, 2018!

Tuesday morning the festival announced that Luke Bryan, the man with 19 #1 hits, will take the stage to headline Sunday, July 8 and finish off a weekend of partying and country music.

We’ve seen Luke Bryan on a big stage before, in 2014 and 2017 at Boots & Hearts, and if you haven’t seen him, we can promise that it’s a good time. The energy, fun, and music from the stage turns the whole thing into a big party, and you won’t want this night to end.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Luke Bryan

Related: Luke Bryan at Boots & Hearts 2017

The festival is excited to have made the announcement and to be bringing Bryan to the festival, with Whitecap Entertainment President, Jeff Squires saying, “We’re thrilled to be bringing Luke Bryan to Cavendish. He’s been the #1 requested artist for many years and it’s the perfect year for him to see what our festival is made of, 10 years strong! We’re looking forward to another beautiful weekend full of friends, family and the breathtaking beaches of Cavendish at CBMF 2018!,”.

With past performers including Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, and more, you can trust that Cavendish Beach Music Festival will be adding more big names to their 10th anniversary festival in 2018.

We don’t know who yet, but if you’re looking for some guesses, we’d tell you to look out for…

🎵 Kelsea Ballerini

🎵 Thomas Rhett

🎵 Brothers Osborne

🎵 Andrew Hyatt

🎵 Madeline Merlo

🎵 The Hunter Brothers

Stay tuned for more information when it comes, and get your tickets starting Friday, December 1 – CAVENDISH BEACH MUSIC FESTIVAL TICKET LINK!!!

CMC Rocks QLD: Australian Country Festival Announces 2018 Lineup

We’ve been known to have a soft spot for the Australian music industry and the artists they produce. From Keith Urban to The Lazys, and dozens in between, we’re into it. And now we’ve got something we can totally get behind: The CMC Rocks QLD Country Music Festival 2018 lineup.

You’ve got to see this thing to believe it. We’ve seen some of the biggest acts in the world of country music on stages at Boots & Hearts, the Canadian Country Music Association Awards, and at concerts all over… and Australia is getting a heavy dose of some of the best out there.

Note: It’s especially cool to see Dean Brody, High Valley, and Gord Bamford on this lineup. We know that all three of these Canadian country artists will represent us well.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Dean Brody

CMC Rocks QLD is scheduled to take place from Thursday, March 15 to Sunday, March 18 about 50 kilometres outside of Brisbane. The Willowbank, Ipswich festival is going to be big if the lineup is any indication. And really, how can it not be.

American headliners Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, and Kelsea Ballerini are all super talented. And with a crop of artists including Brett Young, Luke Combs, Brothers Osborne, and more taking the stage along with them… we wish we were headed to Australia in March.

Check out the full lineup below, and if you are in Australia, or you want to make this part of your 2018 spring vacation plans – tickets go on sale Monday, October 9th. Click here to learn more.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Luke Bryan

We love country music festivals. We love this list of artists. We love the idea that country artists from the United States and Canada get to make this trip. And we love that Australian country music fans get to see them alongside their own local favourites!

CMC Rocks QLD, 2018 Artist Lineup

🇺🇸 Luke Bryan
🇺🇸 Darius Rucker
🇺🇸 Kelsea Ballerini
🇺🇸 Dustin Lynch
🇺🇸 Old Dominion
🇺🇸 Dan + Shay
🇺🇸 Randy Houser
🇺🇸 Brett Young
🇺🇸 Brothers Osborne
🇺🇸 Luke Combs
🇺🇸 Russell Dickerson
🇺🇸 Davisson Brothers Band
🇺🇸 Ryan Follese
🇨🇦 Dean Brody
🇨🇦 High Valley
🇨🇦 Gord Bamford
🇳🇿 Jody Direen
🇳🇿 Kaylee Bell
🇦🇺 Busby Marou
🇦🇺 Steve Forde
🇦🇺 Travis Collins
🇦🇺 The Sunny Cowgirls
🇦🇺 Troy Kemp
🇦🇺 Christie Lamb
🇦🇺 Melanie Dyer
🇦🇺 Missy Lancaster
🇦🇺 Baylou
🇦🇺 Mustered Courage
🇦🇺 Viper Creek Band
🇦🇺 Jayne Denham
🇦🇺 Casey Barnes
🇦🇺 Route 33
🇦🇺 Rachael Fahim

Side A: Jillian Jacqueline Album Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jillian Jacqueline, Side A Tracklist

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

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

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

15 Boots & Hearts 2018 Artist Predictions

With the dates for Boots & Hearts 2018 released and our recovery from the 2017 festival complete, it’s time to look at our predictions for BH7 next August.

As always, the names listed below have been picked because we fully believe there is a chance that they could play the festival. Yes, we’d love to see Garth and Reba, but the odds are very, very, very long on that happening. So, we’ve put together this list of 15 country artists that we’re predicting for Boots & Hearts 2018.

When you’re done reading, please leave a comment telling us who you think we got right, and who you think will be at Burl’s Creek next summer.

Note: All artist names have been listed in alphabetical order… not in order of preference or how certain we are with the prediction.

Boots and Hearts 2018 Headliners

Chris Young

Chris Young Trackside Fest 2016

The newest invitee of the Grand Ole Opry is on quite a run. With 5 studio albums (plus a Christmas record) on his resume, there’s no shortage of material for Young to bust out in a 90 minute headlining set. And with songs that are guaranteed to get people singing along at the top of their lungs… this would work.

Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney may be the biggest gamble here. The four-time CMA Entertainer of the Year winner has a reputation for putting on a great show, and with 14 studio albums worth of material, we know that he could have 40,000+ country music fans singing along from start to finish.

Little Big Town

Little Big Town was on the original schedule for Boots & Hearts 2015, but had to cancel due to medical issues. We’ve been hoping and waiting ever since for them to be added back to the list. In these last couple of years the quartet has elevated themselves to legitimate headlining status, and we truly hope that the Canadian fans that love B&H get to see them sing.

Zac Brown Band

CMT Music Fest - Zac Brown Band

We’ve seen the Zac Brown Band headline for at CMT Music Fest in 2016… and we’d gladly do it all over again at Boots & Hearts 2018. With a long list of hits and fan favourites, and a reputation for playing amazing covers of songs people love, ZBB could headline any night of the festival.

We’re good with all four of these options. None of them have played Boots & Hearts in the first six years of the festival, making them exciting options for year seven, and all of them come with hits, fan favourites, and star power.

Supporting Talent

Andrew Hyatt
Andrew Hyatt - Northern Comfort Saloon - CNE 2017With his first Top 20 single on the books, upcoming tour dates with Dallas Smith that will earn him new attention and fans, and the kind of energy that delivers a great show – Andrew Hyatt should make his main stage debut at Boots & Hearts 2018.

Brett Kissel
Brett Kissel - CNE 2017We’ve been waiting for a Canadian opener since Boots & Hearts year 1, and while Brett may be at the top of our list to nab that spot – we’re look at him as the direct support for someone like Zac Brown or Little Big Town on Saturday or Sunday night

Brett Young
Brett Young’s star is rising fast! We saw him this summer on tour with Lady Antebellum, and this dude has what it takes to entertain a crowd. Look for him late in the afternoon as party heats up.

Carly Pearce
Carly Pearce - Budweiser Stage 2017Pearce is another rising star in American country. Her debut album drops this fall, and with success already coming to her with her first single, Every Little Thing, we’d be surprised not to see her bring the Big Machine bus to Boots & Hearts 2018.

Dan Davidson
Dan Davidson - Rod, Gun and Barbers ParkdaleLikeable, talented, and always ready to play music, Dan Davidson is a great bet to come east to Ontario and play for the Boots & Hearts crowd. Fans already dig Found and Barn Burner, and by next summer we’re guessing they’ll be ready to sing along to even more.

Dustin Lynch
A cowboy hat, jeans, and t-shirt looks good on the Boots & Hearts stage, we’ve seen it before. And if Dustin Lynch shows up in that outfit and plays his hits (the dude’s top 10 Spotify tracks have more than 200,000,000 plays) we know the Canadian country fans would be seein’ red.

Jojo Mason
JoJo Mason BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016The first time Jojo Mason played Boots & Hearts the crowd chanted his name and made it a day he’ll never forget. Now, fans have had a chance to learn more about Jojo with his debut album, Both Sides Of The Bar, and his CCMA nomination for 2017 Rising Star. If Jojo were to come back with his energy and those songs, it’d be all good.

Kelsea Ballerini
Kelsea Ballerini has been number 1 with Dibs, Peter Pan, and Love Me Like You Mean It, and fans are in love with her voice and her style. We’ve seen her live, and the chance to see it again at Boots & Hearts with some of the biggest names in country music makes perfect sense to us.

Madeline Merlo
Madeline Merlo - Dean Brody Tour-EdmontonMadeline Merlo rocks a summer vibe like almost nobody we’ve ever known, so seeing her back on the Boots & Hearts stage on a sunny summer afternoon seems like a perfect fit. Whether she plays the main stage, or a late slot on the front porch, we know a crowd of Canadian country fans would be there to sing along with the B.C. native.

Maren Morris

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Maren Morris is quickly becoming one of the young queens of country music. Her debut album, Hero, is filled with jams from front to back, and her duet with Thomas Rhett on Craving You earned her two CMA nominations (Vocal Event and Music Video of the Year) to go along with her Female Vocalist of the Year nomination. Let’s see her on the big stage!

The Reklaws
Budweiser County Fair The ReklawsThese Boots & Hearts vets are due back to the country’s biggest summer festival after releasing a banger with Hometown Kids, and the promise of more new music on the way. Be ready to see them back at their old stomping grounds.


Thomas Rhett
Thomas Rhett Boots and Hearts 2015With main stage talent and charisma, Thomas Rhett could headline Friday night, or be the perfect lead in to Kenny Chesney or Little Big Town. I’d lean towards headlining option, only because we’ve already seen him in the direct support spot at Boots & Hearts already. Also, if you haven’t heard it yet, go listen to Thomas Rhett’s brand new album, Life Changes!

Who do you think I got right? Who do you think I got wrong? Who do you think I missed?

Leave a comment and tell me!

You Look Good World Tour: Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini & Brett Young in Toronto

On a Summer Thursday night at the Budweiser Stage, Lady Antebellum made their triumphant return to Toronto, nearly 2 years exactly from their last trip on the Wheels Up Tour.

In 2015 we saw the trio come to town with Sam Hunt and Hunter Hayes. In 2017 they brought Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young on the You Look Good World Tour. Both were great choices, and all three acts had the Toronto crowd singing, dancing, and owning the night.

Related: Lady Antebellum and the Wheels Up Tour Land in Toronto

If you haven’t had the chance to see Lady A on stage. Find one and do it. As soon as you can.

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First on the Budweiser Stage, sitting on his first #1 hit, and coming all the way from still underrated country landscape of California, was the incredibly talented and handsome Brett Young. Seriously, this dude has the entire package – his voice is rich and textured live, giving life to the songs that we’ve heard on the radio and his self-titled debut album.

Young understood his job on the You Look Good World Tour, he was great with the crowd, engaging and acting humble and kind. He worked the stage, and did all that he could with his four song set. Having listened to the album on more than one occasion, we would have been happy to hear twice as many songs… and we have the feeling that the next time we see Brett Young live on stage in Toronto, he’ll have a whole lot more time to add to Close Enough, You Ain’t Here To Kiss Me, In Case You Didn’t Know, and Sleep Without You.

Get ready for more from this tall California country singer, he’s here to stay.

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The middle slot in the night’s show belonged to another up and coming country star with hits to share. Kelsea Ballerini hit #1 with her first three singles at country radio, showing that she’s a force to be reckoned with. And on Thursday night, the Tennessee native showed Toronto what she’s working with in her first ever Canadian set.

Note: We’ve seen Ballerini live in Canada before, catching her on the 2016 Canadian Country Music Association green carpet and stage where she performed Peter Pan.

CCMA Awards 2016 Kelsea Ballerini Green Carpet

Ballerini brought the songs that her fans already know and love to the stage, and sprinkled in brand new tracks that we haven’t heard yet, that she says will be on her second album, scheduled to come out before the end of 2017.

Tracks like Dibs, Love Me Like You Mean It, and Yeah Boy had lips moving and hips shaking. And it was especially awesome to see all of the dudes singing along to the 23 year old hit maker’s songs. And those new songs, including Unapologetically and I Hate Love Songs, they’re good. You’re going to like them.

Kelsea also jammed her brand new single (that has a brand new video, click here), Legends and we’re willing to bet that it won’t be long before it finds a spot near the top of the charts too.

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Last, loudest, and ready to party, Lady Antebellum took the stage to headline their You Look Good World Tour’s Toronto landing!

Having seen Hillary, Charles, and Dave on this stage before, we felt like we knew what we were in for. But, when you’re dealing with artists as talented as these three (and their amazing seven-piece band, including horns), there are still moments that WOW you, and make you fall in love with live music all over again.

American Honey, live in Toronto!

Note: Let’s stick with the talent for a second… there is no overstating just how good these three performers are. Fans know the solo work of Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, who both killed it with albums in 2016, but don’t sleep on Dave Haywood. Playing guitar, mando, piano, singing on every track, he’s top notch talent too.

Related: The Driver: Charles Kelley Album Review

On Thursday night the Toronto fans got to hear the hits in a 19 song set list that included covers of Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, and Beyonce, #1 singles I Run To You, Need You Now, American Honey, Our Kind Of Love, Just A Kiss, We Owned The Night, and fan favourites that had everyone standing, dancing, singing, and loving every minute of the show.

With songs from their latest release, Heart Break, joining the previous hits, the Lady Antebellum set list has become even more robust, and added the newness and freshness that keeps country fans coming back to see them on every tour, with enthusiasm and love.

As always, Lady A played with the crowd perfectly, leading sing alongs, showing love and appreciation for the support they’ve received over the last 10+ years, and playing their hearts out.

Without fear of talking out of turn, we feel confident in telling you that the amphitheatre crowd would have been glad to hear another 10 songs in the set, no matter how much later that would have taken us into Thursday night.

Like we said in the open, if you haven’t seen Lady Antebellum live, do it. Find a way, find a show, and be there to experience it all, live and full of love.

Lady Antebellum, You Look Good World Tour Set List

Our Kind Of Love
This City
Dancin’ Away With My Heart
Heart Break
Compass / We Owned The Night
American Honey
I Run To You
Good Time To Be Alive
Thy Will / Hello World
You’re Still The One (S. Twain)
Just A Kiss
You Look Good
Lookin’ For A Good Time
Something Like That (T. McGraw) w/ Brett young
Crazy In Love (Beyonce) w/ Kelsea Ballerini
Love Don’t Live Here Anymore
In The Air Tonight / Bartender
Need You Now

Also, Shania was in the house… how freaking cool is that?!

Still thinking @ShaniaTwain stopping by the #youlookgoodworldtour last night was all a dream… 💞 -hills

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Who wants to go Downtown with @lady antebellum?! #toronto #countrymusic #livemusic #youlookgoodworldtour

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Five Favourite Things That Happened on the Grammys

First I’m going to start by saying, last night’s Grammys show was a long one. It wasn’t perfect but it didn’t need to be. James Cordon did a good job as host and I honestly wasn’t sure when he started with his entrance, if it was for real or not. And then he rolled down the stairs removing all doubt that this was a bit.

There were many great moments throughout the night and I’m going to give you my top five favourite things that happened on the Grammys.

1. Chance The Rapper was joined by Kirk Franklin, Francis and the Lights, Tamela Mann, and a huge gospel choir giving us a heart felt performance that left me moved.

Nominated for seven awards including Best Rap Album for Coloring Book which beat out albums by Kanye, Drake, and De La Soul. A change to the rules last year made Coloring Book eligible as a streaming only entry. Chance also picked up
Best Rap Performance for No Problem, and Best New Artist.

2. Twenty One Pilots collect their Grammy wearing no pants. For all the artists who remember where they came from, the boys took it to another level.

3. In what might be, quite possibly the most political statement on the Grammy stage, the legendary hip-hop act A Tribe Called Quest teamed up with Anderson .Paak (and Busta Rhymes and Consequence) to give us some classics, Can I Kick It? and Award Tour and some new material, Movin Backwards and We the People. Energy filled and straight to the point with their statement on the failed Muslim ban from “President Agent Orange”. To emphasize their point, groups of people of many ethnicities were brought up onto the Grammy stage, ending the performance with Q-Tip shouting “resist!”, their message is clear.

4. And in the “Performance That Made Me Cry” category, John Legend and Cynthia Erivo singing The Beach Boys, God Only Knows during the In Memoriam portion. They delivered a moving version of the song which perfectly framed the long list of people we lost in the last year.

5. Adele for so many things! Her opening performance, her George Michael start and stop, her acceptance speeches and so much more! Even with an on air curse, she’s a classy lady and I love her.

In the honourary mentions category:

Kelsea Ballerini and Lukas Graham performing a mashup of Peter Pan and 7 Years. I’ve read that some people didn’t get it, I’m not in that camp. I loved this performance and thought they blended the two songs beautifully.

Metallica and Lady Gaga it was interesting and fun! I wouldn’t want to be the person who was responsible for James’ mic failure.

Did I miss your favourite? Tells us about it.

Please Welcome to the Stage… Boots & Hearts 2017 Predictions!

We’re just under 9 months away from Boots & Hearts 2017 at Burl’s Creek in Oro, ON – but it really doesn’t feel like that long at all!

In fact, we’ve already been thinking about B&H a lot, and while we can’t give you many details yet, we can tell you that we’re going to have some very, very exciting things coming up between now and festival season next year.

But for now we want to talk about the potential lineup for the 6th annual country music extravaganza… we don’t have any info that you don’t have. We haven’t talked to the Republic Live team for any tips or rumours. But I have come up with a list of 10 country artists that I think have a legit chance to play at Boots & Hearts next August.

This isn’t an old fashioned wish list, which is why you won’t see names like Garth Brooks, Shania, Reba, or Brooks & Dunn… although it would be really cool if any of those artists headlined. This list is made up of talent that we’ve either seen in the past and believe are a good fit for a return next year, or that we haven’t seen yet, and have a good reason to play such a sweet gig.

This wasn’t an easy list of 10 to make, which is why there are a few names at the bottom that could also be at B&H in 2017. And, I want you list too, so leave a comment!

In no particular order, here we go…

Doc Walker

With the release of Echo Road (their greatest hits record) and an upcoming album of new music in March 2017, Doc Walker are the perfect fit for B&H 2017. Whether they play the main stage, or the front porch, there’s no doubt that their collection of hits, and whatever new tunes they release will make for an entertaining set.

Bobby Wills

When The Lights Go Down Toronto Bobby Wills-8043CCMA nominations, top 10 singles, hot videos, and a growing legion of fans all point to Bobby Wills making his Boots & Hearts debut in 2017.

We’ve seen Bobby play some stages over the last few years, and we know that he has what it takes to pull a crowd in, have them singing along, and enjoying the party.

Little Big Town

In 2015 LBT had to pull out of the Boots & Hearts lineup… and we’re still waiting for them to come back and give us a show that we’ll be talking about long after they leave the stage.

We’ve seen them before and we can’t wait to see them again. Hopefully up on the main stage in front of 40,000 people.

Maren Morris

maren-morris-hero-albumMorris is on top of the world with the recognition that’s coming from singles like 80’s Mercedes and My Church. And if you haven’t heard the rest of Hero, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

We haven’t seen Morris live, but I have a feeling that a few thousand of our best friends singing along to My Church could be a highlight of the weekend.

Kelsea Ballerini

Love Me Like You Mean It, Dibs, and Peter Pan have been a strong start to Ballerini’s career. And after her performance at the 2016 Canadian Country Music Awards (where Boots & Hearts won for Country Festival, Fair or Exhibition of the Year) we know that a Canuck crowd can get behind she when she sings.

With another single sure to come soon, there’s no doubting Kelsi’s talent or popularity, or that she belongs at B&H 2017.

James Barker Band

James Barker Band SiriusXM Fan Stage BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016After winning the Emerging Artist Showcase in 2015 and performing on the main stage in 2016 the James Barker Band has certainly earned the love of the B&H crowd. And with the success of Lawn Chair Lazy and the release of Just Sayin’ – plus an EP coming in the (we hope) near future, we know that country fans are ready to cheer and sing and dance with James, Taylor, Bobby and Connor again at Boots & Hearts 2017!

Chris Stapleton

I know from talking to executive members of the Republic Live team that Chris Stapleton is just as adored internally as he is by the rest of the world. And after the success of Traveller, it’s impossible to think that the Boots & Hearts crowd wouldn’t go wild for the country crooner.

Stapleton played the main stage in 2014 – and he’d be welcome to do it again in 2017 we’re sure!

Brett Kissel

Brett Kissel CNE 2015Also a 2014 B&H alum, Kissel played the Coors Banquet Kick Off Party on the front porch stage… but he’s never been on the main stage.

In 2017, after winning the Fans’ Choice, Male Artist, and Interactive Artist of the Year awards at the CCMA’s this year, we know that thousands (tens of thousands) of Canadian country fans would be okay with the chance to sing along to Started With A Song, Airwaves, Come Pick Me Up, and 3, 2, 1. Bring it on Brett!

Runaway Angel

The first time we saw Runaway Angel they were on the Boots & Hearts stage in the Emerging Artist Showcase. And now, after having seen them grow and become more and more entertaining – we’re ready to see them back on the B&H stage.

Take a listen to No End In Sight (the debut album from Runaway Angel), close your eyes and imagine the songs coming from the stage.

Jessica Mitchell

Jessica Mitchell BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016-Jessica Mitchell stole a lot of hearts in the last year… mine included. Workin’ On Whiskey is the kind of song that gets stuck in your soul. And songs like That Record Saved My Life and Grown Up Things prove that she’s not just a one trick pony.

After opening for Kiefer Sutherland on his 2016 tour, playing a short set of her own on the Sirius XM stage at #BH5, and taking the stage as a special guest with Lindsay Ell, we know that Jessica is ready for an full sized audience of her own at Boots & Hearts in 2017.

BONUS: Keith Urban

keith-urban-ripcord-albumIf you’ve ever seen Urban live, you know he’s killer with a big crowd. And if you haven’t seen Keith Urban live, he should be on your bucket list!

Coming into the sixth year of the festival, it makes sense to try and lock up this guitar wizard for a headlining slot. If you’ve been at any other Boots & Hearts festival over the years you can expect the exact same kind of pandemonium for this set. Plus, there’s Ripcord (March 2016) to sing along to!

Also on my list, but just outside the top 10…

Darius Rucker, Lady Antebellum, Dallas Smith, Shae Dupuy, Terri Clark, Endless Summer, and Johnson Crook.

Who do you think we’ll see at Boots & Hearts 2017? Leave a comment telling us and we might just have some swag to send our favourite answers!



1 year ago February 2016 Playlist!

A new month is here… and we’re ready to fall in love with new music. And If you’re looking for some new tracks to learn and love in February, we’re here to help.

Check out our February 2016 playlist for some emerging talent, huge stars, and personal favourites.

If there are songs you think we should be adding to our playlist, because you LOVE them already – please leave a comment and let us know.

Check back in March to see what’s got our ears perked up then! February 2016 Playlist!

Maren Morris: 80s Mercedes

Jess Moskaluke: Take Me Home

When The Lights Go Down Toronto Jess-8076

The Katherines: Primitive

Autumn Hill: Mixtape

Autumn Hill

The Dirty Nil: Zombie EyedThe Dirty Nil Canadian Music Week 2014

Cam: Village

River Town Saints: A Little Bit Goes A Long Way

River Town Saints

Alive Through Memories: Keep Me Alive

Old Dominion: Snapback

Old Dominion Boots and Hearts 2015

Kelsea Ballerini: Peter Pan

Madeline Merlo: Whatcha Wanna Do About It

Justin Moore: You Look Like I Need A Drink

Justin Moore Boots and Hearts 2015

Mieke: Move On

Runaway Angel: Around The Bend

Dylan Scott: Crazy Over Me

Dylan Scott Boots and Hearts 2015 2

Tim McGraw: Humble And Kind

Keith Urban: Break On Me

Ian Thornley: Feel

Ian Fletcher Thornley at The Mod Club

Sia: Cheap Thrills

Weezer: King of the World

Weezer Riot Fest 2015


2 years ago

2015 Cavendish Beach Music Festival Preview: Artist Q&A

The 2015 Cavendish Beach Music Festival is only a week away – and if you love country music and you can get yourself down to PEI, we highly suggest doing it!

In fact, tickets to see Eric Church, Keith Urban, Kristian Bush, Jess Moskaluke, Brantley Gilbert, Livy Jeanne, High Valley, The Bros. Landreth, Dallas Smith, and more are still available. CLICK HERE TO GET CAVENDISH BEACH TICKETS!

We are 100% jealous of everyone going to this festival because we’ve seen some of these acts, and have others on our “Must See” list, and we’re sure that the whole thing is going to be awesome.

But, not being there is no reason not to get a little Q&A action in with 5 of the acts that are playing Cavendish Beach this year.

With many thanks to Kristian Bush, Jess Moskaluke, High Valley, Livy Jeanne, and The Bros. Landreth – we present to you our Cavendish Beach preview. Find out what music everyone is listening to, who they can’t wait to see on stage, what they LOVE to do on the beach, and more!


What is your favourite thing about getting up on stage and putting on a live show for country music fans?

The Bros Landreth Cavendish Beach 2015The Bros. Landreth: The best part of any show playing to any audience is watching a crowd of people let you in to their lives for just a few minutes and trust you to take them on a bit of a ride. That’s the height of performing for us. Sharing that vulnerable space and creating a moment together!

Livy Jeanne: My favourite thing about getting up on stage is being able to let people into my world of fun… To see people’s faces and forget about the craziness in their own lives and just enjoy the moment… I’ve always turned to music to cheer me up and make me feel something and that’s all I want for the people out there supporting me.

Kristian Bush: I love when we all find the same beat, and when we all sing together. I feel like the show isn’t really about me — it’s about YOU. Country music fans are some of the most incredible fans
anywhere. They love to have a good time, and they never give up — two qualities that I share.

Jess Moskaluke: All of it – The nerves. The excitement. The crowd singing their hearts out. Being onstage with my friends.

High Valley: Hearing fans sing along! Its the most amazing part of every show!

Which other artist(s) at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival are you most excited to see perform?

Livy Jeanne Cavendish Beach 2015

Livy Jeanne: I’m really excited to see Kristian Bush play. I was really lucky to debut at The Bluebird Café when he was playing a round. I have always listened to Sugarland growing up and I’m excited to see him play his new music.

The Bros. Landreth: Sadly, we’ve got to fly out almost right after our set this year, but if we could stick around I’d be really excited to see The Mavericks again. Livy Jeanne is a pal of ours who we’ve played with a number of times over the years and she always puts on a fabulous show!

Kristian Bush: I would love to see Steve Earle, but he’s on the day before me. I can’t wait to see Eric Church, and it has been a long while since I have seen the Mavericks. I’m going to be glued to the stage for both.

Jess Moskaluke: I wish I could stay all weekend… I’d love to see Eric Church and the Bros. Landreth!

High Valley: Keith Urban! HE IS A BOSS!

Are there any performers, country or otherwise, that have influenced your stage show?

Southern Gravity Album cover

Kristian Bush: I see a lot of shows and try to learn from every one. I have taken a lot from Bruce Springsteen, as well as everyone from Kenny Chesney to Pink. I love going to rock festivals and seeing how each band entertains while they perform their music. Honestly, beyond that? I make it up. My shows are different almost every day and the crowd becomes such a big part of my show.

The Bros. Landreth: Absolutely! Too many to count or to mention all of them here. The top ones for me are not country artists, but folks that we’ve played with as young side-men over the years. Jason Nowicki is a Winnipeg cat from a band called The Perpetrators and everything Rhino and I learned about getting in the zone on stage comes from him. He’s been our road guru for a long time. Joey played with a gospel artist named Steve Bell who has been a huge influence and mentor to all of us, Joey especially. Story telling, song writing, and zen on stage! Del Barber too, amazing storyteller and a captivating performer.

Livy Jeanne: People always ask me about an artist I would compare myself to… And I always say, if I could take a bit of the Dixie Chicks, a bit of Katy Perry and some other bits and pieces from here and there…. That would make up a Livy Jeanne Show.

Jess Moskaluke: Shania is a huge one for me. But so have lots of other tomatoes! Faith Hill, Martina McBride, and anyone from P!nk to Rihanna!

High Valley: Ricky Skaggs and Diamond Rio! Love those guys!

If we got a sneak peek at your playlist right now, who would we find as your top 3 most played artists or albums?

Jess Moskaluke Cavendish Beach 2015

Jess Moskaluke: Probably Sam Hunt, Shania Twain, and I’m really digging the new Kelsea Ballerini tunes, too.

The Bros. Landreth: Dawes – All Your Favourite Bands, Blake Mills – Heigh Ho, Brandi Clarke – The Story

Livy Jeanne: Right now on my playlist I have been listening to the Kelsea Ballerini Album on REPEAT… I really love her songs XO, Stilettos and Dibs… Big & Rich’s song “Runaway With You” and Ashley Monroe’s new song “Blade”

Kristian Bush: Well, let’s just look… right now it is Van Morrison, Little Big Town and Magic!

High Valley: Augustans, Needtobreathe, and Chris Stapleton.

In 50 words or less, tell us what the fans at Cavendish Beach can expect from your set this summer!

High Valley Cavendish Beach 2015

High Valley: Our live show features a lot of bluegrass infused pop with a ton of Northern Canadian energy! If your lucky I may just balance a banjo on my face.

The Bros. Landreth: A decidedly ramped up version of all of our favourite tracks from our album, “Let it Lie”, and a few new unrecorded songs. With a sprinkling of some of our favourite cover tunes of all time. And lots of smiles!

Livy Jeanne: Fans can expect a fun-filled, energetic set-list that will take you on a rollercoaster ride and always leave you on a high… leaving a smile on your face and a bounce in your step.

Kristian Bush: A mix of Sugarland songs and songs from my new solo album, Southern Gravity. I like to think of it as combination of Springsteen and Pharrell. I believe that music should either shake your hips or explode your heart, and I hope to do both at Cavendish.

Jess Moskaluke: They can expect some new tunes that I’m really excited about!

Last one, since this is a beach festival… favourite thing to do at the beach? 1. Tan 2. Swim 3. Build sandcastles 4. Play volleyball 5. Enjoy some cold beverages

High Valley on the beach

thank you to the boys for sending this adorable pic of Curtis.

The Bros. Landreth: Swimmin’!

Livy Jeanne: Even though I am terrible at sports, I do enjoy playing a little beach volleyball with some friends.

Kristian Bush: #1 swim, and #5 the cold beverages!

High Valley: 1. Tan – I think Brad likes tanning quite a bit. 2. Swim – Curtis loves getting tossed around by massive waves. 3. Build sandcastles – Curtis loves burying himself in the sand. Sand castles are cool too.

3 years ago
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