Kira Isabella

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 5

I love country covers of pop songs. It’s proof of the quality and versatility of the song, it’s fun as hell to sing along to, and when it’s live and the crowd is into it – it can be a big highlight on the night.

So, here we are with the fifth edition of 10 more awesome country covers, featuring some of our favourite new covers, and some that we’ve pulled from a few years ago.

This list also includes a country cover of a pop song… by the artist that recorded the pop song. AND, a pop cover of a country song that we love.

So, check ’em out one by one, sing along, and stay tuned for more awesome country covers part 6.

Listen to the tracks, enjoy, and leave a comment telling us which country cover you like best.

10 More Awesome Country Covers

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 2

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 3

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 4

Brett Young – Hallelujah

Thomas Rhett – Cold Water

Kira Isabella – Missing You

Dylan Scott – Closer

Cam – Uptown Funk

Johnson Crook – Listen to the Music

Leaving Thomas – Dance With Somebody

The Lovelocks – Time After Time

Jess Moskaluke – Starships

Miley Cyrus – See You Again

Bonus Pop Cover of a Country Song: Haim – That Don’t Impress Me Much

2 months ago Views

Have Your Say: 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Awards Nominees!

The Canadian Country Music Association has announced the full list of 2017 CCMA Awards nominees… and it’s an impressive list of Canadian country talent!

We are lucky and privileged to have covered, met, and seen these artists put on amazing lives shows, record fantastic music, and grow into their careers.

But now, because we know you have an opinion, we want to know who you think should win at the 2017 CCMA Awards in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Sunday, September 10th. Use the polls to vote and support your favourite artists, and use the link at the bottom of the list to cast your official vote for the Fans’ Choice Award!

Have fun – and congratulations to all of the nominees in 2017, you should all be proud of your accomplishments, we can’t wait to hear what you’ve got coming for us next.

Click Here to submit your official vote for the Fans’ Choice Award!

And Click Here to see the full list of nominees in all 2017 Canadian Country Music Association categories! 

4 months ago Views

Kira Isabella and JoJo Mason at Mohawk Racetrack

On Saturday, June 17th I had the pleasure of attending 34th running of the North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack. It wasn’t the horses and drivers that brought me there but the live entertainment.

Woodbine Entertainment put on an amazing event with prizes including the best seats in the house, a $1000 prize, fun NA Cup swag, great food and drinks, and more. With a $1,000,000 prize up for grabs in the big race, we had the cream of the crop of horses and drivers. Topping this off, a sweet country music show starring JoJo Mason and Kira Isabella.

What started out as a bit of a crap shoot weather-wise, turned into an amazing time complete with warm temperatures and no rain. There were lots of people in attendance and they were ready for exciting races and the great entertainment and they got both!

Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Kira Isabella

Kira Isabella took to the stage just after 5:00 pm and she very quickly let us know she’d dressed for rain and maybe, just maybe, a black jumpsuit wasn’t the best choice for the 30-degree temperatures. She looked awesome and she sang and danced enthusiastically throughout her set. Kira played through her hits, including Quarterback, I’m So Getting Over You, and Shake It If Ya Got It. She did a great cover medley which included Hotline Bling, Shape of You and Jackson and then she played us a brand new song, I Don’t Wanna Know. It’s a great ballad and I’m hoping you get to hear it on the radio soon.

She won over the crowd and finished up her set by introducing her band and while her guitar player sang, she disappeared off stage and came back waving a Canadian Flag. Who doesn’t love a little Canadian pride? The set ended and the substantial crowd slowly wandered back to watch Kira sing the American and Canadian anthems before the racing began.

JoJo Mason was up at 7:00 pm and while we waited for him to get started, Kira wandered back over to the merch tent hang out and chat with fans. She chatted, took photos with fans and even signed an Unfollow Delete I’m Done tank top for a fan.
Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Kira Isabella

JoJo Mason had the tough job of getting the crowd to leave the track and come listen to him sing. He arrived on stage with his signature JoJo smile and as he sung, the crowd started towards the stage. With his smooth voice and amazing audience engagement, he played a handful of songs and then let the crowd know he’d be back in a bit. JoJo sang throughout the evening, doing a couple of songs and then letting the racegoers head back to place their bets and watch their horses and drivers race past the finish line.
Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Jojo Mason

I’m not sure how he did it, but JoJo kept his cool, in spite of the very warm evening. The crowd got to hear Made for You,  Good Kind of Love, Red Dress and his brand new single Something to Wrap My Heart Around. He threw in some covers including Wagon Wheel and he may have dropped in a little of Bob Marley’s One Love into one of his songs.

It’s always about the fans with JoJo and he made sure to take the time to talk to everyone who wanted to talk and take photos with everyone who wanted them including these two sweet girls who were thrilled.

This was the first outdoor show of the season for both of these performers and they’re both happy to be back out, playing for the people of Canada. Kira’s currently got a duet with the Chris Buck Band, That’s When You Know, out on radio and JoJo released a brand new, full-length album on May 24th. It’s entitled Both Sides of the Bar and you can read our review right here!
Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Jojo MasonMORE PHOTOS OF KIRA ISABELLA

Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Kira Isabella Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Kira Isabella Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Kira Isabella Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Kira Isabella Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Kira IsabellaMohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Kira Isabella MORE PHOTOS OF JOJO MASONMohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Jojo Mason Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Jojo Mason Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Jojo Mason Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Jojo Mason Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Jojo Mason Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Jojo Mason Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Jojo MasonPHOTOS OF THE PEOPLE
Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup The People Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup The People Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup The People Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup The People Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup The People Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup The People

Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup The People

PHOTOS FROM THE PADDOCK AND THE TRACK
Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Behind the Scenes Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Behind the Scenes Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Behind the ScenesMohawk Racing

And what would race day be without these guys?

Mohawk Racing Pepsi NA Cup Trumpet Fanfare

 

5 months ago Views

5 Quick Questions with Kira Isabella!

We caught up with Canadian country music singer, songwriter, and sweetheart Kira Isabella during Canadian Country Music Week in London, ON and got her to answer 5 quick questions that we’ve never asked her before.

Big thanks to the 2012 Rising Star and 2013 Female Artist of the Year award winner for being awesome and sweet and funny. And without further ado, here are 5 quick questions with Kira Isabella…

ccma-2016-kira-isabella-1177

Q1: What is the 1 album you could listen to over and over again in the car without needing to change it?

Kira: Up! by Shania Twain

Q2: What was the first song you knew all the words to and could sing along to front to back?

Kira: Mama Mia by Abba (followed by a whole lot of laughing while we agreed about how great that song is.)

Q3: What is your #1 hobby when you’re not working on music?

Kira: Reading… real books, no e-readers. She may be have exaggerating, but she told us that there may be as many as 4 books in her bag at any time.

Q4: What one thing do you always need to have with you when you walk into a writing session?

Kira: Laptop. That’s where all the work gets done. (and Facebook, but she didn’t say that, we’re just pointing that out)

Q5: What artist should we be listening to right now that we might not be, or aren’t enough.

Kira: Maren Morris (who she knows we know, but we should be paying more attention) and Luke Combs (who we’ve seen Kira shout out on Twitter for his song Hurricane).

And there you have it, 5 quick questions with Kira Isabella.

Stay tuned for more!ccma-2016-kira-isabella-1178ccma-2016-kira-isabella-1149ccma-2016-kira-isabella-1151

1 year ago Views

CMT Music Fest 2016: Kira Isabella Main Stage & Interview!

On Saturday at CMT Music Fest we got to check out Canadian country music sweetheart, Kira Isabella on the main stage – and back stage for a little chit-chat interview.

With a mid-afternoon slot on the big stage, Kira did what she has consistently done over the last few years, show us that she is getting better and better and better as time goes by. The fans were all about it, singing and dancing and getting their phones out, to enjoy and also capture the moments as they were happening during day 2 of the festival.

CMT Music Fest - Kira IsabellaWhen we sat down with Kira after her set we asked her about the year 1 fest and how she thought it was going – and she had nothing but love to share. She cited the enthusiasm of the fans and the way the whole thing was running (weather excluded), calling it a hit… and hopes she’ll be back again to play in Kitchener for the same fans and more.

On stage Kira shared a few hits of her own with Real Good Radio, Gone Enough, Quarterback, A Little More Work – and her current single, I’m So Over Getting Over You. And then there was the medley.

If you’ve seen Kira live before you know that the medley is a staple of her show – but at CMT Music Fest we heard new songs thrown into the mix. In order (we think) it went something like this…
Hotline Bling (Drake)
Honey I’m Good (Andy Grammer)
I’m Just A Girl (No Doubt)
Counting Stars (One Republic)
Jackson (Johnny Cash and June Carter)
Sorry (Justin Bieber)
Stuck Like Glue (Sugarland)
Can’t Hold Us (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis)

CMT Music Fest - Kira IsabellaWe mentioned the I’m So Over Getting Over You tank tops we saw girls wearing in the crowd and how much we loved them – and Kira told us that she thinks it might be good to get some guys shirts made too… and I agreed. And then we laughed. It was a moment. And you can see it in our Facebook Live video. For real. Click Here.

Before we were done chatting we also talked about September’s CCMA Awards in London, ON which is getting more and more exciting the closer it gets, especially having it back in Ontario. And we talked about what’s coming next, and while Kira says there isn’t a “next” single picked yet, she did come back from her last trip to Nashville with a bunch of tracks she’s into… but first she wants to ride the wave that I’m So Over Getting Over You has brought her, and we can’t argue with that.

Kira wrapped her set on the CMT Music Fest main stage with A Little More Work, and the feet tapped and the girls danced and the voices in the afternoon crowd sang along.

This Ontario country girl is a fan favourite, and one of ours too. If you have a chance to see her any time soon, take it. In a bar or a club or at a festival like this one – you won’t regret it!

CMT Music Fest - Kira IsabellaCMT Music Fest - Kira IsabellaCMT Music Fest - Kira IsabellaCMT Music Fest - Kira IsabellaCMT Music Fest - Kira IsabellaCMT Music Fest - Kira IsabellaCMT Music Fest - Kira IsabellaCMT Music Fest - Kira IsabellaCMT Music Fest - Kira Isabella

1 year ago Views

CMT Music Fest Day-to-Day Schedule and Set Times

Set times are now up for CMT Music Fest and it’s looking like there shouldn’t be too much overlap and that’s good news for all of us.

If you’re looking for more details you can hop on over to the CMT Music Fest page using THIS LINK. They’ve got some great artist profiles up if you’re looking for more details.

Friday, July 8

eric church fb cmtMaple Leaf Stage

Eric Ethridge: 4:30
Ben Hudson: 5:15
James Barker Band: 6:00
Andrew Hyatt: 7:00
Lindi Ortega: 8:00

Main Stage

Kansas Stone: 4:40
Meghan Patrick: 5:35
Brothers Osborne: 6:35
Kip Moore: 7:55
Eric Church: 9:15

Saturday, July 9

Zac Brown Band CMT Music Fest 2016Maple Leaf Stage

Them Dang Rattlers: 3:00
Leah Daniels: 4:00
The Washboard Union: 5:15
Cold Creek County: 6:40

Main Stage

Drake White and The Big Fire: 2:50
Kira Isabella: 4:10
The Road Hammers: 5:30
Tom Cochrane with Red Rider: 6:50
Zac Brown Band: 8:35

A few quicks facts you might want to know:

Where is Bingemans located?
Bingemans, located at
425 Bingemans Centre Drive,
Kitchener, ON
N2B 3X7

What are the festival hours?
Friday, July 8 – 4:00pm until 11:00pm
Saturday, July 9 – 2:00pm until 11:00pm

Is the site wheelchair accessible?

Yes, both the venue and activities are wheelchair accessible.

Is there parking on site?
There is no parking available onsite at Bingemans. There will be a drop-off zone and there is an offsite parking lot with shuttle services check out this link for all the details!

Is there camping?
There is camping for campers who are 19+, check out the camping link for all the details.

Is the event family friendly?
Children are welcome at the festival but must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Note camping is only available for 19+.

The CMT Music Fest has a complete FAQ if we haven’t answered your question yet!

We’re getting very, very excited and can’t wait to see you there!

1 year ago Views

CMT Music Fest 2016 Performer Q&A with The Road Hammers, Kira Isabella & Lindi Ortega!

CMT Music Fest is coming to Kitchener this summer… and it’s going to be HUGE!

For 2 days (July 8 & 9) some of country music’s biggest stars and most talented emerging artists will be taking the stage at Bingemans to entertain thousands of fans ready to have a good time in the July heat. The Friday and Saturday festival is bringing no fewer than 15 artists (more could be coming… we’re watching for that) to play, with Eric Church (Friday) and Zac Brown Band (Saturday) headlining.

The lineup also includes – Kip Moore, Tom Cochrane with Red Rider, Brothers Osborne, The Road Hammers, Kira Isabella, Cold Creek County, The Washboard Union, Lindi Ortega, Leah Daniels, Drake White and the Big Fire, Meghan Patrick, Andrew Hyatt, and the James Barker Band – so you should know it’s going to be a good time.

And, to get you revved up for the festival we have a Q&A with 3 of the performers right here for you! Check out these 10 answers from Jason McCoy of The Road Hammers, Kira Isabella, and Lindi Ortega.

Enjoy… and stay tuned because we’re got more coming from CMT Music Fest 2016, and you’re going to want to see it. (Trust us)

Q. Tell us a little bit about your first music festival experience, either as a performer or as a fan.

The Roadhammers Boots and Hearts 2015The Road Hammers: Festivals are always great… it’s a gathering of like minded souls both on and off stage, so the community feeling is there… better than that, it’s a family feeling in a way.

Kira Isabella: The first festival experience I ever had was going to see The Tragically Hip at Bluesfest in Ottawa. I was with my parents in the pouring rain and I just remember thinking how rock ’n’ roll, and exciting the whole experience was.

Lindi Ortega: When I was younger I went to this festival called “Another Roadside Attraction”. It was my first time seeing Los Lobos. I loved them so much because the movie “La Bamba” was my favourite and they did a lot of the Richie Valens tunes on the soundtrack. It was so cool for me to hear their original material. I had a great time. I was a kid and loved being at a festival.

Q. What’s your best piece of advice for a first time festival attendee?

Kira Isabella: The advice I’d give a first time festival attendee would be to pace yourself!! It’s a long day/weekend. Not everyone needs alcohol to have a good time of course BUT if you are planning on drinking, be responsible, and make sure you’re careful about mixing alcohol in with the very hot sun!!

Lindi Ortega: Always carry hand sanitizer in case you can’t wash your hands after using the port-o-potties. A small flashlight is great for port-o-potties at night. Wear sunscreen. And buy the artists records and support them if you like what you hear and see live!

The Road Hammers: Soak up every second, and make sure you catch the acts on early in the afternoon… you never know who will be the headliner next year… and you’ll be able to say… “I saw them when they were the opener”! Enjoy the party atmosphere, remember, CMT is the home of Country Music, so, ya’ll is at home at CMT Music Fest… let yer hair down!

Q. What can someone who’s never seen you play before expect from your live performance?

Lindi Ortega The Rivoli Toronto 2013Lindi Ortega: Well, I dance my ass off while singing my heart out and I have a killer band. So there’s that!

The Road Hammers: The Hammers are fun fun fun,… oh, and loud!… we always say, ‘if it weren’t for the fans, our show would just be a rehearsal… they’re the party, we’re the sound track… so let’s have some fun!”

Kira Isabella: I just want people to have as much fun as possible. I’ve been known to get fans on stage dancing, etc.

Q. Do you have any pre-show rituals?

The Road Hammers: We tend to drink a lot of coffee, red bull, that type of thing… Clay does about a thousand sit ups, and we rock out to some ACDC to get pumped… heck, that’s pretty much an average morning for us too!

Kira Isabella: I think the most important pre show ritual I have is my vocal warm up. I do a few exercises and then I just sing through some of my favourite songs (“Like We Never Loved At All” by Faith Hill & Tim McGraw, “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys…) and I make sure I have some quality time to spend hanging with my band talking through the show. We all have a really great energy together and we usually just hang with each other until it’s time to walk to the stage.

Lindi Ortega: I dance in a circle around a fire and sacrifice a… Oh wait never mind, that’s only on the new moon. Nah, I just goof around with my band and get pumped to jump on stage and rock out!

Q. What does being a part of the inaugural CMT Music Fest mean to you?

Kira Isabella CNE 2014 FeatureKira Isabella: Being part of the first inaugural CMT Fest means so much to me. It’s such an honour to be one of the first artists that ever play it. History!

Lindi Ortega: I’m honoured they invited me. I know I’m not your typical country artist and my style veers sometimes into blues, rockabilly and soul. But hey, it’s good to have some variety. Maybe they were thinking the same thing!

The Road Hammers: Like I said, CMT is the Home of Country Music, nobody does it better, so you know it’s all going to be about the fans… and they’re the ones who make it a party! Of all the artists on the Country Music landscape, it’s a big honour that they would invite us to be part of the launch, of what will definitely be an historical weekend!! Epic!

Q. Who/What are you most looking forward to seeing at CMT Music Fest?

Lindi Ortega: Everyone! I’m sure it will be super fun! I know new country has been a lot about the bromance lately, so I think I’ll go find the ladies performing and cheerlead for em side stage!

The Road Hammers: I got to hang with Drake White when we toured Australia with him earlier this year, so I’m looking forward to seeing him again, great guy… also pumped to see Eric Church again, ZBB, Washboard Union, Meghan Patrick, it’s going to be a great music weekend.

Kira Isabella: Other than getting to play my set, Eric Church!! I’ve never seen him live before so you’d better believe I’ll be in the crowd!!

Q. What has been your most memorable festival experience?

The Road Hammers Press Photo 2016The Road Hammers: There are too many to count, it’s been awesome. Most recently though, I’d say looking out into a sea of 30K people at CMC Rocks the Queensland in Australia and seeing people holding up Canadian flags and Road Hammer signs… unbelievable!

Kira Isabella: The most memorable festival experience I ever had was at Cavendish in 2014, the year of Hurricane Arthur. Unfortunately, they canceled the festival but all of the artists still wanted to play so we had an impromptu show at a local bar in town called Fishbones! So many people still came out to the show even though it was pouring rain and the power was going on and off etc..

I ended up getting to play the real festival the next summer… but I’ll never forget the spirit of the people out there in P.E.I during that crazy storm!

Lindi Ortega: One time I had lunch with singer Jenny Lewis and actress Kirsten Dunst at a festival in Sweden.

Q. Do you have any advice for someone who might be playing a festival for the first time?

Kira Isabella: I would tell someone who is playing a festival for the first time to just make sure they do whatever they need to do to be prepared… their rehearsals, pre show rituals, etc. But at the end of the day just be yourself and have fun. Country fans are all very genuine themselves and that’s what they want to see up there on stage.

Lindi Ortega: Have fun!!!!!

The Road Hammers: Don’t be nervous, the truth is, ain’t nobody can be ‘YOU’ so be the best you possible, and enjoy every second of it… there’s a reason they asked you to play there so play loud and be proud!

Q. Does your set list change in a festival setting?

Lindi Ortega Press Photo 2016 credit Julie MoeLindi Ortega: Depends how long the set is! If we only have a short set then we usually play more of the upbeat tunes cause we love when people dance and have a good ol’ time!

The Road Hammers: Sometimes we actually throw in songs on the fly if the spirit moves us… or if someone shouts out a song we hadn’t planned on we’ll just count it out and let ‘er rip. I think the true magic happens on the big stage when you treat it like it could be in your living room… just be yourself and have fun!

Kira Isabella: My set list doesn’t really change much in a festival setting. I think what changes is the amount of energy you’re using. I always feel like I’ve left my heart on the stage by the end of the show, but on a bigger festival stage, you’re definitely more out of breath.

Q. Name three artists that would play “your” music festival if you could book anyone in the world?

Kira Isabella Press Photo 2016Kira Isabella:
Jason Aldean
Eric Church
Miranda Lambert

Lindi Ortega: Willie Nelson, Corb Lund, and Daniel Romano!

The Road Hammers: Heck, you kidding me, they’re all at CMT Music Fest!

Click here to get your CMT Music Fest 2016 tickets… now!

CMT Music Fest 2016

1 year ago Views

2016 CMAO Awards Red Carpet & Green Room Photo Review!

The Country Music Association of Ontario Awards were full of super talented, and pretty good looking people… and we have the photos to prove it!

Check out some of the looks from the red carpet first (and leave a comment telling us who you think looked the best) and then have a look at some photos from the green room that Ray was able to snap as award winners and other fine Ontario country artists came through during the show.

Enjoy!

The 2016 CMAO Awards Red Carpet

Jason McCoy
CMAO Awards 2016 Jason McCoy Red Carpet-12CMAO Awards 2016 Jason McCoy Red Carpet-11

Jason Blaine
CMAO Awards 2016 Jason Blaine Red Carpet-6

Leah DanielsCMAO Awards 2016 Leah Daniels Red Carpet-23

Autumn HillCMAO Awards 2016 Autumn Hill Red Carpet-24CMAO Awards 2016 Autumn Hill Red Carpet-25

Small Town PistolsCMAO Awards 2016 Small Town Pistols Red Carpet-2433

Lindsay EllCMAO Awards 2016 Lindsay Ell Red Carpet-15CMAO Awards 2016 Lindsay Ell Red Carpet-14

Meghan PatrickCMAO Awards 2016 Meghan Patrick Red Carpet-22CMAO Awards 2016 Meghan Patrick Red Carpet-21

TebeyCMAO Awards 2016 Tebey Red Carpet-8

River Town SaintsCMAO Awards 2016 River Town Saints Red Carpet-4

Madeline MerloCMAO Awards 2016 Madeline Merlot Red Carpet-13

Ali Raney (The Lovelocks)CMAO Awards 2016 Ali Rainey - The Lovelocks Red Carpet-9

Runaway AngelCMAO Awards 2016 Runaway Angel Red Carpet-17CMAO Awards 2016 Runaway Angel Red Carpet-16

Cold Creek CountyCMAO Awards 2016 Cold Creek County Red Carpet-7

Lindsay BroughtonCMAO Awards 2016 Lindsay Broughton Red Carpet-19

Jessica MitchellCMAO Awards 2016 Jessica Mitchell Red Carpet-20

Andrew HyattCMAO Awards 2016 Andrew Hyatt Red Carpet-2

Marshall DaneCMAO Awards 2016 Marshall Dane Red Carpet-1

The 2016 CMAO Awards Green Room

Jason BlaineCMAO Awards 2016 Jason Blaine Winner-26

Leah DanielsCMAO Awards 2016 Leah Daniels Green Room-34CMAO Awards 2016 Leah Daniels Green Room-31

TebeyCMAO Awards 2016 Tebey Winner-36

Cold Creek County
CMAO Awards 2016 Cold Creek County Winner-37

Prairie OysterCMAO Awards 2016 Prarie Oyster Winners-2555

KX 94.7 HamiltonCMAO Awards 2016 KX94.7-27

107.3 TillsonburgCMAO Awards 2016 CJDL-FM (Country 107.3), Tillsonburg-28

CMAO Awards 2016 Meghan Patrick, Kira Isabella, Leah Daniels Green Room-33CMAO Awards 2016 Tebey, Meghan Patrick Green Room-35CMAO Awards 2016 Green Room-32CMAO Awards 2016 Badges-2565

1 year ago Views

Free Soul: Madeline Merlo Album Review & Contest!

BC born and raised, Madline Merlo has been working and waiting for this moment… and now it’s here.

Merlo’s debut album, Free Soul, two years in the making, comes to country fans this Friday, April 29 from Open Road Recordings, and will not leave listeners disappointed. It’s a treat to get an 11 song album from a young artist, with the resurgence of EPs in music recently, and it’s a treat we’re excited to receive.

We’ve had a chance to sit down with Free Soul over the last few days and take in the tracks… over and over again. And the reason we’ve done it is simple. We like it.

Fans who have followed Madeline, or are familiar with 2015’s breakout hit, Honey Jack, know that she can sing. Add her 2015 Rising Star award from the Canadian Country Music Association, and it’s no secret that Madeline Merlo has talent. But talent alone doesn’t equal a great album.

Madeline Merlo, Free Soul Tracklist

MadelineMerlo_FreeSoul Album Cover1. Whatcha Wanna Do About It
2. War Paint
3. Over and Over
4. Holding on to Freedom
5. Tumbling
6. Honey Jack
7. Ready to Say Goodnight (ft. Tim Hicks)
8. Crush
9. Sinking Like a Stone
10. Alive
11. Twist of Fate

Free Soul features 4 songs that may sound familiar… 2014 singles Sinking Like A Stone & Alive, 2015’s Honey Jack, and her current Top 10 single, Whatcha Wanna Do About It. All four of those tracks, plus the 7 new songs that fans will soon have their hands on are well written, well produced, and well executed on the microphone by Ms. Merlo.

It can sometimes feel early to add young talent to the list of names demanding attention and radio play, but this album will firmly put Madeline Merlo in the same company as Canadians Jess Moskaluke and Kira Isabella, and it should. It’s that good.

The songs, top to bottom, combine sweetness and sass, with energy that makes it fun to listen to. You’ll want to dance at points, you’ll want to close your eyes and listen at others, and it won’t be long before you’re singing along.

Madeline Merlo The Phoenix Toronto December 2015On the singing along front, we’re looking forward to seeing Madeline at Boots & Hearts this summer where we know the crowd will be 100% involved. And while we can’t promise anything… it would seem like a perfect opportunity (if scheduling permits) for Tim Hicks to hop up on stage to sing Ready to Say Goodnight.

Madeline told us how excited she was for this album to be completed and out into the world when we spoke with her last December… and now that it is, we want to help you get your hands on it.

Enter now using the widget below and you could win 1 of 3 copies of Madeline Merlo’s new album, Free Soul. Take care to follow all instructions provided to confirm your entries count, and for an extra chance to win, follow @thereviewsarein on Twitter this Wednesday, April 27 for your chance to win as well.

Good luck!

Whatcha Wanna Do About It

2 years ago Views

It Don’t Work Like That: Vanessa Marie Carter Live at The Ranch!

A few weeks back I saw a young, talented artist named Vanessa Marie Carter when she was one of the opening acts for Canadian country giant, George Canyon.

Vanessa played a few songs and sounded good, but I wanted to see for myself what she could do with more than just a few songs. And what better place than The Stampede Ranch in Guelph, where you have 3-4 sets in a few hours instead of a few songs in just a few minutes as an opening act.

Vanessa Marie Carter The Ranch

Photo by Ray Williams

If you’ve ever been to the Ranch, you know that it’s rare to see anyone on the floor for the first set. But this time, back in the corner, the dancing started early. No one ever wants to be the first on the floor… but then there’s always one song that gets the crowd up. And for Vanessa and her crowd it was That Don’t impress Me Much by none other than Canada’s very own Shania Twain!

I’ll be honest, I would have liked to hear more of Vanessa’s own music that she co-wrote with some Nashville writers. But on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at the bar you always hear a lot of covers. What I found very impressive was that Vanessa’s stage presence. She was up dancing and interacting with the crowd, something you don’t usually see this early in an artist’s career.

Vanessa opened for Kira Isabella in 2014, in 2015 it was Brett Kissel and the Band Perry, and so far in 2016, she’s already been on stage supporting George Canyon. So now we have to ask ourselves who this Oakville native will open for next?!

For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Vanessa does have some tour dates coming up in Toronto and Kitchener… so if you’re in the area – check her out!

Vanessa Marie Carter The Ranch

Photo by Ray Williams

Vanessa Marie Carter The Ranch

Photo by Ray Williams

Vanessa Marie Carter The Ranch

Photo by Ray Williams

Vanessa Marie Carter The Ranch

Photo by Ray Williams

Vanessa Marie Carter The Ranch

Photo by Ray Williams

Vanessa Marie Carter The Ranch

Photo by Ray Williams

Vanessa Marie Carter The Ranch

Photo by Ray Williams

Vanessa Marie Carter The Ranch

Photo by Ray Williams

2 years ago Views

2016 Country Music Association of Ontario Award Nominees!

Autumn Hill at the 2015 CMAO Awards.

Autumn Hill at the 2015 CMAO Awards.

Over the last few years it’s been clear to see that Ontario is becoming a country music hotbed. Artists like Tim Hicks, Tebey, Small Town Pistols, Autumn Hill, and Kira Isabella have lit up country radio + stages all over the province, and across Canada… and it’s been awesome to watch.

2016 looks like it’s going to be another big year, and today we’re happy to help announce the Country Music Association of Ontario award nominees. All of the CMAO Awards categories are packed with talent, which makes things both exciting and difficult.

As voting members of the CMAO we won’t be sharing any predictions or votes in this post, but we can tell you that these categories are so hard to choose winners in that we have not agreed on more than a couple of our choices. Really, it’s not easy!

Tebey Performance CMAO Awards 2015-3930

Tebey at the 2015 CMAO Awards.

The CMAO Awards will be handed out on Monday, May 30 at the Flato Markham Theatre… and you could be there. Very soon we will welcome all Ontario country music fans to enter for your chance to win 2 tickets to both the Country Music Association of Ontario Award Show and the CMAO R2I Spring Tune-Up Conference in Markham (May 28 & 29). Plus you should stay tuned to our Twitter over the next few weeks because we’ll have more prizes to give away as well!

Now, the big news… if you’re ready!

2016 Country Music Association of Ontario Awards Nominees

Single of the Year

“Blame” – Autumn Hill
“Bring Your Own Sunshine” – Tianna Woods
“Country Side” – Jason Blaine
“Go Back” – Leah Daniels
“My Someday” – Runaway Angel
“Our Town” – Cold Creek County
“When the Buzz Wears Off” – Tebey

Album of the Year

5:01+ – Tim Hicks
Anchor – Autumn Hill
Pistology – Small Town Pistols
Tianna Woods – Tianna Woods
What It Feels Like – Leah Daniels
What Love Is All About – Johnny Reid

Songwriter(s) of the Year

Deric Ruttan, Jonathan Singleton – “Don’t It Feel Good” performed by Deric Ruttan
Jason Blaine, Deric Ruttan – “Country Side” performed by Jason Blaine
Leah Daniels, Beverley Mahood, Patricia Conroy – “Dream Without You” performed by Leah Daniels
Shane Guse, Larry Wayne Clark – “Sweet Harriet” performed by The Western Swing Authority
Stacey Zegers, Cadence Grace, Ann Chaplin, Dave Thomson – “My Someday” performed by Runaway Angel
Tebey – “When The Buzz Wears Off” performed by Tebey

Female Artist of the Year

Genevieve Fisher
Jessica Mitchell
Kira Isabella
Leah Daniels
Lindsay Broughton
Tianna Woods

Male Artist of the Year

Deric Ruttan
Jason Blaine
Johnny Reid
Marshall Dane
Tebey
Tim Hicks

Group or Duo of the Year

Autumn Hill
Blackwell
Cold Creek County
Runaway Angel
Small Town Pistols
The Western Swing Authority

Roots Artist or Group of the Year

Heather Ballentine
Lindi Ortega
The Good Family
The Lovelocks
The Western Swing Authority
Whitney Rose

Rising Star Award

Ben Hudson
Brooklyn Roebuck
Cold Creek County
Cory Marquardt
Heather Ballentine
Jessica Mitchell

Music Video of the Year

“A Picture of You” – Johnny Reid
“Country Side” – Jason Blaine
“My Someday” – Runaway Angel
“Old Piano” – Leah Daniels
“One Horse Town” – The Road Hammers Feat. Tim Hicks
“When The Buzz Wears Off” – Tebey

Record Producer(s) of the Year

Dave “Dwave” Thomson – Old Piano by Leah Daniels
Jason Barry – Run Angel Run by Runaway Angel; Now Playing and Sweet Harriet by The Western Swing Authority; Boomerang by Genevieve Fisher; Toes by Scotty James
Jason Blaine & Deric Ruttan – Country Side by Jason Blaine
Rick Hutt – Bring Your Own Sunshine by Tianna Woods
Scott Cooke – Our Town by Cold Creek County
Tebey & Danick Dupelle – When The Buzz Wears Off/Jealous Of The Sun by Tebey

Radio Station of the Year – Major Market

CHCQ-FM (Cool 100.1 FM), Belleville
CHKX-FM (KX 94.7), Hamilton
CICX-FM (KICX 106), Orillia
CJKX-FM 95.9 (KX 96), Oshawa
CKBY-FM (Country 101.1), Ottawa
CKDK-FM 103.9 (Country 104), Woodstock
CKKL-FM (New Country 94), Ottawa

Radio Station of the Year – Secondary Market

CFCO-FM 92.9 (Country 929), Chatham
CFRM-FM (Country 103), Little Current
CHVR-FM 96.7 (Star 96FM), Pembroke
CJDL-FM (Country 107.3), Tillsonburg
CJQM-FM 104 (Country 104.3), Sault Ste Marie
CKYC-FM 93.7 (Country 93), Owen Sound

Fans’ Choice Award

Autumn Hill
Cold Creek County
Jason Blaine
Steven Lee Olsen
Tebey
Tim Hicks

Congratulations to all of the nominees – including Jason Blaine, Leah Daniels and Tebey, who lead the way with five nominations apiece!

CMAO Album of the Year 2016CMAO Female Artist of the YearCMAO Male Artist of the Year 2016CMAO 2016 Group or Duo of the Year

jason-blaine-red-carpet-cmao-awards-2015-3602

Jason Blaine

Tim Hicks Red Carpet CMAO Awards 2015-3663

Tim Hicks

Runaway Angel

Runaway Angel

The Lovelocks CMAO Awards 2015-3907

The Lovelocks

Tebey Red Carpet CMAO Awards 2015-3777

Tebey

Leah Daniels at the 2015 CMAO Awards.

Leah Daniels

Lindsay Broughton at the 2015 CMAO Awards.

Lindsay Broughton

Deric Ruttan Red Carpet CMAO Awards 2015-3787

Deric Ruttan

Small Town Pistols Red Carpet CMAO Awards 2015-3692

Small Town Pistols

2 years ago Views

CMT Music Fest Artist Announcement #2

CMT Fest Kip MooreAn already impressive year 1 lineup at CMT Music Fest just got bigger with the addition of Kip Moore, Tom Cochrane with Red Rider, Drake White and the Big Fire and Brothers Osborne to the July 8 & 9 festival.

With major headliners already in place, these additions do a great job of bringing more music to the weekend from acts that have fans happy, happy to have the chance to see them!

Related: Are Y’all Ready? CMT Music Fest 2016 Announced!

We’re already pumped for this one, we have been since February 1st when the festival was announced. And while some people may think that there are too many festivals, or that things are getting out of hand – we say this…

If you want to put on a festival with awesome music, we’ll be excited about it – and we hope you’re successful and do it again next year. Bonne chance!

Let’s take a look at the full list of CMT Music Fest performers… so far.

✩ Eric Church
✩ Zac Brown Band
✩ Kip Moore
✩ Tom Cochrane with Red Rider
✩ Brothers Osborne
✩ The Road Hammers
✩ Kira Isabella
✩ Cold Creek County
✩ The Washboard Union
✩ Lindi Ortega
✩ Leah Daniels
✩ Drake White and the Big Fire
✩ Meghan Patrick
✩ Andrew Hyatt

That’s 14 acts ready to take the stage at Bingemans in Kitchener, Ontario.

14 acts ready to give you everything they’ve got.

14 acts that we can’t wait to see in the hot summer sun.

And 14 acts that you can see too – just get yourself a ticket and meet us there! 

In all seriousness, we’re pretty pumped about this one. Add it to a busy, busy summer of music coming our way, and it would be easy to say that things are going to be pretty awesome for country music fans, and music fans of all genres in the summer of 2016.
Stay tuned for more… we have a feeling CMT Music Fest might have something else coming.

Be Awesome!

Bingemans Kitchener Ontario Map

2 years ago Views

Are Y’all Ready? CMT Music Fest 2016 Announced!

Well, well, well… it looks like there’s a new player on the Ontario country music festival scene in 2016, and it’s none other than CMT.

So many of us have spent hours and hours and hours watching CMT for country music videos – and now that same team will be bringing live music to Bingemans grounds in Kitchener, Ontario. And they are bringing out some big guns to play July 8 and 9, 2016!

Here are the first 10 acts announced… with a promise from cmtmusicfest.ca that more names are coming and that we won’t be disappointed!

CMT Music Fest 2016 Artists!

Eric Church

Mr. Misunderstood himself has been tapped to headline CMT Music Fest, and it’s a great choice. We saw Church last summer at Boots & Hearts and he absolutely killed it. Ask around, many of the 40,000 in attendance will tell you that he was their highlight of the weekend.

Eric Church Boots and Hearts 2015

Zac Brown Band

One of Nashville’s biggest acts (and still one we haven’t seen live) Zac Brown and his boys look like a ton of fun when they play live. Have a look through YouTube and you’ll find awesome performances, including covers of Metallica and Rage Against The Machine.

Zac Brown Band CMT Music Fest 2016

Andrew Hyatt

From the Nickel mines in Sudbury to country music stages across Canada, Hyatt’s story is pure country music at its best. CMT Music Fest 2016 is going to be an awesome chance for Andrew to show fans what he’s got and why he belongs with the rest of the names on this list!

BSOMF Andrew Hyatt Burlington Sound of Music Festival

Cold Creek County

We just shouted them out in our Country Music Youth Movement post, and they’re another solid choice for Music Fest 2016. We’ve saw them live twice in 2015, and they’re poised to have a great year coming up…

Cold Creek County CNE 2015

Kira Isabella

Another young star in Canadian country music, Isabella has grown as a performer every time we’ve seen her over the last few years… and if that pattern holds (which we think it will) the fans in Kitchener are going to love her set.

Kira Isabella 2014 CNE Header

Leah Daniels

Yet another name from our Youth Movement piece, Leah continues to work hard and impress every time we see her. We just had a short conversation with Ms. Daniels last week and we won’t spoil any surprises – but we can tell you that a new single and video are coming soon, and you’re gonna love them.

Steak Stock 2015 Leah Daniels Go Back

Lindi Ortega

Lindi is blowing up south of the border, and her rootsy style of country music is going to be a great add to the acts on this bill. With fans like Willie Nelson in her corner, Lindi is only going to get more and more popular very soon!

Lindi Ortega, The Rivoli Toronto

Meghan Patrick

One of our fav Ontario locals, Meghan Patrick is “this close” to blowing you all away. Her debut single and album are on the way in spring 2016, and after seeing her with her old band, solo acoustic, and killing it at her CMW 2015 showcase, we firmly believe that a star will be born. Be ready for it!

Meghan Patrick Guitar

The Road Hammers

What is there to say about these guys? The Road Hammers are fixtures in the Canadian country music community, and having them at a 1st year festival is a fantastic idea. The showmanship, musicianship, and love for their fans that these 3 dudes exhibit is top notch. Plus, Jason, Clay, and Chris are solid people.

The Road Hammers Boots and Hearts 2015

The Washboard Union

Former winners of the British Columbia Country Music Association Roots Artist of the Year award, these 3 dudes put in work when it comes to their craft – and they have a lot of fun at the same time. It’s a combination of dedication and passion that has them on this list of 10 country acts for CMT Music Fest 2016!

David Robertson The Washboard Union

Tickets for CMT Music Fest 2016 go on sale thus Friday, February 5 at 10am EST… just click this link, bookmark it, or keep it open, or whatever you’ve gotta do, and be ready -> http://cmtmusicfest.com/tickets/

Bingemans in Kitchener, Ontario

Bingemans Kitchener Ontario Map

2 years ago Views

Welcome to the Country Music Youth Movement

Music, like all things in life, goes through phases. We embrace the things and people we love and hold onto them for years at a time, sometimes overlooking what and who comes next because of our tunnel vision. But right now we are knee deep in a country music youth movement that is turning over the landscape and offering up new music to the masses.

And for anyone still holding onto that tunnel vision of the music and musicians they’ve been in love with… it’s time to start looking around at what’s on the horizon.

In Canada alone we could book an entire emerging artists festival with the talent that is piling up with major labels and on the indie circuit. Their songs are earning radio play, streaming at great numbers, and climbing download charts right beside heavyweights that we know and love.

The Roadhammers Boots and Hearts 2015Note: I don’t at all mean for this post to say that we don’t love the music and musicians that have paid their dues and paved the way for this new wave. Artists like Paul Brandt, Terri Clark, Jason McCoy, Michelle Wright, Patricia Conroy, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Charlie Major are the reason we love Canadian country music in the first place – and that won’t ever change.

We’ve done the fantasy booking thing before, so we’re not going to do that right now. But we do want to share some of the names that are shaking up the country music world in this country. And we’ll give some love to the artists from the US that are doing the same thing.

We also want to know who you’re loving on the up and coming side of things… because sharing is caring, and one of the best ways to find new music is to be told about it by other people who have discovered it. So leave us a comment, give us a link, tell us what young country artists you’re loving right now.

Brett Kissel in the crowd Boots and Hearts 2014

Brett Kissel

Across the country, names like Brett Kissel, Jess Moskaluke, Kira Isabella, Madeline Merlo, and Autumn Hill are already becoming well known. Their hit songs, big tours, and great talent have pushed them into the conversation with stars like Dean Brody, Small Town Pistols, Chad Brownlee, Dallas Smith, and High Valley – and they deserve to be there. But… that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Some of you will also know names like Cold Creek County, River Town Saints, Wes Mack, Leah Daniels, Lindsay Broughton, Jordan McIntosh, Livy Jeanne – they’ve popped up on your playlists, on the radio, and on tour with some of the biggest names in the business. Hell, when Wes Mack opened for Shania Twain in 2015 he took a GIANT step forward in his career, but it’s because his album, Edge Of The Storm, that he remains in the minds of fans who saw those shows.

What’s even more awesome is that we’re a full dozen names into this list of emerging Canadian talent in country music and we are nowhere near done shouting out the singers and songwriters that we came up with in a 10 minute brainstorm.

The Reklaws Boots and Hearts 2015

The Reklaws

Raise your hand if you’re familiar with any of these names… Runaway Angel, Meghan Patrick, Lisa Nicole, Trinity Bradshaw, Cory Marquardt, Twin Kennedy, Jason Benoit, Abby Stewart, Petric, The Reklaws, Johnson Crook, Leanne Pearson, Robyn & Ryleigh, Tenille, Whitney Rose, The Lovelocks, Lindsay Ell, One More Girl, Yoan, Kaitlin Kozell, Eric Ethridge, James Barker Band, Dani Strong – 23 more country young country acts that are making their way in the business.

This whole group plays rib fests, fairs, small festivals, big festivals (shout out to Boots & Hearts for doing an amazing job of including emerging Canadian talent) and bars from coast to coast. They work hard, they write and play and sing and perform whenever and wherever they get the chance, and each and every time they do, they’re earning new fans.

Note: Nobody asked us to write this post. We weren’t approached by an artist or label or PR team to get someone included. Every artist on this list is here because they’ve impressed us with their work and talent. They deserve every success that they’ve earned so far, and everything that they receive in the future.

Dylan Scott Boots and Hearts 2015 2

Dylan Scott

Now, go ahead and add these names to the young artists that are tearing up country music south of the border, and we really are seeing the future – and the present of the genre we love. Artists like Maddie & Tae, Kelsea Ballerini, Cam, Dylan Scott, Kane Brown, Maren Morris, etc. etc. etc., are blowing up YouTube and Facebook with their videos, they’re climbing the Billboard charts, and they’re creating their own space among superstars like Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, and Eric Church.

I know that there are a lot of names in this post… 58 if I’ve counted correctly, but they all deserve to be here. They’re either the big names that we’ve loved for years, or the new crop of country that has a chance to be here for a long time.

And as much as we love supporting new music, and the artists that make it, the coolest thing about all of it is this… a year from now, at the start of 2017, there are going to be even more names that have come out of the woodwork and announced that they deserve to be on a list like this.

We love it.

Country music is alive and well.

And Canada is a big part of that. So turn up the speakers, dance in the kitchen, and sing along, because it’s a great time to fall in love with some new artists on the scene.

Jess Moskaluke Bright Lights Big City Toronto The Phoenix

Jess Moskaluke

Kira Isabella 2014 CNE Header

Kira Isabella

Madeline Merlo Bright Lights Big City Toronto The Phoenix

Madeline Merlo

Autumn Hill

Autumn Hill

Cold Creek County CNE 2015

Cold Creek County

Wes Mack Boots and Hearts 2015

Wes Mack

Livy Jeanne CNE 2015 Northern Comfort Saloon

Livy Jeanne

Leah Daniels Performance CMAO Awards 2015-3952

Leah Daniels

Lindsay Broughton at Liuna Station Gibson at the Junos 2015

Lindsay Broughton

Cory Marquardt CNE 2015

Cory Marquardt

jordan-mcintosh-boots-and-hearts-2014-wm-0994

Jordan McIntosh

Trinity Bradshaw Boots and Hearts

Trinity Bradshaw

2 years ago Views

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 3

Twice before we’ve shared lists of 10 awesome country covers of pop songs… and now we’re back with a 3rd list to share.

10 More Awesome Country Covers

10 More Awesome Country Covers: Part 2

This time we’ve got songs from Canadian stars, Nashville hitmakers, emerging talent, a double shot of 1 of the biggest songs in a long time, and 2 tracks from one of our current favourites. Some of these were recorded recently, some are a couple years old, but there’s a strong chance that many of you haven’t heard nearly all of these versions.

Have a listen to the ones you haven’t heard before and leave a comment telling us which country artists have recorded pop/rock covers that you love!

Thomas Rhett: When I Was Your Man

Miley Cyrus: Jolene

Cam: Uptown Funk

Cam: Hello

Cory Marquardt: Sorry

The Band Perry: Fat Bottom Girls

Madeline Merlo: Crazy/Crazy In Love

Eric Ethridge: Honey I’m Good

Kira Isabella: Dark Horse

Chad Brownlee: Thinking Out Loud

Dylan Scott: Thinking Out Loud

2 years ago Views
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