Leaving Thomas

Leaving Thomas Album Review, Interview, and 5 Quick Questions

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

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

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

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

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017

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

5 Quick Questions with Leaving Thomas

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

Both) Jo Dee Messina – I’m Alright

Q2) Do you remember the first album you bought ?

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

Q3) Do you have a dream collaboration partner?

Both) Dan + Shay

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

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

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

Annika) Fatai
Bryton) Gavin James

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

Leaving Thomas Album Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaving Thomas Tracklist

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


Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

Better Half: Sykamore Feature and 5 Quick Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Quick Questions with Sykamore

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

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

Q2: First album you bought?

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

Q3: Dream duet partner?

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

Q4: Favourite place on earth to be?

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

Q5: Artist you think people should be listening to?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1 month ago

2017 Breakout Country Artists of the Year!

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

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

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

Female

Carly Pearce

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

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

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

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

Alee

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

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

Male

Brett Young

Brett Young Caliville via Facebook

via Facebook

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

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

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

Andrew Hyatt

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

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

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

Groups

Midland

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Midland

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

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

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

Leaving Thomas

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

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

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

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

Big Valley Jamboree 2018 Lineup Preview

Since 1993, the Big Valley Jamboree has been putting country music hit makers on stage for a weekend of good times – and in 2018 the tradition will continue.

The lineup of Canadian and American country artists is impressive and has a lot to offer to any live crowd. Put them all together and Thursday, August 2 to Sunday, August 5 should be a helluva weekend in Camrose, Alberta.

We’ve lined up the artists here (the main stage and then the SiriusXM Stage) with some of the reasons we think you should be excited, and what you might be able to expect.

Ready? Here we go!

Main Stage

Friday

Thomas Rhett – 9:00pm

Rhett has also been announced as a headliner in Ontario at Boots & Hearts this summer, giving the country music hitmaker back-to-back weekends headlining for Canadian fans.

We’ve seen Thomas Rhett on stage before, and he puts on a killer show. And now, with new music from his 2017 album, Life Changes, to add to his set – we’re sure he’s going to have a new wrinkle or two to add to his show.

Be ready to dance and sing and cheer and have a good time!

Thomas Rhett Boots and Hearts 2015

Paul Brandt – 7:30pm

Paul Brandt is a hit maker, fan favourite, and Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Famer – and the opportunity to see him up on stage playing songs that fans will no doubt know all the words too is amazing.

Tune up your voices to belt out Alberta Bound, Small Towns And Big Dreams, My Heart Has A History, Get A Bed, and Paul Brandt’s most recent top 20 hit, The Journey!

Billy Ray Cyrus – 5:00pm

Yes, Billy Ray Cyrus owns one of the most divisive hits in the history of country music, but he’s got a lot more than that to offer.

We’ve seen Cyrus play live, but never on a big stage with a big crowd… but we’d bet that it’s awesome.

Whether he’s playing songs from Some Gave All, Set The Record Straight, or any of his 13 albums in between, Billy Ray Cyrus will be at the Big Valley Jamboree to put on a show.

Carolyn Dawn Johnson – 3:30pm

Canadian country music fans will remember how successful and important CDJ was in the early 2000’s. They should also know that she hasn’t stopped, and she’s got as much talent now as she had before.

When y’all hear songs like Georgia and Complicated, let yourself be taken back to 2000 and enjoy every minute of it.

Leaving Thomas – 2:00pm

This upstart country music duo out of Calgary has new music coming in 2018, which will give them more songs for their Big Valley Jamboree set. And if the response to Best Adventure and Waiting Kind Of Girl at the 2017 Leaving Thomas shows we saw is any indication, it’s going to be fun!

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

Saturday

Alabama – 9:00pm

Having had the chance to see the legendary Alabama on stage at Boots & Hearts year one in 2012, we know just how great it is to experience all of the hits live.

The harmonies are still magical. The songs are still as impactful and fun as they always were, and Alabama have some pretty fun stories too.

With 32 number one hits, Alabama has no shortage of songs to choose from to play for a live crowd. That does mean that you might not hear a few of your favourites, but we can promise that what they do play will make you smile and sing.

Dallas Smith – 7:30pm

One of the biggest acts of any genre in Canada, Dallas Smith continues to wow fans with his live shows. And when he gets on a big stage at a big festival, he does exactly what he has to to get a big crowd fired up and engaged.

Smith has energy to spare when he fires it up, and as he sings and makes his way from one side of the stage to the other, you’re sure to see hands go up and cheers rise from the Big Valley Jamboree crowd.

Hits from Jumped Right In, Lifted, and Side Effects, will flow throughout Smith’s set – and we’d bet that the Juno and CCMA winner will give Canadian fans a highlight of their summer.

Dallas Smith CNE 2015

Jess Moskaluke – 5:00pm

As a three time Female Artist of the Year winner at the Canadian Country Music Association awards, Jess Moskaluke has shown that she is a star in Canadian Country. And when she hits the stage at the Big Valley Jamboree we are certain that her charm and talent will shine bright.

With nine singles cracking the top 20, and three of those landing in the top 10 (including her highest charting single, Drive Me Away, charting at number three on the Canadian country charts) Jess Moskaluke is not lacking for music to play live. And, with her background in YouTube covers part of her story, Moskaluke isn’t afraid to have a little fun and play some of her favourites from other artists and genres while she’s on stage.

Have fun!

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Jess Moskaluke

Aaron Goodvin – 2:00pm

Another rising star in Canadian country, Goodvin has been earning fans and pleasing ears with every step he’s taken in his career. 2018 will start on tour with Gord Bamford, and by the time the Big Valley Jamboree hits in August, Goodvin should be at the very top of his live performance game.

Be prepared for it to get loud in the crown when Aaron Goodvin and the band break into Lonely Drum – trust us.

Sunday

Florida Georgia Line – 9:00pm

A lot of people have a lot of things to say about Florida Georgia Line… here’s what we have to say.

1) FGL have proven to us on more than one occasion that they know how to have a good time and put on a great live show.

2) One of the very loudest and goosebump inducing moments we’ve ever had at a concert came in Toronto when the crowd sang along to H.O.L.Y. – it was amazing – click here to see it on video.

3) Tyler and BK are hit makers, and the crowd will know the words to their songs. And when you’re talking about a live show, that’s a big ingredient for a good time.

4) The energy that these two dudes bring to the stage, with humility and grace and appreciation for the crowd in front of them is overlooked and always connects well with a crowd.

5) Florida Georgia Line has a ton of energy – and if hit songs are a big ingredient, so is this!

Florida Georgia Line Molson Amphitheatre

Brett Eldredge – 7:30pm

This dude is one of the most talented and charismatic characters in Nashville right now, and when he comes to the Big Valley Jamboree main stage, y’all are gonna see it!

Brett Eldredge will be more than happy to play his Platinum, Gold, and Top five hits for the crowd. And if our experience seeing him in the summer of 2017 is any indication of what BVJ in 2018 will be, everyone should be very happy.

ps. If you’re lucky, he’ll have Edgar with him and you’ll get to meet one of the cutest dogs you’ve ever seen.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Brett Eldredge

Small Town Pistols – 3:30pm

When Amanda and Tyler Wilkinson hit the stage a wave of nostalgia and happiness will hit the crowd, and it will be awesome.

Each Small Town Pistols show we’ve seen has included fan favourites from their two records, plus great selections from Amanda’s solo career, and mega hits from The Wilkinsons.

We’ve never been disappointed and we don’t believe you will be either!

Small Town Pistols Boots and Hearts 2015

Danny Hooper – 2:00pm

The long serving (25 years) MC of the Big Valley Jamboree main stage, Danny Hooper has pretty much seen it all. And on Sunday he’ll be kicking off the last day of festivities himself.

Be ready for a good start to the end of a fantastic weekend of BVJ country music!

Kickoff (Thursday)

Luke Combs – 11:00pm

With Hurricane and When It Rains It Pours, Luke Combs has announced himself as one of the biggest new voices in country music. And when he hits the Big Valley Jamboree kickoff stage, we’d bet that things are going to heat up quickly.

Be ready for a party!

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – 9:30pm

Legends! What more do you need to hear about the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Yes, we all know they’ve got one of the most beloved songs in country music to play for y’all… but there’s more than just that. However, we’d by foolish and lying if we told you that the biggest cheers and loudest singing of the night wasn’t going to come during Fishin’ In The Dark!

Coors Banquet Saloon, SiriusXM Stage

Friday

Aaron Pritchett – 12:00am

Aaron Pritchett is a Canadian country music fan favourite. His songs range from the emotional stories we love from the genre, to the party hits that you can’t help but jam out to.

And while we don’t know which songs Pritchett will fit into his set at BVJ, we would suggest that you be ready for a party when he hits the stage at midnight.

Aaron Pritchett BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Drew Gregory – 10:30pm

One of Alberta’s favourite local boys, Drew Gregory knows how to have a good time on stage. With a combination of originals and covers, we watched Gregory introduce himself to Toronto this fall, and we know that when he gets on the SiriusXM stage at BVJ, he’ll give just as entertaining a set!

Saturday

Emerson Drive – 12:00am

Emerson Drive are one of the most successful acts in the last two decades of Canadian country music. With hits and fan favourites, we’ve seen them put on a show that wows that crowd and facilitates a party.

And when they hit the SiriusXM Stage at midnight on Saturday, we have a feeling that they’ll be doing the same thing all over again!

Emerson Drive BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

Nice Horse – 10:30pm

One of our favourite new bands in 2017, Nice Horse will bring talent, energy, fun, and a good time to the late night Saturday set.

If you don’t know them yet, you’ve got time to get yourself familiar with these four ladies – because you’re going to want to know them when they hit that stage!

Sunday

SiriusXM Surprise Guest – 12:00am

I mean, there’s not a lot we can say about a surprise guest that we don’t know anything about.

But, after an entire weekend of fantastic country music at the Big Valley Jamboree, we can comfortably tell you that we expect an artist to be announced that knows how to throw a party and make sure everyone ends their weekend with a bang after Florida Georgia Line finishes on the main stage.

Jess Moskaluke & Friends Christmas at YouTube Space Toronto

Jess Moskaluke brought some friends to Toronto’s YouTube Space to share some music and Christmas spirit, and we were lucky enough to be there as they streamed live across the internet.

Joined by The Lovelocks, Leaving Thomas, David James, and Megan Nash – with Kate Petterson taking care of the hosting duties, and Stefan Guy on guitar – the holiday gathering of songs, stories, jokes, and more was a good time in person, and makes for a great watch on video too!

In just over 90 minutes there were 11 songs to listen to and sing along with at home, and a lot of great interaction and laughs in between.

Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Petterson, Jess Moskaluke, Megan Nash, Leaving Thomas, David James, Stefan Guy, and The Lovelocks

If we had some unofficial awards to give away they’d look something like this…

Best/Worst Dad Jokes: David James

Best (Most Unexpected) Stories: Megan Nash

Best Childhood Nickname Reveal: David James

Best Supporting Harmonies: Leaving Thomas on David James’ Sun Set On It

Best Update Of A Christmas Class: The Lovelocks on Oh Come All Ye Faithful

Best Christmas Food Traditions: Jess Moskaluke

Best Surprise Appearance: SANTA!!!!

Best Reaction To A Gift: Annika of Leaving Thomas

Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Peterson, Jess Moskaluke, Megan Nash, Leaving Thomas opening their gift, David James, Stefan Guy and SantaFrom start to finish this was a lot of fun. The time flew by as it was happening live, and on a re-watch, it does too. The stories will make you laugh. Even David James’ dad jokes will give you a chuckle – and because it’s a YouTube video, we would invite everyone to leave comments answering questions like ‘What’s Your Favourite Christmas Movie’.

Now, hit play, watch and listen as Jess Moskaluke, The Lovelocks, Leaving Thomas, David James, and Meghan Nash share their holiday cheer – and sing along. And, before you go, check out the rest of the photos from Jess Moskaluke & Friends Christmas at Youtube Space Toronto – and leave a comment telling us what your favourite part of the video is!

If you’re looking to skip right to the music, use the time marks on the playlist. Enjoy!

Jess Moskaluke & Friends Christmas at YouTube Space Toronto Playlist

1. Jess Moskaluke: Grown Up Christmas List (12:00)

2. David James: Sun Set On It (18:55)

3. Leaving Thomas: Do You Hear What I Hear (25:40)

4. Megan Nash: Salt The Salamanders (31:25)

5. The Lovelocks: Staycation (35:45)

6. Jess Moskaluke: Drive Me Away (42:34)

7. David James: Silent Night (56:00)

8. Leaving Thomas: Blame It On The Neon (1:02:30)

9. Megan Nash: Blue Christmas (1:10:50)

10. The Lovelocks: Oh Come All Ye Faithful (1:16:30)

11. All: Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree (1:29:45)

Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Petterson, Jess Moskaluke, Megan Nash, Leaving Thomas, David James Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Peterson, Jess Moskaluke, Megan Nash, Leaving Thomas, David James, Stefan Guy, and The Lovelocks Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Peterson, Jess Moskaluke, Megan Nash, Leaving Thomas, David James, Stefan Guy, and The Lovelocks Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Peterson, Jess Moskaluke, Megan Nash, Leaving Thomas Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - David James, Stefan Guy, The Lovelocks Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Peterson with underwear on her head Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Stefan Guy and The Lovelocks Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Peterson, Jess Moskaluke, Megan Nash opening her gift, Leaving Thomas and Santa Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Peterson, Jess Moskaluke opening her gift, Megan Nash, and Santa Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Peterson, Jess Moskaluke, Megan Nash, Leaving Thomas, David James, Stefan Guy Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Petterson, Jess Moskaluke, Megan Nash, Bryton Udy of Leaving Thomas Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - David James opening his gift Jess Moskaluke and Friends at YouTube Toronto - Kate Peterson, Jess Moskaluke, Megan Nash, Leaving Thomas, David James, Stefan Guy, and The Lovelocks

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

City Turned Country: Chad Brownlee and Leaving Thomas at the 2017 CNE

Country took over the city for a couple of hours on Saturday night at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto as Chad Brownlee and Leaving Thomas took to the legendary bandshell stage. The MDM Recordings artists took their turns belting out country hits and entertaining the assembled crowd.

Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017

Leaving Thomas opened the show with Annika and Bryton taking another chance to introduce their live show to eager country music fans. The upstart duo didn’t waste their opportunity, charming the crowd with their banter and energy, and showing off the chops that have them on a lot of Canadian country music playlists and must watch lists.

Their eight song set included the duo’s first two radio singles, Waiting Kind Of Girl and Best Adventure, and also gave the Toronto crowd a listen to their upcoming single, Blame It On The Neon, coming to your local country radio station on September 8.

Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017

Country music fans will be hearing more and more from Leaving Thomas, y’all should be ready for it.

Leaving Thomas Setlist, CNE 2017

🎤 Call It A Night
🎤 No One Needs To Know (Shania Twain)
🎤 Best Adventure
🎤 Blame It On The Neon
🎤 Shame On Me
🎤 From This Valley (The Civil Wars)
🎤 Dibs/ Cruise (K.Ballerini/Florida Georgia Line)
🎤 Waiting Kind Of Girl

Chad Brownlee, one of Canadian country music’s biggest stars, headlined the night, playing a full 17 song set, and showing all of his leading man skills on the stage.

The B.C. native played songs from the start of his career through to his most recent release, Out Of The Blue, watching and listening as fans sang and danced along, and waved their arms in the air at his direction. He held them in his hands, and they welcomed it – and it was fantastic to see. And as improbable as it might seem, the cheers and singing got louder and louder as the night went on.

Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017

Things may have been loudest when it got quietest on stage. Brownlee stood front and centre, solo with his acoustic guitar, and strummed as he sang a mashup of Thinkin’ Out Loud and Happy Man, and the crowd sang along, and everyone loved it in one of those very special moments that live music provides.

Toronto may not yet be the hotbed of country music that Calgary or Nashville are, but shows like Saturday night with Chad Brownlee showing his ability to make fans sing along to radio hits they know and love, continue to foster the growing community of country fans in the city, and will bring more shows to us in the future.

Be ready to be there and be ready to love the heck out of it!

Chad Brownlee Setlist, CNE 2017

🎤 Hood Of My Car
🎤 Smoke In The Rain
🎤 Fallin’ Over You
🎤 His Own Terms
🎤 Something We Shouldn’t Do
🎤 Hearts On Fire
🎤 Might As Well Be Me
🎤 Mercy
🎤 Out Of The Blue
🎤 Carried Away
🎤 Where The Party At
🎤 Just Because
🎤 Thinkin’ Out Loud/Happy Man (E. Sheeran/T.Rhett)
🎤 Free Fallin’ (with Leaving Thomas)
🎤 Listen
Encore:
🎤 Love Me Or Leave Me
🎤 Hate Your For It

Chad Brownlee at the 2017 CNE

Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017 Chad Brownlee - CNE 2017

Leaving Thomas at the 2017 CNE

Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017 Leaving Thomas - CNE 2017

Out Of The Blue: Chad Brownlee at Boots & Hearts 2017

Chad Brownlee is a Canadian country music star, and on Saturday we got to catch up with him, and see him perform twice at Boots & Hearts 2017!

Country music fans had two chances to catch Chad Brownlee on Saturday as he took the main stage for his full set, and made an appearance on the SiriusXM stage earlier in the afternoon. And both times the fans in front of him sang and cheered for the B.C. boy as he showed them why he’s a legit nominee for the 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Fans’ Choice Award.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee

Early in the afternoon, before Brownlee started singing for the fans, we caught up with him for some photos and a chat. We learned that there’s new music coming soon, with songs written about his own life (both positive and the opposite of that), and a new album, his fifth, planned for an early 2018 release. But before that, the CCMA Awards weekend is coming up in Saskatoon, and that’s a big deal. We talked about the weekend, the parties, having the chance to catch up with industry friends that you may not have seen for the last year, and trying to find time for sleep – and trust us, all three of those things are important, but the last one often gets ignored.

On stage, Chad Brownlee looked anything but tired. Starting his main stage set with Hood Of My Car and rolling through 14 more after that, he owned the Boots & Hearts faithful. The singing was strong at every opportunity, we saw dancing from the front row to the back of the field, and the cheers rang loud for him.

This wasn’t Chad’s first Boots & Hearts experience, so he knew what to expect when he got out there. But we wanted to know about more shows this summer, so we asked for highlights, and he told us that Cavendish Beach Music Festival was great, and that it was awesome to be back at Nashville North and the Calgary Stampede for the fourth time. And if the crowds there were anything like the crowd he had on Saturday, we can see why they’d be highlights.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee

Note: We took Chad back a couple of years and asked him for the craziest thing that happened during pre-show floor hockey on the When The Lights Go Down Tour in 2015… and he told us a story about playing in Calgary and asking Bobby Wills for a one-time pass. Now, Chad told us that he was feeling pretty comfortable in his shot (which he should), and his ability to pick the corner on the small shinny net. However, his shot sailed on him and smashed an empty glass water pitcher. Now, we haven’t talked to Bobby about this, so we don’t want to blame his pass… but we’ll let you make your own judgements on the reason.

We’ll be seeing Chad Brownlee again soon as he takes the stage at the 2017 Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto on Saturday, August 26 with Leaving Thomas. If you’re going to be near Toronto that weekend, we’d highly recommend that you come down to the fair for that.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee

We know, that at that show, just like Saturday’s Boots & Hearts show, there will be singing along from the crowd when Brownlee plays his hits. When we brought that up he told us that it’s still surreal, and while he may be more experienced more than he once was, it still gives him butterflies to be up on stage. And he says that if those butterflies ever stop showing up, it’ll probably be time to hang ‘em up.

It makes sense to hear him say it, but we’re hoping that moment doesn’t come any time soon. And based on the show that he put on Saturday, and the reaction from the fans, they’re hoping to see a lot more of Chad Brownlee for a long time.

Chad Brownlee, SiriuxXM Stage Setlist

👨‍🎤 Something We Shouldn’t Do
👨‍🎤Out Of The Blue
👨‍🎤Hate You For It

Chad Brownlee SiriusXM Boots and Hearts 2017

Chad Brownlee, Boots & Hearts 2017 Setlist

👨‍🎤Hood Of My Car
👨‍🎤Smoke In The Rain
👨‍🎤Fallin’ Over You
👨‍🎤Something We Shouldn’t Do
👨‍🎤Hearts On Fire
👨‍🎤Might As Well Be Me
👨‍🎤Mercy (Shawn Mendes)
👨‍🎤Out Of The Blue
👨‍🎤Carried Away
👨‍🎤Just Because
👨‍🎤Thinking Out Loud/ Happy Man (Ed Sheeran/Thomas Rhett)
👨‍🎤Listen
👨‍🎤When The Lights Go Down
👨‍🎤Love Me Or Leave Me
👨‍🎤Hate You For It

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2017 - Chad Brownlee

Blame It On The Neon: Leaving Thomas at Boots & Hearts 2017

We’ve said it before, playing the opening slot of the day on the main stage at a festival isn’t easy. You’ve got to set the tone, get people engaged, pull them into the crowd… and Leaving Thomas did all of that on Friday at Boots & Hearts 2017.

Annika and Bryton hopped up on the main stage and rolled through a 7 song set, including their latest single, Best Adventure and a banging cover of Shania’s No One Needs To Know. They worked the catwalk, they brought the energy that the afternoon slot needed, and they were fantastic.

We caught up with Leaving Thomas after their set for a little sit down in the grass to talk about how things are going, how crazy festival season is, and alter egos… and while Bryton told us that he doesn’t yet have one, we know from LT’s latest YouTube video that Annika’s alter ego of Suzie can be a real piece of work. But craziness aside, these two are enjoying the heck out of festival season right now. They told us that it’s a little wild to look back to a year ago, when they weren’t playing stages like Boots & Hearts and Big Valley Jamboree, but here in 2017, they’ve done both.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

Bryton also described the experience of looking out into the BH crowd and seeing fans singing and dancing and fully embodying Waiting Kind Of Girl as surreal.

And while it may be surreal to the duo, it’s no surprise to us. The harmonies that Leaving Thomas roll out are smooth and full. The melodies they’re producing grab listeners. And their energy brings people in. The more stages they play, the more they’re going to see people singing and dancing out the in the crowd.

I asked about what’s coming next for Leaving Thomas and we learned a few things…

1) Blame It On The Neon is scheduled to be released as their next single on September 8, 2017.
2) The duo will be at the CNE on the bandshell stage opening for Chad Brownlee on Saturday, August 26, 2017.
3) They’re excited for Canadian Country Music Week and the CCMAs in September – including the always fun MDM Recordings Party, where they’ll hop up on stage to play.
4) They are looking at an early 2018 release of an EP that we can’t wait to hear.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

Annika and Bryton are a ton of fun on stage, and we heard people talking about how good they are up there as we walked through the crowd. Those people are right, they are good. And you should keep an eye on them.

Leaving Thomas just might be the next big duo in Canadian country music.

Leaving Thomas, Boots & Hearts 2017 Setlist

🎤 Best Adventure
🎤 Call It A Night
🎤 No One Needs To Know
🎤 Blame It On The Neon
🎤 Shame On Me
🎤 Dibs/ Cruise
🎤 Waiting Kind Of Girl

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas Boots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving ThomasBoots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving ThomasBoots and Hearts 2017 - Leaving Thomas

Boots & Hearts Preview: Leaving Thomas Q&A

With two singles released to country radio, and a growing number of fans checking out their weekly YouTube videos (which are a whole lot of fun), Leaving Thomas is quickly becoming an act to watch on the Canadian country music scene.

Annika and Bryton have a ton of energy and love for what they do, and that is clear from the jump – and if you haven’t seen them live yet, we highly recommend doing that as soon as possible. We’ll be seeing Leaving Thomas on stage at Boots & Hearts, and to get everyone ready, we got Bryton to answer a few questions in a new Q&A.

Thanks to Bryton for taking the time to play, we can’t wait to see the show!

Q: What three words would you use to describe the feeling of getting up on a big stage in front of a bunch of rowdy country music fans?

Leaving Thomas: Exhilarating, Surreal, Grateful

Q: If you could sing a duet with any of the other Boots & Hearts 2017 artists, who would be at the top of your list?

LT: Keith Urban or a 4 way duet with LT and Dan + Shay would also be a blast!!

Related: Boots & Hearts 2017 Preview: Keith Urban Top 10

Q: What is your favourite thing about the country music fans across Canada?

LT: Their energy! It’s infectious and truly is fuel for us when performing!

Q: Can you tell us something about you that we wouldn’t find in a Google search?

LT: I have a sour candy addiction… I love all the sour candy… Sour Patch Kids, Cherry Blasters, Fuzzy Peaches, Sour Keys, everything! It’s my kryptonite!

Q: What is your number #1 festival tip for the fans?

LT: WATER! Staying hydrated is always important, especially when in the sun all day! (Also have fun!!!)

Friends, if you haven’t seen Leaving Thomas’s brand new video for their single, Best Adventure… press play right here, right now!

2017 Canadian National Exhibition Bandshell Stage Lineup and Schedule

Every Toronto summer ends the same way, with the Canadian National Exhibition and its rides, food, and entertainment.

And now, still a month and a half away from opening day, we have a schedule and lineup for the legendary CNE Bandshell stage.

As always, all concerts are included with the price of CNE admission, making these some of the best value buys of the summer concert season for all music lovers.

Note: Monday to Thursday (excluding the Labour Day holiday) the CNE will offer an $8 a
After 5pm admission deal. We recommend taking advantage of it!

 

CNE 2013 Ill Scarlett

The 2017 schedule is packed with some awesome talent across genres. Canadian rock and roll veterans, Sam Roberts Band are an early must-see, joined by local favourites, USS and Dear Rouge, and former Rolling Stone cover boys, The Sheepdogs. And on the country music side, Chad Brownlee, Aaron Pritchett, and Canadian actor/singer/songwriter Kiefer Sutherland will all headline the Bandshell stage.

We would also encourage you to check out the opening acts on this year’s schedule.

Madeline Merlo, The Zolas, Leaving Thomas, Jane’s Party, and Ascot Royals will all be worth being at the stage early for… trust us.

Note: There may be more opening acts added as we get closer to the Exhibition, there are some spaces open. And remember, all of these acts and dates are subject to change.

Now, get your calendar out, look at the schedule and make your plans for the CNE.

2017 Canadian National Exhibition Bandshell Schedule

Saturday, August 19
Jane’s Party
Sam Roberts Band

Sunday, August 20
Meghan Patrick
Kiefer Sutherland

Kiefer Sutherland Band at The Horseshoe Toronto Jazz Festival 2016

Monday, August 21
The Box
Michel Pagliaro

Tuesday, August 22
Port Cities
Colin James

Wednesday, August 23
Jay Douglas
Marcia Griffiths

Thursday, August 24
Madeline Merlo
Aaron Pritchett

Friday, August 25
I Mother Earth
The Watchmen

Saturday, August 26
Leaving Thomas
Chad Brownlee

Chad Brownlee Boots and Hearts 2015

Sunday, August 27
Ascot Royals
John Kay & Steppenwolf

Monday, August 28
Pavlo

Tuesday, August 29
The Sheepdogs

Wednesday, August 30
Virginia to Vegas
Shawn Hook

Thursday, August 31
The Zolas
Dear Rouge

Dear Rouge

Friday, September 1
Beamer Wigley & Abby Stewart 
Brett Kissel

Saturday, September 2
USS

USS GreaterTorontoDay

Sunday, September 3
Desi Sub Culture
A Tribe Called Red

A Tribe Called Red OMDC Mod Club 2016

Boots & Hearts Lineup Additions, News & Contest!

Just when we thought we couldn’t possibly get more excited about Boots & Hearts 2017, they go and give us more to smile about!

Seven new names have been added to the 4 day festival lineup… and we’ve finally be told who we’re going to see headlining the Thursday night, Coors Banquet Kick Off Party.

Ready?

Boots & Hearts Lineup Additions

Alee
Leaving Thomas
Delta Rae
Vanessa Marie Carter
Nice Horse
Colt Walker
Doc Walker

And… Doc Walker, Canadian legends, and makers of the new record, Weathervane, will be front and centre on Thursday night, headlining and running the kick off party!

We have been super happy to have Doc Walker back on the Canadian country scene, and this is just another chance to celebrate.

Just as happy as that makes us though, seeing the young talent added to the festival is awesome. AND we LOVE the fact that we’re adding more women to the stages with Alee, Delta Rae, Vanessa Marie Carter, Leaving Thomas, and Nice Horse bringing amazing female talent to the B&H crowds.

Now, to change gears for a minute, we want to fill you in on some things we learned about the 2017 Boots & Hearts festival during a chat with Ryan Howes…

★ There are changes coming to the stages – with brand new stages coming to the grounds for both the main and front porch performances.

★ And, the front porch stage will be moving, closer to the main stage, in an awesome wooded area that we’ve hung out in during WayHome. It’s going to be awesome for daytime and late night partying.

★ We’re getting a beach. Yup. A beach.

★ VIP ticket holders will experience more cool features and bonuses in 2017.

★ The camping experience is getting an update and upgrade. Look for new layouts, a 24 hour general store, and upgraded market area that will offer all kinds of awesome stuff.

★ And while it’s not new, we have been told that Buzz Brainard will be back with SiriusXM on a new stage, in a new spot, and with awesome programming.

All in all, Boots & Hearts 2017 is shaping up to be a pretty fantastic time. Headliners Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, and Brantley Gilbert will put on kick ass shows. Canadian stars like Chad Brownlee, Jess Moskaluke, and Cold Creek County will shine and make us proud. And there is so much emerging talent that you are going to fall in love with, if you haven’t already.

Remember, you’re going to see and sing along to JJ Shiplett, Jessica Mitchell, Andrew Hyatt, Aubrie Sellers, Endless Summer, Kelly Prescott, Midland and more.

If you love country music, you’re going to be happy.

And if you like being happy – enter this contest right now for your chance to win some B&H swag. We’ve got a prize pack of one (1) pair of Boots & Hearts sunglasses, and two (2) Boots & Hearts drink coozies that are going to be perfect for summer and the festival.
Use the widget below to earn up to 7 entries, and if you’re the winner, we’ll mail you the prize!

Stay tuned for more news, interviews, previews, and other awesome stuff as we get closer and closer to Boots & Hearts 2017!

Laughs & Secret Handshakes in Toronto: Leaving Thomas Interview

While Leaving Thomas were on their recent trip to Toronto we had a chance to catch up for a little pre-show interview session… and we’d like to share that with you – because we love you like that.

Big thanks to Annika and Bryton for meeting up with Natali and Trish – we can’t wait to see these 2 again soon.

Check out our notes and more photos from the Drake Underground showcase HERE!

Here we go…

Natali: Hi, so we actually talked to you back in Christmas…

Annika: Oh this is the Reviews are IN! You guys have been great for us, you genuinely support us and we absolutely appreciate it thank you so much.

Trish: Thank you.

N: Yeah so when we talked to you last we were waiting kind of girl to be on the radio. Now that it’s out there, how are you feeling?

A: I think we’re still waiting for the high to come down. You know December 25th it was released to radio, we started hearing about ads in January, iTunes downloads, and now with all this promotional stuff that we’re doing it still feels like it was released yesterday. I think we’re still trying to enjoy every minute of it because it’s been such a milestone for us. I mean, I’ve been a pro musician now for 10 years and to finally hear something we’ve written on the radio is such a, such an exciting thing.

Bryton: Yeah it’s been really cool to see the response. Hear the response come back, the stories of people who share with us about the song and how it’s impacted their lives, it’s been really exciting to just ride the wave and hope it keeps going.

N: You mentioned you’ve been doing a lot of promotion, shows, radio. What’s it been like?

B: So much fun (laugh) every single day is like a new day. It’s exhausting but in the best way possible being able to wake up and do what you love every day. Regardless of if it’s radio, showcase, TV. Yeah we enjoy every minute of it, makes it really easy to wake up in the morning no matter how early it is because we’re really excited.

A: I think it’s really great to also meet people who have [downloaded] our songs to say thank you in person, you know to meet those faces behind the ads and all the DJs that have been so great. That’s also really exciting and they’re excited to meet you. To have that personal connection really makes an impact…

N: So among all this promotion, you’ve been together the entire time – are you getting on each other’s nerves?

[BOTH LAUGH LOUDLY]

A: How can you say that? We’re two peas in a pod here!… I feel like you have to be best friends to do this together, I feel like it would be very difficult to be in a relationship with someone or someone you don’t know very well. B and I have known each other since we’re kids. We’ve had long hours [together] where instead of getting annoyed with each other we just get giggly, and we just get silly. So we have a lot of fun together. And I think that it’s solidified, you know this is who I want to be in it for the long haul with. It’s such an integral part of it. It’s not just on stage, it’s not just writing, it’s… you have to hang out with each other so much.

B: Yeah, well I think with every friendship, you have just those snippets of being annoyed or you’re in an opposite mood, but it is very much, you know, we have a great relationship in the sense that we’re so understanding and transparent and we communicate, and it really makes everything so much easier when you have someone you get along with and understand.

A: It’s almost like siblings too.

B: Absolutely.

A: You know where you get annoyed and you get over it in 5 secs because you have to hang out with each other. You know we always say, (to B) you’re the younger brother I never had and I’m the older sister you never wanted (both laugh).

Really, you’re more responsible, you make me remember things

B: Well you force me to.

A: I forget everything. It’s his fault if I forget anything. But yeah, no we get along.

N: How do you get ready for a performance?

A: Funny that you ask. We don’t have a green room here so I was straightening my hair in a room I found using my iPhone as a mirror. It’s a lot of, for me, getting ready wherever is easiest and quickest. I feel like we’re both quite chill. I mean we get pumped up…

B: The thing is, it’s almost a moment of calm before the storm. We do like our handshake that we do before we go on (giggle…)

N: What does that look like?

A: We can show you!
(Check out this photo set!)

B: It’s really complex.

A: We were trying to kill some hours at one point…

N: Awesome.

A: Yes gets us in the right zone.

N: Speaking of fun, tell me about making the video (for Waiting Kind Of Girl). What was that like?

B: It was like early morning, Annika’s in makeup which she loves.

A: Have people make me look pretty instead of trying to do it myself!

B: It’s funny because that was our first music video that we’ve ever done, it was a lot of hurry up and wait, but it was the best because we’re just super anxious to do the next shot, and uh, I think the best part about the video, it was so funny, is that we shot it in double speed. So, if you watch the video, it’s very like, loose and flowy and in slow motion, but we had to sing to the track all day at twice the speed.

A: And it’s fast!

B: And it’s a decently fast song already, and so I got to the shoot, and I thought, ok yeah, have to sing it, but I forgot I have to play it in double speed, so I’m sitting there going (mimics twitching), like vibrating the entire time, trying to make it look like I’m playing in time to the song, but…

A: It was so much fun! Like for me, I grew up, you know, singing to a mirror with my hair brush, like every girl does. And, um, the director they were kind of telling us, you know you might get a little camera shy because there’s a lot of people in there, and of course I’m thinking “Are you kidding, I’ve been waiting for this my whole life! The more the merrier, like let’s do this!” So it was a real treat.

N: So Waiting Kind Of Girl was written about a real experience.

A: Yes!

N: Does the guy that the song was written about, know that it was written about him?

A: NO!

B: I’ve been sworn to secrecy.

A: Bryton knows! And um no one will ever know, other than Bryton, that’s that bond we can never separate because he knows my secrets!

B: I’m going to get blackmail.

A: The Leaving Thomas Mystery!

N: Tell me something funny or embarrassing that has happened to you on stage?

A: I plant my face on the mic all the time. It will probably happen tonight. And it’s a stationary mic, and I… no matter what, because I like to do these things where I go away and come back and, every time. Every Single Time.

B: I actually have a video where she’s walking up and smoking her head.

A: And he boomeranged it!

B: If you scroll through Instagram it’s there.

A: And we just embrace that.

T: We may have to include that.

A: Go for it! We can laugh at ourselves.

N: Speaking of, you mentioned Instagram, you guys are great with connecting with your fans through social media. How do you like that?

Both: We love it.

B: It is so cool to connect with everybody, and like I said, to hear their stories and also to really give our gratitude to radio and music directors, program directors, it’s really cool.

A: And also when they want to hang out with you. Because we’re happy that you think we’re fun, because we think you’re fun and cool. So many people will follow, and we’ll be like, this girl seems awesome I want to go out for coffee with her! You know, it’s awesome and it makes you feel like they … basically, it’s beyond the music. It’s us as people. We have loves and hobbies and things that makes us laugh, and so it’s nice to connect on something beyond the songs themselves.

N: So you signed with MDM. What was that day like?

B: It was crazy, it happened like really fast, but in like the best way. About more than two weeks after we had signed the agreement we had flown out to Toronto and met Jess Moskaluke, Chad Brownlee, Bobby Wills, and we’re hanging out with everyone and it’s crazy that we’re a part of them. It’s cool that we’re on that side of the table and we’re all lined up playing songs, and then Chad plays his song, it is just… crazy.

A: And we have so much respect for all the other artists on the roster and it’s so great to be part of it.

N: What does success look like for Leaving Thomas?

A: Well, it’s funny because Bryton and I both love making music, we both also love spending time with our families, we love being able to travel, to do the things we want to do, I don’t think we have a certain number of followers we have in mind or number of record sales, we think it’s a success to be making the music we created as a full-time job. That would be the dream, so if we’re getting closer to that, that’s amazing.

B: And just share our music with as many people we can… and just be personally fulfilled. And you know, just have fun. At the end of the day that’s why we’re here, because we had fun doing it…

A: Which led us to more opportunities.

– With the early success of Waiting Kind Of Girl, the support of MDM Recordings, and all the talent that they bring to the table, we’re sure there will be even more opportunities coming soon!

If You Were Here: Leaving Thomas, Toronto Showcase

On a wintery Thursday night in Toronto we got a look at one of Canadian country’s newest additions to the charts, Leaving Thomas.

The industry showcase at the Drake Underground on Queen Street West was well attended, with bodies filling the lower floor area, and the space near the bar, as Annika and Bryton took the stage and gave a glimpse of what is going to take them up the country music charts.

We were happy to see that Leaving Thomas and MDM Recordings brought the full band treatment to the show. We often see stripped down acoustic sets for showcases, but having the chance to see A&B play with their supporting team truly allowed the room to get a sense of what they bring to the table.

ps. What they bring to the table is pretty awesome!

On Christmas day 2016 country fans started to hear Waiting Kind Of Girl on their favourite radio stations, and since then we’ve been waiting and wondering what more music from the duo might sound like. And on Thursday night, we got a good look.

The energy on stage is something that MDM’s Mike Denney has talked about as a key factor in his decision to sign the duo – and through their banter and laughter and storytelling, we got a sense of what they bring to the table.

We also got to hear a selection of songs that Leaving Thomas will (hopefully) soon be offering to the country music world on their debut album. And we heard from the band that they’ve been down to Nashville to write even more! We don’t know when that album or EP will be released, but we can tell you that we’re excited to hear more of songs like If You Were Here, The Wreckage, If This Is Love, Shame On Me, and the single that has caught the ears of country fans coast-to-coast, Waiting Kind Of Girl.

Stay tuned for more from the band, including our pre-show interview – and check out these pics we snapped at the showcase – including this special look at Annika and Bryton’s special pre-show handshake!

Waiting Kind Of Girl: Introducing Leaving Thomas [Q&A]

In late November 2016, Leaving Thomas (Annika Odegard and Bryton Udy) took a big step towards their country music goals when they signed with MDM Recordings. In the month since their signing they’ve worked to release their debut single, Waiting Kind Of Girl, to Canadian country radio and film a music video to go along with it.

The duo have also been busy on an Alberta radio tour, they made a trip to Toronto to hang out with the rest of the MDM roster, and they took a little time for a Q&A with us!

Annika and Bryton have both been making music for years. But coming together to form Leaving Thomas has been the step that has brought them to where they are right now – and will take them on their next steps, wherever they may lead.

Congrats to Leaving Thomas on their new single, which you can request at your local country radio station now, and thank you from us for playing along with our questions.

Note: We’d also like to thank Leaving Thomas for sending us their Merry Christmas message that we were able to include in our Happy Holidays post!

Check out the Q&A and the video Annika and Bryton released to learn a little more about one of Canada’s newest country radio duos.

Q. There has to be a story behind your name, right? Is Thomas a guy that really needed to be left? Is Thomas a place? Tell us please!

Annika: Well, originally when Bryton and I started performing together, we discovered that people had a very difficult time pronouncing our names (Bryton and Annika) correctly! However, we really wanted to have our names be part of our band name so we found a way to incorporate our middle names!

Bryton: Yeah! When we were tossing around potential band names the one that stuck, obviously, was Leaving Thomas because my middle name is Thomas and Annika’s is Liv, pronounced “Leave”. So that’s pretty much the story, there was never a Thomas that either of us ever physically left like some people think!

Q. Can you tell us about the emotions and reactions you went through when you found out that you were officially joining the MDM Recordings family?

B: We were thrilled! It was almost surreal to the point that it didn’t really sink in until we spent a weekend in Toronto where we were hanging out with the rest of the artists and the team!

A: After our trip to Toronto in December, we are even more excited for what 2017 has in store with such a great team behind us!

Q. It’s not going to be easy, but can you pick the MDM artist that you would most like to record a song with?

A: This is a tough one! For me, I would say performing with Jess (Moskaluke) would be on the top of my list because she is such a vocal powerhouse. I think the three of us performing together would be EXPLOSIVE!!!

B: That really is tough… I think it would be really cool to write a hockey song with Chad (Brownlee) someday, seeing as we both played at a pretty high level! It would be fun to record a song with any of the MDM artists though! They are all amazing!

Q. The single, Waiting Kind Of Girl, being released to radio on Christmas day has got to be a pretty great present, yes? Best ever?

A: Well, we would say so! But we may be biased… I know there have been people that can’t wait to call in and request the song which has been very encouraging to hear. We see the release as a chance for people who haven’t heard our music to get a taste of who we are, and also a chance for fans to see us reach another level of exposure which is always exciting.

B: Absolutely, it is going to be really exciting to see the response from the single and I know I speak for both of us when I say that we cannot wait to record and release more music in 2017!

Q. When country fans listen to your music, or see a live show, what do you hope they feel and take away from it?

A: Bryton and I put a lot of thought into each live show, and we do our best to be our true, authentic selves on and off the stage. We also make sure that audiences get a sense of our passion and energy! If someone is coming to a live show, they are definitely going to leave feeling like they know us as friends!

B: We also try and create intimate moments in our shows. One of our favorite ways of doing that is by letting our band take a break and perform a few songs just Annika, myself and my guitar. It is always a special moment of the show and we love being able to perform our songs the way they were written.

Q. A lot of people are ready for 2017 to get here for a lot of reasons – in 50 words or less, can you tell us what excites you most for the new year?

A: When I look back on 2016, I was able to travel a lot and spend time with the people I love. I hope that 2017 brings more time with my family, new experiences (both in and out of Canada), and more opportunities to create, record, and perform with Bryton. Each year gets better and I hope 2017 is no exception!

B: I would have to say I am most excited to see where the next year takes Leaving Thomas! It has been a crazy couple of months, getting ready for the launch of our single, but I am excited for more craziness and the opportunities that lie ahead for Annika and I.


1 year ago
Scroll to top