Shania Twain

The Lucky Ones: The Launch’s Logan Staats Interview, Review, and 5 Quick Questions

Logan Staats, the 29 year old singer/songwriter from from Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario was chosen as the first winner of The Launch, Wednesday night on CTV, and already, his life is changing.

The indie/folk/pop singer showed off his emotional connection to music and life on the premiere episode of The Launch. And as he sang both Kings Of Leon’s Beautiful War in his audition and The Lucky Ones as a finalist in the episode’s competition, he gave Canadians an opportunity to see what he brings to the table as an artist.

Note: We also have to tip our hats to runner-up Vivian Hicks. The young singer/dancer/actor from Georgetown, ON wowed us with her voice, and shows as much talent and potential at 14 as anyone could hope the find. We’ll be watching to see what comes next for her.

With mentors Shania Twain, busbee, and Big Machine Label Group CEO, Scott Borchetta guiding him through the process of auditioning, recording, and performing The Lucky Ones, Staats overcame the challenges of making the song his own, and earning the release of the single.

We had a chance to talk to Logan on the phone about the experience, what it’s been like in the short time since the airing of the episode and release of the song, and what’s coming next.

Logan told us that things have been non-stop for the last few days with media obligations, the airing of the show, a show in Toronto, and more going on. We asked if he’s been getting any sleep, and he told us that Thursday night was his first good, long, deep sleep in the last few days, the kind that you don’t really want to wake up from.

Sleep, and more specifically dreaming, came up again when we asked him about The Lucky Ones hitting #1 on the iTunes charts on Thursday. Logan said that he saw the email in the morning when he woke up and it felt like one of those moments when you’re half awake and aren’t quite sure if you’re still dreaming or if you’re in real life. He said he pinched himself all day to confirm it was real. Logan also told us that the experience of looking at the charts and seeing his name, not only in the company of, but above artists like Ed Sheeran and Post Malone was wild.

We talked about Logan’s episode of The Launch and asked about a few details of his experience. The one moment that we talked about most came during Logan’s time in the studio recording The Lucky Ones. On the broadcast it was easy to see that he was struggling a little bit to make the song his own And he confirmed that for us. He explained it as a kind of reverse from previous experiences in the studio where a producer may be trying to understand the artist and help bring their vision to life. On The Launch, it was busbee trying to get Logan to bring his vision to life.

We also talked about Scott Borchetta’s role in the room, and the scene where he talks to Logan during the recording. Logan told us that there was more to that conversation than what we saw on the show and that Scott was fantastic and working through those moments.

While we had Logan on the line we also took a quick minute to play a round of 5 Quick Question… here we go!

5 Quick Questions with Logan Staats

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

Logan) Ash’s

Have a listen…

Q2) What was the first album you bought?

Logan) Daft Punk

Logan told us that he bought the album in about grade 5, and that Oasis’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory came soon after that.

Q3) Do you have a dream duet partner?

Logan) Taylor Swift

Now that Logan has had the chance to work with Big Machine, this feels like a great fit.

Q4) Is there a city or venue that is high on your wish list to play?

Logan) Massey Hall

He feels like it’s a staple for many Ontario artists, and with some wheels in motion now, he hopes to be on the legendary stage sooner rather than later.

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

Logan) Stonetrotter

Logan came across Stonetrotter on the festival circuit and was all-in right away. He told us that A Ghost In My Own Skin was the track to start with.

We asked Logan what he’s been working on since his episode of The Launch with recorded and while he had to keep his secret (only his mom and dad knew that he had won). He told us that because he was already working on his own music he was able to push forward with those projects, to write new songs, and be prepared for what comes next. Staats says that he has a bunch of new songs that he hopes to be able to choose from when the time comes to work on releasing new music.

Near the end of our call we asked Logan if he has any goals that he’s working towards and songwriting was on the list. He hopes to make a trip to Nashville to work with Big Machine, go on a writing retreat, and then release new music to the world. Here’s hoping he’s able to check all of those things off his list.

We also asked Logan if there was anything big or important to him that he wanted to share with the world or put a spotlight on, and as he mentioned on The Launch, he brought up the subject of the residential schools and their history. The cause is important to him as is the history and making sure that this isn’t a subject that fades into the background without the recognition, action, and awareness it deserves. Logan also gave credit to CTV, Bell Media, and Scott Borchetta for their assistance and willingness to help him use this platform to raise awareness and shine a light on a cause that’s so important to him. He seems genuinely thankful for the opportunity to take CTV to the school his grandparents attended, and to share his experiences and that history with the world.

We don’t know what the future will bring to Logan Staats, but we do know that The Lucky Ones is a great track with a performance that he should be proud of and that could be the stepping-stone for the rest of his career.

Listen to The Lucky Ones now and stay tuned to see what happens next week on The Launch.

The Lucky Ones was written by busbee, Bebe Rexha, MoZella, Justin Franks (Frank E), Casper & B and produced by busbee.

The Launch on CTV: Series Preview and Episode Guide

This Wednesday, Scott Borchetta, CTV, and a list of music industry heavyweights will put a spotlight on Canadian music when The Launch premieres.

Borchetta, the industry veteran and head of Big Machine Label Group (Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, Reba, and more) will be joined by Shania Twain, Alessia Cara, Fergie, Nikki Sixx, Jennifer Nettles, busbee, Ryan Tedder, Boy George, Julia Michaels, Stephan Moccio, Dann Huff and Ian Kirkpatrick to mentor and launch the careers of talented and deserving Canadian musicians.

The seven episode series will include 30 independent musicians competing for the opportunity to release a brand new single, written and produced by world-renowned talent. Click Here to see all of the musicians and learn more about them through their Q&A videos.

The first six episodes of The Launch will feature five artists each, working with their mentors and recording their version of that week’s song. At the end of each episode, the winning artist will have their version of the song released immediately following the airing of the episode.

Unlike other reality style music shows, fans will not have a direct impact on which of the artists participating will win from week to week. The mentors starring in each episode will make the decision, and the song will be released. This isn’t a popularity contest, this is music.

The seventh episode (Just Launched, recently added to the season) will be an in-depth look at the six artists who won their weeks and had their songs released to the world. Bell Media has also announced that an extended Director’s Cut of the series will be released to Canadian streaming service Crave TV each week following the broadcast premiere.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, check out the promo here…

The six competition episodes have been announced in detail by Bell Media, with mentors and artists revealed.

The Launch, Season 1 Episode Guide

Episode 1: Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mentors: Shania Twain, busbee
Havelin (Edmonton, AB)
Julia Tomlinson (King City, ON)
Logan Staats (Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River reserve, ON)
The Revel Boys (Toronto, ON)
Vivian Hicks (Georgetown, ON)

Episode 2: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mentors: Jennifer Nettles, Ryan Tedder
Basil Phoenix (The Pas, MB)
Divine Lightbody (Brampton, ON)
Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine (Ottawa, ON)
JP Maurice (Vancouver, BC)
LITEYEARS (Hamilton, ON)

Episode 3: Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mentors: Fergie, Stephan Moccio
Ezra Jordan (Toronto, ON)
Faiza (Toronto, ON)
Jaryd Stanley (Rothesay, NB)
Poesy (Ancaster, ON)
Sariyah Hines (London, ON)

Episode 4: Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mentors: Nikki Sixx, Dann Huff
Amy Bishop (Calgary, AB)
Chad Price (London, ON)
Dylan Menzie (Belle River, PEI)
Sons Of Daughters (Vancouver, BC)
The Static Shift (Calgary, AB)

Episode 5: Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mentors: Julia Michaels, Ian Kirkpatrick
James Marshall (Acton, ON)
Jayd Ink (Toronto, ON)
Nicky MacKenzie (Salt Spring Island, BC)
Noelle Maracle (Tyendinaga, ON)
Zack Lane (Moncton, NB)

Episode 6: Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Mentors: Boy George, Alessia Cara, Stephan Moccio
Elequen (Forest, ON)
Ethan Young (Toronto, ON)
Grace Bakker (Toronto, ON)
Raymond Salgado (Lantzville, BC)
Victoria Azevedo (Toronto, ON)

Episode 7: Wednesday, February 21, 2018

“…An in-depth look at the continuation of the journey for the six breakthrough artists selected at the end of each episode of the series for the life-changing opportunity to record and launch a new, original song.”

The first season of The Launch wrapped production (minus the seventh episode) in Toronto in fall 2017, and airs weekly starting January 10, 2018.

Hometown Kids: The Reklaws Interview and Performance, Toronto

The first time we interviewed The Reklaws they were coming off of their 2013 Emerging Artist Showcase win at Boots & Hearts and preparing for their performance at the 2014 festival in Bowmanville, ON. A lot has changed in the three and a half years between then and our afternoon hangout in Toronto this fall.

The sister/brother duo of Jenna and Stuart Walker have had their share of ups and downs in their young musical careers, from singing on big stages at major festivals to playing shows to small crowds in dark rooms. From releasing songs to country radio to wondering if it was time to give it up and try something new. But through the journey so far, The Reklaws have managed to come out on the positive end of things, signing with Universal Music Canada and releasing their 2017 single, Hometown Kids.

The Reklaws at Rock'n'Horse Toronto

Before the country duo signed their Universal deal, they made the move to Nashville to write. They put their heads down, they worked day after day, and they learned that this whole thing was going to be a process. There was no overnight success coming, no snap of the fingers that was going to make them a household name, just more work and dedication and perseverance needed if they were going to accomplish the things they had set their hearts on from the beginning.

The Walker siblings also made a point that we’ve heard from other artists in the past… the people around you matter. The Reklaws have been careful and deliberate about the people they’ve surrounded themselves with over the last few years. Knowing that the support, guidance, and opportunities that they needed would come from the relationships they built.

While we hung out with Jenna and Stuart at Toronto’s Rock N Horse Saloon, we played a round of 5 Quick Questions. Hit play to learn their favourite Shania jams, childhood nicknames, and more!

That work, dedication, and perseverance that The Reklaws have displayed landed them in a pretty good spot this summer. Hometown Kids made a splash, offering The Reklaws the chance to play shows like The Budweiser County Fair in downtown Toronto, Trackside Music Festival in London, ON and The Kee To Bala on Canada Day. The track also ended up as the only country song on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Summer Playlist with Spotify.

It’s a banger of a track that puts all of the youthful enthusiasm and energy that The Reklaws have on display. And in listening to it, we can hear the growth in Jenna and Stuart’s voices since we first came across their music.

We asked about the summer of 2017 and the hometown kids told us that things were crazy – in the best way. Between their shows and appearances, they filmed and released a music video for the single, and put in work on the music that will make up their debut album in 2018. And while all that was happening, Hometown Kids was climbing the charts, breaking the top 20, marking the first time the duo had reached that plateau.

To see where The Reklaws are now without context is to see a young duo making their way into the country music mainstream in Canada. To see where they are now as part of a longer timeline is to see the culmination of hard work and patience and taking advantage of opportunities.

It’s a story that’s been lived and told many times by many artists, and one that never gets easier for any of the emerging acts involved. However, the upside, the top 20 singles, videos, record deals, interviews, features, TV appearances, concerts and more are the payoff for the dedication that The Reklaws and many others can look to as the reward for sticking it out.

It hasn’t been fast or easy, but Jenna and Stuart Walker are closer to reaching their dreams and achieving their goals than they’ve ever been before. They aren’t unknowns playing for a panel of judges at Boots & Hearts anymore.

Before we finished our hang with The Reklaws we got Jenna and Stuart to give us an acoustic performance of their breakout single, Hometown Kids. Watch the video now and stay tuned for more from these two farm kids from Cambridge, ON – they’re comin’ for ya!

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If My Name Was Whiskey: Carly Pearce Green Room Interview, Toronto

For the second time in the last few months, Carly Pearce came north to Toronto and shared her music with country music fans. And this time, with her debut album, Every Little Thing, released to the world, she was wowed by the response.

We stopped in at Rock N Horse Saloon on Wednesday night to see Carly play an acoustic set for some lucky contest winners, and just like at the Budweiser Stage earlier this summer, she was strong, charming, and showed off a mountain of talent.

As she sang her set (Color, If My Name Was Whiskey, Doin’ It Right, Hide The Wine, Every Little Thing) she noticed people in the intimate crowd singing along with songs and immediately told everyone that this was going to be a night that she wouldn’t forget. When we sat down with Carly on Thursday morning we asked her about it and she shared those same feelings again. To be this far from home, playing songs that aren’t at radio and have only been available for the 5 days since the album’s release, and seeing people sing along was special for her.

Carly Pearce at The Rock'n'Horse Toronto

We asked her about that same thing on bigger stages this year when fans sang along to her first hit single, Every Little Thing, and she said that the feeling is more than she can explain. She also admitted that there have been times that it has overwhelmed her and she’s started to cry on stage as the band plays on and she brings herself back to the microphone. It’s something Carly told us that she used to dream about, and now, it’s turned into a dream come true.

There will soon be more chances for Carly Pearce to see the crowd singing as she hits the road with Brett Young on his tour. She told us that it’s an exciting opportunity, and one that she’s never had before. She’s had the chance to play on tours and open shows, but this tour will be the first that she’s officially on and part of all the way through.

While we had Carly with us, we got her to play a quick round of 5 Quick Questions… have a look and find out what album she loves, her favourite Shania jam, and more.

Note: Carly Pearce is charming as all get out. Whether she’s got a microphone in her hand or she’s sitting on a couch in the morning drinking coffee, she’s got it. With a laugh/ smile/ joke combination she has the ability to light up a room, and she uses it.

We talked to Carly about her new album, and the process that brought it together. Knowing that she’s a songwriter, we were curious about the songs she wrote that made the final cut. Carly told us that she wrote eight of the 13 songs on the record, and that seven of them were done and ready when it was time to start working with Big Machine. The eighth track, If My Name Was Whiskey, was written just three days before it was cut, sliding in at the wire.

Carly also told us that she is appreciative of the chance to make a full album of 13 songs. She remembers listening to and loving the 90s albums from Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and other powerhouse women in country music, and she wanted to release the same thing. She added that Scott Borchetta’s “go get it” attitude was a big help and piece of encouragement when it was time to start working on the project.

Carly Pearce at Corus in Toronto

We flipped the script on a question Carly’s heard before when we asked her what she thinks 16 year old her, the girl who moved from Kentucky to Tennessee to work and perform at Dollywood would tell her now. She laughed a little and told us that her 16 year old self was confident and absolutely sure that she was going to make it, so the success of her single, and the release of her record probably wouldn’t be a surprise. She did add that she thought it was going to happen sooner. That she was sure that when she moved to Nashville at 19 she was going to be Carrie Underwood, but that’s she’s glad now that it didn’t happen then, and that she had a chance to live and grow and write the songs she has now with the experience of the last 10 years or so.

Carly Pearce is an emerging star. Her voice, songwriting, charm, and overwhelming talent are going to grant her more opportunities in her career, and music fans will be lucky to be along for the ride.

For now, we’d recommend you press play on Every Little Thing and learn the words so you can sing along when you see her on stage. We know she’d love to see it.

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Now: Shania Twain Album Review

Shania Twain is back… and we’re here for it.

15 years after the release of her last album of new music, Shania is back with Now. And the crossover queen has has continued to change the game and embrace a unique style of her own.

If you press play on Now and expect to hear the same Shania that you remember from The Woman In Me, Come On Over, and Up!, you’re not going to find it. This is new music, with new influences, stories, and experimentation. It’s also important to remember that this is not a Mutt Lange produced album, which has resulted in lot of changes in the makeup, strategy, and execution in the booth.

Shania has said that Now isn’t a breakup record, but you could be forgiven for questioning her statement. We know that this is the first new music since her marriage with Mutt went south and ended. We also know that music is deeply personal, and we can hear in songs like Poor Me and I’m Alright, that songs about relationships ending were on her mind and made the cut.

However, those feelings don’t flow through the entire album. The upbeat feel of the lead single, Life’s About To Get Good is everything we love about Shania Twain. And the follow-up radio release, Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed does the same thing. It remains to be seen if any of the singles from Now will have any of traction and success that Shania has experienced in the past.

Regardless of chart success, diehard fans of Shania will have already listened to this album on repeat. There’s no doubt about that.

Now is a monster 16 track deluxe album with a 56 minute running time, which we’re glad for. Because after a 15 year wait, we’re not sure how we would have reacted to a 9 song, 27 minute album.

Just like she did more than 20 years ago, Shania is taking chances. This isn’t a traditional country album (not that we expected one), it has reggae vibes, pop beats, and varied sounds that make it a Shania Twain album.

Go ahead and press play on tracks like Home Now, Let’s Kiss And Make Up, and You Can’t Buy Love – and learn the words so you can sing along every time you hear them from now on.

Shania was gone… but she’s back. And we hope that she’ll never go away again.

Shania Twain, Now Tracklist

1. Swingin’ With Me Eyes Closed
2. Home Now
3. Light Of My Life
4. Poor Me
5. Who’s Gonna Be Your Girl
6. More Fun
7. I’m Alright
8. Let’s Kiss And Make Up
9. Where Do You Think You’re Going
10. Roll Me On The River
11. We Got Something They Don’t
12. Because Of You
13. You Can’t Buy Love
14. Life’s About To Get Good
15. Soldier
16. All In All

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

Pony Up: Nice Horse at Boots & Hearts 2017

In the middle of the Saturday afternoon sun, Nice Horse took to the Boots & Hearts Front Porch Stage to introduce themselves to some new fans, and play some music that we’re all going to hear a lot more of soon.

Kaley Debra, Krista Lee, Brandi Caroline, and Katie Marie are energetic, effervescent, and exactly what we could have hoped for when we hung out later in the afternoon for a chat about their summer, what’s next, and a bucket list item we all agree a social media campaign can help with… or at least not hurt.

The women of Nice Horse shoot from the lip, the idea of being contrived doesn’t seem like it even appears on their radar, and we like it that way. As we chatted, sitting in the grass like a bunch of kids at camp, all four women took turns telling stories and leaving an impression that we won’t soon forget. Online they describe themselves as “It’s the Zac Brown Band in miniskirts; the Runaways at a hoedown; the Spice Girls on a whiskey bender.”, and we can’t find a good argument against that.

On stage they make the same impression. Songs like Pony Up and Jim, Jack, Johnnie & Jose are party starters, good times waiting to happen that country music fans can’t help but tap their toes to, at the very least. They perform with the kind of harmony that comes from being friends for years, and not just bandmates. And that’s exactly how it started.

Nice Horse started as an idea on a girls trip to Hawaii, with some songs that the quartet had written, the idea that they could play some local shows and the Calgary Stampede, and perhaps the persuasion of a few umbrella drinks. And boy has it all become bigger than that.

Since that decision to give it a go as a group, Nice Horse has seen their name on festival lineups, on tour with Canadian Music Hall of Famer, Tom Cochrane, on their 2017 EP A Little Unstable, and soon on a brand new album!

Note: That bucket list item… we asked the band who they would love to open for, and Shania Twain came into the conversation very quickly. And as we continued to talk about social media and such, the hashtag #ShaniaNeedsUs was born. So, if you see it online, share it!

They’ve also gone all in on social media, sharing their lives and adventures with fans as often as they get the chance. And they told us that they love it. To them, the idea of taking a quick photo or video of what they’re up to is natural, it’s something they would be doing if they were just hanging out and hadn’t decided to put the band together. In fact, when we asked the ladies what they’d like us to pass on to the internet in this post, one of the things they mentioned was their social media channels. So, if you’re looking for a good follow, check ‘em out.

Nice Horse Facebook
Nice Horse Twitter
Nice Horse Instagram

Note: Our personal favourite interviews include a lot of laughing and sharing of stories that weren’t planned going in. And our time with Nice Horse at Boots & Hearts was exactly that.

Listening to Nice Horse was a treat. As a band they’ve got it going on, their sound is full and tight, they compliment each other very well, and they have that thing that makes them performers that you want to watch. If we had to guess, we’d tell you we’ll be seeing the Alberta foursome back in Ontario for B&H again.

Listen for Pony Up on your favourite country music radio station, and be ready for that debut full-length album on September 8, 2017!

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Nice Horse

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

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Bless My Heart: Vanessa Marie Carter at Boots & Hearts 2017

2016 Boots & Hearts, Emerging Artist Showcase winner, Vanessa Marie Carter hit the main stage on Thursday as part of the Coors Banquet Kick Off Party – and reminded thousands of country music fans why she took home that title, and what she brings to a party.

VMC rolled through a 10 song set on the big stage that she first got a taste of last summer, giving fans something to dance, sing, and cheer about. Covers of Shania’s Honey I’m Home, Cam’s Untamed, and Carrie Underwood’s Smoke Break all showed off her voice and brought the fans into sing along and dance break moods. While originals Criminal (a duet written with Chad Brownlee, and performed at B&H 2017 with Al Rowe), Everything Fades, and her upcoming single, Bless My Heart gave evidence to the growth, potential, and talent that Vanessa Marie Carter carries with her right now.

Boots and Hearts 2017 - Vanessa Marie Carter

Note: One of our favourite moments came when Vanessa Marie covered Sam Hunt’s House Party. It may have taken just a second for everyone to get into it – but that song is a jam, and it was a good time hearing a female lead spin on it!

Related: Vanessa Marie Carter Live at The Ranch!

From start to finish, the sound on stage was tight, with the band pulling their weight and then some. And to see Vanessa Marie working the crowd, walking the catwalk, and looking strong and comfortable on the stage was fantastic. The work that she has put in over the last year to move forward in her career is clearly visible – and it’s paying off.

This is an artist on the rise, one to watch, and a woman that we are sure we’ll see again on the Boots & Hearts stage.

Vanessa Marie Carter, Boots & Hearts 2017 Setlist

❤ Flames
❤ Trouble Like You
❤ Honey I’m Home (Shania Twain)
❤ Untamed (Cam)
❤ Everything Fades
❤ Drink You Up
❤ Smoke Break (Carrie Underwood)
❤ House Party (Sam Hunt)
❤ Criminal
❤ Bless My Heart

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Creative Evolution: The Band Perry Makes The Move To Pop

Miriam-Webster defines evolution as (3): the process of working out or developing

People evolve. We grow and change and learn new things. We move from one job to the next, we choose new styles of clothes and hair, and we make new friends with new interests along with way.

So why then are people so stubborn when it comes time to accept that an artist has evolved and taken a new direction?

The Band Perry announced this week that they are getting ready to release a pop album, and presented its first single, Stay In The Dark, as an example of what’s to come. And while they were eloquent in their presentation of the material (a great Facebook message indeed), they have been met with some very close-minded responses from their country music fans.

To our fans –

We’ve made an album for you. Creating it has been the most exciting thing we’ve ever done. It’s led us to disrupt everything that was comfortable and familiar to us a short year ago. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in making it it’s this – being yourself matters. It matters even when not everyone agrees that you should be or understands why it’s important that you are.

The album is called My Bad Imagination. It’s our very first pop album and tonight the first track will be out everywhere, its called Stay In The Dark. Listen loud.

Thank you for your love, your patience, and for your trust. Come with us.



Now, we understand that change is hard. And we know that music is something that creates strong emotional connections for people, making it even harder sometimes to deal with the realities of change. But, that doesn’t mean that we as fans (either of a genre or a band) have the right to expect an artist to stay in one lane over their career just to keep us comfortable and happy.

In August 2009, country music fans were introduced to Kimberly, Reid, and Neil Perry when they released Hip To My Heart, and in 2010 The Band Perry saw their star rise with ACMA wins for New Artist and Top New Duo/Group of the Year. The young, enthusiastic, good looking, talented trio were darlings of the country music youth movement. Fans were into it. Their songs charted well. And If I Die Young became one of those songs that creates an emotional connection.

For the next few years, The Band Perry was in that discussion about the future of country music, as well as its current stars. They won more awards for top vocal group in 2013 and 2014. And in 2015 they took home a Grammy for their recording of the Glen Campbell classic, Gentle On My Mind. At that point they had nearly a dozen major award wins, seven Top 10 singles, including three US Country charts #1 hits (If I Die Young, All Your Life, Better Dig Two), tours with Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Reba, and their own headlining schedule in 2013/14.

But since then, between 2015 and today, we’ve seen and heard changes from the Perry siblings. They released Live Forever and Comeback Kid, which had a pop country sound. They left their label. They didn’t release the third country album that was rumoured and clamoured for by fans. And it seems that now, in February 2017, we know why.

The Band Perry, Kimberly, Reid, and Neil, have made a creative decision to release a pop album. And that’s 100% okay.

In fact, if that’s what is turning them on as artists right now, if that’s what excited them to get into the studio and work, if that’s what they want to share with the world – we should all be standing with them.

Because anyone that believes an artist should be forced, by any means, to create something they don’t believe in with their heart and soul doesn’t really love art and artists.

But on Facebook we’ve seen a lot of comments that don’t support the new direction that The Band Perry is taking. There are people who don’t like the band switching to pop, and claiming that they have now “lost a fan” because of the decision. There are people who want the band to go back to the look they had in 2014, including their clothing and hairstyle choices. It seems that Kimberly’s switch from blonde to brunette in August 2016 still isn’t sitting well with some fans.

Like I said earlier, I understand that change is hard, but come on people.

Here’s an easy to read bullet list of things that we want everyone to keep in mind when it comes to The Band Perry’s change in creative direction.

• Nobody has the right to tell anyone else what they can, should, or ought to wear.
• No artist should be expected to never change or want to try new things.
• Taylor Swift’s singles from her first four albums are still played on country radio and loved by country fans because they are country songs. The new pop songs from 1989 don’t change that.
• Garth Brooks brought Chris Gaines to the world way back in 1999 because he wanted to try something new. And he’s still regarded as the top of the country music mountain.
• Shania Twain recorded crossover versions of every song on the Come On Over album – and country fans are still begging for her to make new music and come play it for us.
• There is no change in the sound and direction of The Band Perry that will change the way If I Die Young sounds when you press play.
• There is no change in the visual style of The Band Perry that will change the memories we have of seeing them on stage and giving it everything they have at Boots & Hearts 2013 – or whatever show you’ve seen them play.
• There are still many, many, many artists making country music for you to enjoy.
• If you don’t like something, you can be quiet about it instead of telling someone that their artistic and career decisions are bad/wrong/stupid/etc.

We are not telling you that you need to like Stay In The Dark, and we aren’t telling you that you need to pre-order My Bad Imagination. But we are telling you that we expect music fans to support artists – and if not that, than to at least respect them.

And we’re telling you that we believe in the talent and passion of The Band Perry. So if they’re excited to release a pop album, we’re excited to hear it.

If you haven’t hear Stay In The Dark yet, press play now.

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…


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

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

Edge Of The Storm: Wes Mack Album Release Party

As September began and fall approached, Wes Mack was able to see 2 years of work and waiting come to an end as his first full length album, Edge Of The Storm, was released to the world!

Wes Mack Rock N Horse Toronto InstagramAs Wes made his way across the country, heading to the Canadian Country Music Association Awards in Halifax, we were able to catch him at the Rock N Horse Saloon in Toronto where he gave us (and some other keen country music fans) an acoustic taste of the music on his new album and some of the stories that go with the songs.

Note: Thanks to KX Country (94.7 Hamilton and 95.9 Oshawa) for hosting the event and to Pete and Linda for sharing the introduction duties!

Wes Mack Edge Of The Storm Release Party Set List

Heart Back Home – The Way You Let Me Down – Listen To Me – Before You Drive Me Crazy – Edge Of The Storm – Duet

The first single from this record actually came out back in 2013 when Wes teamed up with Carly McKillip of One More Girl for Duet, which is still a fan favourite, and gave Wes the opportunity to invite a bunch of his talented female friends up on stage to sing with him this year when he was opening for Shania Twain on the first leg of her tour. It was also a Top 10 hit, peaking at #9 and introducing a new member of the Canadian country music family to the masses.

Wes Mack Boots and Hearts 2015Mack has also been a repeat performer at Boots & Hearts, competing in the 2013 Emerging Artist Showcase and taking the main stage in 2015. We have a feeling that he’ll be back again in the coming years!

We’ve had more than 1 chance to listen through the entire 12 tracks on Edge Of The Storm, and we can tell you this: Wes did good.

This is a guy that started out indie, DIY, solo and was able to team up with Universal Music/ Big Machine Canada to make more music and work on making his dreams come true.

He’s turning into a regular on country radio, you’ve seen his videos for Before You Drive Me Crazy and The Way You Let Me Down on CMT and YouTube, and there are more tracks coming on this album that are going to get the single release and video treatment – for sure.

Edge Of The Storm slides from uptempo fun to slowed down storytelling and has no issues with the transitions. Wes and the team of songwriters and musicians that he’s worked with on this album have come together in all the right ways. This doesn’t so much sound like the debut of an artist as it does a coming out party.

Wes Mack Edge Of The Storm Track List

Before You Drive Me Crazy – Duet w/ Carly McKillip – The Way You Let Me Down – Listen To Me – Edge Of The Storm – Broke – I Lost Count – Heart Back Home – Fairground Friday Night – Our Soundtrack – Free Fall – No Lookin’ Back

Wes Mack Edge of the Storm Release Party KX CountryIf you haven’t listened to Edge Of The Storm yet, we’d recommend that you do. And if you don’t have anyone to cheer for at the CCMAs for Songwriter of the Year and Music Video Director of the Year, why not cheer for Wes Mack!

Want more Wes? Check out the video we grabbed of Listen To Me at the release party and find him online at these fine locations…

Facebook: Wes Mack Music
Twitter: @wesmackmusic
Instagram: @wesmackmusic
YouTube: Wes Mack
iTunes: Wes Mack: Edge of the Storm

Wes Mack Edge of the Storm Toronto Release Party 2015Rock N Horse Saloon Toronto 2015

2 years ago

Boys of Summer: Emerson Drive, Wes Mack, and Dylan Scott at Boots & Hearts 2015!

There’s no argument about the talent that showed up at Boots & Hearts 2015… and while we have put a lot of focus on the ladies leading up to, during, and following the festival, the men didn’t disappoint.

Between 2 stages and 2 days, Dylan Scott, Wes Mack, and Emerson Drive played their sets for the country music fans in Oro-Medonte – and none of them let us down.

Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott Boots and Hearts 2015 6Dylan Scott took the Front Porch Stage on Saturday in when he came out the young crowd under the tent let him hear a mighty cheer that put a smile on his face instantly.

Starting his set with Lay It On Me, Scott gave back all the energy the audience was feeding him, and blasted out the words as the fans sang them back in unison. It wasn’t lost on him, and after the song he told everyone how impressed he was with their noise level and told them if they kept it up, “We’re gonna have a party this afternoon. I promise you that.”

Dylan Scott is a star on the rise, and one we’ve had our eye on for a while. We can’t wait to see him again, hopefully really soon.

Wes Mack

Wes Mack Boots and Hearts 2015From Emerging Artist Showcase contestant to Main Stage love, Wes Mack is becoming more and more familiar with Boots & Hearts.

On Sunday afternoon Wes popped out onto the stage and gave it all he had for the fans that sat, stood, and danced in the bright sunshine. This Canadian isn’t new to big crowds, opening for Shania Twain will certainly get you used to seeing people in the audience – but he hasn’t taken it for granted either.

With a set that included The Way You Let Me Down, Before You Drive Me Crazy, a cover of Jason Aldean’s Take A Little Ride, and a great rendition of Duet with the help of Kira Isabella, Wes Mack showed that he belongs on stage just as much as he belongs on TV screens.

We’re excited for new music from Wes Mack and the release of Edge of the Storm on September 4th!

Emerson Drive

Emerson Drive Boots and Hearts 2015The boys of Emerson Drive saved the day when the helped fill the hole left by Little Big Town at Boots & Hearts. By taking Dallas Smith’s scheduled spot they gave us a full Sunday of music on the main stage – and they came ready.

The band has been together for a while (20 years now) and that time has supplied them with a great collection of songs to play live, the skills they need to put on a great show, and has not taken away their enjoyment of the whole thing.

Note: We know Emerson Drive put on a good show because we saw Republic Live co-founder Shannon McNevan singing along in the crowd.

Like Wes Mack, Emerson Drive also brought out a friend with Tebey joining the boys to sing their country-fied version of Avicii’s Wake Me Up. That was a nice surprise that we didn’t see coming!

Emerson Drive Boots & Hearts Set List

Tilt A Whirl ♪ Let It Roll ♪ Fall Into Me ♪ She Always Gets What She Wants ♪ Waitin’ On Me ♪ That Kind Of Beautiful ♪ Till The Summer’s Gone ♪ My Kind Of Crazy ♪ Moments ♪ Who We Are ♪ Countrified Soul ♪ Good Man ♪ Wake Me Up w/ Tebey

Job well done by Emerson Drive, Wes Mack, and Dylan Scott. Y’all helped this thing become what it was – an action and music packed weekend that we won’t soon forget.

Check out more pics of the boys and stay tuned for more from Boots & Hearts 2015!

More pictures of Dylan Scott at Boots & HeartsDylan Scott Boots and Hearts 2015Dylan Scott Boots and Hearts 2015 2Dylan Scott Boots and Hearts 2015 3Dylan Scott Boots and Hearts 2015 4Dylan Scott Boots and Hearts 2015 5

More pictures of Wes Mack at Boots & HeartsWes Mack Boots and Hearts 2015Wes Mack Boots and Hearts 2015Wes Mack Boots and Hearts 2015Wes Mack Boots and Hearts 2015Wes Mack Boots and Hearts 2015Wes Mack Boots and Hearts 2015

More pictures of Emerson Drive at Boots & HeartsEmerson Drive Boots and Hearts 2015Emerson Drive Boots and Hearts 2015Emerson Drive Boots and Hearts 2015Emerson Drive Boots and Hearts 2015Emerson Drive Boots and Hearts 2015Emerson Drive Boots and Hearts 2015Emerson Drive Boots and Hearts 2015Emerson Drive Boots and Hearts 2015


2 years ago

Night We Won’t Forget: Jess Moskaluke at Boots & Hearts 2015!

Jess Moskaluke Boots and Hearts 2015-0783It’s been a HUGE 12 months since Jess Moskaluke took the stage at Boots & Hearts 2014.

In the year that has passed she’s seen Cheap Wine and Cigarettes go gold (the 1st Canadian female since Shania), won the Canadian Country Music Association award for Top Female Vocalist, crossed the country on tour with Chad Brownlee and Bobby Wills, was nominated for a Juno, and continued to make new fans all over Canada.

On Thursday night Jess returned to Boots & Hearts as part of the Coors Banquet Kick Off Party lineup, and she was absolutely brilliant.

Jess Moskaluke Boots and Hearts 2015-0630Before the show we sat down for a quick minute with Ms. Moskaluke to talk for the first time in a few months… and we learned a couple really great things.

First we talked about the festival and being back again in 2015, to nobody’s surprise she told us that she was excited. Then we moved on to the new single with Paul Brandt, I’m An Open Road – which turned into talking about the Road Trip tour (Paul Brandt and Dean Brody this fall, look for a date near you) that she will be spending time on. We mentioned that Dean told us he’d be asking her to sing Bounty with him, and we think it’s going to sound pretty great.

Note: Jess told us that she thinks it’s pretty great, and brave that Paul and Dean have booked female opening acts for every show on the tour. It’s really easy to just book a tour full of dudes and sell your tickets, but these good Canadian boys are doing their best to shine a light on our female talent as well.

That brings us to the exciting news… Jess told us that her next album is done and while there isn’t a release date yet, we will get a new single sometime in August or September, which leads me to believe we’ll see the album in the late fall/early winter season.

Can’t wait for new music!

Jess Moskaluke Boots and Hearts 2015-0905When it was time to take the stage on Thursday night, Jess Moskaluke was definately ready. With a bounce in her step and smiles from the entire band, her set wasted no time in getting the Boots & Hearts fans further into party mode for the 4 day festival.

We got what may be our favourite, Good Lovin’, a brand new track (could it be the next single?) Lightening Bolt, 3 covers, and her biggest hit to date… this was a fun set from start to finish and we’re super happy that Jess was back again to play the full thing without being cut off by a massive rain and hail storm like she was in 2014.

Peep the set list, some more pics and stay tuned for more from the talented songstress from Saskatchewan in the near future!

Jess Moskaluke Boots & Hearts 2015 Set List

‣ Good Lovin’
‣ Used
‣ Lightening Bolt
‣ Amen, Hallelujah
‣ Leave The Night On (Sam Hunt cover)
‣ When He’s Drunk
‣ If You’re Not In It For Love (Shania Twain cover)
‣ Gunpowder and Lead (Miranda Lambert cover)
‣ Night We Won’t Forget
‣ Cheap Wine and Cigarettes

Work Hard. Play Harder. Be Awesome!

Jess Moskaluke Boots and Hearts 2015-0638Jess Moskaluke Boots and Hearts 2015-0885Jess Moskaluke Boots and Hearts 2015-0643Jess Moskaluke Boots and Hearts 2015-0907

2 years ago
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