Last night was the SiriusXM Top of the Country Finalist show at The Palace Theatre.
The three finalists were Shantaia, Josh Ross, and Sacha. The artists came out to perform 3 songs for us and voting was open.
I had never seen Josh Ross before and he was fantastic! I can’t wait to see him again, either over the weekend or on tour. And the girls I have seen in previous showcases. Both are outstanding artists in their own right.
Sacha, I first saw at the CMAOs several years ago and she has absolutely grown as an an artist. This is why she is 100% deserving of the $25,000 massive cheque they presented her! An almost speechless Sacha stood there, as a cannon blasted confetti all around us.
The evening finished with a set from the impeccable Tenille Townes.
Beautiful in an all black leather jumpsuit, Townes exuded perfection on stage. (Serious question though; do you do the brush your hair 100 strokes thing? Because your hair is SO SHINY!!)
It is obvious to see why she is a multiple award winning artist. Her songs hit you where they are supposed to (I won’t lie, it may have been a bit early for me to see her sing “Jersey On The Wall” live yet…).
Whether she is playing the guitar or stopping the music to have you sing along, you are absolutely engaged! BRAVO!! So would I recommend seeing her live, yes I would. Without hesitation.
The evening was fantastic for the first night! I ran into some friends! I got home early! And I’m slowly getting ready for day 2….
It is Thursday morning of CCMA week and I am sitting this morning enjoying my morning Pepsi and “medicine” (breakfast of champions, don’t judge me), thinking, “I wasn’t even supposed to BE HERE!!”
This year’s CCMAs were off the table for so many reasons; I’ve been on a hiatus, my Dad has been sick, I just lost a close friend, we recently brought a house…. but here I am. To quote Meghan Patrick “…country music made me do it…..”
But here I am, getting ready to take this ride all over again.
I’ve missed this. I’ve missed live music. Going to Country Thunder Saskatchewan was what I needed. Despite the heat, the heat exhaustion, the IV, the thunderstorm, the shuttles….the lack of water in the Main Stage area on the first day (It was +40c. I was furious!), the entertainment was fantastic!
Lee Brice, Morgan Wallen….take my money. I want to do that ride all over again!!! Chad Brownlee was impeccable as always. And if anyone ever tells you that women can’t play the guitar, please show them Lindsay Ell. Watching her is magical. MAGICAL!!
Andrew Hyatt came out all in black and immediately regretted his decision. Despite the heat, he killed it like he always does. As did Bobby Wills. I was…uh…on an IV for Meghan Patrick and Washboard Union. But they sounded GREAT!!
Blake Shelton started off SOOOOOO GOOOOD. I thought, “Man! He’s back! This is GREAT!!” Then he brought out Gwen and people, including myself, started filtering out. The rest of him sounded good from the shuttle stand……
All in all, it had a lot of kinks but it was a great line up and a great way for me to come back. I won’t do the shuttle service again. It’s good if you REALLY have to. But I feel like I missed too much.
What it DID do is remind me how much I love music. How much I love seeing it live. How much I love writing about it and working within this industry, as big a pain in the ass it can be.
So here I am. Everything starts tonight! See you soon!
The last year and a half have been….trying…at best. My creative juices are just now starting to flow again. I feel like I’ve been living in a bubble.
I’m so excited to see live music coming back. I have missed it so much. And while there have been virtual shows and concerts, I didn’t connect with them in the same way. And they left me wanting. Sometimes, it made me more depressed, quite honestly. So I stopped watching and decided to wait for the day I could go and see a show again. And it’s HERE!!
I have a LOT of catching up to do. I mean…A LOT. But I promise to do the best I can to do that so I can move forward a bit here in the New Year.
Happy Holidays to everyone! All the best for a happy and healthy 2022!
Yeah, it’s been a while. And I’m behind on things. There has been….a lot. That’s all I can say.
I saw a movie the other day and some things were said in it that really struck a chord with me (pardon the pun, because it is about music!)
Which documentary? Well, it was one about Creem magazine. Now, if you don’t KNOW Creem, you are probably really young. Lol! AND hey! That’s great! I’m glad you found this old lady’s blog!
There was Rolling Stone magazine. There was Circus. And there was Creem. Creem started in Detroit, covered mainly the Detroit Rock scene (Alice Cooper, KISS, The Stooges, etc.) And ended up becoming WILDLY popular. It was named after the band Cream (which again, you may be too young for, lol). If you’ve ever seen the movie “Already Famous”, the protagonist always calls ‘Lester Bangs’ for advice. Lester Bangs WAS a real person and was VERY controversial which lead to the magazine’s popularity, of course.
When you hear interviews with these young writers and editors, see old film footage from the mid 70’s, you understand why they did what they did. Why I do what I do. And maybe why I haven’t been feeling myself. Let me explain.
Listening to a band on an album is a wonderful experience (or your Playlist…whatever…). You can listen over and over. You can get a different meaning each time. You may have different feelings when you hear it depending on that day. You can listen to every note, every beat….every word. Over and over again if you want. And that is a beautiful thing.
When a band comes out on stage to play, they are bringing everything they have. They are there to leave it on the stage for you. Some are admittedly better at this than others. I love country, but if you’ve never seen Coldplay live, you should DO IT! It’s like being on a beautiful musical Disney ride. You’re enveloped by light and sound.
Bands structure their shows to engage you. To make you feel alive. To give you those goosebumps. I remember seeing Jason Aldean and the lights all went blue for one of my FAVORITE songs of his…and a beautiful breeze swept through the crowd. It was magical! You can’t replace that with an album. You can’t replace the sun setting behind the hills and a summer breeze while he sings your favorite song.
Have you ever been yelled at by Green Day to “GET THE F@#$ OFF YOUR CHAIR AND DANCE!!” No? Go. Do it. You will jump and scream and feel TRUE catharsis.
I live for THESE moments. And yes I love interviews and podcasts. For me it’s talking to friends, which is always awesome!! But when the main thing that made you love what you did in the first place is taken, what do you do? Yes, I love music still. But, I miss that connection.
Needless to say, I need the world to get back to some kind of normal here. I miss my shows.
Birthdays. That reminder that you’re another year older. SURE! When you’re young they are fun! As you get older and start to see 50, you don’t appreciate the day as much. It’s a reminder of lost youth, if nothing else.
Then there is the “What do you want for your Birthday?” I don’t know what I want to eat most days, much less what I want for a gift. Lol!
None of us anticipated this pandemic to last as long as it has. It has hit all industries hard, especially our music industry. From road crew, to artists, to people who work the festivals, it has been dismal.
These are the people that provide the background music to our lives. That song that was on when you drove your first truck. The one that played when you danced with your junior high crush. Or what about that one that was on the radio when you had your first kiss? These songs are woven into our memories.
These songwriters and artists and the people who bring them to us, they need our help. I normally don’t ask a lot from my followers. I think it’s cool enough that you follow me at all!! But, this year, for my birthday, please consider donating to the Unison Benevolent Fund. This wonderful group is dedicated to providing support to members in the music community.
I think it’s safe to say that 2020 was a write-off for many of us. Myself included. And while I still have a LOT to catch up on to post, there have been a couple of things that have happened in our industry this week that should be acknowledged.
First and foremost, T.J Osborne of the Brothers Osborne “came out” as being gay. He is one of the few “out” artists we have in this industry. And certainly one of the only charted. It was met with love and acceptance from artists all over, showing that our genre has made a huge shift.
Then. It happened. Morgan Wallen. Morgan Wallen once AGAIN making a general ass of himself and using the N-word. Sigh.
Cumulus was the first to send out the memo saying to pull him from their playlists. What ASTOUNDS me is, that morning, stations were Facebooking one another to see what they should do. Why is this a question? When The Chicks came out against Bush and said, “Shame on you!”, radio stations could not WAIT to pull their CD’s and burn them. Why are we questioning what we should be doing with Wallen, especially when it isn’t his first time doing stuff like this.
His label has decided to suspend his contract, which I think is in his best interest. Let’s be honest, there is something going on that this kid needs help for. Get it for him.
With that, people started backing artists of Colour and artists in the LGBTQ+ community. One artist in particular people threw their support behind was Female Artist Mickey Guyton and her album “Bridges”, moving her up the charts OVERNIGHT!
The real problem is this genre already carries this stigma of being redneck and racist. It’s 2021. The more Confederate Flags there are at festivals, the more people like Wallen we are tolerant of, the more that says we are ok with it.
And we aren’t.
There is no room for racism or sexism in this industry anymore. It’s been proven this week.
So, I guess either you’re in, or you’re in the way. Because this is the “NEW” country. It is diverse. It loves everyone. And it is FANTASTIC!
Here is Mickey Guyton’s “Black Like Me”. This song is an amazing example of her songwriting ability and the phenomenal texture of her voice. She is screaming up a couple of different charts…so check her out:
I was very, VERY young when I started listening to country music. When I say young, I mean, my early influences were Ray Griff, Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, and Kenny Rogers….with the First Edition.
Many of you may not know he had a couple of bands before he became just “Kenny Rogers”, but he did. That’s when he released great songs like “Ruben James” and “Something’s Burnin’ “.
And now….he’s gone. Like that, Kenny is gone. I mean, he was poorly and 81. He was never going to live forever, none of us do. But I guess I thought Kenny would be the one thing I could count on to always be around. Now he’s not.
I have so many memories, so much of my past wrapped up in his albums. His music has been a colorful tapestry woven in and out throughout my life. His passing has brought me more sadness, more grief, than I thought it would.
It feels like I’ve lost a close friend. Someone who’s known me since I was a baby. Someone who has been on family vacations with me. Someone who has laughed, cried, had beers with friends with me. Someone who was at my wedding. His music has touched every part of my life.
With that, I’d like to bid farewell to our close friend, Kenny Rogers. He will be deeply missed by all.
The world is a crazy place right now. Tell the ones you love, that you love them. Hug the ones you’re in quarantine with. Be kind to one another. We really need each other .
You’d think I would leave you with “The Gambler” because of the tile of this piece. Well, I’m not. One of my very favourite songs by Kenny is this one, and I think it’s very fitting. Here is “You Decorated My Life”:
Things have been moving pretty quickly with the podcast. While learning to edit one, I had a couple more to do! I won’t complain though, I love being able to bring you such great content!
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!! Please help me in welcoming the newest addition to the Red, White and Country, Staff, Head Kitty in Charge of Snuggles, Fozzy:
We adopted this gorgeous boy from the Winnipeg Humane Society and we couldn’t be happier! Foz is a domestic mixed breed medium length hair 4 year old kitty who needs a special diet and a quiet environment. His sweet, cuddly nature won us over, making the other stuff unimportant. When the animal finds you…you do what you have to! He CERTAINLY found us!!
Alright. Enough fur baby talk. But seriously. HE’S SO FLUFFY!! Ok…on with the show. Because I swear I’m not a crazy cat lady…
Today’s guest is a phenomenal artist from Quebec. Matt Lang was the Sirius Top of The Country winner this year.
His latest single Water Down The Whiskey is an upbeat modern country tune that will literally get your toe tapping.
Matt is busy with both a tour in Quebec right now AND preparing to release a new EP but this down to earth guy took a few minutes to chit chat with us. We talk about his award, his music AND his shoes, so make sure you check it out!
Since our call, he’s also been asked to join Tebey on tour as a special guest! Be on the lookout for that show coming to your town:
Well…I don’t know what it’s like where you are today but it’s a pretty cold a crummy day here. So today seems like a good day to publish a blog post.
I cannot even begin to express the amount of fun I had during CCMA Week in Calgary this year! No, I didn’t have a media pass but I went, saw old friends, made new ones and best of all… collaborated. THIS is what makes CCMA week. Not the photos, or the interviews or seeing artists. Although, yes that’s TONS of fun! For me it’s seeing people, running ideas past them, getting feedback. And sometimes you get one or two people who say, “WE NEED TO DO THIS!”
Well, that’s what happened this year for me. While a podcast was something I had always thought about doing, I didn’t think I’d be any good at it. After having some discussions with some friends, and having some friends REALLY interested in wanting to try it out with me, The Red, White and Country Podcast is born! With a special “Back 40” section of the interview where it’s no holds barred, both barrels….who are we kidding; basically, we are gonna curse and probably talk about drinking…plan to be entertained in a brand new way by some of your favourite and possibly NEW favourite artists.
We’ve been REALLY busy Interviewing some phenomenal females over at Aunt Linda’s Country TaleGate. Linda had a great visit with Alberta artist, Krissy Feniak, What a firecracker! I ran into her over the weekend a couple of times over the weekend in Calgary and she is simply a delight.
Highly decorated, having some ACMA’s and some Pigeon Ford Awards under her belt, her latest single Better Left Unsaid is a testament to why she is raking in the hardware. This bluesy, smokey love song, is a great fit for Feniak’s sweet voice.
While she may be young, she has performed on some of North America’s most esteemed stages; The Bluebird Cafe and The Commodore in Nashville. I guess she was making herself comfortable because she plans to move there sometime this fall with best friend, BC artist (and Croc afficionado) Beamer Wigley.
While all of this is happening, Krissy assures us that there is new music on the way, 2 new singles specifically. This girl is a lot of fun so make sure you follow her socials to find out when that will be:
Here for you to check out is Better Left Unsaid by Krissy Feniak:
We had 2 female artists each present a song and give us some background about the song.
First up was Alexis Taylor. She shared her single Bend The Truth. Written while laying on the living room floor (where most of her writing occurs apparently lol), this song is the ‘inner dialogue’ of what your heart’s telling you when your head is telling me something else.
Alexis is an extremely talented artist from Hunstville Ontario. Be sure to look into her socials:
In the meantime, here’s Bend The Truth by Alexis Taylor:
The second artist to share was Brenda Dirk, who drove both her Dad and Bobby Cameron “nuts” until she got Killin’ It just right.
If you’ve ever met Brenda, you’d a agree that she is like a burst of sunshine when she walks into the room. She’s talented and exuberant. It’s no surprise that she would want to write a song that was an anthem to lift people’s spirits. “This song is dedicated to all the people who have been down; who are working hard and feel like they aren’t getting anywhere.”
Why don’t you go get some of the Brenda Dirk positive energy on her socials:
While you’re at it, why don’t you listen to her fantastic and inspiring single Killin’ It:
One of the 3-ways we had was with one of my favourite people. Sadly we didn’t run into each other in Calgary. TOTAL bummer. But Ajaye Jardine was hard at work playing at Diamonds In The Rough and promoting her brand.
About 2 years ago, she moved to Nashville and has been writing and performing tirelessly. She feels that there’s a new breed on country on the horizon and she’s excited to be a part of it. With songs like Midnight And Bourbon, it’s easy to get wrapped up in Ajaye’s voice.
In a new age where “content is queen or king”, she is currently in the process of releasing some new music online. If you become a member of ‘Team Jardine’, you’ll become the first to receive new music or music she hasn’t released at every membership goal that’s reached!
Make SURE you go and check out her socials! She constantly has a positive message! And if you join Team Jardine, she emails them to you! Umm… TOTALLY DID THIS and LOVE IT!:
Ajaye really does have a fantastic voice and this is probably my fave song of hers! Here’s Midnight And Bourbon:
The other female we had a 3-way with was Kalsey Kulyk! So. Much. Fun! And it was great to run into her and fiance country artist Eric Ethridge in Calgary! They met while Kalsey was in the Discovery Program in 2017 (which she won) and got engaged this past summer. Planning a date for this dynamic duo is a bit tricky, so nuptuals will have to be worked around their busy schedules.
The same year that Kalsey won the Discovery Program contest, she also won the Ole On The Spot Contest. Since then, she has signed with Anthem (the former Ole) and has been writing even more. Kalsey was already living in Nashville trying to find out who she was as an artist. Coming from Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, Nashville offered a bit more of a creative environment (but she’s still a big perogie fan. Hello….look at that last name 😉 ).
Her latest self-titled EP was released on August 30th and was on a radio tour when we chatted. Her latest single from that Bad Liar has been doing GREAT on the CMT musc charts. The song is really fantastic!
I caught Kalsey’s performance at the Sakamoto Agency Mixer in Calgary and she absolutely DAZZLES live!
Keep up with Kalsey, her new music and what’s going on with the upcoming wedding on her socials:
And make sure you check out her latest single Bad Liar:
So. Is there a reason I featured all females this week? Damn straight there is!!
Welcome to the very first, the INAUGURAL, if you will, podcast for Red, White and Country featuring Nicole Rayy!!
Nicole is a kick-ass female artist from Ontario with strong Manitoba roots. I ran into her at a party in Calgary, told her about the podcast and she was totally on board! It happened to coincide with a cross-country radio tour promoting her latest single Unfinished. The timing worked out and….uh…..a podcast was born! I don’t want to give away to much but we had a hell of a good time. We talk about her new single, unfinished business and discuss what the hell is up with men!! LOL!!
Please make sure you check in to all of her socials:
So, buckle up and enjoy Episode 1 of the Red, White and Country Podcast! It may not be Star Wars, but it’s GOTTA be better than THEIR Epsiode 1! Please enjoy the theme song I used! It’s Bird Creek by Hooky with Sloane.
You can find the podcast on both the Podbean and Soundcloud Apps. (You’ll have to excuse both sites, I haven’t had an opportunity to work on them yet. This all happened pretty quick! LOL!) BUUUT, to make things easy for you, I can leave this heeeeere……
It’s hard to believe that it’s midsummer and that the CCMA’S are fast approaching! It seems like just yesterday Linda and I were just TALKING ABOUT TaleGate and here we are in full swing, flying by the seat of our pants, as always! If any of you personally know Linda or myself, you know we plan about 15% and the rest we make up as we go. I wish I was even partially kidding…
That being said, we have a LOT of fun. Make be sure you tune in to us on Tuesday mornings at 11 am ET/10 am CT to catch us in our glory. You can hear us on CKLU 96.7 FM if you are in the Sudbury area. But BEHOLD! Technology is AMAZING! If you are NOT IN SUDBURY….You can also listen in! You can stream us at https://www.cklu.ca or find us on the Radioplayer Canada app. We also have a GREAT Facebook page happening with our first contest under way, so make sure to go and follow us there: https://www.facebook.com/AuntLindasCountryTaleGate/ You’ll also find content that we don’t play on the show there, so make sure you go and check it out!
As you can see, we have been SUPER busy. No matter HOW busy we get, I still want to remain true to what this blog always wanted to do in the first place and that was acknowledge when people in our community do something wonderful for others. Well, that Gord Bamford has been at it again!
Last weekend was The Gord Bamford Foundation 12th Annual Charity Golf Classic. The 2 day event, held in Red Deer, AB, raised a phenomenal $464, 755 this year.
The event included a sold-out evening hosted by Paul McQuire (of CMT fame) at the Cambridge Hotel Resort and Conference Centre, where over 750 guests were entertained by Gord, Dallas Smith, Aaron Pritchett, Jess Moskaluke and Jojo Mason. Buddy Owen and Galen Griffen joined Gord to do a Merle Haggard tribute piece.
Over time, the Gord Bamford Foundation has donated over 3 million dollars to help support groups such as CACAC, Make-A-Wish and Music Counts. This year was no exception. The beneficiaries included: Big Brothers Big Sisters Lacombe & District, Blackfalds Wranglers, Canadian Children’s Hospital Foundation, Hockey Alberta Foundation – Every Kid Every Community, Make-A-Wish Foundation, MusiCounts, The Central Alberta Buccaneers, Central Alberta U16AA Ringette, Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre and The Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre and Sutter Fund.
SO, a HUGE BRAVO to Gord, and his LARGE team of people who help put this together every year, proving once again that the people in our country music community are top-shelf.
On with the show…
This week on The TaleGate, Linda had a visit with Ontario artist Jordy Jackson.
Jordy hails from Elgin, Ontario and has performed all over the province, including at the very well known Havelock Country Jamboree (3 years in a row). Even though this super busy artist still works a full time job, he takes every opportunity he can to perform, “I don’t mind being tired for work the next day.”
On June 17th, Jordy released his latest single Can’t Cruise Without Country. Slightly different from his previous, fun-loving look at Canadian life Canadian Redneck, CCWC is a fantastic, laid-back, smooth summer song. Written with Dustin Bird, who he met at Havelock, it still stays true to Jordy’s sound. Personally, I find his sound to be reminiscent of early Tim Hicks and hey, you can’t argue with success.
So what does Jordy have in the works? He is working on a new EP as we speak! Other than that he says he just, “Tries to take things one song at a time. I’m just waiting to see how everything plays out at this point.”
He sounds fantastic and is definitely someone to watch so jump on his socials:
For your listening pleasure (I mean, I’ve listened to it 4 times just typing this) here is Can’t Cruise Without Country by Jordy Jackson
Don Amero…in a van
I can’t even come up with anything witty for this because Linda met up with Don Amero at Manitoulin Country Fest. And they had a visit…in a van. So, I can’t even…like she gave me NOTHING to work with on that one!! So yeah…it’s Don Amero in a van.
Don Amero is quite possibly one of the sweetest people I have ever met. Actually, watching a conversation between HIM and my MOM would probably send a room into diabetic shock LOL!
Don was in Manitoulin kicking off the whole festival, which for him, was a huge highlight moment. So much has gone on for him since the CCMA’s last year. He showed up in a massive way last year by bringing the house down by singing his single “Church” at the CCMA luncheon with a full choir. He came to play and people took notice. He’s been busy on tour, He got signed with MDM (and he took manager Laurie Brown with him, “That was non-negotiable.”) His new single Music Lover is out and receiving great reviews (as it should! the song is fantastic!) Did I mention all this AND he and his wife had another baby???
The best part of the interview (sorry, Linda) was hearing Don and his band do an acoustic version of church…in the van. THIS MADE MY MONTH! Absolutely fantastic!
Things show no sign of slowing for Don quite yet. He will only be at the CCMA’s for one day this year. He is getting ready to head out on a big tour with George Canyon, Doc Walker and Charlie Major! He is so humbled by it, but he really has earned it.
Make sure you follow his socials so you can keep up with him. He is VERY active:
Linda and I had JUST recently had a discussion about Greg Rider’s song Baby Girl so when his name came up AGAIN regarding a couple of different things happening, we knew we had to try to get him on the show. Mission accomplished. DO NOT…and I say…do NOT get in the way of 2 very determined middle-aged women. Chances are we won’t stop.
We got an opportunity to catch up with him the day after performing a benefit show for a charity called Heater’s Heroes. This was the 9th year that they have held the event. It is held to raise money for children who are cancer patients and living in Ronald McDonald House. The after party was held at Big Texas Niagara, as the owner’s wife is a cancer survivor herself. So, the charity is something that is close to both of them.
But with this even firmly behind him, Greg has a bigger task at hand. For tonight, he is in the finales of THE SHOT!!
His mom was actually the one who sent him the information on the contest at a time when he wasn’t really sure why he was still even back in Canada. But she suggested he take a look into it and he did. You are never too old to listen to Mom’s advice!
Despite the fact that he hadn’t heard much about singing competitions in Canada, when he got called in for a live audition, he decided to go. The group started out with 150 artists and it is now down to 8! Greg says that despite the fact that this IS a competition, he has met some great people that he can work with and collaborate with in the future. It also sort of reaffirmed his faith that there IS a strong and viable music community right here in Canada.
The finale is being held TONIGHT at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, ON. Tickets (if there are any left….) are $35 and can be purchased through The Shot: https://www.facebook.com/singfortheshot/
Oh. You thought that was it? Of COURSE it’s not! Greg has recently teamed up with Bar Rail Management and is getting ready to go on a 76 school tour across Canada. His mission has always been to inspire and empower young people and that’s what he plans to do. Greg will go from school to school performing acoustic sets and sharing his story.
I asked him how it has been for him since he has been for him since he has been back from Nashville and he was very honest, “It’s been a transition for sure.” He mentioned that he always felt like he was running and that he originally had planned going back to Nashville in January, “But there was something in my head telling me I should stay here for a bit longer.”