A Bit Of A Country Crush

Hi Everyone!

Weather is better, excited about Craven, blah, blah, blah. There are a couple of topics that are a little more important that I wanted to start off with today.

I originally started today’s post completely different. It was a little more like the above format. But a few weeks ago on Twitter, I kind of “got into it” with someone from the “Shefani” fandom over me saying that there is no make-up in fishing when it came to Gwen Stefani. Ok. Ok. I was make-up shaming. I just don’t see the point. Listen. I have followers and I follow people on both sides of the Miranda|Blake battle. I say great things about both artists. I am sorry Miranda haters, but you cannot deny that she has grown as an artist. She has never looked or sounded better than she does right now. Even I am a convert. Blake, well, I have an undying love for him and I really enjoy his music, even though this last album was a little…whiny. He is a different man. I am not sure he is different in a way I like yet. I miss the tweets about being in the garden. I miss the tweets about being out hunting in the bush. I miss Saturday mornings when he would tweet away like crazy and it felt like he was having coffee with his fans. That to me is who he is. Or, who he was. I still really enjoy him as an artist so I will continue to tweet how fantastic I think he is.

When Miranda won ACM’s Female Vocalist of the year, part of her acceptance speech really struck a chord with me:

“I’m just glad to see females kicking ass these days. I’m so proud to be a part of that.”

Artist or not, Miranda fan or not, as a woman, this should inspire you. This should make you sit up and take notice. Because her music has something to say. There is a reason The Weight of These Wings won an award. And it has nothing to do with ACM politics. It is a bloody good album. It’s honest – whether or not you want to hear it. So, maybe you guys can cut me a little slack here.

Second, the Juno Awards. I am Facebook friends with and follow on Twitter this hilarious gal, Jenn Dalen. She is the Program Director at Real Country 95.5 and a bunch of other stations. On Juno night, she tweeted:
Jenn Dalen Tweet.pngI agree vehemently, of course! It is like people haven’t listened to country in the last 50 years. It isn’t all about “I lost my truck, I lost my dog, I lost my trailer, etc…” Country has progressed in so many ways. Well, I don’t need to tell you guys! You are reading my blog. I guess I find it frustrating and quite honestly, patronizing. I really try to open myself to other music, and I do listen to and enjoy other types (I LOVE jazz and I really like hard rock). But, come on! Country music in Canada is big enough to warrant having its own TELEVISED award show. How can you possibly still be cracking jokes and making fun of a genre that obviously has grown leaps and bounds? Alright, I’ll get off my soap box now.

In fun-filled news, River Town Saints stopped in Winnipeg while on tour with Kip Moore.

Steve RV

Welcome to Winnipeg, Steve RV!

I FINALLY got the opportunity to see them! These guys are fun and energetic as well as talented. Hearing hits such as “Cherry Bomb” and “Bonfire” live really was a treat. Chris Labelle really owns the stage and the group as a whole really get the crowd moving.


River Town Saints at The Burt

I was so glad that the guys did a meet and greet after their set! I hadn’t seen them since CMAO last year so it was nice to quickly catch up  (note to self: need less cheesy grin):

RTS Meet and Greet

And to collect on what is turning out to be my annual group hug:

RTS Group Hug


If you ever have the opportunity to see these guys in action – DO IT!! It will be absolutely worth it!


Say what you want about reality television, but The Voice has really done well in the world of country music. Danielle Bradbery, Cassadee Pope, and of course, Blake Shelton darling, RaeLynn. She has definitely been making her mark on Nashville, Her latest album WildHorse was released on March 24. Shelton was sure to show his support on Twitter:

BS Tweet

The title track on the album is a great song about being young and having an unapologetically wild spirit. The song expresses the feeling of being untameable and wanting someone to accept her, flaws and all. Even at 42, I find this song to be relatable. The melody is sweet and I found it enjoyable to listen to. However, if you are not a fan of high female voices, you will not enjoy RaeLynn. She can reach into those upper octaves. I encourage you to check it out though. The message is fantastic and the music sounds great.

If you watched the ACM’s then you saw these two perform this song live. If you didn’t, It looked a lot like this:

This song is 100% kick you in the ass, make you jump out of your seat, one heck of a good time! Both singers are known for this genre of party country and putting them together is just genius, THIS is making the Craven playlist without a doubt! It is also making yours.


Here’s the playlist:



It is hard to not have a girl crush on Madeline Merlo. She is so sweet and adorable and awesome to talk to. She and I got to chat again a little while back.  


She had just been in Nashville (or, in honour of play-offs, “Smash-ville”). I asked her how her time there was. She said it was wonderful, “I love Nashville.” So what does Madeline like to do while working down south? “My favourite thing is definitely, just finding music to see. The more times I go down there, you kind of get to know some people and somebody’s playing here and you go to see them. Like The Listening Room is definitely somewhere to go and watch a songwriters round. Or you know, The Bluebird-type of situation.” She doesn’t really go out on the town too much when she is in Music City. “I try to be focused when I’m there so I try not to go out too much because I get too excited, you know.” As far as eats go, Madeline is loco for tacos. “Mas Tacos (www.facebook.com/mastacos) in East Nashville is my go to place.” She also gives a shout out to Bar Taco (www.bartaco.com)  on 12th Ave. S. The conversation couldn’t be left without discussing BBQ, “Yeah, you gotta go get a BBQ fill always. I always have one night where I eat everything and go to sleep with a smile on my face.”

We started talking a bit about her single “Over and Over”. At the time we spoke, it was sitting at number 17 on the Canadian Country Music Chart, which was 4 spots above Miranda Lambert. I mentioned this to her. “Wow! That’s insane,” she replied. The song was written by Jeff Pardo and one of my favourites, Jason Blaine. I asked her how the pairing came about. “It actually just was in an email surrounded by 20 songs, kind of like a pitch email from his publishing company and I didn’t even know it was Jason Blaine writing it or singing or anything. That song just kind of stood out to me in the pure fact that, well, I loved the song and the melodies and everything but I felt like the subject matter was something that I had been through and had been in completely and just had that relationship. And for me, I don’t cut a lot of outside music but when I do, it always has to be right on the nose of something that I’ve experienced or every word has to be something that I would say.” She and I had discussed songwriting before. I know that Madeline writes from her experiences and from her heart. She continued, “I really felt this song was true to a situation that I had been in and every piece of an album is an expression of me, so I want everything to be truthful and when people hear that song they’re going to be like ‘Oh, Madeline went through that’ and that’s true, even though I didn’t put the pen to paper for that one,” I think a number of us can relate to that situation. I agree with Madeline. The melodies on this song are gorgeous and it is one of my favourites right now.


This young lady has been very busy. On top of recording an album and writing music, she filmed a movie called “Country Crush” last summer. She admits that her involvement happened in a very random way, “The director and the creative team were looking on the internet for basically a singer to play the star and they just emailed my manager.” There was no doubt that Madeline fit the look and had the sound they were looking for, but could she act? When approached, her reply was, “I dunno. Maybe?” Her manager told her to give it a shot. So she did. She made a self-made tape and sent it in. She was cast for the part a few days later.

Country Crush.png

Shooting a film is a pretty different scene from performing on stage. I asked her about her time during filming. “It was the craziest experience. Just so out of my element. It’s similar to music in the fact that everything comes from a place of passion and emotion. But man, like, just memorizing lines and trying to be realistic and working with such a cast and a crew and every day is 16 hours. It’s a lot of work and it was really long hours.” Despite the loss of sleep, Madeline says, “It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done and I learned so much.” She added, “I love to be challenged in that way.”

She co-stars in the film with Jana Kramer and Munro Chambers to name a few. She said, “You feel such a connection to your co-stars and your character. I loved my character and I wanted to portray her in the best way possible. So it was really a crazy experience.” I asked her to tell me a little bit the character she is playing. Nancy is an aspiring singer (obviously a role she is familiar with). She is just trying to make music and find her way her way in the process. During her journey she encounters a producer who is up to no good. “Luckily I haven’t been through that situation with a bad producer or anything but man, I could understand that desperation.” Those aren’t the only parallels between Madeline and Nancy. She describes her character as “sweet but will tell you what’s up if you cross her”. Madeline laughed, “I’m a nice, approachable person but I will not be walked all over.” She paused for a moment, “I’m Italian, you know, so…” We both laughed. I’m part Irish so I indeed understand.

Country Crush is a musical in the style of “Glee” or “High School Musical” but with country music. We spoke about the target audience maybe being a bit young but I did point out that there was an older generation of “Glee” fan that may like this as well. She said, “There’s some deep story lines and some emotion in the film as well.” So there is a little something for everyone. The premiere was open to the public on March 31st and Madeline and her band performed a couple of songs from the film.  The soundtrack released on March 10th. She wasn’t really sure what to expect since the whole experience was so new. We laughed and said that this is going to make filming music videos seem like a piece of cake. She commented, “It IS stressful though. Imagining sitting there watching it surrounded by everybody, judging it and thinking about it at the same time. That gives me a bit of anxiety. At least when you’re on stage, you’re away from it and you leave and then they can talk about it but I’m going to be sitting there, you know?” Madeline is a perfectionist. And she is far more critical of herself than others are of her. In some ways I relate to that, as I have re-worked this article a couple of times.

Madeline has a busy summer schedule coming up. She is currently on the Beautiful Freakshow tour with Dean Brody and James Barker Band. I was lucky enough to be invited to this event to cover it so I will be bringing that review shortly! She is also going on a huge festival tour which INCLUDES Dauphin Country Fest, Cavendish and Big Valley Jamboree.  If you are interested in finding out more about Madeline or want to check out where you can see this talented young lady on tour this summer, here’s her info:

Website: http://madelinemerlo.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madelinemerlo

Twitter: https://twitter.com/madelinemerlo

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/madelinemerlo

I couldn’t be more pleased for this girl. She is a true testament to the idea that hard work and dedication do pay off. But for now, I would like to leave you with the Country Crush trailer! Have a great day!


About Susie Krivak

I was born in raised in Canada and LOVE all things country! Some may say I'm a redneck - I take that as the compliment I know it was intended to be.
This entry was posted in Concert Reviews, Country Music, Music Review, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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