Liquor Loves To Call The Shots

Hi Everyone.

Before I start off with our usual shenanigans, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims in the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. It is unfortunate that something that should be bringing people together has been the centre of such a horrific act. Our hearts go out to you at this difficult time.

I always swore to not dwell on too much serious stuff on here. This is our escape from that. A way to unwind. So let’s continue.

The title of the blog relates to the artist I am featuring today but it is a great opportunity to tell you how this blog actually got started. I am not sure how many of you know the actual story. Well, I started fun tweeting Blake Shelton. Then sarcastic tweeting Blake Shelton. I could never get him to even LIKE one of my tweets, so I opted to switch to the smart-ass approach. After a few beverages, liquor started calling the shots. It became drunk, sarcastic tweeting. This didn’t happen once. It happened a number of times. And when I did it…I gained followers. When I looked them up, some of them were up and coming artists. I decided to start talking to some of them and interviewing them to put on this blog. And…here we are today. I know. Bizarre. And no. Blake Shelton still has never liked or re-tweeted me. It’s alright. I am ok with it now.

Let’s get on with the fun stuff.

PLAYLIST

ALBUM REVIEW

Jason Kirkness has been quietly lurking in the background, preparing his latest project Beautiful Disaster (set to release May 30). We hadn’t heard from him in a while, then he comes out with this kick-ass summer tune “Whiskey Kiss”. (If you use my Spotify playlists, it is on the first one I did). “Whiskey Kiss” is just one of the tracks from this new album. So if you like it, you are in for a treat. For me, this is probably some of the best work of Jason’s that I have heard, and I have heard a lot of it.

ABD-Cover

This year has already been a pretty big year for Jason. Not only has he released a single, a video and set to release a whole new album, he has also signed with management company Edge Entertainment in Portland, Oregon. AND look for him on the main stage at Dauphin Countryfest with Ryan Keown, Meghan Patrick, Tim Hicks and Keith Urban.

Like I said, A Beautiful Disaster is some of the best work I’ve heard from Jason. The album has this theme of love found and lost, which I guess is why it’s a beautiful disaster – because love can be. From sweet melodies like ones found in “Take Your Picture” or “Man Like Me” (a very pretty song about being there for someone and being the person you need them to be), to the sexier “It’s What I Like About U” (which fans have come to love seeing live), he reminds us of who he is. Then he kicks it up a notch. Ok. A LOT of notches. If you want a good southern rock song for the summer “Good Life” will fit that bill! I also suggest “Tall Glass Of You”. It has this really catchy modern country sound. BOTH are making the Craven Playlist. There is a good blend of sweet and sassy on this album. “Barefoot” keeps us on a date night in and “One More Night” is a beautiful slow song about missing someone. There really is a good balance. Enough happy stuff to balance out the broken heart.

I am going to break it down to you. The whole album is great. It has a great summer feel and I can’t wait to hear it in my truck when I’m driving around. If you are hesitating at all (I don’t know why you would, but in case you are), I urge you to listen to the song “One More Fix”. This song is breath-taking. It is this haunting song about newly lost love and it is masterful. There is an orchestral section at the end that is exquisite.  This is le pièce de résistance on this album. Trust me. Pick this up. You will be so glad you did.

COUNTRY MUSIC

I would like to start off by saying that, honestly, I don’t know if I have laughed that much during an interview. Eric Ethridge is not only a really talented guy, he is charming and has a great sense of humour.

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Eric was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario, went to high school there and continues to live there. Well, he travels back and forth a lot between Sarnia, Nashville and Los Angeles for recording and writing. He is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario where he earned a degree in kinesiology/sports science. He even played football for the Western Mustangs. While he was going to university, he was playing in the bars in London. When graduation came, he couldn’t decide between going to chiropractic school full-time or pursuing music full time. So, he tried doing both. “It turns out it is very hard to do both,” he commented with joking surprise. In his third year of school he met his now manager who really pushed him to work toward his dream of music. She heard his demo and really felt like he had something. He went in and recorded a couple of songs and again, with this surprised sound in his voice, he said, “They turned out pretty good!”

His first gig was at a festival called Rock The Park In London, Ontario. He was booked for the side stage. “Our first gig was between a poncho stand and a popcorn stand. It was this little stage. I had a seven piece band. It was the weirdest thing. People were walking by and were like, ‘who are these guys?’ They wanted us  playing in between all of the main stage acts. That was right as Tim Hicks was really starting to bust out. his 5:01 record was out. “Here Comes The Thunder” was killing it on radio. Tim Hicks was there. Dean Brody was there. Darius Rucker was there. Eli Young Band was there and we were on this little stage beside the ponchos and people would walk by and be like, ‘these guys are alright.’ We played four sets throughout the day. Every time we went back to the stage, more and more people gravitated to us.” We joked about the ponchos being really spectacular. “By the fourth set, people were waiting for us to get back on stage!” That was just the beginning. That September, he opened for Brett Kissel. He loved the experience, “Brett Kissel brought me out on stage to sing Bryan Adams’ “Summer Of ’69” with him. I tell people that was my TSN turning point in my career.” Once an athlete, always an athlete.

Eric has had the opportunity to play with some pretty heavy-hitters in the industry. I asked him who some of his favourites have been, Without hesitation he said, “Chad Brownlee. I’ve played with Chad a whole bunch of times and he’s just such a nice guy. Really down to earth.” Eric continued, “Tim Hicks was fun. I’ve literally met everybody but Tim Hicks in the Canadian industry. He’s like this elusive ghost I’m trying to track down.” We joked about his near misses in meeting him. Tim – if you are reading this, can you just call Eric and put him out of his misery. Thanks.

The last couple of years have been quite a ride for Eric. In 2015, he was named runner-up in the Boots & Hearts Emerging Artists Showcase. In 2016, He was name winner of the CCMA Discovery Showcase. This year, Eric has released his first single, “Liquor’s Callin’ The Shots”. While on his first radio tour, Eric said, “Since the poncho stand, we’ve come a long way. This is about three years in the making. My dream has always been to travel the world playing music and I’ve never heard my own song on he radio. I’ve heard covers that I’ve done on the radio. But this is the first time hearing something that I’ve co-written on the radio and it was a pretty unbelievable experience.”

EE2

The song is great and it is a total summer song. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but it is a Jim Lahey quote (The Trailer Park Boys) – that is something you may NOT know. “It’s gotten a really awesome response from people at radio and on social media. People are loving it apparently. So this is great news because it’s scary releasing your first song to radio.” He came back and said, “It was terrifying.” He elaborated on this a little bit for me,”I’ve been working on this for three years now, officially. I’ve been playing music for over a decade, but really pushing hard for the last three years. There’s been a lot of times as an artist you really doubt yourself, you know.” Well, people certainly are loving it. “Liquor’s Callin’ The Shots” is currently sitting at number 38 on the Canadian Billboard Country Chart (up four spots from last week). Eric is planning to release another single in a couple of months and an album after that. I, for one, can not WAIT!

This summer, Eric can be seen at Tweed Stampede with Gord Bamford. He will also be playing in Nashville during CMA Fest. As Winner of the 2016 Discovery Program, he is offered an opportunity to perform in Music City. What’s even more exciting, is that this will be his first time going.

For more dates and information about this talented and super funny guy, check out his social media:

WEBSITE: http://www.ericethridge.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ericethridgemusic

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/ericethridgemusic

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/EricEthridge

This was one of those interviews that make me wish I did a radio show. If you could hear him tell a story, you’d be dying. I wish him all the best. Let me leave you with the official lyric video for “Liquor’s Callin’ The Shots” by Eric Ethridge!

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Posted in Album Review, Country Music, Country News, Music Review, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What A Beautiful Freakshow!

Today I am posting something really rad. I said “rad”. I’m 42. I love old slang. I still say Dude. I am absolutely unapologetic for this.

By the way, I am not sure if you guys have been watching The Voice or not but there is this girl on Team Blake named Lauren Duski. I am making my prediction here. I think she will win the show. She is incredible. Such an impeccable performer. If you haven’t seen her, here is a clip from Monday night:

CONCERT REVIEW

If you have EVER doubted the status of country music in Canada, from it’s quality right down to it’s popularity, I suggest you go and see Dean Brody’s Beautiful Freakshow Tour. Friday May 12th, Brody took the stage with not one, but two, phenomenal opening acts; James Barker Band and Madeline Merlo.

It’s 7 pm and enter James Barker Band. The stage is simple, but I’m in love with the two blow-up palm trees. Why? Because I would do this myself! It’s corny, but hilariously so. They come out full of piss and vinegar, as you’d expect and break into their single “Just Sayin'” The crowd enjoyed it.  James addresses the crowd, “I hope you brought your dancing shoes!” as they move into an impeccable cover of “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” by the Kentucky Headhunters. They played “It’s Workin'” a great upbeat song from their latest album and the crowd really responded well to it. Being the opening act, there were still people coming in. But the people who were there were really warming up.

JBB 1 (1)

One of the highlights for me was when they came to the front of the stage to “Livin’ The Dream” acoustically. The opening harmony was divine and I LOVED how it felt authentically bluegrass. Bravo. And if you are enjoying their latest single “Chills”, which is currently number four on the charts, it sounds even better live. It is easy to get completely wrapped up in this song even in an arena setting.

JBB 2 (1)

The boys wrapped up their set with their hit “Lawn Chair Lazy”. Everyone was having a fantastic time! JBB did an outstanding job and I can honestly say I look forward to seeing them again.

I made sure to get in line to get a photo:

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Next up, my girl Madeline Merlo. FINALLY, I got see her live. I am so glad I did. This was her first night out on the Beautiful Freakshow Tour, but it was obviously not her first night on stage. She looks so comfortable and fluid on stage. She came out and started out with her hit “Honey Jack”. It was smokey and bluesy and you can tell the crowd was really enjoying it. When she finished she addressed the crowd, “You look so beautiful tonight!” The guys in front of me yelled back “SO DO YOU, MADELINE!” I actually did laugh out loud. But they were right, she did look great.

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She then moved in to “Whatcha Wanna Do About It” which was a  huge hit for Madeline. The crowd really sang along with this one. Myself included. This got us primed for her latest single “Motel Flamingo”. Being released to digital outlets on May 19th and to radio on May 24th, this fantastic summer song paints a fantastic picture of a cheap and cheesy hotel and a really good time. The song is fantastic! When it is released, I highly suggest picking it up.

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She sounded incredible singing her break-up anthem “Over And Over” and a new song of hers called “Fresh Out”. What really captivated the audience was a fantastic acoustic set. What you may not know about Madeline is that her mother is a huge country music fan and her father was a funk musician. So it is safe to say, that Madeline is pretty eclectic in her taste. She sat down and was quite interactive with the audience and did beautiful covers of “I’m So Lonesome I could Cry” by Hank Williams and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” By Michael Jackson both of which were great.

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Madeline’s set ended with the very popular “War Paint”. An absolute treat to hear live!

I was so glad that I finally got to meet her:

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Now. Dean Brody. I don’t know how it is at all possible that I have never seen this man live. But I promise you, that will never happen again. The room got dark and the room filled with sounds of crickets chirping, a chainsaw (which Brody is known for) and him having a discussion with a buddy. The lights come up and Brody hits the stage. From the moment he does, the crowd is on their feet and singing along with “Bush Party”.  He is Absolutely a showman!

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He commanded people’s attention through the whole show.  As he moved through “Dirt Road Scholar”, “Upside Down” and “People Know You By Your First Name”, it is easy to see why he is an award-winning performer. I mean, who doesn’t love the smell of gas from some dueling chainsaws?? Yes. Dueling chainsaws.

Brody decided to break off in to the crowd and set up a “campfire” at the back of the arena. It was this quiet, intimate moment. He sang one of my favourite songs of his, “Little Yellow Blanket”. Seeing him do this acoustic, right in front of me, was magnificent.

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Ending the night with “Canadian Girls” and 2 encores (one of them being “Bring Down The House), The whole evening was wall-to-wall fun.

If this tour is coming through your town and you have a chance to get tickets, I highly recommend that you do.

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CMAOntario Awards Are On Their Way

Hey, hey there! I know! I am publishing another post really quick. But there is some really exciting stuff coming up that I want you to hear about.  This way, if you have the opportunity to take part, you still have time to do it.

CONFERENCE-graphic

It is CMAOntario Awards time again and this year, they have been moved to London, On. I was invited to participate again, but regretfully, I had to decline. I will be in Nova Scotia with my family at that time. So it’s a very happy trade-off. That being said, I still think that they are great people and absolutely want to support them in any way that I can. So today, I will bring you the nominees for the awards and some of the really fun stuff going on because, this year, there are a couple of new events happening!

Since Thursday is the new Friday, everything gets rolling on June 8th at the Purple Hill County Hall. Presented by Country 107.3, The Legacy Show features a lineup of Canadian talent that has helped pave the way for artists in Ontario and Canada in general. It includes: Charlie Major, Genevieve Fisher, Kiley Joe Masson, Marie Bottrell, The Good Brothers, Wendell Fergusson and special guest Aaron Pritchett. Doors open at 6 pm and the show begins at 7 pm. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased by calling 519-461-0530 or emailing purplehillcountryhall@gmail.com.

ASPurpleHill2017CMAOLegayShowJune82017

If you are a sports fan, perhaps you’d like to take in the Artists vs. Media Charity Softball Game. Being held on Friday, June 9th at Labbatt Memorial Park, doors open at 6 pm and game time is 7 pm. Entrance fee is “pay what you can” (donation). A portion of the proceeds will be going to support the Unison Benevolent Fund and a portion will go to a local charity. The anthem will be sung by The Small Town Girls. At 9 pm there will a concert center field featuring Genevieve Fisher, Leah Daniels and The Abrams. Who can you expect to see sweating it out on the field? The artist roster currently includes: Aaron Pritchett, Dani Strong, Gavin Slaight, Genevieve Fisher, James Barker Band, Jason Blaine, Jason McCoy, Leah Daniels, River Town Saints and The Abrams. What a fantastic (and fun) way to get out and support a great cause. If you know anything about Chris Labelle and Jason McCoy, it is safe to say shenanigans will probably ensue.

Leah-Daniels

Leah Daniels

That weekend will also see the R2I (Road To Independence) Spring Tune Up Conference on Saturday June 10th and Sunday June 11th. This year, the conference will be held in the Delta London Armouries. This is a phenomenal two-day conference full of advice, learning and mentoring. Participants will be able to partake in panels and receive one-on-one coaching on digital marketing, navigating Nashville, songwriting, promotion, funding, and more. The stories and pointers that the artists and professionals provide is really invaluable. Even as a blogger, I found that I walked away with things that I have employed that I know have helped. For more information and tickets, please visit www.cmaontario.ca.

COnference

Get ready to kick up your boots on Saturday night with the New Faces Showcase and Concert! This gives some up-and-comers an opportunity to show their stuff. The showcase lineup is still to be announced, but there will be a concert performance by River Town Saints and Eric Ethridge. Eric is the CCMA 2016 Discovery Program winner and recently released his first single “Liquor’s callin’ the shots” and it is doing great! I am working on an interview I had with him. This guy is a riot and has tons of energy. So if you have a chance to take in this free concert at Market Square (Dundas St. and Market Lane) that night, I suggest you do!

Eric E.jpg

Eric Ethridge

The whole weekend winds up with the 5th annual CMAOntario Awards presented by Slaight Music with support from the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Being held at Centennial Hall, this gala evening will be hosted by the very talented (and very funny) Jason McCoy and the house band for the evening will be The Western Swing Authority. Performances will include: Genevieve Fisher, Jessica Mitchell, River Town Saints, Aaron Pritchett, Jason Blaine, Cold Creek County, James Barker Band, Tim Hicks, Deric Ruttan, The Abrams, and nomination front-runner, Meghan Patrick. Doors open at 6 pm and the show begins at 7 pm. Tickets are available at www.centennialhall.london.ca.

CMAO-2017-Awards-Graphic

Blue Rodeo will be receiving the Impact Award for making a long and lasting impression on the country  music and Canadian music scene alike. I am sure we can all agree that their music has woven its way into the tapestry of everyday Canadian life. This award is much deserved.

ImpactAwardOTY

Let’s take a look at the rest of the nominees:

SingleOTY

SINGLE OF THE YEAR:

“Beer Weather” – Cold Creek County

“Cherry Bomb” – River Town Saints

“Lawn Chair Lazy” – James Barker Band

“Still Lovin’ You” – Meghan Patrick ft. Joe Nichols

“Workin’ On Whiskey” – Jessica Mitchell

AlbumOTY

ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

Born To Love – The Lovelocks

Country Side – Jason Blaine      

Grace And Grit – Meghan Patrick

Shake These Walls – Tim Hicks

Till The Wheels Come Off – Cold Creek County

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Deric Ruttan

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR:

Deric Ruttan, Craig Wiseman – “Came Here To Forget” by Blake Shelton

James Barker, Gavin Slate, Travis Wood – “Lawn Chair Lazy” by James Barker Band

Jessica Mitchell, Dave Thomson, Patricia Conroy – “Workin’ On Whiskey” by Jessica Mitchell

Meghan Patrick, Patricia Conroy, Philip Barton – “Grace And Grit” by Meghan Patrick

Tim Hicks, Todd Clark, Gavin Slate, Travis Wood – “Stompin’ Ground” by Tim Hicks

FemaleArtistOTY-copy

FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR:

Genevieve Fisher

Jessica Mitchell

Leah Daniels

Meghan Patrick

Tianna Woods

MaleArtistOTY

MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR:

Jason Blaine

Marshall Dane

Tim Hicks

Deric Ruttan

Tebey

GroupOrDuoOTY

GROUP OR DUO OF THE YEAR:

The Abrams

Autumn Hill

Cold Creek County

James Barker Band

River Town Saints

RisingStarOTY

RISING STAR AWARD:

The Abrams

Buck Twenty

Meghan Patrick

River Town Saints

Dani Strong

RootsArtistOTY

ROOTS ARTIST/GROUP OF THE YEAR:

The Abrams

Jessica Mitchell

Lindi Ortega

Kelly Prescott

The Western Swing Authority

FansChoiceOTY

FANS’ CHOICE:

Autumn Hill

Jason Blaine

Cold Creek County

Tim Hicks

James Barker Band

River Town Saints

Meghan Patrick

Tebey

IndustryPersonOTY

INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE YEAR:

Steve Coady – Warner Music Canada

Mike Denney – MDM Recordings

Catherine Faint – Catherine Faint Entertainment

Amanda Kingsland – Rogers Radio

Dave Woods – “In The Country”

MusicVideoOTY

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR:

“Bow Chicka Wow Wow” – Meghan Patrick

“Cherry Bomb” – River Town Saints

“Dance With My Daughter” – Jason Blaine

“Lawn Chair Lazy” – James Barker Band

“What Love Is All About” – Johnny Reid

RecordProducerOTY

RECORD PRODUCER(S) OF THE YEAR:

The Agenda, Leah Daniels (Leah Daniels)

Jason Barry (Dean Brody, Genevieve Fisher, The Western Swing Authority, Tianna Woods)

Dan Brodbeck (Dani Strong)

Gavin Brown (The Abrams)

Dave Thomson (Jessica Mitchell)

RadioStationLargeOTY

RADIO STATION (LARGE MARKET):

KX 94.7 (Hamilton)

BX 93 (London)

KX 96 (Oshawa)

Country 101.1 (Ottawa)

Country 104 (Woodstock)

New Country 94 (Ottawa)

RadioStationMediumOTY

RADIO STATION (MEDIUM MARKET):

Country 92.9 (Chatham)

Cool 100.1 (Belleville)

KICX 91.7 (Sudbury)

Country 104.3 (Sault Ste. Marie)

Country 93.5 (Kingston)

RadioStationSmallOTY

RADIO STATION (SMALL MARKET):

Country 103 (Little Current)

Star 96 FM (Pembroke)

KICX 106 (Orillia)

Country 107.3 (Tillsonburg)

Country 93 (Owen Sound)

If you live nearby or have the means to get out to London, this is a fantastic experience and you should be a part of it. I really enjoyed mine last year. I made some great connections and some great friends. I may not be going this year but I am already looking forward to next year. And trust me, I am there in spirit(s).

Since the weather is warming up and festival season is upon us, I think I will leave you with one of the Music Video Of The Year nominees. Performing at MTS Center here in Winnipeg on Friday May 12th in the Dean Brody “Beautiful Freakshow” tour along with Madeline Merlo, here is James Barker Band with “Lawn Chair Lazy”:

Posted in Country Music, Country News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

RTS

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

ACTION SHOT!

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

NEW MUSIC

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.

PLAYLIST

Here’s the playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/user/redwhiteandcountry/playlist/1XX5YD1WLAbTXFhSbcTHqA

COUNTRY MUSIC

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.  

Madeline_Merlo_-_Over_and_Over_(single_cover)

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.

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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!

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Ready for a Getaway

Hi Everybody!

Who else is ready for this winter to finally be over. OH. MY. GOD! I am so there people. So there.

I have had so many iterations of this blog in my head. So many ideas of what I want to do and where I want to go with it. Sometimes it seems almost impossible to keep track of it all! Today is a trial of one of those ideas. There is just so much great new music out there every week and obviously I don’t get to speak to everyone. Sometimes I come across songs that I LOVE and really want to talk about and I also envisioned using Spotify a little bit more. SO this week, you will get a playlist too! Just a few newer songs that I am really into. So here goes…

NEW MUSIC

The end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 has brought with it a trend of the country troubadour’s “Ode to His Wife/Girlfriend” (e.g. Thomas Rhett, Chris Jansen, etc.). Not to be outshone, The Road Hammers released their latest single “Crazy About You” to digital and radio on March 3rd, 2017. Written by band members Jason McCoy, Chris Byrne and Clayton Bellamy and produced by McCoy and Gavin Brown, the song captures the relationship of a couple who have known each other since childhood. McCoy’s own relationship was the model for the song, as he and his wife were only teenagers when they started dating. Jason stated in a press release, “Like most couples, we’ve had our ups and downs and it’s been quite a ride , but for some reason, in my eyes, she’s forever 18 and in her eyes, I know, I’ll always be the crazy guy she married.” The song is not a typical sappy love song by any means. It has a great, strong beat and it really makes you want to tap your toe. Honestly, it REALLY makes me look forward to the release of the new album in May!

From one Canadian Jason to another, Manitoba native Jason Kirkness. Jason and I spoke a while back when I started the blog. I am so excited to say that he has released a new single. “Whiskey Kiss” was released on February 27 and with it he released a video. It was a huge endeavour, but it is proving to be a successful one. The song has been kicking around for a while and he finally decided to record it. It is a kick-ass song about a wild night out. I saw Jason perform in an MCMA showcase back in November and it was great to see him on stage again. He has a new album coming out in May and with it will be a CD release party.  For more information visit: https://jasonkirkness.com  In the meantime – take a look at this great video!

PLAYLIST

These songs and more can be found on my Spotify playlist for this week:

https://play.spotify.com/user/redwhiteandcountry/playlist/5DN78lSx3Pk47LdJpAOBE8

SPOTLIGHT

There are certain things that you can expect from country kids from the prairies. One is that, if they are boys, they more than likely do or have played hockey. Two, they can, have or do drive tractors/atv’s/quads and have gotten them stuck. Three, that your conversation will usually start with how the weather is. The Hunter Brothers delivered all three. Well, Ty did. There are five brothers (Luke, Ty, J.J., Brock and Dusty) but I got to chat with Ty about the band and the family. I am CERTAIN having all five brothers on the phone would have been a handful!

Ty just became a father for the first time in January. “It’s been a very short time and it’s been fantastic!” He said of his new title. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.” With the latest addition of Dusty’s little one earlier this month, that makes nine Hunter grandchildren! But keep in mind, this is a family that is used to crazy schedules. All five boys took music lessons and played hockey. Ty laughed, “I don’t really know how they did it!” All of this was going on while operating the family farm in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan. Not only did Mom have to deal with copious amounts of hockey equipment, “Stinky hockey equipment, to be specific” Ty added, but she also had to re-teach them all of the harmonies every time one of the boys reached that very awkward voice change stage. “I think that Mom really needs to accept any awards or any accolades that we receive.” I think Mom deserves an award just for dealing with the hockey equipment.

This family is not new to the stage at all. In fact, they have been performing for a long time. They started singing gospel and switched to Christian contemporary. So many people had approached them and asked if they were country that, according to Ty, they finally just said, “Well, maybe we should be.” The switch came very natural for them, as was the switch to playing music professionally. They had already traveled around Canada and the US performing. But at it’s core, it really was a farming and hockey playing family, with the oldest playing with the Edmonton Oilers organization for a number of years. Ty recalled, “All of us sustained some sort of injury and it kind of brought us back to the family farm and kind of gave us a chance to pursue music at more of a professional level.”

This year will be the first year that the Hunter Brothers will be attending the Saskatchewan Country Music Association Awards held in Saskatoon this weekend. They are up for four awards. Ty said, “That was an exciting email to wake up to the other day.” And of course they are really looking forward to taking part in the event. One of the awards they are nominated for is Single of the Year for “El Dorado”, a song on their latest album Getaway – released digitally on March 3 and on CD March 17.

This song is a total road trip song. I cannot wait to hit the highway, roll down the windows and turn it up a few notches. When I heard it, I instantly thought of my own dreams of one day driving across a desert in a Cadillac El Dorado. I asked Ty if someone in their family owned one. He replied, “Actually, you know what’s crazy is my Uncle, who actually passed away a few years ago, was a Cadillac man and did own an El Dorado. So the song is actually very, very sentimental, particularly to my Mom because that was her brother. And so when she actually heard the song for the first time, we usually bring our songs back to our parents and hit the play button when we get them back, and she just started crying.” I love to hear that there is such a beautiful story attached to such a great song.

The whole album has this great summer feel to it. If you notice that it also has a bit of a High Valley sound to it, that is for good reason. A number of the songs on it were co-written Brad Rempel and the duo also joined them on “Country Stuff”. There is a fantastic cross-section of sounds. As Ty put it, “We have five different guys and so there’s five different styles and influences.” “Love Lives On” appears like it would be some kind of romantic ballad but it is this up-tempo updated bluegrass tune that will certainly get your toe tapping. Expect a couple of other little surprises like this.

One song that really stood out for me was “Where I Want To Live When I Die”. It is this really beautiful gospel inspired song which obviously pays homage to their beginnings. Ty said, “That song means a tremendous amount to us. You don’t lose your roots and where you came from just because you make a genre shift.”

The brothers do tend to sing a lot of relatable music. “Born and Raised” is a great anthem song that would make any country lover proud. Ty had a fantastic anecdote, “The night my wife went into labour, we recorded “Those Were The Nights” and “Born and Raised” the night before. It was literally within hours. Like, she was upstairs having contractions as I was trying to get these songs finished. It was a very close cut to those actually making it on the album!” Born and raised, indeed!

They have already had some success with “Long Way to Love You” which is on this album and of course, their latest release, “Getaway” is the title track. This record is wall-to-wall fun!

If you are like me and have been waiting for summer, then “Getaway” is your song. It’s fun, it sounds a bit tropical, it makes you want to dance, I love it. And if you think the song is great, the video is fantastic! Filmed at Portofino Island Resort in Pensacola, Florida, it has sun, sand and brotherly banter. It is the epitome of a family vacation. It COULD be that the whole family went – with a whopping 17 of them on the bus ride home. Ty said, “It truly was a lot of fun and hopefully that was represented in the video.” I can safely say, it 100% does.

This isn’t the only video of theirs that I am a huge fan of. Last year the guys put out an impromptu video called “The Combine’s Stuck” which, of course, is a little play on Corb Lund’s “The Truck Got Stuck”. We laughed about the video and Ty said, “Here’s hoping for a better 2017 as far as weather is concerned.” Well – I can’t leave you hanging so here’s the video:

The Hunter Brothers have always come back to the family farm, whether they were playing hockey or music. So I asked Ty what he preferred about farming to the music industry. He replied, “I think one of the things that farming provides is consistency because music can be a little erratic.” and we both agreed that at some point you have to hang up the skates. But between travelling, recording, writing, and things like not knowing if a song is going to do well or not, with music there are a lot of unforeseen variables. “I guess you could say the same about crops,” he added. At the end of the day, this is who they are. Ty adds, “There is something about having your hands in the dirt at home that kind of grounds you, for one thing.” But the most important factor? “You are always at home.”

This was fun. Really fun. Like, I was talking to a kid a grew up with fun. It is almost like there is something hard-wired into prairie people to just accept each other like the person next door, even if you are from a different province. These guys are very active on social media. They love to keep up with their fans so make sure you hit them up:

Website: http://hunterbrothers.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HunterBros

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

Do yourself a favour and get the album. You will thank me. No really. You will thank me. Now, after all this talk about summer and what a great new album they have, please, allow me. Here is “Getaway” by Hunter Brothers. Enjoy!

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No Worries

Hello, Hello, Hello!

Yes! It has been a while. But here I am! I am hoping to be back a little more often now. I have a couple of really great things coming your way.

I hope you are all having a tolerable winter. LOL! I say tolerable because I think that there are maybe a handful of us who really like winter. Be honest now. Some of winter isn’t bad, but the windchill, the -40c, the icy roads…ugh.

Anyhoo, summer is on it’s way and I for one can’t wait! So on to something more fun.

COUNTRY MUSIC:

When a girl at the age of sixteen pens a song called “Homewrecker”, it only seems fitting that somewhere along the line she would title an E.P. Brave. I was really hoping to have this up for the release of Shae Dupuy’s album, but life, unfortunately, had other plans for me.

shae-dupuy-brave-ep

When we spoke, she was in the process of coming down after a CCMA rush. “It was a little chaotic,” Shea said of her experience. Her days were busy, usually starting at seven a.m. and ending at one or two the next morning. Between after-party networking and performances during the week, it was non-stop for Shae. “Whenever you get the chance to perform in those kinds of areas with everyone in the business there, it’s always a great opportunity, so I love doing that.” She added, “It’s great to be surrounded by your peers and everyone’s there because they love country music so it’s an awesome environment to be in.”     

Shae was born in Kamloops, B.C. and at the age of six moved to Ontario. Her father (an R.C.M.P officer), was asked to be a part of the post 9/11 air marshal program. He was posted at Pearson International Airport in Toronto and the family moved. She had her first piano lesson at six and shortly followed with guitar lessons and vocal classes. It was clear that she had inherited her grandfather’s natural musical abilities because by her early teens she could play almost any instrument by ear and was writing her own music. Once she was older, she started spending summers in Los Angeles to become accustomed to the music industry and write with other people. I thought that this was pretty trusting so I asked what it was like having a father who is a police officer. She laughed and said that there had been some pretty funny moments, “He had this little application and it’s the ‘Date My Daughter’ application. It’s funny questions like: ‘Do you own a van?’, ‘What’s your blood type?’, ‘What does NO mean to you?’” We laughed and she continued, “You’d think they’d be really strict but my dad wasn’t. He just taught me right from wrong and let me make my own mistakes which I really like.”

We started talking about the summer that had just past. I asked her what some of the highlights were for her. “Definitely recording,” she started, “I got to fly out to Vancouver for it. I got to do some writing down in Nashville.” I asked her what she thought of the home of country music. “I absolutely loved it because everyone shares that passion of music and it’s such a creative place.” Since I am such a huge fan of the city myself, I always ask for recommendations. “I normally wait until Wednesday to go. It’s called Proper Bagel (www.properbagel.com). They have these awesome homemade huge bagels and then they have amazing cream cheeses.” I took a look and I will DEFINITELY check this place out the next time I am there. Apparently on Wednesdays they have a bagel deal. She added, “I am very in to the food in Nashville,” mentioning that she also has found a love for authentic southern BBQ. I think by that point, we were both left a little hungry.

Shae was down there working on her latest project Brave, which was released last October. The first single released from that was “Good For Me” (released to radio last August and iTunes last September). The lyrics come across as very personal (You’re so wrong for me/ But it feels so right/ And I can’t help but wonder/ If you were good for me/ But I want you so bad). I asked if this was fact or fiction, based on our previous conversation about putting yourself into your songwriting. Without hesitation, she replied, “It’s definitely fact.” We both agreed that part of the fun of a girl’s night out is trying to figure out a guy’s game. Oh, don’t sit there and try to tell us you don’t come in there with a game plan, guys. We do too. Lol! Let’s all be honest here. And we have all even been in the situation where maybe we wanted to be with someone we know wasn’t good for us. “When I sat down to write it with a co-writer, we also kind of wanted to take a step back and think is the appeal in the person or is it in the risk that comes with doing something you shouldn’t be?” There was also the whole “bad boy” appeal. Shae agreed, “If this person good for me, would I want them as much as I did?” Oh ladies, isn’t this a question we have been asking ourselves since the dawn of time? While this song is great, Shae assured me that there were some songs on Brave that were equally (if not better) than “Good For Me”.

I read Shae a quote that I had seen on her website:

“A person on a song critiquing panel I attended called my writing Brave and that stuck with me.”

What did she think of a comment like that? “I first kind of wondered to myself ‘How can someone’s writing be brave?’ But then I took a step back and I really thought about what he said because it did stick with me. It kind of sat at the back of my mind for a few days afterwards.” So, then. what did it mean to be “brave”? According to Shae, “You have to be honest and vulnerable in your songwriting.” I thought about some of my own favourite songs and many of them are written from a very intimate and personal place. In fact, I have written that kind of work myself on my other blog. She added, “You cannot lie. You cannot half-ass it because people know when you’re authentic and putting yourself out there.” She is 100% right. Think about an artist you’ve seen live who was just “phoning it in”. It seems insincere and unbelieveable. It really disconnects you from that artist. Shae decided to take action, “I’m going to take what he said and I’m going to prove to people that, yes, I am brave and that’s what I’m doing with this E.P.”

Shae absolutely delivered with Brave. It is a testament to some fantastic songwriting. Shae really takes us on a ride with playful songs like “Tin Man”; the story of a young girl being cautioned not to fall in love with the heartless boy, to the upbeat revenge song like “Drink About It” where she warns she is going to be a hard one to get over. Then we come to “Homewrecker”. Written at just sixteen, Shae says this may have been the one occasion where she let people know a little too much. She says that there are several songs like that on the E.P., this song being one of them. “It’s one of my favourite songs that I’ve ever written because it wasn’t necessarily meant to be a radio single or a song I ever recorded. It was meant to be as an outlet for my anger.” She sang the song at a coffee house, where everyone knew the story, “That’s a bit of a Taylor Swift move,” she laughed, “but I did it anyway.” She has no regrets about the decision. “It made me a better songwriter and it made me a better performer for it.” I totally agree! Shae has a wonderful singer/songwriter style that rivals Taylor Swift. Her voice is soft and soothing. I 100% recommend that you pick up Brave. It is fantastic.

Whenever you put anything out into the world, be it a song, a book, or a blog post, you always have reservations. I asked Shae what some of her fears were when releasing an E.P. “Like everybody, you just want it to be successful. I put a lot of time in there and I’ve also put a lot of myself into these songs. Because I’ve written and co-written all of them so they’re very personal to me, they’re my life experiences.” She admits that there is a bit of anxiety that comes with it, “I want people to love them and relate to them as much as I do.” At the end of the day, this is what Shae was born to do. “If anything, I’m more excited. I love putting out new music and I love getting feedback from it.”

Brave is Shae’s second E.P. so I asked what she learned from her first (Breakdown) that she carried forward to this one. “Whenever you’re putting out a full project like an E.P. or an album, you’re telling a story, so order matters, what songs you’re putting on there matters. Like you can’t go from writing a bunch of summer songs and happy songs to all of a sudden having one super depressing song.” Shae talked about taking the the listener on a roller coaster ride. Despite her young age, she is completely realistic about releasing a new project, “Not every song on an E.P. is going to be successful. There are songs that get buried among others and that’s ok.”

If Shae seems like she is a well-rounded and well-balanced individual, it is because…she is. She is a firm believer in taking care of her physical and mental health. “I love being active and I love reading so I walk regularly 3 times a week with a personal trainer and I go to yoga. In the summer, I love to hike.” And in those rare moments of quiet? “If I have a day off, I will probably spend it somewhere cozy reading.”

Those days will be fewer and further between this summer, as Shae plans to do more touring.  Keep up with show dates on her website (www.shaedupuy.com). I can honestly say, it was a joy talking to her. She is very calm and grounded and has such a great head on her shoulders. All of this and insanely talented! Make sure to check her out on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/officialshaedupuy) Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/shaedupuy) and course follow her on FB (https://www.facebook.com/shaedupuy) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ShaeDupuy) but for now….you can take a look at this – “Good For Me” by Shae Dupuy

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Happy Holidays!

Hi Everybody. It has been a while since I posted something so I just wanted to pop on with an update.

Things have been…interesting. I am still not feeling 100% and some of my medications are having some crazy side effects. That all being said, I have decided to take a bit of a break until the end of the year. I need to recuperate a bit and regroup. I am slowly (but surely) working on a piece so I will try to get that up for you as soon as I can. I DO have some really great things lined up for the new year and I am so excited about making a good run at it.  A Craven Karaoke Booth may or may not be part of the plan, lol. “But Susie. Isn’t Craven in July?” Yes it is and I already have my tickets and campsite booked. Did you think I was going to miss Blake Shelton or Keith Urban? My friend, that was never going to happen! So you can see that although I may not be feeling top shelf, I am always thinking. Needless to say, you and I are going to have a lot of fun in 2017!!

Thank you all so much for hanging in there with me through all of this. Your patience and kindness is so much more appreciated than you know. This blog started out as kind of a way for me to explore country music more in-depth and the opportunities it has brought my way in the last 12 months is more than I could have ever hoped for.  I look forward to sharing more of these opportunities with you in the future. I wish you all the best this holiday season and have a very happy and safe New Year!

As my little Christmas gift to you, here is a video with my gal pal Chelsea Crites featuring Cory Cruise singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside”:

MUAH!!!

 

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