CCMA Gala Dinner and Awards

This isn’t really the way I want to start any blog post. But a couple of things have happened in the music world that I’d like to address.

Sadly, on October 2, shortly after 8:30 pm (this is the final report, there were reports he died earlier due to poor LAPD reporting) due to heart attack. Responsible for hits a such as “Free Fallin'” and my personal favourite, “American Girl”, Tom Petty, age 66, will be considered a huge loss to the music community. Prayers and healing thoughts to his friends and family at this difficult time. 

There is no way to get away around talking about what happened on Sunday, October 1st. The shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas has left me with few words, which isn’t the best for a writer. I mean, what words can you really use to describe how you feel about it? Saddened, disgusted, and angry don’t seem to be enough. For many of us, these festivals are a way to unwind. A way to celebrate that “country side” of us that maybe we don’t often get to do. For some of us, it’s a “happy place”. So to think something this horrific could happen at something we take so much joy in, is absolutely heart-breaking. The country music community has come together and supported one another during this time and it makes me proud to be a part of it. Healing thoughts to the families of the victims and those victims still in recovery. You are all in our prayers.
This blog was never meant for me to be political. I won’t start now. The one thing I would like to say is that events like these are an EVERYBODY problem. We should all be concerned. 

Now, on to happier news.

CCMA Gala Dinner and Awards  

If you’ve ever been to a big union or work party, you have an idea of what the CCMA Gala Dinner and Awards is like. Ok. Not quite. There is a lot more security and a few more celebrities than you’d see at your pipefitters local Christmas party. 

Being in the media room, you don’t really get to take in any of what is happening in the main area. The winners of the awards are brought back so we can photograph them or ask them questions. It also means you don’t get to see the performances that they have lined up. This year it included: Dan Davidson, J.J. Shiplett, Jessica Mitchell, Dean Brody, High Valley, Jess Moskaluke and JoJo Mason. From what I was able to hear, it was fantastic.

The evening also included some pretty big awards. Here are some photos of the winners:

Country Music Hall of Fame Artist Inductee: Paul Brandt 

Photo Credit: Grant Martin Photography

Country Music Hall of Fame Stan Klees Builder Award: L. Harvey Gold

Photo Credit: Grant Martin Photography

Slaight Music Humanitarian Award: Country 105 Caring for Kids Radiothon

Leonard T. Rambeau International Award: Franck Boucheraud

CCMA Discovery Award presented by Country 107.3: Kalsey Kulyk

Roots Artist or Group of the Year: The Washboard Union

Songwriter of the Year presented by Ole: Song: “Time” (performed by Dean Brody)

Interactive Artist of the Year: Brett Kissel

Guitar Player of the Year presented by Cithara Guitars: Matt McKay

Keyboard Player of the Year: Bart McKay

Specialty Instrument Player of the Year: Denis Dufresne – banjo

Radio Station of the Year (Large Market): CKRY FM, Calgary, AB 

Radio Station of the Year (Medium or Small Market): CHCQ FM, Belleville, ON 

Music Publishing Comapny of the Year: Ole (This is Ole’s 11th win in this category)

Record Company of the Year: Warner Music Canada

Record Company Person of the Year: Mike Denney – MDM Recordings Ltd.

Ron Sakamoto Talent Buyer or Promoter of the Year: Jim Cressman – Invictus Entertainment Group

Photo Credit: Grant Martin Photography 

Top Selling Album of the Year: Ripcord – Keith Urban

Top Selling Canadian Album of the Year presented by Music Canada: Side Effects – Dallas Smith

Top Selling Canadian Single of the Year presented by ACTRA RACS: Bush Party – Dean Brody

Photo Credit: Grant Martin Photography

This is an evening that really is something to see. If you are a country music fan and are coming to country music week, I highly recommend getting a ticket for this event.

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Checking out Diamonds In The Rough

I went and took in the first session of Diamonds in the Rough. It was being sponsored part in by Canadian Beats and my friend Linda Heldman was hosting it. If you are not sure what this is, it is an opportunity for independent singer/songwriters to showcase their talent. I really enjoyed myself! There was some fantastic talent showcased and it’s hard to even know where to start.

The session began with singer/songwriter Barbara Lynn Doran from Whitby, Ontario backed by well-known Canadian musician Rob Laidlaw.  It is easy to see why Doran was a finalist in The Great Canadian Songwriting Contest. Her songs are deep and personal and her voice is extremely soulful.

Up next was Stephanie Rose. She hails from Debden, Saskatchewan. She grew up on her family farm and had her first horse at 5. Watch out for my interview with this talented gal. She may only be 23, but she has a traditional country voice and an old soul. Her storytelling skills are visible in her song “How to Fish”, which was my favourite of her songs.

As a special guest, Drew Gregory got up and did a couple of songs! I have never seen him live before and he was fantastic! You should really follow him on Spotify. He is great! He sounds amazing and he is very charismatic. 

Connor Wilson is a talented singer/songwriter to watch. He has this light and friendly voice that I could listen to all afternoon. When he added playing the harmonica, I was sold. He played two songs I really loved, “Trans-canada Road” and “I See Smoke”. Both of them are fantastically written. I had a a photo. Buuuuut. I deleted it by accident. I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s move on. 

If traditional country is what you seek, then Steve Pointmeier is the man you need. Right down to the hat and boots, Steve has a traditional voice and a shy demeanor. Be sure to pick up his EP to hear heart-felt songs, like “Pillow Lies”. My photo of him was with Connor’s. I still don’t want to talk about it. 

Newcomer Jeremy Dallas is originally from Prince Edward Island and now lives in Calgary. His first release “Under The Radar” has this great contemporary country sound which fits his look. I was familiar with Jeremy and his work, as I was first drawn in by his Kip Moore sounding voice. He sang a really great song that he worked on with Aaron Goodvin called “One Hand In The Wind” that I really liked. Jeremy is looking to release a debut album toward the end of the year, so keep a lookout for it. 

I had seen Amanda Jordan last year at the CMAO conference. It is easy to see she has matured some on stage since I last saw her last. She still maintains that Taylor Swift vibe that I like about her. One song that really stood out to me was “Driving In The Dark”. This is definitely a young lady to watch for. 

It was a real treat to see Erin Hill. She was backed by partner Alex Runions, who honestly, I was more familiar with. Her voice is soothing and sweet. The fact that she brought out a ukele completely won me over. Listening to her is like a warm summer breeze. I’m glad I had a chance to become more familiar with her work. She is great! You should check her out whenever you have a chance!

I was so glad I finally got the chance to see my friend Rich Cloke in action. I have interviewed him and we have met and now I got to see him perform. He sounds amazing live (as good as he does recorded) and it is obvious that he is passionate about what he does. If you didn’t listen to him after my interview about him, get on it! He is fantastic!!

A while back, I did a great interview with an extremely talented young man by the name of Beamer Wigley. Now 16, he is paired up with another talented teen, Abby Stewart. Putting Abby and Beamer together is an incredible combination! These two are definitely on a fast track to success. Their songs “Falling In Love At 16” and “Put Up A Fight” are spectacular. Beamer’s guitar playing is bar-none some of the best I’ve seen. I can not wait to see what the future has in store for these two!

Country Music Week is a fantastic opportunity to see most of your favourite artists in one weekend. But make sure to check out things like the different showcases and Diamonds In The Rough. There is some amazing new talent in this country that is really worth looking in to.

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CCMA Legends Concert

I was running late for the CCMA Legends Concert due to prior engagements. I got there as quick as I could. Unfortunately, I missed the Hunter Brothers performance. That bummed me out but I did catch this sweet photo:

When I walked in, songstress Lisa Brokop was in the middle of Patsy Cline classic “She’s Got You”, and doing an incredible job of it I might add.

She then brought out new female artist Madeline Merlo to do a duet of Brokop’s hit “I’d like to see you try”. Not only do the two sound phenomenal together, they looked like they were having a great time.

Brokop left Merlo on stage to play her hit single “Whatcha Wanna Do About It” on her own. I love seeing Madeline live. It’s so obvious that she loves what she does and adores being on stage.

Can we just discuss Deric Ruttan for a moment? This guy is as funny as hell. I would watch him host any show almost as much as I would watch him play anywhere. He and friend Jimmy Rankin played an amazing version of “Sister Golden Hair”. I wish I would have recorded it so I could rewatch it. That is how good it was.

Jimmy went on to a duet with Patricia Conroy. It was beautiful. The two of them together sound flawless.

Up next was CCMA Spotlight Artist winner Mallory Johnson. She honestly looked and sounded as though you could have plucked her from the CCMA stage and put her in The Opry. She was worried about doing Hank Snow’s “Fool Such As I” justice. She shouldn’t have worried at all. I am sure Hank was smiling.

If you are a fan of Washboard Union and haven’t seen them live yet, get to it! They are outstanding. When they performed “Shot of Glory” that night, it turned in to one big sing-a-long. And really. Who doesn’t love a big sing-a-long?

After a brief intermission Wendell Ferguson cranked out a kick-ass version of “Running Back to Saskatoon”.

Award winner Patrica Conroy moved the whole audience with an outstanding version of her song “What Else Can I Do”.

She then invited Washboard Union to join her in performing a really fantastic version of Jess Moskaluke’s “Cheap Wine and Cigarettes” only the way that they can do.

The evening continued with Deric Ruttan performing a number one hit that he wrote but isn’t necessarily known for singing. While “Any Ol’ Barstool” is a Jason Aldean hit song, it was written by Ruttan. And he sang it with perfection.

One of the highlights of the evening was being able to see legend Ian Tyson. I have never seen him before. And even though this may be nearing the end stages of his career, he received a standing ovation as he came out. Singing “Four Strong Winds” and the recently released “You Should Have Known”, the crowd was captivated.

As if that wasn’t enough, he invited 16 time CCMA Award winner Carolyn Dawn Johnson on stage to sing “Some Day Soon”. What an amazing moment in country music history.

After a verklempt Carolyn took a moment to compose herself, friend Deric Ruttan joined her on stage. The two did the most beautiful duet of her hit “Don’t Let Me Die Of A Broken Heart”. Their voices filled the room the room around us, almost taking your breath away.

Ruttan left the stage and replaced him was Brokop, Merlo, Conroy, and Johnson. A stage full of Canadian girl power! This incredible group of women paid homage to Sasktchewan female singer/songwriter Joanie Mitchell and sang a fantastic version of “Big Yellow Taxi”.

The evening had already been so full of exceptional entertainment. It was hard to believe that there was more. The evening ended with 15 time CCMA Award winner and CCMA Hall of Honour inductee, Paul Brandt.

Despite his accomplishments and the fact that this was kind of “his” weekend, he took a moment to remember Troy Gentry and Don Williams, both huge losses for the country music community that day. An emotional Paul told us of some fond memories and continued with the evening. He did a fantastic medley, which turned in to a sing-a-long (two in one night? Yes!) of “My Heart Has A History”, “Small Towns And Big Dreams”, “I Do” and “Convoy”.

He then invited Carolyn Dawn Johnson to perform “Open Road”, a song he normally sings with Saskatchewan native Jess Moskaluke – which, I am sorry Jess, was remarkable.

To end the evening, Paul brought out his wife to sing “Alberta Bound” and they finished the song with a kiss.

The crowd rose to their feet for a much deserved standing ovation. The whole evening was absolutely fantastic. If you are ever taking in CCMA Week and they have an event like this, you should make sure to get tickets for it. It really was a memorable evening. And CCMA, you should have Deric Ruttan host, oh, everything. He is awesome.

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And The Winner Is

The best way to explain the CCMA experience is take Craven and turn it up a few notches. You are dressed up. You are networking. And you are meeting some amazing people.

The main fear I had was not knowing anyone. I thought that staying with my friend Linda Heldman was a good decision. IT WAS! Not only do I love this woman to death (I swear we were sister’s is a previous life) but even after day one I learned so much from her and met so many people. I feel truly blessed to have a woman I can honestly call a mentor.

I will be posting over the next couple of days because there is so much. But I covered some great events!

There is one thing I’d like to speak to right off the top. On the live broadcast of the CCMA Awards on Sunday night, it looks as though Dean Brody is asleep when he is called to accept the award for Apple Music Fans’ Choice. Now I can’t say if he was asleep for sure. My seats were good but not THAT good. What I can say is that it doesn’t really matter to me. He is an amazing artist and philanthropist. He works hard and has had an extremely busy schedule all while coping with personal problems. Some say he looked like he passed out. For me it’s a sign of a person who needs a break. Dean is a straight-up nice guy and publicly apologized for this so maybe we can lay off the crucifixion. If you can say you’ve never dozed off in public before then you are far better than he or I. I’ve done it more than once myself. Alright. I’m done with my “Team Brody” speech now.

Since you have all been so patient, I thought I would gift you with a recap of the winners list with a few photos I took from the Green Carpet and the Gala media room. So let’s go!

Obviously, Apple Music Fans’ Choice – Dean Brody:

Album of the Year – “Side Effects” by Dallas Smith:

Female Artist of the Year – Meghan Patrick:

Male Artist of the Year – Brett Kissel (who came to the Green Carpet with his family):

Group Or Duo of the Year – The Road Hammers:

Single of the Year – “Autograph” by Dallas Smith:

Video of the Year – “I Didn’t Fall In Love With Your Hair” by Brett Kissel:

Songwriter of the Year – Song: “Time” performed by Dean Brody:

Roots Group of the Year – The Washboard Union:

Interactive Artist of the Year – Brett Kissel:

SiriusXM Rising Star Award: Meghan Patrick:

Stay tuned! There’s more to come! But I WILL leave you with the Video of the Year – “I Didn’t Fall In Love With Your Hair” by Brett Kissel. I suggest you grab the Kleenex box for this one:

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That’s right! I said it out loud! I am headed to the PotashCorp Country Music Week being held in Saskatoon! I got media accreditation for the whole week except for the media room on the Sunday night. I am SO ok with this! I am really happy for getting where I HAVE gotten. This is an incredible opportunity.

The CCMA Awards is a sign that summer is coming to an end. The big scene for me this summer was Craven. I realize I haven’t told you about this yet. So, let’s change that.


First and foremost, Craven is no longer Craven Country Jamboree. It IS in fact a part of the Country Thunder group. Now, this is good and bad. It does give them some money for upgrades. The main stage is all grass now (NO MORE WOOD CHIPS!!), main street has been paved and the main street washrooms have all been upgraded. And believe me, that REALLY needed to be done. But. Sitting all night in the “gopher run” is pretty much pointless. It starts at the last section of the runway. What is in front of it? Platinum (paid) Seating. It is still good. But if you are looking for front row seats, you aren’t getting them from the “gopher run” anymore. I still did it. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

Patty and I got out there on the Tuesday night. Best. Idea. Ever. Having the ability to pull the trailer in and set it set up with no one around was fantastic. We could take our time and watch people move in slowly over the next few days.  It starts out pretty lonely! We noticed that the camping numbers were pretty low this year. Something we were attributing to the new Platinum Seating.

The Festival officially started on Thursday. Although we were sitting in the “gopher run” for Friday’s shows, my friends let me take off to catch the majority of The Road Hammers as they kicked off the weekend as only they can! Alright. If you haven’t seen them live, go look up and see where they are playing near you and get tickets. Just, do it. They are…the only word I can really come up with is explosive! I LOVED IT! I danced the whole time! They look good. They sound good. The crowd sang along with oldies like “Mud” and “I’m a Road Hammer” as well as with their new single “Crazy About You”. Any new music was well received. Well, first, the album kicks ass and second, how can you not love it when this is happening:

These guys are absolute showmen and the crowd completely buy whatever they are selling. It is obvious they love their fans as much as the fans love them. Do not miss seeing them. Ever.

After a long night in line, the seats were obtained. I can’t even being to tell you the amount of anxiety it caused me. Let’s just say I have amazing friends. Our seats were near the end of the runway and nothing to sneeze at! Lol! Does anyone say that anymore? I just did. Oh well.

Can we please have a discussion about Meghan Patrick? OH. MY. GOD! I am so in love with this girl! She is my Canadian “Miranda”. She is stunning and her legs are phenomenal, so let’s get that out of the way.

Apart from this, she is so amazingly talented! This was my first time seeing her live and I am a believer. I met her at the fan booth:

One of my favourite songs right now is “Come And Be Country With Me” so hearing it live was a huge treat for me. She works the stage with ease and energy. You really can’t help but get in to it.

The band who really surprised me, because I wasn’t sure what to expect was LoCash. I really enjoyed them! I didn’t know very much about them, I knew a couple of songs. I am not so arrogant to say I know everything about country music. Anyway, They were totally in to it. They were up and down that runway and interactive. It was great to watch.

Honestly, there were not many people who were not up and dancing, especially when they sang their hits “I know Somebody” and “I love this life”. They are very, very charismatic.

I was so glad to finally have the opportunity to see Old Dominion. I have really enjoyed them since they came out and to see them live was fantastic. I don’t know if it’s just Craven or if it was these bands in particular, but they really seemed to be having a great time. They were enjoying the crowd a lot:

These guys are master musicians. Everything sounded crisp and flawless. I would love to say something bad about them, but I honestly can’t!

When THAT is going on in front of you, it is impossible to give anything but a positively glowing review. They sounded great and they looked great. They were completely in to the crowd and signing autographs.

Then. The whole reason we stayed in line all night – Blake Shelton.

Well, he didn’t come all the way down the runway, so that was a bummer. I also didn’t find him as fun as last time. There was just something that was not as sparky. He was good, don’t get me wrong. He was enjoyable to listen to. He was nice to watch. But I was left wanting.

I did love hearing “Came here to Forget” and “Everytime I hear That Song” live. There was one thing that I thought was a bit…I don’t know. I just thought it wasn’t as funny as maybe some people thought. He sang “All My Exes Live In Texas” and I just thought that wasn’t very nice. If you are truly over it, then you don’t need to sing a song like that.

Then, I found out after the weekend that Gwen Stefani and her children were apparently with him that weekend. Did this affect his performance? Who can say. Anyway, he honestly was not one of my favourites of the whole weekend, but he was really good.

On Saturday, we saw James Barker Band. These guys are quickly becoming one of my favourites. I saw them on the Dean Brody Beautiful Freakshow Tour. They were great. A festival is totally their element though. It was awesome to be outside, drinking beer and listen to these guys in the sunshine.

They are fun and super talented. What I really like about them is that they like to have a good time with the crowd. That means so much to me. That’s what I pay for! I pay to see the artist interact with us. Seeing them having a good time makes it so much better for me as a fan!

If ever can you see them, do it. Seeing “Chills” live, no matter the venue, is worth the price of admission!

Now, I can’t decide who was more entertaining, Cassadee Pope or her mega fan Nicholas. Cassadee of course is gorgeous and looked fantastic:

I won’t lie. I am laughing as I write this. Nicholas was in the front row of the general area. He was about 30. Stood a solid 6’2″. He was wearing overalls and a straw hat. Under the hat, he had a shaved head and he also wore a short beard. He was the LEAST LIKELY Cassadee Pope fan. This guy danced and sang his heart out to every song. Hard. Super Hard. It was so distracting that even Cassadee stopped and said, “I am sorry, but what, is your name man?” he said, “Nicholas” and she started laughing and said, “I love you Nicholas.” And he screamed back, “I Love you Cassaddee!!!” Like he was a full on super fan. She did come over and at least get a little close to use, so she couldn’t have been to afraid of him.

To top it off, security came out and gave him an autographed set list from Cassadee and I guess she wrote a note to him. Nicholas was almost crying. I was…I didn’t know what I was. I wanted to laugh but it was so cute that I felt bad laughing. Anyway, she did a super job and made Nicholas’ day.

Dallas Smith was someone I was looking forward to seeing. And with reason. He was by far one of my favourite acts of the weekend. He ran in and came right over to the general area, forget the people in the front row!

He is active and engaging and sounds awesome live. I will see him over and over again. If anyone ever wants to go, please ask me! Hearing some of the old stuff is always great, but bringing out his wife to dance with to his newer single “Autograph” was so sweet. And let me tell you, “Sky Stays This Blue” live outdoors is AMAZING!

So Here is a weird pic. I have a pic of him taking a pic of me………

Go and get this new album and he is going out on tour so make sure you get out and see him. TOTALLY worth it!

The Saturday night headliner was Toby Keith. For political reasons, I didn’t go. I also didn’t go to Leopold’s Tavern after…where Dallas and Toby played a couple of songs together. I know. I know. I am sorry. I just couldn’t. I am sorry.

Sunday brought with it two of my favourite acts of the weekend…Cold Creek County and Keith Urban.

As most of you are aware, Cold Creek County has a new lead singer – Ches Anthony. You would never know he wasn’t a member of the band from day one!

He is so charismatic and full of energy. He is an absolute asset to an already fantastic ensemble. I really enjoyed seeing them pull out the old favourites like “Our Town” and “Beer Weather” but I was equally thrilled to see them perform new stuff like “Homegrown”.

One of the highlights was Josh and Ches breaking down some Bruno Mars, with dance moves and everything:

It is undeniable that Ches was a great addition. The guys sound and look great! I would recommend catching them in your town if you can!

 The festival closed out with Keith Urban and I could think of no finer way to do so:

Ever the consummate performer, Keith is completely engaged with his audience from the moment he steps on stage:

Even some celebrities came out to catch the performance, as we saw Josh and Justin from Cold Creek County. They were awesome enough to stop for a chat and take a couple of pics:

Urban quite literally left us speechless and wanting more. For Me, the highlight was was hearing “Blue Ain’t Your Color” live. It was magical. He is someone I would pay to see again and again. He is a gifted musician and by far one of the best performers I’ve seen live.

In retrospect, I had a great time once again. I met some fun people, saw some great friends and heard some fantastic music. The platinum seating was the only thing that really hacked me off. I feel like these festivals are geared for the fan who will camp in the rain, stand out in the heat all day and wait in line all night. So people paying for the privilege of getting up close just didn’t seem fair to me. But money prevails, I suppose. This for me was the only real downfall. With the upgraded facilities, it made my overall experience more enjoyable. 

There were news reports of nudity at Craven this year. I personally did not witness this. However. It’s not surprising since the they added a Mardi Gras beads vendor. My experience was the same as always, there was plenty of security and police presence. I never felt unsafe. 

So far Luke Bryan is on the ticket for 2018 and I am already looking forward to it!

In honour of the CCMA Awards being in Saskatchewan this year, here is Hunter Brothers latest “Born and Raised”




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I’ll Get Better – Cross My Heart


Let me apologize for my delay in posting. This summer has seen a few very exciting moments for us. A trip to Nova Scotia, Craven (a WHOLE post on it’s own), and the early arrival of my gorgeous niece, Presley Ann Margaret Roy:


She was born 6 weeks early, weighed 3 pounds 14 ounces and is already out of the St. Boniface NICU and at home at a WHOPPING 4 pounds 4 ounces. She is by far the smallest and mightiest member of our family and obviously we are completely in love! Our family would like to thank the staff at the St. Boniface Hospital for taking such great care of my sister and my niece. They were wonderful to all of us. No offence though, it is great to not have to see Presley there. We are so happy she is home.

Between all of this and some crazy weather cells that have been in the area lately, I am behind. But I am trying to catch up! So hang in there with me!


There are a few things that are quintessentially Canadian; our flag, our “monopoly money”, maple syrup and you certainly must include Stompin’ Tom Connors on to this list. In association with Canada 150, Anthem Legacy, which is a part of Ole Label Group,will be releasing the Stompin’ Tom Connors 50th Anniversary self-titled CD.


This will be the first ever Stompin’ Tom release that the Ole Label Group has done and it was released on June 30th. It can be purchased here:

Tom was born in St. John, New Brunswick and was raised in Prince Edward Island. He hit the road at 15 and over the next 13 years saw every nook and cranny of Canada. His iconic songs were stories of the places he saw and the people he met along the way.  He released 6 original albums with Dominion records before leaving to sign with Boot Records, where he recorded 10 more original albums. These works included Tom and a host of other artists.

TomGuitar-Ovr-ShoulderCrop_HR (1).jpg

Listening to this album made me feel…child-like. It reminded me of summers spent in Nova Scotia. I brought back fond memories of my Nanny and my Uncle Percy, who I miss dearly. It made me feel really Canadian. It made me feel like I was sitting in Nanny’s kitchen in Port Wade on a Saturday night while people dropped in and told stories and had a laugh. The songs are fantastic and stand up, but a song like “The Hockey Song” really has a special meaning if you are Canadian. There are four covers on the album and they are all really good. George Canyon’s cover of “The Hockey Song” strays a bit from the traditional Stompin’ Tom sound, but Corb Lund’s “The Consumer”, The Cuddy/Polley Family Band’s “Don Valley Jail” and Whiskey Jack’s “Algoma Central #69” maintain that feeling.

The Album is a phenomenal salute to an incredibly talented and iconic Canadian figure. If you are a fan, this should be a part of your collection. If you are just starting to explore traditional country, this is a great album to pick up. Stompin’ Tom could spin one hell of a yarn.


Let me start by saying, I am a fan of The Road Hammers. I also think Jason McCoy is tremendous. However, I am always prepared to be objective, even when it is someone I really like (I believe I said I wasn’t a HUGE fan of ALL of Blake Shelton’s last album, and we know how I feel about him). But this. This here. What the hell, Road Hammers! You guys totally blew my doors off! “Crazy About You” was the first single to come off The Squeeze and it is the first of some seriously bad-ass songs.


Everything about this album is gritty. There is that southern rock feel that The Road Hammers have become known for, with a bit of extra grit thrown in for good measure. From the real rock sound of “The Squeeze” to the Kid Rock-esque “Detroit Alison” (Which is quiet possibly my FAVOURITE song on this album), every song reminds you of why you love Skynard. It reminds you of why you love The Kentucky Headhunters. It reminds you of why you loved The Road Hammers in the first place.

If you are looking for a ballad, you are in luck. “All Your Favourite Bands” slows it downs and wishes the best for someone…as only The Road Hammers can:

      “I hope that life without a chaperone / is what you thought it’d be / I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever / I hope the world sees the same person / that you’ve always been to me/ and may all your favourite bands stay together”


The album ends with “One Horse Town” featuring Tim Hicks. They damn near blew my Bose up! You absolutely can not listen to this song without turning it up. I tried. It is impossible.

Their latest single from this album, “Your Love Is the Drug” (another wicked southern rock song from this group) was released on August 9 to Canadian Country Radio. Trust me when I say it is another killer song!

How I am just listening to this full album right now? I have no idea. I am clearly an idiot. If you are a fan and do not have this yet – GO AND GET IT! If you are a southern rock fan – GO AND GET IT! I had a chance to catch them at Craven and they blew me away! I will tell you more of those antics later.  Just…get the album.


Little kids are funny. You can ask them what they want to be when they grow up one day and the answer can change from day-to-day, or even hour to hour. In the case of Amanda Sadler, the decision was made at a pretty young age. She started dancing at 4, piano at 6 and then started singing shortly after that. She then began performing with a semi-professional youth performance group.  The “common denominator” (the term Amanda used) in all of these, was music. At 13 she got her first guitar, “That’s when I kind of started songwriting as well.” A love affair was born. “Looking back from there, it’s something I have been so passionate about since day one.”

Amanda Sadler

I asked what her parents thought about her wanting to do this. If there was ever an “enough is enough” moment. Amanda laughed, “They have been the most supportive people in the entire world. Sometimes it shocks me how incredibly supportive they are.” We talked about how parents seem to be more willing to support a child’s dream than let’s say in the 50’s. For example, if a son came home and said, “Hey Dad! Coach thinks I have a real shot at becoming a pro hockey player!” The chances are pretty good that Dad would respond with something similar to, “Forget the dream kid. You’re coming to work with me.” Now parents have more capacity to help the child attain that dream. Amanda made an interesting point, especially where the music industry is involved, “It’s a very interesting time that we’re living in now too because if you look back through the years, there was one way you would go about creating a career for yourself in the music industry. And today because of this amazing age we live in, with everything accessible online and stuff, there’s so many ways to go about building a fan base and getting your music out to people.”

Amanda’s latest release “Cross My Heart” is a wonderfully written break-up song. The video was released in June. The song is upbeat and carries this message of someone finally saying good-bye to someone. “I cross my heart you won’t cross my mind”. And good riddance! I asked her when we would get a chance to hear more. “We haven’t released any official details yet but there is definitely going to be an upcoming project coming out in the near future. That’s as much detail as I can give away right now.” So there is more to look forward to!

Cross My Heart Single Artwork (1)

Her first EP Light in 2015 was written entirely on her own. “It was definitely just a huge learning experience for me.” It hadn’t really been planned that way. She just got along so well with the producer that, well, the EP kind of…happened. At the beginning of her career, a lot of her music was written solo. As she has gotten to know more people, she has embraced the experience of collaboration. “There’s just so many amazing people to collaborate with so I try to do that as much as possible now.” Amanda spent a couple of months in Nashville last year and plans to do the same again this year. She also has been writing a lot over Skype, “Writing is a definitely a part of my daily process, that’s for sure!” While she enjoys being able to write with people from all over, she admits, “It is probably the scariest thing in the world to go to a co-write on Skype with someone you’ve never met before!” She laughed and we talked about how you just have to learn to embrace that “awkward” feeling, “I’ve never met you before, we’re talking over the internet and let’s write a super personal song right now.” We both were laughing at this point. She added, “It’s something that has been a wonderful experience for me.”

I read Amanda one of her own quotes (she sounded a bit nervous…),

“They have my heart and soul in them, along with a lot of coffee and some seriously worn out guitar pics.”

She laughed. It turns out Amanda is a huge coffee fan. You’ll be interested to know that she is a fan of neither Tim’s or Starbucks, “I’m really big on supporting local”. Local for Amanda is Kingston, Ontario. It seemed only fitting that I asked for the low-down on some of her favourite coffee haunts. “In Kingston, my current favourite is Crave ( It’s a new coffee shop that just opened I think last year on Princess Street. And they are absolutely fantastic! It’s really a great little vibe in there. They do a lot of specialty drinks and stuff. Then in Nashville, oh gosh, there’s so many good coffee shops in Nashville. My favourite neighbourhood is 12 South in Nashville and they’ve got a really great little coffee shop, a little restaurant called Frothy Monkey (yes…this is its name, I listened several times and: – Looks AMAZING!). That’s probably my favourite breakfast and coffee spot down there. But there is another one called Crema ( and their coffee is to die for as well.”

Coffee and songwriting aren’t the only loves of Amanda Sadler. She is also very committed to philanthropy. She originally enrolled at Queen’s University to study Sociology to pursue a career in the non-profit sector. While at school, she worked her way up from being an intern to being the president of the Vogue Charity Fashion Show ( While doing this she volunteered for The Learning Disabilities Organization of Ontario. Now as an artist, she can work on both her love of music and giving back, “I’m really excited to donate my time as a musician to different organizations.” Her next target is mental health and looks forward to doing more work in that area.

It doesn’t seem like Amanda has much time to herself. When she does, you can usually find her…writing songs. Since it never feels like work to her, “A lot of the time in my spare time I am writing or collaborating with other musicians.” She quickly adds, “I’m also a really big foodie. I absolutely love eating out so much.” She tries to check out local restaurants as much as she can.

We had a great chat! She is not only talented but absolutely delightful. Catch up with her on all of her socials:


TWITTER: @AmandaSadler

INSTAGRAM: @AmandaSadlerMusic

FACEBOOK: /amandafsadler


Please take a listen to Amanda’s latest single “Cross My Heart” then go pick it up!! I know you’ll love it as much as I do!








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Time To Get Those Summer Wheels Rollin’

What a busy Time! I’ve had interviews galore over the 2 weeks before my vacation, which of course means tons of great articles for you guys!

I’ll be honest. I tried to get this banged out before I started my vacation but there was really a lot going on. And trying to get this done while on holidays, impossible. Now, you’d think that with visiting family and being in the country, there would be time for writing. But with walks, drives to the beach, cross-stitch over chatting and cups of tea, a family wedding and well, just plain ol’ North Mountain living, writing was really hard. I won’t apologize. It was wonderful.


Halls Harbour, Nova Scotia


I would like to send out a couple of shout outs today.

First of all, long time friend of the blog (and “Bluenoser”) Andrew Frelick will be playing at the HUGE Cavendish Beach Music Festival in P.E.I this summer! I couldn’t go to Nova Scotia without mentioning SOME kind of east coast country news. He is confirmed to play the Emerging Artist’s Stage at the festival which is held from July 7-9 in Cavendish, P.E.I. The festival always has an amazing line-up of Canadian and American talent and this year Andrew is on the roster! I couldn’t be happier for him.

Someone else I’ve interviewed before has also had A LOT going on. Codie Prevost just released a brand new single. “You Won’t Sleep Tonight” is a fantastic song (so make sure you go get it) and it’s available on all digital media outlets. But as if releasing a new single wasn’t enough, he, wife Ashley and daughter Lyriq welcomed baby Everly Rae Prevost in to the world on May 27.


I KNOW! Sorry boys. I still have that “girl gene” and babies make me go silly. I try to keep it to a minimum so humour me. I’m going to try to find some time to catch up with Codie over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully this busy dad can fit me in!

And last, but certainly not least…I would like to thank the Habitation New Horizons Club of Port Wade, NS. My mom and I took in their Monday night Jam Session and had a great time! I promise I will brush up on my singing skills and belt out a few the next time I’m there (God help you all).

If you have never visited rural Nova Scotia, I recommend it. The people are friendly and hospitable. And if you are there in September, Centreville Community Hall does an AMAZING big breakfast every 3rd Saturday of the month until June. I should know…I had one the morning I left. Although I wasn’t born and raised in Nova Scotia, I always feel like I have been. My mom was and I always felt like she made sure we knew this part of who we are. I’m sure Halifax is lovely but I’ll take the valley or the bay shore over that any day.

A lot of new music has been coming out lately! It’s almost impossible to keep up! I try to put as much new music on the playlists as I can so you guys can take in the latest and greatest. So, let’s get started.




Canadian country music artists have been churning out some fantastic work as of late and this band is no different. When I was offered the opportunity to listen to the debut album of one of the hottest bands to watch, how could I say no.

RTS Album Cover

It is no secret that I am a huge supporter of River Town Saints. This freshman project, which released on June 9th, is really the epitome of what you can expect from this band; it’s light-hearted and fun.

The band, which hails from Ottawa, is made up of Chris Labelle, Chris McComb, Jeremy Barton, Jordan Potvin and Daniel DiGiacomo and they are SUPER social media heavy. If you like a good chuckle, you should follow them, they are hilarious. This aside, their new album is great! I really enjoyed it.

You can expect to find a couple of familiar songs on the album (“Cherry Bomb”, “A Little Bit Goes A Long Way” and “Bonfire”) but there is some really good new material on there for you to sink your teeth in to. Songs like “How I Got To You” and “Hangover It” – which is this upbeat song that is basically about the age-old saying ‘I’ll never drink again‘, really reminds you of the good time that you can expect when you see this band live. “Friday Night” has this great rock sound to it. How would I describe it? Take the movie “Dazed and Confused”, write a song about it and voila. And I like it! But wait….what is this? A ballad? “Woke Up Like This” is a slow song about falling in love unexpectedly after one night. I LOVED hearing a slow song from them. I only wish I could have gotten at least one more.

RTS Photo

If you are looking for an album to sit around on the deck and have a few beers with your friends with – this is it. Make sure you pick it up!


You will absolutely recognize her if you are a follower of contemporary Canadian country music. Tareya Green used to be a part of the well-known and critically acclaimed duo, Autumn Hill. At the end of last year, she and partner Mike Robins amicably went their separate ways and this Calgary native is now launching her solo career. Tareya took some time out of her busy schedule to tell me about herself, her new solo project and her single “Summer Wheels”, that was released to digital media on June 2.


This was the very first time I’ve had the opportunity to chat with her. She was so friendly! Although she is originally from Calgary, she hasn’t lived there for a number of years. “I’m like a gypsy. I’m back and forth so much that we are looking into motor homes.” She is contemplating returning to Calgary to spend some time with her family. I asked her what it was like moving from Calgary to Toronto because the two cities are so different. “It was pretty irrational,” Tareya started, “I actually just kind of packed a backpack and got on a plane and I moved here with no plan at all. I didn’t have a place to stay, I barely had any money in the bank. I just stayed in a hotel until I found a short-term lease and I started writing.” She commented that it was a quick but easy decision to make.

She got her beginnings when her parents bought her a karaoke machine in grade four. She would flip the tape over and write her own songs to the backing instrumentals. She would write harmonies and learned some basic piano chords so she could accompany herself. When YouTube came out, this gave Tareya a way to share her music, “I’ve always been a really shy person. So YouTube was this amazing way I could reach people in Macedonia and the United States and it was worldwide. I was getting people who wanted to hear me sing and it encouraged me to post more and more videos.” Not only was this a comfortable way for her to share her music, it was also how she was discovered by a record label.

After all of the success that Autumn Hill had experienced, I wondered why she would want to leave. “When I initially moved to Toronto, it was to pursue a solo path and I’ve always imagined myself as just a solo artist. But I learned so much about music and writing and the industry and even being in a partnership with Mike for five years. I Just learned so much and I am grateful for that entire experience.” There was, of course, also a question of timing. For Tareya, this naturally felt like the next step. Despite this, you have to wonder what feelings someone goes through when moving into a solo career after being part of a group or a duo. What is exciting? What is nerve-wracking? Tareya said, “It’s so thrilling. I’m really embarking on my life-long childhood dream right now and…I don’t even have words for it.” I can hear that Tareya is beaming as she says this. “I’m so excited and I’m a little intimidated by the whole process and I just really am discovering who I am as an artist.”


Mike Robins and Tareya Green – Autumn Hill

When I think about starting this blog, the possibilities were and are endless. Because I’m on my own, I get to do what I want. In some ways, I understand what it’s like to have the world completely opened to you. Tareya said, “This record is really interesting because I’m starting to really explore my own artistry and what’s inside and what I want to say to the world and share my experiences and get really creative with lyrics and production and mixing genres. I’m overwhelmed by the freedom and possibility of this record.” For her, understandably, this feels like the very beginning. I asked her what her feelings were going into this project, knowing that her fans associate her with being part of Autumn Hill. She said, “I really hope that fans aren’t sad or upset or they don’t feel let down. I hope they can identify with the journey. I hope that they love the music that I create on my own and not in a duo.” This album does put a bit of extra pressure on Tareya, as a lot of the decision-making she is doing on her own. There is a lot of trial and error involved. She admits, “While that’s really liberating, in a way it’s a lot more stressful because I want to make the best, most beautiful music possible.” What Tareya writes, comes from the heart,”I want everything on there to be honest. I don’t want to put a line in there that isn’t true for the sake of telling a story.”

Before the project got started, she decides to take a bit of “me” time. “The gratitude I have in my heart for Autumn Hill is overwhelming. But after the summer festivals finished off last Summer, we did so many, a crazy amount of fly dates (30-40 in 2 months), which was awesome, I’ve never experienced a summer like that. But once that was done, Mike and I had a good chat about what the future, the near future anyway, was going to hold for the both of us. Then I decided I was going to take 2 months, maybe up until December and just kind of not really focus on anything. Just totally disconnect from everything really.” This meant Facebook, Twitter, the works. She needed to re-centre. When it came down to it, “It felt like the right thing to do. The timing was just so.”

Then along comes “Summer Wheels”. If you haven’t picked up this single yet (released to digital on June 2), you should! With Florida beaches and the ocean being the inspiration behind this song, it’s bound to be a summer favourite (and it’s making the Craven playlist). Tareya’s husband happens to have a penchant for classic car auctions. So, every January, they head down south. Over the last couple of years she has fallen in love with the ocean. “We always get to drive these awesome classic cars down the coast of Florida. It was such a different experience for me.” It was very far removed from mountains, prairies and cowboys. “I really wanted to capture that moment in my life.”Summer Wheels” is just the beginning, as Tareya is working on a full album which is expected to release in September.

While being a member of Autumn Hill, Tareya played a huge number of shows. I asked her if there was anything that still made her nervous about going on stage. “For me, if I’m not nervous, I should be nervous because if I don’t have nerves I feel like I would put on a terrible show and be so boring!” She laughed. “Walking up the side stage stairs and then walking on to the stage is probably the most nerve-wracking part. But once you get out there and I start singing, that’s where my comfortable place is. I don’t think anyone is REALLY comfortable in front of 5, 10 or 30 thousand people but where I feel at home is in the music and in the songs.”

Her career hasn’t left for much spare time over the last few years, “I’m not very good at spare time.” But when she does get some, you can usually find her with her fur babies. “I love my dogs. They’re my life. If I’m not writing or in the studio or driving across the country, I am at the dog park or just playing with my dogs.” Her pups are from Nashville’s Proverbs 12:10 Animal Rescue ( “I’m a crazy dog lady!” She laughed.

Well, if you are wondering what Tareya is up to this summer. She will be in the studio working on her album and will be doing a lot of “Summer Wheels” promotion work. Keep up with this amazing lady on her socials:





Without further delay…here is “Summer Wheels” by Tareya!

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