Well…It has been a pretty busy Summer! Between Craven and birthdays and my nieces from Calgary coming to visit, I have been on the run!
Oh, and some very interesting news. I am now co-hosting Aunt Linda’s Country TaleGate on Sudbury’s CKLU 96.7! YES! Someone was CRAZY enough to give Linda Heldman and I a radio show! Lol! We are still learning but we are having a BLAST!!
Needless to say, a lot of the blog will be tied in with the radio show, with great links to to the show and contests and ANYTHING TaleGate related!
You can listen to us live on Tuesday morning from 11:00 am – 12:00pm ET on 96.7 FM if you are in the Sudbury area. If you aren’t, you can listen here:
The beauty of this is we can bring you so much more content now by having both mediums at our disposal and with two of us, we can cover much more!
We have a few episodes that have already aired. In one of them, we discuss the new EP by Sons of Daughters, Love In A Bar.
If you haven’t run out to grab this yet, you are MISSING OUT! This entire EP is fantastic. The piece de resistance for me though was their cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. It is a stunning piece of work.
Follow Sons of Daughters and darn it…get this EP!!
We also had a chat about our mutual friend Greg Rider, who I had a call with back in May.
Greg is….a hurricane! Lol! But in the best possible way! He is so energetic and positive and darn charismatic!! Our quick call turned into a 1 hour world problem solving call. He is amazingly accomplished, as a songwriter and an a author. He just released a wonderful “coming of age” song called “Baby Girl” in May, which we played on the show. Look up his socials. Down load his song. The guy is phenomenal!
In last weeks episode we gave a big BRAVO to Miss Meghan Patrick who stuck it to some jerk that felt it was OK to yell a sexual comment at her at a show on the weekend.
We couldn’t be more proud of her for standing up for herself! She caused quite the stir online…
I also gave a rundown of Craven 2019. TBH, between the heat and the mud and no media pass, I just wasn’t willing to fight off teenagers again after the first night for decent pics, gang. I made more teenage girls cry than an entire 8th grade class of boys that first night. I will try again next year…
In the meantime, here are a few pics I managed to take when I wasn’t making children cry or pushing them down like dominoes. (Being middle-aged with a brain injury gives you certain advantages…like…. security NEVER THINKING you would do something like that….just sayin’ )
We also took some time to discuss Saskatchewan native Alex Runions.
I caught his set while I was in Craven. He was an early interview of mine and he was FANTASTIC! I couldn’t wait to brag about seeing him on the show! The guy is simply charming, both on stage and off. His new single “Heartland” is a great piece of work and what we chose to share with the audience.
Alex has an incredible voice! So, while you are looking him up, here’s “Heartland” for you to check out. We should note that the female part is being sung by his wife, Erin Hill, who is also a very talented artist.
This Week brought us a couple of GREAT treats!!
Chris Labelle stopped in for a visit with Linda to talk about going solo after leaving River Town Saints and his new single “Say Yeah” which is out August 9th.
Get on to Chris’ socials so you can follow his new solo journey:
I am sorry it has been such a long time since I’ve posted anything.
Since September, I’ve been dealing with both physical illness and to be honest, a severe case of depression.
This fall and winter has been really hard on me. I’ve had zero creative energy, unless it is in the kitchen because I can eat it. LOL! Still, I’ve lost weight despite the amount of bread and brownies I’ve been baking. I actually weigh less than my wedding day right now.
The weather is warming up now and my disorder seems to want to stabilize a bit. I was able to do some artwork with my nieces and finish some yesterday. And I was ACTUALLY able to write THIS!!
I’m playing with a couple of new things for the blog so I can try to make this a bit easier for me during these months when it IS hard for me to take on new work and get writing done. So, there are sfew things to look forward to at any rate.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. I promise I’m not ignoring you!!! I just needed to start to feel a even a BIT better to try to get some of this stuff done.
Hey gang. It’s been awhile. And I KNOW I owe you all sorts of stuff like a CCMA wrap up and some interviews. They are almost done. But I’ve been pretty much sick since September. Some of it physical illness…some of it mental illness. I’ve never been shy about the fact that I’m clinically depressed and that I’ve named her “Barb”. Well, Barb and I have really been on the outs.
I’m starting to feel a bit better. Last night sure helped! I dragged my city-boy husband, Frank to the Gord Bamford Honky Tonks and Dive Bar Tour. And inspite of himself, even he had a great time.
The show opened with local talent Aaron Starr. When I say local…I mean local. He grew up across the tracks from me in Selkirk, MB. (Yes, Aaron….the noise from your parties carried to the Moody Avenue cul-de-sac. Let’s not mention the free serenades from Chad’s at 4 a.m. But I digress…)
If you haven’t seen him on YouTube as over a million others have, I urge you to. His voice is great, as it in the same vein of Chris Stapleton. And, well, I’m a HUGE Stapleton fan. Aaron did mainly original music but did close his set with an expertly covered rendition of “Broken Halos”. Be sure to check out his socials so you can see where to catch him next.
THEN there was Gord. Can I just say, what a character! I enjoyed every moment of this show. He was entertaining and funny. He played a few new songs mixed in with some classics.
Songs like “Heard You In A Song” had the crowd singing along to every word and when he sang, “Stayed Til Two”, we really got moving! From “Red Dress” to “Farm Girl” he had us all warmed up.
But wait…what was this? He brought out Jojo Mason! One thing to know about Jojo, HE GIVES THE BEST HUGS EVER!!! I was so happy to see him!
He has boundless energy and watching him, it is obvious he loves what he does. He too, had the crowd singing along and dancing, and it was clear he enjoyed every moment. Singing “Good Kinda Love”, his new song “Future” and his first hit “Something To Wrap My Heart Around”, the crowd loved him!
Gord came back out and they sang together which….WAS AWESOME! They obviously have a great time together.
Gord continued with hits like “Drinking Buddy” and “Dive Bar” and then he brought out a young talent named Jade Eagleson.
He sang his new song “Count The Ways” and his big hit “Got Your Name On It”.
Gord came out to join him for a cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” which was fantastic.
The evening wrapped up with a couple more Gord tunes and the band members played a couple of songs. HIS BAND…all of them are highly talented and award winning in their own right. Lisa Dodds is an award winning bassist. Ryan Davidson is an award winning guitarist. His drummer is an award winning drummer. So, it’s a pretty fantastic fricken band.
Gord came out for an encore of “Breakfast Beer” and a HELL of a version (that included a rap section by Jojo Mason) of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” (yes, Dad. My theme song.)
Bar none, this was one of my favourite shows. This small venue was great! It made it more interactive and you felt closer. Well…I was practically ON the stage. So I couldn’t be much closer. LOL!
Gord, Jojo, Jade and Aaron were all sounded great! I couldn’t have asked for a better night out. Well…only maybe that it was earlier. It was past my bedtime, Gord. WAY past.
I’m still plugging away on all the other stuff guys! Stay tuned….
I kid you not when I say that I wrote part of this blog post while on a road trip to Regina last weekend for a family function. Yes…there is photographic evidence:
I also finished writing it while in an airport and maybe even in the air and en route to Hamilton…
And I’m finishing it backstage at the CCMA Gala Awards.
There was just too much to tell you BEFORE I start bringing you stuff from the weekend! So…In a psychotic craze, I am trying to do it all. LOL! It is totally worth it. Trust me! Worth it!
Let’s give ‘er
COUNTRY MUSIC NEWS Made In Canada, From Coast-to-Coast
George Canyon is about as Canadian as they come and has no intention of ever hiding it. Last month, he announced his Made In Canada Tour.
The multiple CCMA and Juno Award winning artist will be hitting the road on November 1st, starting in Pictou, NS (his hometown). The tour will include 12 dates and will conclude in Calgary, AB on November 17th.
Tickets went on sale on August 17th, so if this sounds like it is your cup of tea, then you may want to see if you can still snatch one of these up!
Coming Soon To A Honkytonk Near You
If you currently do not follow Gord Bamford’s socials, you really should. He’s a pretty interesting guy. This year, he has been everywhere. Austrailia, Paris. Well, it appears that he is going to be home for a little bit and he is going back to his roots.
There is a bit of a trend happening right now where artists are “coming home” to play in smaller venues. Though it may be harder to get tickets, the experience is
uncomparable. Gord is no exception. He recently announced that he will be embarking on The Honkytonk And Dive Bars Tour. It will begin in Calgary, AB on October 17th and play in 29 cities coast-to-coast, playing in local bars and honkytonks.
Tickets for this went on sale on August 30th and are very limited. If you are interested, you should probably get on it. He promises it will be a hell of a night! From persoanl experience…this will be absolutely true.
The Solo Tour You’ve Been Waiting For!
Ok. Maybe it’s the solo tour I’VE been waiting for! It is no secret that I have an undying love for Jessica Mitchell. They call her “country’s Adele”. For me, it’s more like if Adele and Melissa Etheridge had a baby…it would be Jessica Mitchell.
After going out on a large-scale tour with Johnny Reid, Jessica is going out on her first solo tour. It begins on November 14th in Calgary. I, for one, am super excited to hear this.
Since I spoke to Jessica, she released her debut LP Heart of Glass. If you have not heard it yet, shame on you. In one word, this album is “exquisite”. It is a true testament to Jessica’s skill as both a songwriter and a vocalist. Her next single from this album “Maybe It’s Me” was set to release September 5th!! Upon hearing Heart Of Glass it is easy to see why Jessica earned her CCMA Nominations this year for both Songwriter and Roots Artist Of The Year. Bravo.
If you have the opportunity to catch Jessica live, you should. She is captivating.
Perhaps We Should “Mansplain” This
Let me tell you something, 8:30 in the morning is a hell of a time for an interview. I grabbed my coffee, and Katie Rox from country-rock group, Nice Horse, grabbed hers and we were off to the races.
I really wanted to get this interview in before CCMA Week. This was an ALL FEMALE band….something pretty unheard of. They are up for CCMA Interactive Artist of the Year and it is their very first CCMA nomination. Naturally, with the big week coming up, this is where we started. I asked her what her first reaction was to hearing the news about their nomination. Katie laughed, “I didn’t realize we were still eligible for anything to be nominated for.” Someone had mentioned to her that she should watch ET Canada and she remembered that they were still eligible for Interactive Artist Of The Year. She had a difficult time watching the program because of the stress, even going for a run to calm her nerves to no avail. When she saw that they DID get the nomination, it was pure jubilation, “I did shed a bit of tears,” she admitted, “I was very overwhelmed and very excited.”
Rightfully so. This all-female country band hailing from Alberta has only been around a couple of years and consider themselves to be the quintessential “party-crashers”. “We pretty much show up invited or not!” This award for them has changed a lot. “To officially be ‘CCMA nominated Nice Horse’ will forever be that, whether we win or not. We got the nomination and that’s huge for us.”
We started talking about their latest album There Goes The Neighborhood, which, incidentally, is fantastic. If you’re looking for a boot stompin’ good time, go pick it up! The whole project really picked up traction when member Brandi Sidoryk decided to go on a writing trip to Hawaii. Katie was taking a bit of a break from music, but Brandi invited her and gal pals Krista Wodelet and Tara McLeod along for the ride and Nice Horse was born. “We spent the days at the beach and drinking mai tais and writing completely uninhibited and I think that was the best part. We didn’t think anybody would ever hear them, so it didn’t matter what we wrote
They loved what they were writing and we’re enjoying themselves to boot. They really felt like they were on to something. They came home with an arsenal with some awesome tunes and made a demo. They originally started shipping it around to people they knew in the industry as something to do to get some gigs. You know…something to do during Stampede. The feedback was phenomenal! Better than they expected. “They said you should drop everything else you’re doing and focus on this because you are on to something great here.”
From CCMA performances to shows with Tom Cochrane to being the CMT Fresh Face Feature Artist, these girls are on fire and I don’t think they’d have it any other way. Their latest single “Mansplainin’ proves that these girls are strong enough to tow the line on their own. Written while recording the album, the girls would come in and regale their producer Jeff of tales of things that had happened to them, “He couldn’t believe the things that would be said to us and he just kept saying ‘you have to write a song about this.'” Jeff brought on Tarea Green (from the former Autumn Hill) and history was made.”
It was time to discuss the inevitable…being girls. This has really been the year of the woman. Have there been any noticeable changes in the industry? According to Katie, there still is a long road ahead but people are definitely making an effort. Women are moving more and more in to the forefront and Nice Horse is helping to make that happen, “People do openly talk to us about it because WE openly talk about.” The “For Girl” initiative and seeing and being a part of all female showcases prove to them that strides are being made.
While they are an all-girl band, they didn’t set out to be a beacon of feminism. Katie explains, “You’re right. We didn’t set out to be a feminine anthem band. We are truly just friends who happen to all be women who started a band. We didn’t even know at the time that we would be the only self-contained all-girl country band.” They were shocked when they realized this! “We realized we had an opportunity to stand for something.”
What is really exciting about one if these young ladies is that they make great music that’s not “angry chick music.” They are just out to have a good time. Being female is just a part of their brand, “Ideally we’re writing good songs and being a good band, regardless of our gender.” They want to write great songs, not great songs “for a girl”. They want to be recognized as good musicians – not good musicians “for a girl” (after seeing them live this weekend…..THEY ARE).
So here I am talking to a member of an all-female band, there is the obvious question of if you had to add a man to the band, who would you choose? “Oh my god! That’s a hard choice!!!” Katie started. She was, however able to narrow it down to 3 top choices: Butch Walker, Jaren Johnston of The Cadillac Three and Dierks Bentley. Thinking about it now, I don’t think any of them would look really great in daisy dukes…
CCMA Week has been busy for the girls, playing showcases and the Warner Showcase at the CCMA Fan Village. I asked Katie what her favourite part of the week is, “To me it’s almost like summer camp. You see all these musicians you get to know because you toured together and played one show together, really hit it off and then you don’t get to see each other because everybody’s off touring. I find that’s the one opportunity when everyone gets together.”
To end our call I had one last question. I asked her to choose a song that describes her personality. I shouldn’t be surprised when Katie replied, “Girl’s Just Want To Have Fun”.
While the girls didn’t win their category last night, don’t count them out just yet. This is just the beginning for this group of talented, vivacious, young women. Be sure to check out their socials:
I’ve been trying to figure out why I have been so blue this summer. I mean, I spent three weeks in Mexico! I honestly am starting to believe it’s because I have seen no live music. I have been to no festivals or concerts this summer and that is a BIG DEAL for me. They are a HUGE part of my year. So maybe, just maybe, this is why I am out of sorts. I love music, especially seeing it live. Perhaps there is something to that.
I love music SO MUCH…that I took up the ukele. Yes. Frank bought me a beautiful Fender soprano ukele. I named her “Lola”. It’s challenging but I am enjoying it. So beware, in the future you may get some terrible songs. Just letting you know.
I want to take a moment to thank everyone who took a moment to call, send a message, text, whatever, and send along their birthday wishes as well as their wishes for our wedding anniversary. I know all of you have lives going on so knowing that you’ve even taken a a little bit of time out of them to send those along makes me feel very loved and very blessed. So…Thank You.
Speaking of birthdays, Presley turned one. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! Time where are you going? We had a party for her and she had a great time playing with the kids…and her cake:
It’s hard to believe that a year ago she was so tiny you could hold her in one arm and she didn’t even weigh 5 pounds. She was happy from day one, despite what she went through and she is clearly a ham to this day. I love this kid.
Ok, my summer may be light on the music side, but it’s been busy for some other people. Let’s take a look.
It’s Hammer Time
September is almost here and that means…it’s…CCMA TIME AGAIN! This year’s Country Music Week and CCMA Awards will be held in Hamilton, Ontario from September 6 – 9, culminating with with the CCMA Awards show on Sunday, September 9th which will be live broadcast on CBC. Last year was one of the best times of my life and I’m looking forward to the whole thing all over again. I received my media accreditation today so let the perogie making begin.
This year’s big announcement was the CCMA Fan Village, which will bring the artists to YOU! Live performances and photo walls bring you closer than ever before. Everyone is FREAKING OUT!! Go to https://www.ccma.org for more info on all of the weeks activities. Keep in mind – this only scratches the surface…
In preparation for the “BIG NIGHT” let’s take a look at our nominees: APPLE MUSIC FANS’ CHOICE AWARD
James Barker Band
FORD ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Country Music Made Me Do It – Meghan Patrick
Past The Past – Jess Moskaluke
The Project – Lindsay Ell
We Were That Song – Brett Kissel
What We’re Made Of – The Washboard Union
FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
GROUP OR DUO OF THE YEAR
James Barker Band
The Washboard Union
ROOTS ARTIST OR GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Washboard Union
SIRIUSXM RISING STAR
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
Chills – James Barker Band
Country Music Made Me Do It – Meghan Patrick
Drive Me Away – Jess Moskaluke
Lonely Drum – Aaron Goodvin
Side Effects – Dallas Smith
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
The Bad Guy – Meghan Patrick
Drive Me Away – Jess Moskaluke
Hometown Kids – The Reklaws
Sky Stays This Blue – Dallas Smith
We Were That Song – Brett Kissel
SONGWRITER(S) OF THE YEAR
Dean Brody, Matt Rovey Song: 8th Day (Performed By: Dean Brody)
Dan Isbell, Meghan Patrick, Jeremy Stover Song: Country Music Made Me Do It (Performed By: Meghan Patrick)
Sending out good luck vibes to all of my personal favourites and to my friends over at Ole/Ole Red Dot who are up for Music Publisher and and Record Company of the Year! Best of luck, gang!
Another Hole In One for Bamford
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it probably about a hundred times; country music has the most generous fans and artists. Gord Bamford has proven that theory once again.
On August 15 – 16 in Lacombe, Alberta, the 11th Annual Gord Bamford Charity Classic raised $469,720. This is the main fundraiser for The Gord Bamford Foundation (for more information on the foundation, please visit http://www.gordbamfordfoundation.com/ ). Several Canadian country artists came out to go head to head on the course, including: Aaron Pritchett, Chad Brownlee and Tebey. By night, they dazzled the sold out group of 800.
This years Title Sponsor was JEDCO Energy Services. Contributing to the fundraising total included bids from auction prizes such as gourmet chef in-home dinners and NHL travel packages – two of which went for $35,000! The charities that were in attendance to receive their awards from the foundation this year were: MusiCounts, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Lacombe & District, Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Sutter Fund, Hockey Alberta Foundation, Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, RDC College – Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, Blackfalds Wranglers, and Robbie Dean Family Counseling Centre. Congratulations on what looks like what was another Ace, Gord!
There has been some really great music released this summer. But there are a couple that I really like right now.
“Good Goodbye” by Dean Brody. Alright. The song is about getting stuck in an airport leaving Mexico so this could be in January. I don’t care. This is a fantastic summertime drinking song. In fact the lyrics instruct you to do so, “…Step one, raise it up; step two, tilt it back; step three, go on repeat…” Well, if you insist. Then he adds a mariachi? Shut up and take my money, Brody. If you haven’t got it, go get it. Dean is up for the Apple Music Fan’s Choice Award at this year’s CCMA Awards. You can vote for him or any of the nominees at https://ccmafanvote.com/
Dean is heading back out on the road this fall. But if what you are looking for is the big Brody show, settle in for a very different evening. The Dirt Road Stories Tour begins October 20 in Truro, NS and makes its way to Cranbrook, BC on December 2. This has been planned as intimate, acoustic show where he showcases his talent as as both a songwriter and a storyteller. Brody, if nothing, is a poet, so for me this is the perfect venue to enjoy his craft. He brings along with him Jessica Mitchell (East Coast and Montreal dates), Andrew Hyatt (Ontario dates) and Tenille Arts (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta dates). I suggest you find out when and where and get tix.
The other song is “Make ’em Like You” by Dallas Smith. I know. You are probably starting to think this is a Dallas Smith fan page. While I am a huge fan, it is not my fault this guy has been working his ass off and been making great stuff. Which is why he TOO is up for Fan’s Choice Award this year (https://ccmafanvote.com/).“Make ’em Like You”definitely errs more on the side of country than his last album. Not mad at all. This song is more of a bluesy rock and Dallas totally delivers. I really recommend getting it. His voice honestly sounds better than ever.
We can not go this whole summer without discussing “Drowns The Whiskey” by Jason Aldean ft. Miranda Lambert. I’m pretty much in love with this song. I could listen to it on repeat…a bazillion times. It’s sad…but just sad enough. It’s not “Tin Man” sad, which, let’s face it, leaves me a mess. It’s relatable. They sound great together. Miranda may be a real…whatever…but she sounds fantastic right now. So I kinda hope she is giving Gwen the good ol’ southern “bless her heart” treatment because she is kicking her ASS in the talent department these days. Sorry Gwen, take your B-A-N-A-N-A-S elsewhere.
What are you guys listening to? Is it maybe time to throw something a little new in to the mix. Why not checkout some local artists…..like Don Amero.
Just A Part Of His Evolution
From the moment we are born, we are ever changing. From infants to children to eventually adults. Even as adults, we shift and grow as we age. It’s our Evolution which is the name of Don Amero’s latest studio album released EARLIER TODAY (August 24th)! I was TRYING to get this up this morning. There were…ahem…problems.
It is being released as a country album, which is considered a genre switch by some. For Don, the fit is natural, “I don’t feel like I’m trying to switch anything up. I think this is just a natural evolution of me.” He didn’t intend to set out to do it. It was naturally occurring. His previous and Juno nominated album Refined had several tracks on it that had received country treatment to them. Keeping all of this in mind, when it came time to name the new album Evolution seemed to be the perfect fit.
I had the opportunity to listen to the album and discuss it with Don. I caught up with him while he was en route to play the Songwriters Stage at Big Valley Jamboree.
First of all, Evolution as a whole, is a fantastic piece of work. A true musical feast, Don explores a pure country song in songs like “How I Feel” and “Give It To You” but reminds of his gritty rock roots with “Live While I’m Alive” and “Smoke In My Eyes”. During our interview Don referred to himself as a “chameleon artist”. This album is proof that he is able to glide seamlessly from genre to genre. A perfect example of this ability is “Try”. A Blue Rodeo cover, Don has made this a little more country, a little softer and I love it as much as the original. Jim Cuddy, if you haven’t heard this, you should. It. Is. Perfection.
In a nutshell – go and pick this album up. A) You will be supporting local talent. B) You will be supporting someone EXTREMELY talented. C) You will be purchasing an incredible piece of work.
Ok, After listening to the album, I had questions! There is one track on the album called “Addicted”. Adjectives to describe it? Smoky. Sultry. Sexy. I love this song. I needed to know more. Well, apparently it was a larger production sent to Don from a production company in Nashville. He opted to break it down. “I really wanted that to be sort of the signature love track on the album.” Mission. Accomplished. He said, “I love the idea of giving someone a variety if they are going to buy an album. I don’t want to give them the same song ten times over.”
That is something he did NOT do. There is a beautiful track called “Head Over Heels”. It is the sweetest song about always being there for someone. This song was written for his 3 year-old daughter Stella. “I wrote a song for my boy a number of years ago called “My Heart Melts” and I remember realizing about two years ago, ‘Oh wait, I haven’t written a song for Stella.’ and the last thing I want is an angsty teenage girl around going, ‘Why didn’t you write me a song, Dad?’ ” We both burst out laughing. Me more so because having been an angsty teenage girl, I knew he was correct in going ahead and just writing the song. “I really am head over heels for her and that’s the message I want her to live with for her whole life is that no matter what happens out there in the world, she can know that her papa is always there for her.” If you need a Father/Daughter dance song – forget every song you thought you wanted and pick this up. Believe Me. And Hand out tissues.
There was one more song I was really curious about. It’s called “Church”. When I listened to it, I was completely transported. It paints this beautiful picture of country roads, open skies and tranquil spaces. Don had originally passed on the song when it came to him from Nashville. His manager suggested he take a second listen to it a week later. It was on that second listen that something resonated. He realized that the song wasn’t about him. It was about his father who had passed a year earlier. His father never went to church, he enjoyed his time outdoors according to Don. “When I’m out amongst the trees, that when I get to meet God.” Once the connection was made, he knew he had to record it and it has been one of his most successful songs yet.
It’s clear that Don takes his inspiration from everywhere, so who are some people who inspire him? I asked him to name three country artists (past or present) that he would like to collaborate with. With little hesitation, he said, “Keith Urban has always been an inspiration to me.” We both agreed that he seems like someone you could just sit back and hang out with too. Second on the list was Garth Brooks. “He’s the King of Country.” Well, that and this is someone he grew up listening to with his dad. Last but not least he mentioned Merle Haggard. “Hearing the stories, the histories and the past of country music.” That would be the highlight for him.
What is he currently listening to? Well, he’s a bit of a chameleon in that area as well. In the gym he admits to listening to dubstep and dance but for personal listening, he’s more into Ed Sheeran, Thomas Rhett and Brett Young. He’s a big fan of an artist named Donovan Woods, “I’ve had him on repeat for a week now.”
To finish our interview I asked him to pick one song that would describe him as a person. “Happy by Pharrell Williams. I’m a pretty happy guy.” I’ll agree 100%! He was wonderful to chat with and I’m absolutely proud to say he’s from my city.
I hope everyone had a fun and fantastic Canada Day and to all of my American friends, I hope you celebrated an equally joyous Fourth of July!
I am so sorry for being off the grid for a while, but I promise, there have been reasons. Not only was I sick and in the hospital (I am fine now), but I was making a huge number of perogies so I could sell them and go to Mexico. Between that and still looking for things from the move, life has been chaotic.
So, yes, I went to Mexico for 3 weeks. “Mi Hermana” (“My Sister” – that’s what we call “besties” there) Yolanda, is pregnant with TWINS! She is on bed rest, so I went to go visit her for a couple of weeks to help her out and keep her company. I managed to get in a beach visit and some shopping time. Tampico-Madero was wonderfully relaxing. I love spending time there. Then I went and spent 5 days in Cuidad Victoria. I got to hang out with some people I haven’t seen in over 20 years which was absolutely incredible! Despite some random gun fire, and attempted car theft and one day in bed really sick from my disorder, it was a really good visit.
I lived in Victoria for a couple of years. It is in northeastern Mexico, the areas where you hear about a lot of cartel activity. There has always been cartel activity there but the city was different now. I was always looked at differently when I walked around there, a blue-eyed blonde in a Mexican city tends to draw attention. It used to be an “oddity” sort of look and this time it was more of a “target” kind of look. People asked me odd questions like “Where are you staying?” and “Who do you know?”, questions obviously being used to target kidnapping victims. Luckily I knew that some of these cute little old ladies in markets were being paid for info. If you didn’t know what to look for, you could have very well been carried away. I wouldn’t recommend going here on a vacation. You definitely need to know someone to go here. It is really unfortunate because Victoria is dripping with history and has beautiful churches. The food and the people are fantastic. Being nestled in the mountains makes it incredibly scenic. However, “Vicky Ranch” is off-limits to most right now.
Let’s move on to some music! So much has gone on.
I finally saw Brantley Gilbert with Josh Phillips opening for him. If you are in to good old redneck country, this was the show to be at. When Josh Phillips said, “If you’re a redneck, you’re gonna like this one and pretty much everything else I’m gonna sing tonight,” he wasn’t kidding. The crowd loved it (myself included), spending most of the night on my feet, with Brantley getting huge pops when he played his biggest hits.
What I love most about Brantley Gilbert is his contribution back to the community by recognizing veterans both American and Canadian. He is involved with speaking out about PTSD and has counseled some vets. He is an incredible individual AND entertainer.
His performance is electric. Honestly, if you have an opportunity to see him, you should do it. He is a hard-working performer who completely delivers.
He’s Gone Country
Hometown artist (Winnipeg, MB), Don Amero is set to release his sixth album – Evolution, on August 24th via all digital retailers. This is the first time that Don has stepped fully in to the country lane but he considers this to be his strongest material yet, with this album being about turning over a new leaf and joining the country family.
The three-time Juno Award Winner has been touring across Canada for the past decade and has become extremely sought after as both a singer-songwriter and and a storyteller.
The album, co-produced by Bart McKay and Murray Pulver, focuses on finding your place in the world and making peace with it. Amero is quoted as saying, “I think the journey is the fun part. We fight so hard to get to the mountaintop in our lives, but I think it’s the stuff between the peaks we enjoy the most. It breaks my heart to think of people living and not following their dreams because they’re afraid.” He continues, “I’m so glad I jumped in to music with both feet because if you take a chance and move forward, I just don’t think you can lose.
You CAN’T find love in a bar?
Vancouver natives and now Nashville based Jimmy Thow and Chrystal Leigh form the up and coming group Sons of Daughters. This gritty sounding country duo has been busy performing and writing in Nashville over the last couple of years (recently performing at CMA Fest).
They were proud to announce their first ever release since signing with RGK Entertainment. “Can’t Find Love in a Bar”was released across all digital platforms on June 29th. Emotional with a slight rock sound, “Can’t Find Love in a Bar”still manages to stay relevant and hit all of the country notes you want it to hit. It definitely raises the anticipation for their next single “Ain’t Gonna Be Lonely Long”near the end of July.
Be sure to catch Sons of Daughters while they are out on the the road this summer, including at stops at the Boots and Hearts Festival and Cavendish Beach Music Festival. Be sure to pick up “Can’t Find Love in a Bar”! Completely worth It!
Radio – Codie Prevost
If you are like me, there are just certain songs you consider driving songs. Not necessarily that they sound good on the radio (well, that too, obviously) but they just sound best on a road trip. If that is what you are in the market for, then you should go and pick this up. It’s great!
Codie is not only one of the nicest guys in the business, but he is one of the most talented and it shows on this album. Right from the first single, “You Won’t Sleep Tonight”, which is an upbeat blend of traditional and modern country (just how I like it), right down to “Old Clock Radio”, which has a slower, more traditional country sound, there is something here for all country lovers.
He didn’t forget the folks who love that good-old drinking song. Tunes like “Shut it Down” and “Loudmouths” heat things up and really remind me of classic summer party country. For something a little more romantic, Codie reminds us how a man should treat a lady with”In My Book” and it should do the trick.
This is a testament to the hard-working artist that Codie is. The whole album is a fantastic piece of work. You should definitely go and pick it up at http://www.codieprevost.com – Go! Now!
Breaking Up Not Down
“The first song I learned to play on the guitar was ‘One’ by Metallica,” she laughed. “Not many people know that about me.” This is something you’d expect to hear from a rock singer or a metal guitarist. But Krystan Bellows is actually a country artist. Originally from Regina, Saskatchewan and moving to Weslock, Alberta as a child, she now makes Nashville her home.
Krystan knew from a young age that she wanted to be involved in music. When she was eight she wanted a guitar, “I saw a guitar in the Christmas catalogue and I just wanted it. And it was an electric guitar!”
After moving to Weslock, she put the guitar down. There were no music schools there for her to attend. “This was before you could look on YouTube and learn to play the guitar,” Krystan said. “Plus at age eight, I wasn’t super motivated. But I did keep singing.”
Her high school had a musical theatre program so she was able to keep performing. It did help that her choices where…somewhat limited. “It was between there and a a Catholic school. I begged to go there because it had a great arts program.”
Going to a school like this has obviously made Krystan a polished performer. Her voice is crisp and perfect. Her range is fantastic.
Break Up is a new EP she will be releasing and the last single she released from it was “Not That Single”. The video tells a story of a woman finding out her boyfriend happens to be in a previous relationship. The song is very reminiscent of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”. So, if you are going to compare pieces of work…that’s pretty decent! “Not That Single” totally slides in to this category with ease.
We spoke a little bit about what some of the inspiration for the Break Up EP was. Break up HOW exactly? “I was going through some personal stuff and a producer I was working with said, ‘You have to break up not break down.’ and the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.” So did I actually. We talked about that for a bit. How when relationships end, we should take the opportunity to improve ourselves. To learn from our mistakes. To “level up”, if you will. Where does breaking down get us? Nowhere.
We were having such a great chat. I asked her who she was listening to lately, “Shania,” she blurted. “I started singing her and she’s Canadian so I always have Shania.” She added Kelsea Ballerini, Brett Kissel, Danielle, Bradbury, and…Demi Lovato. It may seem like an odd man out but we both had to agree that she undeniably talented.
Being two women, we did get in to a sidetrack conversation about the #metoo movement. She commented, “I think it’s great to see all of these women coming out because it needs to be talked about.”
Despite the both of us being dreadfully under the weather that day, she was wonderful to talk to. Currently she is up for the Boots & Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase Wild Card Finalist. You can vote once every 24 hours. Here is the link:
Hi Everybody! Things around here have been insane. With 2 moves and a trip Calgary since January, I am pretty much exhausted.
First and foremost, I wish to send my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of Humboldt Broncos bus accident. What an absolute tragedy. To those still recovering and fighting, the county is with you at this difficult time. #HumboldtStrong
I have reworked this introduction several times and I was thinking about something I really wanted to share with you guys. Recently, our family lost a very dear family member, Debbie Apt.
My Auntie Debbie passed away after a very long battle with fourth stage lung cancer. She survived much longer than her original prognosis by using a combination of Western and holistic medicine. She immediately quit smoking, she vaped cannabis for pain, she did chemo and radiation but she also did vitamin c treatments and changed her diet. What was most incredible about my Auntie Debbie was her incredible disposition during this. I saw her during her illness and you would never have known she was ill. She looked vibrant and healthy and she had a great sense of humour. I will never remember my Auntie ill. From the time I was a child I remember her being firm but fair and funny as hell. When she told a story, her eyes would open up REALLY wide and she would really get in to it. But more than anything, I will remember that she loved to dance. From the time the sun was up, there was music on and almost until her last day, my Auntie danced. I can’t even imagine what my summers in Nova Scotia would have been like without her. The other day, I was in the kitchen and I had music on in the house. I started to dance. I smiled. Not only did I just feel better for dancing but I knew she would be proud. Maybe we should all take a page out of her book and just…dance. Auntie Debbie, we love you. You will be missed.
Alright, on to music stuff.
Just when you thinkDean Brody has taken a break, BAM, there he is again! This time in Australia! Dean brought home the The Jeff Walker Global Artist Award, presented by the CMA, following his main stage performance at CMC Rocks in Australia in March. This award recognizes outstanding achievements by a Country Music artist signed outside of the United States. The artist must have furthered the popularity of country music as well as brought attention to the country music format in their territory. Dean was surprised with the award backstage during The CMC Rocks QLD festival on Saturday, March 17 in Queensland, Australia. HUGE congratulations!
Blake Shelton. Let me have my moment. Please. The video for “I Lived It” came out. I rarely put two videos on a blog but I have to today. Everything that I ever have loved about Blake as an artist is in this song. I MISS THIS BLAKE! Where are you? You used to tweet about your crappy tomatoes or having to chop wood for the wood pile. I miss that Blake. Oh well. At any rate, this song is beautiful and so is the video so I am going to put it here:
Plenty Of THOSE Nights On The Way
It has been announced that the 5 brother band from Shaunavon, SK, Hunter Brothers, will be hitting the road and opening for High Valley for all 7 of their Ontario shows starting on April 20. In preparation for that, they will be releasing a new single! On March 14, “Those Were The Nights” will be available everywhere. Another single from their debut album Getaway, this is bound to head straight up the charts. “Those Were The Nights” is a fantastic up-beat song that recalls summers past. You can hear the High Valley influence, as Brad Rempel helped with production on this album. Most importantly, you hear the impeccable Hunter Brothers harmonies that we have come to know and love. Absolute perfection. If you own Getaway, you know what I am talking about. This song is great. If not, either get the album…or wait until March 14! It will be worth it, trust me.
If you don’t catch Hunter Brothers on the road with High Valley, they will be at Country Thunder (Craven, SK), Stonewall Quarry Days (right here in Manitoba) and Havelock Jamboree (Ontario). You should get out to see them. They are a great group of guys!
Alright. Nobody asked me to do this I am doing it because I have been listening to it a lot.
Dallas Smith – Acoustic Sessions Vol. 1 EP (604 Records):
If you are a Dallas Smith fan and don’t have this already, shame on you. If you are on the fence about Dallas Smith, I recommend picking this album up.
While this is only a 6 song EP, is a wonderful taste of Dallas Smith at his finest. It is no secret that I am a fan, but having him in an acoustic setting allows the listener to hear the intricacies of his voice that sometimes get lost otherwise. When you hear “Autograph” and “Sky Stays This Blue” as more stripped down versions, these nuances are reflected, showing what a talent Dallas really is. This is the version of “Wastin’ Gas” that I want to hear around the campfire. Honestly, “Side Effects” should ALWAYS be performed like this. The intensity of this song only grows as an acoustic song. It is divine. His voice and intonation are bar-none some of the finest in the industry and this EP puts it confidently on display for the world to see.
Acoustic Sessions Vol. 1 certainly shows why Dallas is a force to be reckoned with in Canadian country music. I am looking forward to more volumes.
She’s Strong AND Beautiful!
When some people sing, you get a sense of how old they REALLY are. Their voices, like creaks in an old wood floor, tell of a soul that has lived many lives over. Shae Dupuy has always been one of those singers for me. When you pair her soulful voice with the deep topics she chooses to sing about, she is a star.
My first conversation with Shae was on the phone. It was an absolute delight. When we finally met face-to-face during CCMA Week last year, it was like the coming together of two long-lost friends. She is one of the sweetest people I have met since I have started this whole crazy thing. An absolute doll!
I was fortunate enough to get a few minutes with her that weekend. She was pretty high in demand. Shae was nominated for Interactive Artist of the Year last year. Not only was she the only female, she was the only independent artist. “It’s a really big honour and it feels really cool because I know that all the work that’s gone in to it has been me because I am an independent.” She added, “To be in a category with all guys and know that it’s not swayed like that [by gender], it’s just from the hard work regardless of our gender, that’s really important to me and that’s really awesome.”
She seemed really excited to be nominated in this category. I asked her why she felt it was so important to be “interactive”? Why did the Association need an award for something like this? She replied, “Social media and the internet have flipped the industry completely on it’s head with streaming and now you can connect with fans at the click of a button.” We spoke about how country often gets known for being old-fashioned and this really brings it up-to-date. However, bringing country music in to the 21st century also requires more work on the behalf of the artist. Gone are the days of just voice practice, writing, and live show practice, “Now you have to have a great social media presence on top of all of that.”
Since I was aware Shae was up for this award I asked her if she would rather have all of her thoughts visible in a bubble above her head or have her life live-streamed 24/7 – you know, like Ed TV. Without hesitation, she answered, “Live-streamed.” I asked her to clarify why. “I put my foot in my mouth a lot and do a lot of embarrassing things and I think that knowing myself I think that I’d be like, ‘Alright. That was live streamed. Oops.’ and I’d be able to laugh at it. Whereas, I think that your personal unfiltered thoughts don’t always come out the right way.” I agreed with her. I would much rather have my life live-streamed. Trust me folks, there is some weird stuff going on in this noggin. I am sure you don’t want anything to do with it! I have to agree with Shae that it would be nice to keep a bit of something for yourself, even if your life isn’t being live-streamed. “I’m a big believer in sharing and being authentic on social media, but I think you have to be careful how much you share. You have to keep some parts some for yourself.”
Last April, Shae started a movement called Strong Is Beautiful. We were talking a little bit about the idea behind it. Summer was on its way and social media was chock full of ads about getting your beach body and “fit is beautiful”. “I just found it to be suffocating.” she said. “I have the power and I have a platform to put a positive spin on social media because I love it so much but it can be detrimental to your mental health. So I wanted to take the time and focus on, regardless of how you feel or how you look or what you think, you being strong every day, and getting up and getting out of bed, being who you are, that is beautiful. That is strong.” As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, hearing someone say this is refreshing. Someone doesn’t think I’m a leper?? It IS hard getting out of bed some days. And thank you for saying the strength it takes to get up is beautiful. I always just consider it survival.
Shae released a series of videos of her doing a new activity every week. It was supposed to be for the month of April but ended up extending beyond because of their popularity. She plans to continue them this year. “I’m actually partnered with some organizations and charities and I’m going to be doing some work with them around the Strong Is Beautiful stuff.”
This girl is incredible. She is sweet and talented and you should definitely jump on her socials:
She is currently on her Let The Good Times Roll Tour across Canada. If she is in your area, I highly, recommend going to see her. Here are some dates:
Apr 12 – The Carleton – Halifax, NS
Apr 13 – O’Donaghue’s – Miramichi, NB
Apr 14 – Ringo’s Bar – Fredericton, NB
Apr 19 – The Almanac – Edmonton, AB
Apr 20 – The Junction YYC – Calgary, AB
Just to put you in the ticket buying mood, here is “Drink About It” by Shae Dupuy:
I hope that this new year has been treating everyone well. This year has been a bit of a rough start for us. Besides things going on in the family, the weather has been wreaking havoc with my trigeminal neuralgia. The nausea and the pain have been at it’s worst levels ever, but I am constantly trying to persevere. I am changing a couple of things (NOT resolutions, just adjustments) so we will see if they will help.
I don’t know if any of you know this, but I write another blog called “Struggles Of A Fat Girl”. I recently posted a pretty controversial and touchy-feely piece over there. It’s been ages since I posted there but it was something I didn’t want to say here. We keep it light and fun here. But if you are interested, the link is https://suzeq64.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/well-hi/
Some REALLY cool country music news though is that Canadian country music super star Dean Brody soared to the top of the Nielsen BDS Canadian Country Airplay Charts with “8th Day”, making this his third song that has hit #1. Deservedly so. This is a great song. Congratulations Dean!
Let’s move on to some other really cool stuff! Country Music Juno Award Nominees
With this year’s Juno Awards set to air from Vancouver, a brand new list of nominees has been issued! Our country music family did amazingly well this year! Going through the ENTIRE list, I took a moment to see where some of our friends showed up.
Johnny Reid is up for Album of the year for his latest album Revival as is Shania Twain for comeback album Now. Shania is also nominated for Artist of the Year.
Representing country music for Breakthrough Group of the Year is James Barker Band. I am so happy to see this! These are talented guys, they are great live and most important – they are nice guys. My fingers are crossed for them.
For Country Album of the Year, the list is as follows:
Beautiful Freakshow – Dean Brody
Dear Life– High Valley
Game On – James Barker Band
Past the Past – Jess Moskaluke
Shake These Walls – Tim Hicks
I am going to predict Beautiful Freakshow to win this category. It is not that I don’t love the other albums, because I do (Game On and Shake These Walls are on high rotation for me). Based on the response I have seen to Dean’s album, the reviews I have read, the buzz I have heard, I think this will be the winner. I guess we will see.
Tune in on March 24, 2018, 6:00 PM PDT to see who takes home the Juno in these categories. Best of luck to everyone! Ole TV
The last time I checked, CMT stood for Country Music Television. However, there is no longer ANY country music to be found. Sadly, this change in format also included them axing The Chevy Top 20 Countdown with Paul McGuire.
Music publishing giant Ole have recently taken Paul on to produce and host content for OleTV, the company’s Multi-Channel Network (MCN). This includes a…you guessed it, countdown! I am sorry, but, how can you take away a music countdown on what is supposed to be a channel with music? So thank you, Ole, for giving us a countdown.
If you haven’t caught any of Paul’s work on the new channel yet, or if you haven’t seen it at all, here is a link:
Trust me, there is a lot to take a look at, especially if you are missing the Top 20! It is really nice to see Paul back and doing what he does best!
This playlist is based on Paul McGuire’s first Top 20 on OleTV
She’s A Wild-eyed Wanderer
She was 8 years-old, singing and dancing away at a Shania Twain concert. She said to her mom, “That’s me! That’s what I want to do!” Her mother sighed, “Oh dear…” Alessia Cohle knew at that moment that she wanted to be a performer. Coming from a music oriented family, “it was bound to happen sooner or later.”
So what was it about Shania that made the 8 year-old Alessia decide that this would be her career path? “I think it was the energy that I was feeling from her, like the energy she was giving to the audience and she’s just such a force to be reckoned with and she’s so amazing and her vocals are outstanding so it was just everything combined.”
Alessia is starting to build up some cred herself. Last year, she joined Brett Kissel on his Ice, Snow and 30 Below Tour. I asked her what the experience was like for her. “So Incredible. I still don’t believe it actually happened.” Right from the moment she got the news it was a whirlwind, “It was such a a surreal moment getting the phone call,” which she received while out with her management team for a Christmas party. We talked a little bit about the evening of the performance as well. “He [Brett] is so nice! He really is and I’m sure people say that all the time and he gets that all the time. But he really was so sweet.” She opened that evening with Ontario artist Ben Hudson. From hanging out and chatting with them to personalized notes, as expected, Brett was a class act. “It was just so surreal and the response I got from the audience too because, you know, some of them don’t really know who I am. And they were even coming up afterwards saying, ‘We thoroughly enjoyed your performance,” and it just felt so good. It was like ‘Alright, this is where I’m supposed to be.'”
What got her to this pivotal point in her career? Because It doesn’t stop here. She has opened up for River Town Saints, The Washboard Union, The Road Hammers and many others. She has performed on festival stages such as Lucknow’s Music In The Fields, Havelock Country Jamboree, Manitoulin Country Fest, and Cider Fest alongside Lee Brice, Madeline Merlo and Small Town Pistols. Alessia has also had the opportunity to be a part of the house-band at CCMA Music Week 2016 & 2017 performing with artists such as Meghan Patrick, Jason Blaine, Tim Hicks and the list goes on and on. It seems like this girl is unstoppable!
Songs like “Wanderlust” on Alessia’s latest EP Wild-eyed Wanderer are the reason Alessia is having the success that she is. This song is wonderful and light-hearted and really instills that wanderlust feeling. It makes sense though, as Alessia is quite the traveler herself. The video for “Wanderlust” is beautiful, and the home video footage from Italy and Spain happens to be hers. I asked her if there was any place she hadn’t been yet that she would really like to go and why. “Bali.” She said immediately. “Bali is at the top of the list.” I laughed and said that she answered that pretty quick and I was curious as to why the fascination with Bali. “‘Eat, Pray, Love. I love the Movie. And the Book. I love the book. I felt such a kinship with that story.” Besides the deep connection she already felt, she had some friends who had gone. So long with their pictures and stories, Bali stays as a top location. She then added, “Cost Rica and Nicaragua are also high on the list.” That was a pretty far jump from Bali! “I have a friend who did some backpacking down there. All he did was stay at some hostels and he said it was one of his favourite trips ever.”
The rest of the EP is just as great as this song and I highly recommend you check it out. The one thing you won’t find. A boy song! “It was very much an internal story for myself.”
Absolutely correct. There is no “boy” song on this album. Alessia’s sweet and melodic voice carries us through a bit of a journey through who she is with this album. Please note…it is NOT a whiny, sad millennial album. It is upbeat and positive. I mean, she DOES slow it down once or twice. However, it doesn’t feel like one long sad song like some of these types of albums can be. Mind you, after speaking to Alessia, this doesn’t surprise me at all. She is charming and upbeat and positive. She has a zest for life and it definitely shows that this is who she is in this album. It is great. Go get it.
So, where did this beautiful songtress catch her travel bug? She was completing her Masters at Berkeley in Spain. She was 22 years-old, studying in an environment where there were students representing 24 countries. It was very eye-opening. “It really inspired me to want to travel and see as much of the world as possible and experience all these new cultures and it really allowed me to take a look inside at myself and be like, ‘Well, what do I want out of life? And what do I need out of life?’ This album is very much about me, it really is my story. Each song has my truth in it.”
Travel is her second love to music of course. Luckily she has been able to combine the two, travelling to Nashville and Austin on writing trips. Yes. I said Austin. I was SO excited to hear this. We were both giddy to talk about it! It seems like Austin is this untapped wealth of amazing music. Why more people don’t go there, I have no idea. I asked her what she thought of the city, “The city was so cool!” We both got really excited. She continued, “Even though it’s not as saturated with musicians as Nashville, it’s still such a musical city and its more about their live music than anything which is really cool.” If you have never been to Austin, Texas, you DEFINITELY need to go. It is one of my favourite cities. The music scene is amazing and don’t even get me started on “Dirty Six”. Alessia continued, “I got hooked up with some songwriters over there and I’m like, I’m gonna bite the bullet and just go.” So she went. She stayed on a buddies couch and head on down to the city known for “staying weird”. She said the experience was very different than writing in Nashville, not that writing there doesn’t have its merits, obviously. Alessia said of her Austin writing experience, “It was a little bit more raw. It was a little dirtier than trying to write more commercially. It was more like, ‘Ok, well, what do you want to say?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I have a lotta things that I want to say!’ So it was really interesting. It was a really fun experience.
It was time to wrap things up with Alessia. So I wanted to ask her one last fun question. After all of this talk about travel, what were the Top Three Things She Couldn’t Travel Without:
Phone/Camera: “For me my phone IS my camera. I don’t necessarily need Wifi or service. I just need the camera.”
Dry shampoo/Baby Wipes: We revised our list to include these together for general “cleanliness”. Tip from Alessia; baby wipes are the way to go. “I don’t always need to have the 4 star resort experience.” And apparently THESE are the ticket. Great for wiping down after a long day of hiking.
Notebook and pen/pencil: “You never know when an idea is going to hit you.” That’s right. And your phone may be dead. Or maybe you might feel like going analogue for a change. It’s pretty freeing. I write almost everything first. THAT is my first draft.
Alessia is so very talented and a delight to talk to. We joked about running in to one another at a monastery in Bali sometime. You know, that wouldn’t be bad at all. Maybe we can start with somewhere a little closer first? Hamilton perhaps?
Please make sure to follow her on ALL of her socials:
I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! Not gonna lie, I’m a bit of a humbug. I don’t HATE Christmas or anything. It just makes me nostalgic and leaves me feeling a bit sad usually. So I try to focus on the fun stuff like parties and things like that. With my niece Presley here, that changed a lot. She really brought back my Christmas spirit. I know she is too young to get the whole thing yet, but watching her with the lights and different textures was fun.
This time of year usually brings The Voice. And, as always, I was right in there like a dirty shirt (as you saw in my previous post)! I made another big move on social media and apparently a few people saw it:
The thought that this many people have seen this blows my mind! It goes to show you how strong social media can really be. I enjoy being involved! It makes me feel like a part of the action. When I tweeted #Voicesavered, my phone went crazy with retweets trying to save our beloved Red Marlow. Incidentally….my top 3 predictions were Chloe Kohanski, Brooke Simpson and Red. Chloe triumphed as winner of season 13 of The Voice and with good reason. She is AMAZINGLY talented. I was glad to see a woman bring back some kick-ass female rockers.
Let’s move on to some country!
2017 in Review
This year brought with it some great music and some great Canadian country music highlights:
Dean Brody’sTime was Canadian Country Song of the Year. His album “Beautiful Freakshow” earned gold status and he earned 3 CCMA Awards: Fan’s Choice Award, Songwriter of the Year and the award for Top-Selling Single of the Year for Bush Party.
The Road Hammers released “The Squeeze” and had 2 singles come off the album so far; one reaching top thirty and the other reaching top ten. They also won Group of the Year at this year’s CCMA Awards.
Jason Blaine made a move over to Wax Records and released “Boy With a Guitar”. His first single, Born To Love, is currently in the Top 50 country music charts.
Dallas Smith had an incredible year with the release of his “Side Effects” album and his successful Side Effects Tour. He was also the recipient of 3 CCMA Awards this year: Album of the Year for “Side Effects”, Single of the Year for Autograph and Top Selling Canadian Album of the Year” for “Side Effects”.
Newcomer Andrew Hyatt joined Wax Records and released his debut full-length album, “Iron & Ashes”. His single On Me has hit the country music top ten charts. He also joined Dallas Smith on his Side Effects Tour this fall.
My buddy Jason Kirkness released his album “A Beautiful Disaster” this year. His first single Whiskey Kiss was well received and it was enough to take him to the Boots & Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase.
Meghan Patrick had a great year with 5 CCMA Nominations and taking home 2: CCMA Rising Star of the Year and Female Artist of the Year. In preparation for the release of her new album of the same name, her single Country Music Made Me Do It released this fall and is burning up the charts.
This is just a few. I could go on for days! There are a few people who are also on the rise and you should keep an eye out for in 2018:
Madeline Merlo: Her summer hit Motel Flamingo took her to country radio top 10. She also performed it at the CCMA Awards where she was nominated for Female Artist of the Year. Madeline recently made the move to Nashville and has been hard at work so I’m sure we can expect plenty of exciting work in the future.
Hunter Brothers: I cannot say enough wonderful things about these guys. Their single Born and Raised has made top 20 on the country radio charts and is now being played cross-country. They were nominated for CCMA Interactive Artist of the Year and performed with Paul Brandt at the Legends Concert during CCMA Week. If you haven’t heard much about them, you soon will.
Jessica Mitchell: After releasing Working on Whisky, she released 2 back to back singles this year. She has been on tour most of the summer, performed Heart of Glass at the CCMA Awards Gala and performed for Neil Young at his induction to the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. I follow this girl’s socials and, and let me tell ya, she’s been busy! I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for us from her!
Top 10 Country Songs of 2017
List Compiled By Nielsen Music Canada
James Barker Band – “Chills”
Dean Brody- “Time”
Dallas Smith – “Side Effects”
High Valley – “I Be U Be”
Dallas Smith – “Sky Stays This Blue”
Tim Hicks – “Slide Over”
Tim Hicks – “Slow Burn”
James Barker Band – “Just Sayin'”
Aaron Goodvin – “Lonely Drum”
The Road Hammers – “Crazy About You”
I am not even going to lie to you. I had to apologize for fan-girling a bit with this call. Jessica Mitchell is by far one of the most talented and heart-felt songwriters in Canada at the moment. She is honest. She isn’t afraid to take a song to a place where it may hurt to hear it. Hearing her work is moving.
The release of her single Workin’ on Whiskey and the 2016 CMAO Awards were really pivotal for her, “They really kicked off this spiral of really amazing moments.” This year, she received 4 nominations at the CMAO Awards and momentum keeps building.
We spoke a little about Workin on Whiskey. There are few songs that affect me emotionally enough that I feel like I need to stop driving if I’m behind the wheel; Make You Feel My Love by Garth Brooks, Don’t Take the Girl by Tim McGraw, Either Way by Chris Stapleton and this song. Every part of it touches me. “I appreciate the response I got to that song and people connected with it which is great because I connect with it equally as much.” Jessica added, “It takes me to a different place and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
In May of this year, Jessica released 2 back-to-back singles. Jessica had great success with both of them. Don’t Love Me is this sad but beautiful break-up song. It carries a tone of ‘don’t ask me to come back because it would be hard to say no’. I asked her to tell me a little bit about that song. “We decided to let the song speak for itself and I love the different interpretations I’ve been getting from people as to what it means to them.”
The other single is this dreamy, ethereal piece called Tear it down. An extremely relateable song, “it’s mostly about taking the power back in your life when you’ve been stuck in a situation that’s just not good for you.” The song is meant to be empowering and Jessica admits, “Every time I sing it, I feel very empowered.” The title itself is a great explanation of the song, “Sometimes you need to tear down all the walls and start from scratch.”
This brought up an interesting question. I asked her if she ever thought of starting from scratch, meaning, giving this up. She burst out laughing. “Oh My God Yes! Many Times! Recently! There’s a point where it all comes to a head and you think ‘Ok. This is it for me.’ And its very relative to what’s going on in my life.”
I for one am so glad she decides to keep striving through those tough times. All of that hard work has proven to be successful for her. I asked her how she is taking all of this in. She laughed again, “I don’t know! I’m just taking it in stride.” Everything has snowballed I’m the last year and a half for her so she points out, “I relax when I can and work when I’m supposed to work.” Jessica is quick to share her accolades, “Regardless of what happens, I’m really proud of myself and my team and the people who have worked equally hard to make this happen.”
This year, Jessica went on the road, opening for Ron Sexsmith. She drove out west and back by herself. “That was an extremely eye-opening and soul-searching experience for me and I don’t even know how else to describe it.” I asked if we could expect some songs from her adventure. She replied, “I got tons of things to write about, that’s for sure!” We certainly can’t wait to hear them.
When people have hectic schedules like this, I always find it interesting to find out what they do in their down time. Jessica jokes, “You know, my life is very boring. I love going to live shows. I go to a lot of live shows here in Toronto.” Jessica is currently splitting her time between Nashville and Toronto. When she is actually home, she spends quite a bit of time there, just hanging out on her patio (in the summer of course) and spends a lot of time reflecting. “I feel like in this business its really important to take time for yourself because you’re almost never alone but you still feel kind of lonely.”
Although she tries to use some of that time to reflect, Jessica admits fully, “I am a Netflix bingeing nightmare.” I had to laugh at this knowing Frank and I are suckers for this too. Much to my surprise, we binge on similar treats, “I’m such a nerd. I love fantasy and superhero movies and stuff so I go to see as many of those as I can.” Something else you may not know is, “I have a crazy eclectic taste in music, like ambient and strange.”
I knew in had to wrap things up but there was a question I really wanted to ask Jessica. All of this deep and thoughtful writing had to come from some place. Some….where. so I asked her if she could speak to her 12 year-old self, what would she say. She was kind of taken aback by the question yet knew exactly how to answer, “Slow down. Be a kid. Make good decisions and be there for your family, probably. I had a very troublesome teenage experience and it wasn’t fun for me. But my 12 year-old self would be exactly the person that I would want to say those things to because it was the beginning of a very long and treacherous teenagehood.”
Despite these hardships, Jessica is coming out on top. She is growing and evolving as an artist and more. ” I feel like just as a person in the last 18 months I’ve grown so much and I’m the better for it. I really am. That wouldn’t be possible without the people in my life. I’m very lucky, man. Very lucky.”
What else can I say about her besides if you aren’t listening to her, you are crazy! You should be following her on all of her socials because she loves to post music every now and then: