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:
Scroll down and look for Krystan and vote! She is so worthy!
Be sure to look her up on her socials as well so you can catch one of her shows! She is incredibly talented:
Now…here is the video for “Not That Single” by Krystan Bellows (but still…go pick up that single!)