ONTARIO ARTISTS AT COUNTRY MUSIC WEEK 2017
Originally from Scotland, David Leask is a born song chaser. A natural storyteller, creator of five critically acclaimed records and a relentless live performer, he is a recipient of the Mississauga Performing Artist of the Year Award. David has won multiple international songwriting awards in different genres. Indeed, Songwriters Magazine called him, "the most consistent Canadian songwriting competition winner." David's songs have been recorded by Canadian country artists Alex Runions, Twin Kennedy, Jay Semko, Marshall Dane & Mandy Ringdal as well recent cuts in the US and Germany. His music draws from Celtic soul and roots/country and he is about to release his sixth record entitled “Red Balloon”.
Danielle Bourjeaurd is known by the nickname “Redneck Princess” amongst her friends and family. It’s a moniker that is not only emblematic of her unique approach to life, but also the perfect description of the songs she crafts, records and performs. Bourjeaurd’s upcoming debut EP, Country Sorta Way, is a lush, rollicking, and immensely memorable collection of songs that are a bold statement from a composer and performer to be reckoned with. The wistful production on the EP’s first single, “Lakeside”, is a tribute to the lifestyle Danielle has shared with family and friends her entire life – boating, fishing, parties on the beach – sung with such sincerity that you wished you were there. “I am definitely a lake girl. It’s my life and it’s what everyone I know does every summer. It’s like ‘what island are we going to, where are we wakeboarding, and where’s the best place to put a line in the water?’ I am the same in the winter: ice fishing, four wheeling, sledding. It’s just the way I am built,” she says. Danielle’s music is highlighted by hook-laden melodic masterpieces that are infused with the essence of country music, but with equal nods to pop and southern rock. There are raucous party anthems, sultry songs of torrid love, and songs about the ups and downs of everyday life. More significantly, Bourjeaurd’s lyrics and her vocal performances are dripping with an attitude that is fiercely empowered, shattering any illusions that female artists can’t be as ferocious in their appetites and overt in their passions as their male counterparts. “I want to say things that girls shouldn’t be afraid to say or think. I don’t mind getting a little sassy, because that’s real life. I want to be that kind of a voice for women.” Originally a native of the small town of Sharon, Ontario Bourjeaurd now spends much of her time on the shores of Georgian Bay when she’s not writing down in Nashville. From an early age, Bourjeaurd was surrounded by music and grew up knowing that it would be her calling. Her dad was a noted Bluegrass musician and played in the clubs and pubs north of Toronto alongside the likes of The Good Brothers, Big Redd Ford and the late Terry Clements, who was a long-time member of Gordon Lightfoot’s band. “I was lucky to be getting up on stage with my dad and his buddies at Bluegrass festivals starting when I was 14. They taught me how to project my natural charm and personality to the audience. My dad also passed along his love and knowledge of harmony – I could hear harmonies at a very early age,” Bourjeaurd said. Danielle has spent the past five years living in Nashville full-time, carving out a reputation as a songwriter and artist to watch. During this time, she collaborated with many A-list writers, also landing a worldwide publishing deal with Let Me Be Frank Inc. and ole Media Management LLC. Her first big cut as a writer (“Sunday Afternoon Hang”) was released as a single by Tom Cochrane in 2014 and went to #1 on radio Rock & Country countdowns. She also landed a sponsorship deal with Old Gringo Boots in California and her print ads are now being used in magazines and store posters across the United States. Bourjeaurd is most at home on a stage, where her unbridled energy can enliven any crowd and raise the roof on any venue. “I have such a good time onstage and I want to make sure everyone else does too. Songs like [the ones on my EP] are as real and as much a part of my personality as “Lakeside”. When I am up there, it’s all me”. The lack of pretense and the undeniable honesty of Bourjeaurd as a person are reflected in the way she has approached her craft as a songwriter, musician, vocalist and performer. She is confident in her abilities and knows what she wants to say. Bourjeaurd inhabits a space all her own – one that has a mass appeal to a growing society that is unbound by rigid classifications. Country Sorta Way is a poised, polished, and untamed adventure. With songs that run the gamut from hurtin’ to hollerin’ and everything in between, it’s sure to put this Redneck Princess on the map.
Jesse Gold is a Toronto-based singer, songwriter, and multi instrumentalist. After studying at Berklee College of Music, Jesse has come back to his home town where he has become one of Canada's most promising young talents. His love for R&B and Soul music makes him a unique and welcome elevation to the country-pop landscape. Make sure to catch Jesse at Boots and Hearts Music Festival on August 12th - and on all social media @jessegoldmusic
Steph La Rochelle
Steph La Rochelle received national exposure when she was crowned 1st Runner Up in a nation wide singing competition on CBC. Since then she’s attained numerous TV/film credits to her name (CBC’s Heartland and upcoming Family Channel series, Backstage). She was 1 of 10 female emerging artists to play at RBC’s Bluesfest and is currently 1 of 6 finalists in the CCMA Discovery Program. Currently, Steph is working on her Factor-funded single, with CCMA award-winning producer, Jason Barry. Praised for her vocal purity and ethereal quality, this pop/country songstress will always leave you with a captivating performance.
Eric Ethridge’s brand started to gain serious momentum in 2015 after the release of a series of country-pop covers, one of which garnered him a mention in Rolling Stone Magazine. Subsequently his social media presence enjoyed a drastic increase with over 275,000 YouTube hits and an increase to over 1500 YouTube subscribers. In August of 2015 Eric was the runner-up in the Boots and Hearts emerging artist showcase, and has since had continued interest from both American and Canadian record labels. In early 2016 Eric was selected by a panel of industry professionals from across Canada to be one of the top 6 finalist for the CCMA Discovery Program. After a final showcase of the top 6 emerging artists, Eric then went on to win the 2016 CCMA Discovery Award. He has shared the stage with major acts such as Jess Moskaluke,Brett Kissel, Emerson Drive, Chad Brownlee, The Bros. Osborne, Randy Houser, Chris Young, Billy Currington, Thomas Rhett, Kip Moore, Eric Church and Florida Georgia Line. As the newest addition to The Feldman Agency and Watchdog Management, Eric teamed up with Juno award-winning producer/songwriter Brian Howes (Nickelback, Keith Urban, Chris Daughtry, and Hinder) to produce his debut single, “Liquor’s Callin’ the Shots”. Released in Spring 2017, Eric’s first venture into the world of radio was a great success. His single has been played across the nation breaking into the top 30 on the Canadian Country Music Charts.
Thursday, September 7 | 8:00pm | CCMA DISCOVERY SHOWCASE (special guest)
Jason Blaine of Pembroke, Ontario, is a CCMA award winning singer and songwriter of the highest order - having earned a name for himself with hit after chart-topping hit at Canadian country radio. Now living in Nashville with his wife and four children, Blaine’s heartfelt music continues to be inspired by simple joys, universal truths, and down to earth values. His brand new single “Born To Love” is at radio now is a powerful flag-bearer for his highly anticipated new album, which promises to stay true to his signature brand of no bull, rockin' country music.
2016 has been a knockout year for The Lovelocks (MDM Recordings Inc. / Universal Music Canada), a female roots-country duo comprised of Ali Raney and Zoë Sparrow. Proud recipients of numerous accolades, the 2014 Canadian Country Music Association® (CCMA®) Discovery Series winners also received their third consecutive CCMA Award nomination for Roots Artist of the Year, and Raney received her fifth CCMA Award nomination for Fiddle Player of the Year. Having released three singles to date off of their new EP Born To Love, the single “Home Sweet Home” dazzled Canadian country music fans becoming the #1 selling single by a Canadian country artist (week of January 25, 2016), and hit #2 on the top 50 Canadian viral list on Spotify, gaining over 350,000 plays to date. Most recently, they debuted their new single (and respective music video) for “Time After Time”. The track features their very own take on the classic Cyndi Lauper hit, infusing the iconic song with their upbeat roots country sounds and signature fiddle interplays. Between songwriting, video shoots and radio tours across Canada this year, The Lovelocks have also recently travelled overseas to entertain the Canadian Troops in Kuwait, France and the Ukraine. They wrapped up the year by embarking on their first headlining tour, the “Born To Love Tour” through Western Canada, with shows in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia in October 2016. The Lovelocks are currently working on new tunes, and will return to the studio in 2017.
So wait. Are you an artist, or a songwriter, or a producer now?” Slate is asked by a friend as he tunes his guitar in the green room before taking the stage at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in his hometown of Toronto. “I get that question a lot — I actually don’t know any more. Everybody always wants to brand you as just one thing, but I’m always going to be playing shows, writing songs and producing songs. So, whatever that makes me.” Over the past year Slate has proven himself more than capable in each field, having single-handedly written and produced his darkly emotional single, ‘Hold You Close’. The song garnered international attention, ultimately leading to a placement on NBC television show, Rookie Blue. The song was also highlighted on the CBC Sonica Top 10 Songs of 2015 list. Slate has also made his presence felt as a songwriter and producer for other artists. He co-wrote and produced singer/songwriter, Donovan Woods’ single, ‘That Hotel’ which subsequently received significant attention from the CBC. He is also responsible for co-writing the Gold Certified single, ‘Here Comes the Thunder’, for Tim Hicks which was featured as the intro song for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. As a live artist, Slate has shared the stage with many of the industry’s elite including Lindi Ortega, Cuff the Duke, The Strumbellas, Hunter Hayes, The Arkells, Donovan Woods, Shane McAnally, Tony Arata etc. He continues to perform each year as one of the featured artists at Nashville’s Tin Pan South festival. “I try to keep busy making music. I’m not really a fan of downtime” Slate admits after spending the majority of the last year in the studio working on his upcoming release. “I think my friends are starting to hate me…haha
Friday, September 8 | 5:45pm | CCMA SONGWRITERS' SERIES
Mike Ure and Aidan Johnson-Bujold are a singer/songwriter duo from small town Harrow, ON. The two combine their distinct voices to create a trademark blend that listeners will immediately recognize as Buck Twenty. The boys take pride in the musical presentation of their live show and most definitely aren’t afraid to bring a surplus of feel good energy to the stage. Mike and Aidan have been recently nominated for the 2017 Country Music Association of Ontario’s “Rising Star” award and the groups energetic performance was a highlight of the 2017 Trackside Music Festival. The duo also premiered their brand new single “Here’s To The Nights” to radio. The song has the kind of vibes that bring out the summer-loving country fan in every listener.
Born and raised in Bowmanville, Ontario, Meghan Patrick has dedicated her entire life to music, wanting it to be more than just a passion. “I was drawn to playing guitar so I could start writing music to go along with the words I was writing. I wanted to be self-sufficient as a creative artist.” It wasn’t long until Meghan had mastered both electric and acoustic guitar as well as the banjo. Prior to setting out as a solo artist, Meghan was the lead singer of the popular roots act The Stone Sparrows. A newgrass/bluegrass band, The Stone Sparrows released an EP and a full-length album before the members parted ways amicably in 2013 after playing their second Boots and Hearts Festival. Meghan has quickly made a name for herself since signing to Warner Music Canada. She has recently signed a publishing deal with Olé Nashville. Her debut album, Grace and Grit is set to be on April 29th. To make this album, Meghan travelled to a number of studios in Canada and America, including the capital city of country music, Nashville. On the way, she worked with producers Justin Niebank (Vince Gill, LeAnn Rimes), Vince Gill, Chris Baseford (Nickelback, Avril Lavigne) and Carly McKillip. To add even more star power to her debut Meghan brought in a few more big names, including multiple Grammy nominee Joe Nichols who duets with her on “Still Loving You,” and fellow Canadian Chad Kroeger, who co-wrote and produced her forthcoming debut single “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” along with several other cuts on the album. In addition to Kroeger, Grace and Grit features an impressive list of cowriters, which includes Rodney Clawson (CMA Songwriter of the Year, ACM Song of the Year and Grammy Nominated), Gord Bamford, Chantal Kreviazuk, Marty Dodson, Patricia Conroy, Bruce Wallace, Buddy Owen, Steve Smith, Anthony Anderson, Phil Barton, Phil O'Donnell and Andrew Allan. What’s more, superstar engineer Justin Niebank, who has mixed for the likes of Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton and Hunter Hayes has mixed the entire record. The songs Meghan writes are about real-life situations and are both personal and autobiographical. They are story songs, but they are her stories which infuse the material with an authenticity and sincerity that is palpable. “I have to feel connected to the music, especially when I am playing live. The emotions I write about are real and audiences know when you are being true to yourself. Performing my own music and forming a bond with my audience is what I do this for. And that’s the most enjoyable thing in the world.”
Let’s get something out of the way: longevity is not a synonym for stagnation. Sometimes, longevity is a symbol of stubborn refusal to compromise or insistence on marching only to the beat of the most exhilarating drum. Take Tim Hicks. If anyone was ready for his proverbial close-up, it’s the acclaimed, chart-topping and award-winning artist. His presence as a consistently electrifying entertainer on the Canadian music scene may stretch back more than a decade, but his latest and third studio full-length album, the alternately scorching and tender Shake These Walls, scans as strikingly new. That’s what happens when you’re lucky (read: dogged) enough to locate your most authentic musical voice at the precise moment you find yourself in Nashville scratching it out alongside some of the sharpest blades in the musical toolbox. Co-written by Hicks who writes the songs that define his character, Shake These Walls evolves musically. “I wanted to show people I had grown,” Hicks says of the new album. “There is truth in each of these songs because I co-wrote every one of them. I have a personal connection with every lyric, every riff. People are going to find there’s a healthy dose of the Tim Hicks party in there but there’s lots of other stuff certain to be interesting to many different people.” Indeed, one of the most noticeable things about Shake These Walls is the range of moods and emotions on offer. Take the boisterous first single “Stompin’ Ground,” an instant radio smash and a snapshot of the good old days when hard-partying with kin and kindred was less distraction than vocation. “That song and ‘We Came Up’” – a soaring ode to brotherhood – “speak to simpler times,” Hicks confirms. “They have a slightly new feel to them but they still shoot for the party crowd.” At the other end of the spectrum is “Slide Over,” a vividly drawn and unabashedly knock-kneed mid-tempo track with a dangerously infectious chorus. “That song is so real,” Hicks says. “When people with full-time jobs have kids, well… relationships can suffer. Things get in the way of the people you once were. You have to remember to sit down with each other, just have a beer and ask, ‘How was your day?’ So that song is that.” “I also really felt like I needed to write a song for my wife Amanda who took a leave of absence to move with me and our two small kids to Nashville for four months while I made this record. That,” the singer howls, “is just good for business all around.” As Hicks explains, the album was crafted in a somewhat workmanlike fashion during that Tennessee stretch. “It was as close to a day job as I’ve ever had,” he cracks, “With two young kids at home, the days of drinking half a bottle of whiskey and writing songs at 3 a.m. are long gone.” And yet for comparatively slow-burning tracks like “The Night Gets Us” – cheekily detailing how leather and lace seamlessly merge after dark – the trademark Tim Hicks thumbprint is very much in evidence. Take the propulsive title track or the unambiguously titled “Let’s Just Drink.” “Ironically, that song came from a session where I just wasn’t inspired to write at all. I literally said, ‘Forget it! Let’s just drink!’ Everyone laughed and said, ‘Let’s write that!’ So out of a negative feeling came this great, funny song.” Produced by Corey Crowder (who recently celebrated his second #1 U.S. single with Chris Young), and whittled down from a total of some 70 songs written in Toronto and Nashville over the past year, Shake These Walls provided Hicks with a distinct advantage absent from both 2013’s Throw Down and 2014’s widely feted 5:01: a live, in-studio band while they were recording. “I am a band guy at heart and I love playing music live. I’m always asking, ‘How will these songs fit into my live show?’ Having a band right there made it easier to figure all those parts out.” That’s essential given that in 2017, Hicks will mount the “Shake These Walls Tour,” his second major headlining jaunt following 2015’s sold-out “Get A Little Crazy Tour” and his chance to do what he does best: connect with audiences from coast to coast and beyond. So while Hicks has the resume of a veteran – seven Top 10 singles on Canadian country radio, #1 country album for 5:01, multiple CCMA and SOCAN wins and JUNO nods, coveted spots on prestigious festival stages nationwide – Shake These Walls charts a path that is completely new… and shoots straight for the country music stratosphere. “As each year on this crazy ride goes by, I just feel more comfortable as Tim Hicks, the artist,” Hicks says. “The challenge of trying to write a good song is still one of the most exciting parts of my job. “And I just can’t wait to get out and start touring these songs to show people their potential. I never thought I’d have the opportunities I am currently having.”
James Barker Band
Ontario-crafted country outfit James Barker Band formed in 2013, and consists of James Barker, Taylor Abram, Bobby Martin, and Connor Stephen. As winners of the 2015 Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase, they were awarded a release with Universal Music Canada and an all-inclusive trip to Nashville, Tennessee. The band was also given the opportunity to open for Thomas Rhett on the Boots and Hearts main stage in front of 40,000 of country music’s biggest fans and returned to play the mainstage at the festival in 2016. The guys have had a busy year, with no signs of slowing down. Their first single, “Lawn Chair Lazy,” which was written by band front man, James Barker, along with fellow Canadians Gavin Slate and Travis Wood, became the highest charting debut single ever from a Canadian artist at Country Radio. Their video for the song also spent two weeks at #1 on the CMT Canada’s Chevy Top 20 Countdown. The band's follow-up single, “Just Sayin’,” received mass praise from the industry and fans and just like the first, went Top 10 at country radio. The third, single “Chills” released on March 3 also received a number one from CMT Chevy Top 20 Countdown, but also a number one at Canadian country radio, making them the first band to have a number one at radio off a debut album. The boys finished a 26 date cross Canada tour with Dean Brody, High Valley and Madeline Merlo. They will also open up for Keith Urban on two Quebec dates in August and play a number of festivals this summer. For a full list of dates and locations, click here. On April 21 the band dropped their first EP, Game On, via Universal Music Canada, the country’s leading music company, which debuted at #2 at iTunes during release week. On the EP Barker found an immediate chemistry with writers Gavin Slate, Travis Wood, Todd Clark, and Donovan Woods with who he wrote the majority of the songs for the EP, which was engineered and produced by Todd Clark. The result displays a consistency of voice, which is both authentic and clear. The cohesiveness of Game On leaves no doubt that James Barker Band knows the land on which they stand. On this EP they lay bare questions of love, life, and responsibility – and ask of their fans to be equally uncompromising on this journey. "We're so excited to finally release our EP, Game On. It feels like we've been working on these songs for so long that everyone should already know them, but at the same time it feels like only yesterday that we were recording Lawn Chair Lazy. We have poured everything that we have into these songs, and I hope people can feel that,” says Barker. “From the diverse collection of tunes, to the working album art and EP title, we wanted to make sure that the whole project made sense with who and what we are. We are a group of fun loving country music fanatics that are influenced by all kinds of genres, but we aren't just party animals. We have personal lives and relationships just like everyone else. We really hope our fans enjoy listening and can relate to these songs as much as we do!"
If songs were grains of salt, Patrick Ballantyne is the saltshaker. Songs appear to flow effortlessly from Patrick Ballantyne. A sought after co-writer (Big Sugar, The Trews, Tim Chaisson, Shane Chisholm) with cuts on over 10 albums and 2 solo albums of his own, his catalogue is continually expanding. Playing it safe as a lawyer by day, Ballantyne reserves risk-taking for his music. Never content to replicate, Patrick is innovative and experimental. He blends and bends genres, while maintaining an emphasis on melodies and lyrics. His body of work spans multiple genres, yet every song contains a deeply personal and soulful aspect. This Toronto-based Singer Songwriter, has been writing songs since he first picked up a guitar at the age of 14. Heavily influenced by the sounds of his hometown station CKLW, you can hear echoes of the motor cities in his timeless songs. When not lawyering or songwriting, Patrick spends his time serving on industry panels, performing at songwriting circles, mentoring, running, and spending time with his family.
Singer and songstress Jessica Mitchell is, at heart, a storyteller – an open book. Based in Toronto, and Nashville TN, she has spent the last decade digging deeper into her artistry, focusing on writing new music and crafting her richly unique sound, which has led her to become one of the music industry's best kept secrets. At the end of May, she released two brand new tracks; “Don’t Love Me” and “Tear It Down”, which have already landed on multiple Spotify playlists, including the coveted Wild Country list with more than half a million followers. She caught the attention of multiple news outlets, including The Toronto Star and Global News, when a video she posted to Facebook of her hearing her single “Workin’ On Whiskey” on the radio for the first time went viral. “Workin’ on Whiskey” was the top added Canadian Country song to radio at the time of release. 2016 has been a groundbreaking year for the rising star. In addition to opening for Kiefer Sutherland and Royal Wood on their Canadian tours, Mitchell performed at a number of major music festivals, snagged a coveted Guild Guitar sponsorship, and achieved her first chart climbing hit single. Nominated for a CCMA Award for Roots Artist of the Year, September brought the London, Ontario native back to her hometown for Country Music Week and the CCMA Award show. 2017 will find Mitchell on tour with country music legend, Terri Clark, Ron Sexsmith and Bonnie Raitt. Mitchell is actively working on new material and has spent the last decade focusing on writing new music and crafting her richly unique sound. Since signing a publishing deal with Slaight Music Publishing, Mitchell has embarked on several writing trips to Nashville. Inspired by the raw honesty and storytelling nature of the country music genre, Jessica felt a shift in the direction in her own music. “Country singers emote in a powerful way,” explains Mitchell. “There’s truth in the traditions of the genre, which I find inspiring.” Mitchell has spent the last few years travelling between Toronto and Nashville collaborating with top-notch songwriters including Stephen Kozmeniuk (Jennifer Hudson, Kendrick Lamar), Todd Clark (Phillip Phillips, Tim Hicks), Luke Sheets (Ryan Kinder), and has developed a wonderful writing partnership in David “Dwave” Thomson (Lady Antebellum, Autumn Hill) and Patricia Conroy of Canadian country music fame. Mitchell believes that pain and loss are oftentimes at the heart of every relatable piece of music. As she puts it, “You’ll never see the light until it’s completely dark, and it got DARK for a while.” After losing her mother to a long battle with cancer, Mitchell had her own epiphany about what kind of artist she wanted to become. Her hope is that by sharing grief, and other personal experiences through her music, she will forge genuine bonds with her audience. “I want to connect with people,” she says, “by creating something that sounds real to someone. I want my music to change someone’s life or help a person through a difficult time.” Mitchell’s EP “Hold Onto The Light” was released April 1, 2016. The EP’s first single, “Grown Up Things,” produced by Grammy-nominated producer Dave Brainard (Brandy Clark, Jerrod Niemann) and co-written with Luke Sheets (Plumb), is a soul-searching song about loss and change, of not wanting to deal with the curve balls that life throws at us. It showcases her powerful and pure voice and her considerable songwriting skills. When listening to Mitchell’s music, she makes it very easy for you to latch on to her inviting melodies and the genuine, soulful nature of her words. The rich tone and hopefulness in her voice grabs you and pulls you in – and once the song is over, you can’t help but feel as though you have personally connected with her on a deeper level.