Thursday night in a Barrhaven kicked off Oktoberfest Ottawa with a Country Free for All celebrating 45 years of country music on Country 101.1 with a stellar show featuring Leaving Thomas, Chad Brownlee and local star Charlie Major.

I want to start out by sending our best wishes to everyone at Country 101.1 on 45 amazing years representing country music in Canada’s capital. What an epic way to celebrate a 45th anniversary than with a giant tent filled with craft beer vendors from across Ottawa and Ontario and some of Canada’s best country music.

Annika Odegard of Leaving Thomas Ottawa Oktoberfest 2017. Photo by Dale Sinclair

Leaving Thomas took to the stage first with one heck of a performance. Annika and Bryton have an incredible stage presence and that translated into an amazing show that left the crowd on their feet screaming for more. I was especially excited to catch Leaving Thomas last night as I had missed their set at Boots and Hearts due to an interview I had that over lapped it. This duo is one of the hottest new acts in Canadian country music and I, for one, can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next.

Charlie Major. Ottawa Oktoberfest 2017. Photo by Dale Sinclair

JUNO and CCMA Award winner Charlie Major took to the stage next. There was no doubt that Charlie was a hometown star because many in the crowd, that had swelled considerably before his set, could be seen singing along throughout his set. It was a typical classic country performance with plenty of fiddle and accordion. Admittedly I was less familiar with Major’s music than the others, only because I didn’t really get into the country scene until the early 2000’s which would’ve been a few years after Major’s peak. That said I was familiar with the name which still gets tossed around the circles today and his if his performance was any evidence Charlie still has every bit of the gift that won him so many awards in the mid-1990s.

Chad Brownlee. Ottawa Oktoberfest 2017. Photo by Dale Sinclair

The headliner of the night needed little introduction, even though he isn’t a frequent visitor to Canada’s capital. Chad Brownlee, is one of western Canada’s greatest contributions to the Canadian country music scene. Not only is he one of the nicest, most down to earth guys you’ll ever meet he’s one heck of a talented performer.

Chad Brownlee. Ottawa Oktoberfest 2017. Photo by Dale Sinclair

Although I had seen Chad a number of times prior to last night’s show it was only my second time seeing him with his full band, the first time was just a few months ago at Boots and Hearts. From the second Chad hit the stage he had the crowd rocking and singing along. Currently still hot on the heels of his EP release last April “Hearts on Fire” Chad took the crowd through 7 years of hits including a few songs (“Hearts on Fire” and “Where the Party At?” that were written by our good friend Erik Dylan) as well as a, always powerful, cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” which he mashed up with Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man” and turned into the ultimate love song.

Both Chad and Leaving Thomas are part of Mike Denny’s MDM Recordings label which also includes Jess Moskaluke, Bobby Wills, David James, Charlie Major and more…one thing is certain Denny has an incredible ear for talent…Mike if you end up reading this perhaps you could send your entire label on a tour together…something tells me that would sell out every stop!

Oktoberfest Ottawa continues tonight with the lovely and extremely talented Meghan Patrick taking to the stage at 10:30pm, giving Ottawa a taste of what they’ll experience when she returns to Algonquin Commons Theatre with James Barker Band on their Game On Tour this January!