It’s hard to believe that it’s really only been 5 years since I first put pen to paper (so to speak) to write the first ever post for Sound Check Entertainment. Back then it was called the Hoedown Blogger and the platform was under the banner of the Ottawa Citizen but had it not been for that day none of what followed would be possible.
Even though it’s only been 5 years I refer to this as our 6th summer and everyday it amazes me how this project has evolved. From covering a single event to covering and promoting hundreds of events a year, interviews and Mason Jar Sessions with some of the biggest names in music and hundreds of thousands of regular readers.
The first 2 years…
As we head into the 6th summer of live entertainment coverage I really need to thank a few people for their role in getting Sound Check Entertainment to where it is today. First and foremost the editors at the Ottawa Citizen, Melanie and Roberta (I believe neither is at the Citizen anymore but either way) it was their vision to create a Festival Goer blog of which the Hoedown Blogger was a small part.
To the festival teams in Ottawa including the organizers of the Capital Hoedown and more importantly AJ and Joe at RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest, after the Hoedown ended after it’s second year AJ and Joe welcomed me into the media fold for Ottawa Bluesfest and 2016 will mark the 5th consecutive summer that Sound Check Entertainment will be bringing you the sights and sounds of one of Billboard Magazines Top 10 Most Successful Outdoor Music Festivals in the world.
I can’t forget Antony at Tim Horton’s Dragon Boat Festival since he invited us to come out the first time about 4 summers ago it’s become one of our signature events every summer in Ottawa.
The biggest thank you of all has to go to my friend, and one of our biggest fans, Laura at Republic Live. Since she first invited me to come out to Boots and Hearts for year 2 in 2012 we have had a presence there every year since. Even though I personally haven’t been back since Laura is always quick to remind me that the welcome matt will be out the next time I can make it out. It’s thanks to Laura that Sound Check Entertainment is what it is today, it was her advice that convinced me to take 2 or 3 individual blogs and combine them under one banner…Sound Check Entertainment
Year three…our first expansion
Of course in the last few years Sound Check has grown far beyond the borders of our Nation’s Capital and that is thanks to one man, Corey Kelly. Corey joined the team a few summers ago in 2013 to help out with events in the GTA, there were so many new events and I just couldn’t cover them all I needed an extra body and seeing as cloning humans isn’t a thing yet Corey was the next best thing. Corey was a country music junkie when he started with SCE and he was interested in getting into blogging so I offered him a chance to get his feet wet by representing my brand in the Toronto area.
Corey didn’t waste any time getting his feet wet he jumped right in (head first) and covered Kee To Bala, Lucknow Music in the Fields and Boots and Hearts (the first three I should mention were on his own dime as we had missed the accreditation deadline by the time Corey started) all in his first summer.
Since then Corey has become partner and built a solid team of photographers and writers around him to help ensure we get to as many events as possible every year. This past year Corey organized and booked all the acts for Big Lights Big Country, our benefit for Fort McMurray (which raised over 50K for the relief effort) and played a vital role in the organizing of the musical side of Capital Country Fest at Spencerville Stampede in 2015.
Year four, nice pic!
In 2015 we decided with a new team it would be important to add a new look as well. So I rebuilt the website and we had a new logo commissioned and also added a whole new element to the site…professional photographs!
Over the last year or so we’ve really ramped up the visual element of our stories by adding a handful of the best photographers I’ve ever worked with. First we added Sean Sisk to my team here in Ottawa starting with the Shania Twain last June and since then he’s provided countless incredible images from concerts and events all across the city.
Around the same time Corey was busy expanding his team in Southern Ontario by adding photographers Scott Burns, Mike Highfield and Bill Woodcock into the fold, little did these guys know that they’d be writing and covering events live through our social media too. We also added our first non-Ontario photographer to the team this past year with James Bennett out of Halifax covering the shows on the Atlantic coast for us. Each one of them has risen to the challenge and has helped Sound Check become one of the most recognized brands in the Canadian country music industry and a growing brand in the Canadian music industry. We have even added a guest writer and photographer from the USA, Chad Johnson, who has helped us plant the seeds for our growth in the scene on the other side of the border.
The amazing part is that each and everyone of the people listed above does this because they love live music, none of us are paid a dime to do what we do…it’s truly a labour of love and it really shows when we’re out putting our all into every event we promote.
To everyone who has played a part in the last 6 summers of Sound Check Entertainment, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are all helping me make a childhood dream come true and helping something near and dear to my heart become something truly amazing! To all the artists who have become friends, Tim Hicks, Tebey, Jason Blaine all the crazy boys of the River Town Saints, Mike and Tareya of Autumn Hill, to name just a few, thank you for the music and thank you for embracing what we do absolutely none of it would be possible without you!
Here’s to the next 5 years! Bigger and better! I get asked all the time, what’s next for Sound Check Entertainment? I always respond “the sky’s the limit”!
So do us a favour, next time you see someone at an event wearing a Sound Check Entertainment shirt introduce yourself, take a selfie and say hi…even better share this link with all of your friends www.soundcheckentertainment.ca