I get asked on a regular basis who I think is going to make the next big step and start getting some great opening gigs.   It’s really not that easy.  With the politics in the music business sometimes the one with all the talent doesn’t win out.  But I can tell you the 10 artists listed below are all SUPER talented and have a great shot at making that next big step or maybe have already started that journey in 2015.

10.  Logan Mize – Logan has had a heck of a ride south of the border the last couple years thanks to the success of his debut single Can’t Get Away From A Good Time.  The Clearwater, Kansas native has been in the industry since the early 2000’s but just recently had an opportunity to get more national success thanks to his current single.    I truly believe that his EP Pawn Shop Guitar released in May of this year (his third album) may have been one of the best EP’s of 2015 that I have had the pleasure of hearing.   Hoping Canadian country radio picks this one up before year end and we see Logan with some tour dates in Canada.

9.  Jessica Mitchell – I had the pleasure of actually seeing Miss Mitchell open for Tom Cochrane earlier in 2015 and have to say I was pretty amazed by her voice at that time.   Over the last 6 months I have had the chance to get to know more about this amazing singer / songwriter and really hope to see big things come from her in 2016.    This isn’t an artist that will have HUGE Commercial success but someone who will last in the music industry for years to come.  With the transition in country radio coming Jessica may just have one hell of a 2016.

8.  Eric Ethridge this is one of those artists that you just have to see live.  Eric puts on a hell of a show and just has that natural stage presence.   After seeing a show you will know what I mean.  He doesn’t have to work the stage as it just feels like home for this Southern Ontario native.   Being a runner up in 2015 Boots and Hearts Emerging artists competition could be the best thing to happen to him. Ask Tim Hicks.   Not winning opens up other avenues for the young man.   I remember sitting with Andy Grammer earlier this year and him telling me he was hoping to take Honey I’m Good in a direction that is a little more Country.  I turned to him and said that he MUST LISTEN to Eric Ethridges arrangement as it really was one of the best I had heard.  Eric could have a breakout year in 2016 if all things align for the budding superstar.

7.  LoCash – Ok so these guys may have had some solid success south of the border but the current single I Love This Life is currently just entering the top 40 in Canada and think that with another solid follow-up 2016 could be their year and hopefully land a great opening spot for one of the bigger artists this summer.   I had a chance to chat with these two in January of 2015 and they were two down to earth guys that loved to play for the crowds.  They already have a very strong fan base in the US and we hope to see them grace the Canadian soil in 2016.

6.  CAM – To be honest it was her current single Burning House that hit me about 2 months ago.   I haven’t stopped listening to her since.  Literally anything I can get my hands on from this Huntington Beach native.    Her current single has a really ghostly feel but her voice is almost angelic.   Another song that my ears seem to really love is Down This Road which was her fist single off her EP released back in March of 2015.   The other really cool thing that I love about CAM is she writes / co-writes all her stuff.    Watch for more from CAM in 2016 and hopefully that means a stop with Sound Check at some point for a chat and just maybe Mason Jar Session.

5.  Michael Ray – I heard Michael’s debut single Kiss You In The Morning one day on my way into the office and it just really hit me as one of those cool summer songs.   After listening to the entire debut album from Michael it hit me.  This guy  1.  Has a hell of a voice.  and 2.  Has some very special friends that write some amazing songs.  Don’t get me wrong Michael has co-written a few gems.  But he loaded this album with some really heavy hitters in the song writing department.   When you have songwriters of their stature offering you songs it’s a real sign that they also have faith in that voice.  Take a listen.  Here is his current single Real Men Love Jesus and hope this one helps spark a great 2016 for Michael.

4. River Town Saints – Ottawa & The Ottawa Valley have given us some pretty great musicians such as Jason Blaine, The Barstool Prophets and who can forget Alanis Morissette.  Well look out folks the River Town Saints are Canada’s next big deal.. Or at least I hope.  Once you spend more than 5 min with theses guys you just want to see them succeed.  Some really nice guys that have put out some pretty killer performances this year opening for Tim Hicks and then the great KX 94.7 Street Party in Hamilton this summer.  These guys seem to bring it EVERY show but it also gets better with every performance.   With a great first single about to hit radio A Little Bit Goes A Long Way is a fantastic song but just doesn’t do the live show these guys put on any justice.  You have to see these guys trust me.  And with the right people working these guys I am sure we will see a lot more from them in 2016.

3.  Tebey – Top three was tough,  I am personally a HUGE fan of Tebey and feel that 2016 might just be his year.  I know he already has radio play but Tebey is on the verge of taking that next step.  With his last single When The Buzz Wears Off he really started to push the envelope on his writing and performing.   His BRAND NEW single Jealous of the Sun is that next step.  I am so excited to see what 2016 brings for one of Canada’s best song writers.  Even more so can’t wait to see him on the Three’s A Party Tour this fall!

1.  Erik Dylan – So the 1 / 2 spot are really a 1/1 spot.  Both artists are just AMAZING.   The Kansas native writes music that I have totally fallen in love with.  Yes EVERY SONG is a story I want to hear each and every day.   A true storyteller through song Erik give me hope that Country Music isn’t going completely in the POP direction.   With songs like Fishing Alone, Map Dot Town and Hearts On Fire just really gives you that feeling that the stories that he sings about are true life experiences.  I had the pleasure of spending some time with Erik this past summer and you couldn’t ask for a nicer person.   When you get the chance to really know an artist and understand why they do what they do it gives you that more respect for them.  Erik is has written for artist like Thompson Square, Kip Moore & Chad Brownlee to name a few.  He just wrapped up recording his new album likely to hit the streets in early 2016.   Have a listen to this guy and tell me he isn’t destined for a long life in country music.

1.  The Cadillac Three – So like I said it was really a tie for the 1st place spot and these guys… well maybe they aren’t the least known on the list but let me tell you they need to head up their own headlining tour or co-headlining tour and bust ass across Canada.  Signed to Big Machine these guys have an album full of to put it bluntly FUCKING AMAZING music.  All three members are song writers and the cuts they have written for other artist like Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw they are no slouches to the pumpin’ out great songs world.   I had the pleasure of seeing the band perform at a small 50 min set in Toronto last spring when they played the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.  I had a chance to hang with the boys for a couple of minutes after the show and again.. AMAZING people.   Jaren, Neil and Kelby are great guys that love music and you can tell even just speaking for a brief amount of time.  The current single White Lighting is one of my favourite songs of 2015.  The voice of Jaren can’t be duplicated and it’s likely one of the coolest fucking voices that my ears have ever listened to.  The live show… well its simply amazing.   They bring the party EVERY TIME!  Easily one of the top 3 bands I would love to see at Boots and Hearts in 2016.   #BuckleUp.

Have any comments or suggestions of other artists you are fond of?   Feel free to let me know.

Corey Kelly /  @CoreyKelly76