The sun had returned and the stands were packed for the third and final day of the rodeo by the time I arrived at the grounds for the closing day of the 4th annual Spencerville Stampede. Out of all three days of music we had assembled for the weekend Sunday’s lineup was my favourite as it was a fresh lineup for me.
In this line of work I get the luxury of seeing a lot of concerts and performances every year. That can be a good and a bad thing, sometimes too much of a good thing can start to get a bit…well boring. Lucky for me Tim Hicks was the only act in our lineup that I have seen more than twice going into the weekend and there’s no way Tim Hicks can ever get old and boring…well unless he stops releasing new music and I don’t think there is any risk of that anytime soon.
Sunday’s lineup was filled with artists that I have never seen, with the exception of Leah Daniels who I saw on Canada Day in Barrhaven.
Ottawa’s own Blackwell kicked off the party after the rodeo, led by Braiden Turner these guys know how to rock and put on a show. It wasn’t a long set but it was enough to set the tone for the evening. Blackwell is having quite the summer with upcoming shows scheduled at the Navan Fair, South Mountain Fair and in September back in Spencerville for the Spencerville Fair opening for Easton Corbin so if you missed them at the Spencerville Stampede there’s no shortage of opportunity ahead.
Following Blackwell the lovely and talented Leah Daniels made her return to the National Capital Region after a successful visit on Canada Day. Leah’s her high energy show and powerful vocals kept the crowd on their feet and their voices singing along, well until she started to yodel and then everyone simply watched in awe because it takes a special talent to yodel and Leah is just that talented. Watch for this one, we’ve said it before and it’s worth saying again. Leah Daniels is going places and we were thrilled to have her on our stage, we can’t wait to see what’s next. Leah was recently nominated in two categories for the upcoming Canadian Country Music Awards, Rising Star and Interactive Artist (the later of which she shares nominations with our Friday and Saturday headliners Tim Hicks and Brett Kissel). We wish her all the best and look forward to seeing her again in the very near future.
I’m in a really difficult position with the next artist that took to the stage. See I truly love and respect each and every one of the artists that performed at the Stampede over the course of the weekend. They are all incredible people and amazing to work with and phenomenally talented individuals. But when it comes to Cory Marquardt we share a northern bond. Since the first time I heard “Smartphone” to when I received my copy of This Man I have been a massive fan. It feels like I had been waiting for years to catch him live when in reality it had only been a few months, first came an opportunity in Ottawa that was cancelled last minute for unknown reasons followed by his tour stop with Outlaws and Outsiders in Kingston which I had to skip for personal reasons. When the opportunity presented itself for us to bring him back to eastern Ontario I knew that we had to capitalize on it. This time there would be no missing the show, as presenting sponsor I had every intention of being front and center for this show, and that I was. Not only did Cory nail it, he hit it out of the park with one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from an artist at this stage in their career.
From his singles “Smartphone”, “21” and album tracks like “Burnin’ Up the Blacktop”, “Nowhere with You” and “Don’t Count Saturday Night” to his upcoming single “This Man”, written by Eric Paslay. He even performed an incredible cover of Paslay’s smash hit “She Don’t Love You”.
Without a doubt Cory Marquardt single handedly stole the show for the entire weekend, my personal favourite performance out of all three days (mind you a triple bill with Cory, Brett and Tim all sharing the stage would make for one heck of a rockin’ night…don’t you think?). Cory’s 3rd single and the title track off of his album, “This Man” gets released on August 11 so Ottawa lets do this man a favour and request it on your favourite country radio station! This Man deserves to be heard! Before I set a new world record for saying This Man I’ll simply tell you that if you missed Cory in Spencerville fear not, you can catch him at the South Mountain Fair on August 13 with Jordan McIntosh and, once again, Blackwell!
Capping off the night, and the weekend, was Autumn Hill. A duo that Sound Check has had the privilege of working closely with in Toronto over the past few months to help promote the release of their newest album “Anchor”. Mike and Tareya have been on my bucket list of bands to see since I first covered Boots and Hearts in 2013, somehow I managed to miss that performance and until Sunday night it remained a dream. There’s a sort of elegance that surrounds Autumn Hill when they perform on the stage. The vocal combinations of Mike and Tareya’s voices is as close to the sound of perfection I think you can find. Their latest single “Blame” is such an incredible song on the album but as we’ve now experienced on multiple occasions, once during our Mason Jar Sessions as an acoustic performance and on Sunday night with the full band behind them, is best heard live. I think the same can be said about many of Autumn Hill’s songs, there’s a certain passion that can’t be replicated on a cold CD or a digital music file that must be experienced in a live setting.
The love of their craft and their fans shines through in all of their actions both on and off the stage. I personally want to thank both Mike and Tareya for allowing Sound Check to play such a big role in their success and look forward to working with them down the road.
That’s a wrap on our first ever experience as festival promoters. Thank you to everyone who came out and had a good time and special thanks to all of the volunteers and people behind the scenes that worked long, thankless hours to make it happen. Big thanks to the key sponsors Ottawa’s New Country 94, you guys were amazing leading up to the event and all weekend, Big Rig Brewery, you guys are “GOLD” in my books. Thanks for introducing me to my new favourite beer! Beattie Dodge in Brockville, thanks for the sweet ride and all the support over the past few months. Huge thanks to the Beking family, organizers of the Spencerville Stampede, for inviting Sound Check to play such a massive role in this year’s event. It was truly an honour to be trusted with such an important task.
For everyone that had a meet and greet stay tuned photos will be posted early next week. We will post the link to the page on our social media and I will add it to the end of this post as well.
Until then here are more of Sean Sisk’s incredible photos from the weekend!