In the weeks and days leading up to the first annual Country Wild Music Festival mother nature was threatening to deliver a cool wet Saturday for the event’s grand debut, at the very last minute she had a change of heart and delivered warm temperatures and plenty of sun, Cold Creek County and friends took care of the rest.
The first annual event kicked off with Whitby based singer songwriter Brandon James. I’ve always believed the two most difficult slots at any music festival are the first and the last. The first artist to take to the stage has to start the party, they need to grab the audience’s attention and start the energy building process. Brandon wasted no time doing just that. Watch for Brandon’s debut EP coming very soon and if you hear of his name on a festival or venue lineup near you this summer go and show your support. Check Brandon out online at www.brandonjamesofficial.com
Following Brandon was Lindsay native Marc Ekins, Marc easily kept the party going with his Rock infused Country Music. Marc is no stranger to the stage he has opened for great Canadian artists such as Great Big Sea, The Road Hammers, Aaron Pritchett, Chris Cummings, Julian Austin, Amy Skye just to name a few. His high energy and eclectic mix of music, (rock, country, blues, folk, celtic and swing) makes for a show that covers a large demographic of music fans. He had no problems keeping the crowd dancing on Saturday in Cobourg. Check Marc out online https://www.facebook.com/Marc.Ekins.Fanpage/
The perfect weather was a blessing for many of these earlier artists, far too often people don’t come out to festivals for artists whose names they don’t recognize. But beautiful sunshine and 20 degree weather mixed with cold beer and great music many ventured down to Victoria Park early.
The day rolled on with Alderville, Ontario’s Sweetgrass Band. What’s a country music festival without a more traditional country band? Sweetgrass Band easily delivered tradition but in a more modern way. They are definitely bluegrass but with a more modern twist that appeals to the younger generation of country fans that prefer the newer country sound. https://www.sweetgrasser.com/
The next artist to take to the stage probably has more experience as a recording artist than anyone on Saturday’s lineup. Having released his first single, pop power ballad “Gonna Last Forever”, in 1988 Colin Amey had been bitten by the musical bug. Two singles off of Colin’s second album, title track ‘What My Heart Don’t Know’ and ‘If I Didn’t Call It Love’, received enough radio recognition that it garnered two Canadian Country Music Association award nominations (Independent Male Artist and Rising Star). It may have been Saturday in Cobourg but Colin took the crowd for a “Sunday Drive” that they won’t soon forget. Something tells me that we haven’t heard the last of Colin Amey. www.colinameymusic.com
The party was just getting started at Victoria Park in Cobourg but Brian Vain and Matt Davey, aka Kansas Stone, were set to turn the dial up a few notches when they took to the stage. Although I was familiar with Kansas Stone leading into this event through our past coverage of the duo it was my first time being able to catch them live. The first thing that struck me was their smooth harmonies, very reminiscent of another country group Florida Georgia Line but almost better. Kansas Stone draws their music from many different influences and I think that’s one of the unique things about this duo. Their music includes themes from rock, pop, blues as well as modern and classic country all fused into one sound. From drinking songs like “Whiskey and Wine” and “Drink On” to their tribute to the late great Randy Allman with an incredible rendition of “Soul Shine”. I can’t wait to catch Kansas Stone again, I’m hooked and you will be too! www.kansasstone.ca
There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the next artist that hit the stage, Sacha. There’s just something about this talented young artist that makes you stop and listen. She has an incredible amount of energy and explodes the minute she hits the stage. I don’t know if you can put her style of country into a category, or even if you should. Johnny Cash had a huge hit with his single “Folsom Prison Blues” and it’s a song that gets covered a lot by many different artists but when Sacha performed it the energy level peaked at a whole new level. You just couldn’t help but tap you feet. Her performance of Little Big Town’s “Happy People” can easily be used to sum her up as an artist…she’s happy. She clearly loves what she’s doing and loves engaging with her fans which was also clear when she did her meet and greet after her set. Without a doubt Sacha is another artist that I must see again! www.iamsacha.com
I said at the beginning of this review that the two hardest slots are the first and last….in this one unique case I was wrong. The absolutely hardest slot to fill is the one after Sacha. It’s tough to follow an act with that much energy and vibe. Sawmill Road was the act that had to face that challenge. Remember way back in 1995 John Michael Montgomery had a single called “Sold (Grundy County Auction)“? The song had a chorus that you pretty much had to sing like an auctioneer that would get you tongue tied so fast you’d miss an entire verse by the time you got you mouth to cooperate again and that’s only if you didn’t pass out from holding your breath for too long first. Well Sawmill Road not only attempted this song, they nailed this song. I have seen many attempts over the years and only a few times has I seen an attempt not end in disaster. This was one of them. These guys know how to bring the party and successfully managed to keep up the energy level that Sacha set before them. Like them on Facebook and if you’re invited to an event and they’re on the bill definitely go and check them out!
Three of the most wonderful, humble and talented women I have ever had the pleasure of supporting over the last few years, Runaway Angel, took to the stage next. Cadence Grace, Ann Chaplin and Stacey Zegers have each had major successes in their own right as solo female artists, but never imagined that together their collective talents would catapult them to an entirely new level as Runaway Angel. These girls shine when they hit the stage and delivered songs that had the audience singing along all afternoon from their own single “My Someday” to Lauren Alaina’s hit “Road Less Travelled” leading up to a new single “Worst Song in the World” the worst part of the show was when it had to end, but then we got to go and visit with the trio for a few minutes which is never a bad thing. The trio are getting set to embark on their first ever, definitely not their last, European tour and we’re cooking up something special with them so be sure to stay tuned…and if you’re reading this from Europe definitely go and check them out!!! You won’t be sorry! For a full list of dates click here or visit them online and sign up for their mailing list at www.runawayangelmusic.com.
As the sun set the lights came on and local boys Gentleman Husbands took to the stage. Although I had heard the name Gentleman Husbands in the past I have not had a chance to see them perform and honestly didn’t know much about their music. Signed to Universal Music in 2013 the group of friends from the Cobourg area crafted a sound and songs about life and love in small towns. The songs lend a strong sense of place and give a universal narrative that hits home, while both nodding at tradition and taking the listener to uncharted territory. The group brought a powerful sound to the stage that felt more suited to a rock show than a country show but in the end I like music festivals that keep the borders between genres on the softer side. No doubt the Gentleman Husbands have a strong local following because the crowd grew to it’s largest size as they were about to start their set. To find out more about the Gentleman Husbands visit www.facebook.com/gentlemenhusbands
Cold Creek County
The headliner of the night needs little introduction to our audience or the crowd, as they got their start in neighbouring Brighton, Ontario, although their new lead singer is still relatively unfamiliar. Hailing from just outside Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Ches Anthony has worked as a session musician, producer, songwriter and singer for the last number of years before joining Cold Creek County as their new front man this spring. I had the pleasure of meeting Ches in Ottawa during JUNO Week and chatted again with him on Saturday, he fits in perfectly with the rest of the guys of Cold Creek County and spent plenty of time out in the crowd getting to know his new fanbase.
Something tells me that with Ches Anthony on board Cold Creek County is going to continue building on their success from the last few years. Interestingly enough, aside from a short performance at last year’s CMAO Awards in Markham, Saturday was my first time seeing Cold Creek County live in concert. The highlight of their performance, for me, was when they performed a cover of “Take it To The Limit” by the Eagles, it showed the group’s versatility and the crowd loved it! Cold Creek County has been nominated for a JUNO Award, won CMAO Group of The Year, Rising Star of the Year and Fans Choice Awards in 2016 and have 4 nominations for next weekend’s CMAO Awards in London. If you’ve never seen Cold Creek County live go and see them, you’ll have plenty of opportunities this summer so don’t miss out! For full tour dates visit www.coldcreekcounty.com
That’s a wrap from Cobourg and the Country Wild Festival. Congrats to the organizers for a fantastic first event, we look forward to being part of the sophomore event in 2018. Make sure you bookmark www.countrywild.ca so you don’t miss out on any of the news, naturally we’ll have full coverage right here leading up to the event as well.