It was another stellar day weather wise and the music was red hot on Saturday at Boots and Hearts as two of our favourite performers, Kip Moore and Miranda Lambert, were set to headline the main stage that night.
Saturday would prove to be a quieter day on the interview front with only Eric Ethridge and The Wild Feathers on the schedule. That meant more time to actually watch the performances rather than just listen from the media area or rushing to and from the media area to catch a song or two before having to rush back for the next interview.
The day started out with a performance by Eric Ethridge on the main stage. It’s been only a few years since Eric last performed on the main stage at Boots and Hearts, it was the night he placed second to the James Barker Band in the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist showcase. Thankfully it wasn’t the last we’d hear from Eric, after briefly returning to his job as a pizza delivery driver he quickly rebounded and it wasn’t long before he was back on stage and not long after that his own career started to lift off.
Today he lives in Nashville, has a record deal, and just got engaged to another Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist finalist, Kalsey Kulyk, who took part in the competition back in 2017. It’s clear that Eric feels most at home on the stage, his performances always feel natural making him a lot of fun to watch. No question Eric is just getting started and we wish both him and Kasley all the best in their respective careers and in their future together.
Up next in the lineup were two artists that were on my must list for the weekend, Tenille Arts and Smithfield. Unfortunately I missed both due to interviews. That said Smithfield has been on my radar for a number of years and, from what I’ve been told from those who attended, their set was extremely well received.
I was really lucky this year and was able to interview some incredible artists that will, no doubt, be headlining their own shows in the near future. On Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure to sit down and chat with a group that came onto my radar about 2 years ago thanks to SiriusXM The Highway, the Wild Feathers. Anyone who is a fan of groups like the Eagles will want to check these guys out. Their performance came later in the afternoon but I managed to get over to the Front Porch stage to check it out and all I can say is that these guys are every bit as good live as they are on their recordings. Watch for our interview coming up shortly.
RaeLynn was the first of the big guns to hit the main stage on Saturday evening. This is an artist who I’ve been listening to and have admired for a number of years. Since her breakthrough on the Voice back in 2012 she’s made a name for herself with several, post voice, singles making waves on the charts including her smash hit “God Made Girls”. Her debut album is already a few years old and hit #1 on the US Country charts and reached the top 40 in Canada. Her interaction with the crowd was on point, telling stories about the songs and her life. At one point she spoke directly to those dreaming of futures of songwriters in the crowd.
She told her painful story about her parent’s breakup and how she used the pain and hurt from that to inspire her and ultimately led to the single “Love Triangle”. “If you’re feelin’ something please write it,” she said “you never know who you’re going to inspire and touch with the words that come from your heart!” With a couple of new singles out now a sophomore album can’t be far behind and we can’t wait. RaeLynn is an emerging female artist that has all the potential of becoming huge in a couple of years.
Lancaster and Company, aka LANCO, were up next on the main stage. Having recently seen them open for Luke Combs in Kingston we used the opportunity to head to the food court and grab some dinner while still enjoying the sounds of their set from afar. The biggest surprise of their set was when they launched into a cover of The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside”. If you read my reviews regularly you should know that I’m a huge Killers fan and you rarely see other bands cover them live. But for some reason this summer, the year I also saw the Killers perform, two bands covered one of their songs live. First it was the Reklaws in Quebec and now LANCO. Who knew that the Killers could so easily be translated into country music? Both times it worked and fit seamlessly into the set. LANCO is currently rocking their 4th single “Rival” off of their, still to be named, sophomore album.
While on our dinner break we took in some of Mitchell Tenpenny’s set on the Front Porch stage. Tenpenny, who is also known for his collaboration with Canadian country band Cold Creek County on their track “Money”, had an impressive draw for his set. He brought lots of energy to the stage and rocked through his biggest hits to date “Drunk Me” and “Alcohol You Later” to name a few.
As the sun started it’s descent we made our way back to our spot at the Main Stage for one of my favourite country artists today, Kip Moore. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen Kip live in concert several times now and there’s just something about him and his music that simply never gets old.
From “Something Bout A Truck” all the way through to his latest single “She’s Mine” Kip cranked out hit after hit after hit until suddenly, or so it seemed, his set ended. It just felt like we were just getting warmed up and things were rolling along nicely and then it just ended. I guess that’s what happens when an artist you’ve only seen headline lands a supporting gig at a major music festival and ends up with a shorter set time. Judging by the size of the crowd for Kip’s entire set I’d say he’s easily headline material for a festival like Boots and Hearts but we’ll have to wait a few years, at least, for them to test our theory.
Up next was a woman who’s name often comes up when talking about powerful women in country music today, Miranda Lambert. Miranda graced the stage at Boots and Hearts the first year we attended and although the last years have had their share of ups and downs for Miranda personally she’s clearly taken all of her experiences and turned it into some of the best music she’s ever released. First with her double album a few years ago The Weight of These Wings and more recently with a trio of new songs “It All Comes Out in the Wash”, “Locomotive” and “Mess With My Head”. All of these songs featured strongly in Lambert’s 90 minute set which also showed that her feisty personality remains.
Miranda Lambert thanked the audience for supporting women in music. This is a subject that resonates very much with us as we’re part of a campaign that does just that. Our FavFive females campaign allows fans of women in music to purchase a shirt listing their 5 favourite female artists and their local Rogers Radio station. All funds raised go to support the efforts of Women In Music Canada. Interestingly enough no media were allowed to show their support for Miranda on Saturday night so there will be no photos of her set posted to this review. That said we still remain huge fans of Miranda and still support her and ALL women in music regardless of genre until female artists get equal airtime on radio and equal stage time at festivals across North America. When that day comes we will continue to campaign to ensure that it remains that way. You can get your FavFive shirt by clicking here.
Following Miranda I let my hair down…who am I kidding I haven’t had enough hair to let down in years…and hit up the Monster Energy Dance Party at the Front Porch stage. I’m far from a dancer but I did a bit of DJing back in my college years so I like a good dance party every once in a while even if only to checkout everyone else’s moves and watch everyone having a good time. It’s really a great thing to watch because people of all shapes, sizes, genders, sexual orientations and races come together each night and party together peacefully. It may not seem like much but the world that spins outside of Boots and Hearts isn’t the world I grew up loving. There’s so much hatred and anger it saddens me. So to witness hundreds, if not thousands, of people party together with one common thread, a love for music, is truly a beautiful thing.
Special thanks to Strut Entertainment and Warner Music Canada for helping set up our interviews with Eric Ethridge and The Wild Feathers on Saturday, watch for both interviews coming soon.