If the success of any event is determined by the sheer number of people who attend, then Boots and Hearts has broken records from the very beginning. Thursday was the kickoff, but Friday came in full swing and started off the weekend with just a few of the best in country music today.
What I love most about this festival is the major representation of Canadian Country music artists. Friday alone hosted not just one or two Canadian acts but at least eight if not more. It’s nice to see a festival, while focused on bringing in some big name talent, is also focused on bringing our own homegrown talent into the light. TakeThe Reklaws for example. Just a few short years ago they won Boots and Hearts emerging artists showcase, and now this year they’re mc’ing and get a spot on the Main Stage.
Toronto duo Autumn Hill has been on my radar for a little while now. One random summer night a few years ago I decided to head to the country night in Mississauga’s Celebration Square. This tiny event showcased local talent trying to make a name for themselves – one of them being Autumn Hill. Rocking the afternoon away, this duo performed new and old hits to a willing crowd. They’ve come a long way since that day at Celebration Square and it’s all in good fortune. Producing solid hits, they definitely have what it takes to create a career in the music business.
Tim Hicks is a prime example of another strong Canadian star. Pumping out hit after hit, this Niagara Falls native knows how to rock and isn’t afraid to let his Canadian Pride show (just take a listen to Stronger Beer). His presence on the Main Stage Friday was not only welcomed but enjoyed. Singing a mirade of hits and new tunes from his upcoming album Shake These Walls, he rocked the early evening crowd. Paving the way for an incredible evening of entertainment, it was great being able to see him live once again.
Sam Hunt may not have been the main act of the night but he sure knows how to party. Owning the stage the moment he stepped on it, he put on a show. Performing old favourites, new tunes and even a few covers of his favourite country artists, he amped up the crowd. I missed him a few years back at Boots and Hearts when he was just starting out, so it was a treat to be able to see him again opening for the great Dierks Bentley.
Dierks Bentley was – how do you say crazy without seeming mean? He was absolutely insane but in the best way possible. A common trait I seem to find in a lot of country artists (no matter how big or small), is humbleness. Dierks stopped and talked about how grateful he was so many times about the fans and Canada and how good he’s got it. He definitely killed the end of the night and it was definitely a lot of fun to sing along and dance to. Playing a vast amount of old and new hits, he rocked the stage, even if his set was a little shorter than planned. Favourites of mine “Somewhere on a Beach”, “Drunk on a Plane” and “Riser” were all performed and of course many many more.
To end off the night the Boots and Hearts organizers set off a beautiful showing of fireworks to celebrate their fifth birthday as an event. Boots and Hearts has come a long way since it’s conception and it keeps growing and growing beyond anybody’s expectations. The crowds were massive once again and I expect them to be the same for the rest of the weekend.
Up Today, Saturday August 6 – The Emerging Artists Showcase, MacArthur Clark, JoJo Mason, Madeline Merlo, Raquel Cole, Alan Doyle, Aaron Pritchett, Dean Brody and Blake Shelton
Check out the video for Dierks Bentley’s newest song “Different For Girls”: