While those who are camping started setting up Wednesday, the real party began in the hours just before sunset Thursday night. With great Canadian acts like Johnson Crook, Meghan Patrick, Tebey and Emerson Drive to start the party followed by American Love Song crooner Jake Owen, it was one hell of a night.
The main stage may not have been in use, but country fans from all over Canada and even the US packed into the tiny (in comparison) tented Front Porch Stage to kick off this four day festival with a bang. Each performance built up towards the end where the two main acts (Emerson Drive and Jake Owen) rocked the crowd for a good three hours.
Emerson Drive has always been a favourite of mine for as long as I can remember (thinking back to early middle school and high school years) but I had yet to ever see them live until last year’s Boots and Hearts. They were a must see in my books and I was not disappointed. They may have aged a bit over the past twenty years but they still have that rocking country sound with songs you can sing along to. Sticking with all the favourites, they kicked off their set with Tilt-a-Whirl and kept pulling out all the hits with “That Kind of Beautiful”, “Moments”, “Countrified Soul” and “She’s My Kind of Crazy” just to name a few. The only thing I’m disappointed in is the fact they didn’t sing “Till The Summer’s Gone”!
I came into Jake Owen’s performance only knowing a handful (maybe less) of songs. While he’s been on the radar for a few years now, he never managed to make it to mine – until now. While he may get a bad wrap by some for not being “country” enough, I beg to differ. He managed to school everyone with covers of country greats Alan Jackson, Brooks and Dunn, Garth Brooks AND Johnny Cash. That boy has the country tunes delved deep in his bones.
Owen’s is definitely a party-pleaser and knows how to put on a fun, energetic and wild show. It was the first time I’ve seen him live and while I was hot and sticky from the packed crowd, I still managed to have a great time. Mixing it up with old hits and new songs off his recently released album American Love, he rocked the crowd and then some. I think the best songs were the ones the crowd loudly sang along to. There’s just something about listening to thousands of people sing one song and also seeing the artist’s look of amazement. It never gets old watching the wonder and excitement in their eyes when thousands know their songs.
Definitely came out loving Jake Owen’s however and I cannot wait to see him perform again in the future. I was so into it I actually came right back to the hotel and downloaded his new album off of itunes. Favourites of the night would probably have to be “American Country Love Song”, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night”, “Beachin'” and of course “The One That Got Away”.
Thursday night was definitely a success and I look forward to the next sweaty, hot and jam-packed three days full of some of the best damn country music you can find this side of the world.
Up next for Friday: Tebey, The Reklaws, Autumn Hill, Tim Hicks, Sam Hunt, Dierks Bentley and more!
Check out the video for Jake Owen’s newest single “American Country Love Song”:
For more information about the festival, details about tickets and wristbands, and a full list of performers and times, be sure to download the Boots and Hearts app on itunes or the google play store, and/or check out www.bootsandhearts.com