Earlier this month, the beautiful city of Bowmanville, ON hosted the Boots & Hearts country music festival with headliners Rascal Flatts, Miranda Lambert, Jason Blaine, Dean Brody and The Band Perry. Here are the top ten reasons why the festival was awesome:
1. The Band Perry star Kimberly Perry was left a little shaken and bruised after reaching out to fans while performing. She was hurt when overly enthusiastic fans pulled her against the barrier separating the band from the audience. That’s not the great part. Even though she suffered bruising and an abrasion to her leg, with a rip to her dress, instead of rushing offstage for an outfit change, she tore off the ripped fabric and threw it into the crowd. My heart goes out to the Kimberly for the unnecessary roughness, it could have been a lot worse, but Kimberly turned the situation around, and showed just how tough she truly was.
2. Rascal Flatts proved that they can still rock the house – 13 years in, and still on the road with 2012’s Changed album, they are the ones to beat.
3. Music duo The Stellas finished in fourth place on the second season of the CMT series Can You Duet in 2009, and their children, Lennon and Maisy Stella, star in the ABC drama Nashville. That history alone was enough for a ton of people to check them out. But after 16 years together – more than most couples, and bands, their welcoming set showed why they just received their 2nd Group or Duo of the Year CCMA nomination. Required seeing for any country music fan.
4. The Band Perry. Insanely brilliant, and country at its best. The real deal and future of the genre.
5. Surprises and smarts. A special announcement was made just prior to Miranda Lambert’s appearance that the headliner for 2014 Boots and Hearts will be Mr. Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton. What better way to get the crowd pumped with excitement, and reveal next year’s event, with 15,000 fans now thinking of next year, all before the event is over. The organizers’ proved that if you let you fans do the social media and word-of-mouth, you’ll build a great brand.
6. The fans. Jason Blaine, Dean Brody, Tebey and many others had meet-and-greets with their fans away from the stage, and this allowed the artists to spend a bit more time than the usual backstage get-’em-in-and-out autograph sessions. I saw artists sign everything put to them – CDs, photos, posters, cowboy hats, beer cans, tickets, body parts – and some artists like Jason continued to sign for well over 2 hours. Meeting the fans is one of the best parts of being a musician, and it was a series of great moments watching kids and adults alike meet their musical heroes.
7. Hundreds of sunburns. Yes, it was hot. Yes, beer was flowing. Yes, shirts were off, and yes, sunblock was left back in the tent.
8. Best Media/Industry Tent ever. A shout-out to the fine folks at Musicounts, the Canadian organization raising money for music education funding for children. They had wi-fi, air-conditioning, warm staff, and the best place to chill and watch the show.
9. The surprise guesting in Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo. Well, Jim’s son Devin was performing at the fest, so maybe it wasn’t so much an ‘if’ but ‘when’ he would appear, but when they did, it was an instant sing-a-along to their hits.
10. The volunteers and staff. They are the most important resource music festivals have. The ability, quickness and knowledge of the event all worked for the betterment of their community. With potential disaster looming thanks to rain floods at the start of the festival, the quickness and efficiency to move campers to drier grounds was impressive. Organized by their love of music, Shannon McNeven (a guy with no music background and no experience in the concert promotions business) and his Republic Live team have an excellent future as continuing to be one of Canada’s best music festivals.