Boots & Hearts 2017: Recap

17 August 2017 / by Marlo Ashley (author)
Kiefer Sutherland (photo: Marlo Ashley)
Kiefer Sutherland / (photo: Marlo Ashley)

     The Boots and Hearts Music Festival is the largest country music festival in Canada. From August 10-13th, not only did Boots and Hearts 2017 offer a space for country music fans to enjoy listening to and watching their favourite singers perform, there were food and boutique shopping vendors, and games where fans could win prizes.

      Chevy’s Big Bite, Pizza Pizza, Cornehcopia, Hank Daddy’s Barbecue, and Beavertails, along with lemonade stands, funnel cakes, and poutine and ice cream trucks were some of the food options at Boots and Hearts 2017.

     Even though healthy food options were scarce, sandwich, pita, and wrap stands, such as Pita Pit and Sub and Sandwich Factory, and smoothie and juice bars were available around the festival grounds. The amount of shop vendors reduced since Boots and Hearts 2016. Notable vendors, such as Crash & Duchess and Fanny Factory were on site selling jewelry and handbags.


        Thursday night began the festival with a talent competition on the Main Stage where eight artists competed to become the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist 2017. Two final acts, Jade Daniel Eagleson and The Redhill Valleys, were chosen to perform on Sunday for the final round. This interactive contest allows festival goers to witness the beginnings of a country music career, and allows emerging country artists to gain exposure to the crowd of country music fans that will be supporting their career forevermore.

     There were three stages at Boots and Hearts; the Main Stage, the Front Porch Stage, and the Silverado Stage. The established acts played on the Main Stage, the smaller ones on the Front Porch Stage, and all the artists from the Emerging Artist Showcase performed on the Silverado Stage following the competition on Friday and Saturday.

     After the two emerging artists were selected to move forward to the final round, the Emerging Artist Showcase winner from 2016, Vanessa Marie Carter, along with Doc Walker and Love and Theft took the Main Stage.


     Friday’s musical appearances on the Main Stage were Leaving Thomas, Endless Summer, Brooke Eden, Frankie Ballard, and Keith Urban. Skyamore, Andrew Hyatt, Jessica Mitchell, Drake White and the Big Fire, Kiefer Sutherland, and Dan + Shay played on the Front Porch Stage.

     Endless Summer are comprised of two members, Clint and Bob Moffatt, from the Canadian pop group, The Moffatts. Playing a medley of their new music, Endless Summer’s pop tune “Coppertone” stood out as a summer smash.

     Jessica Mitchell sang her heart out on the Front Porch Stage. This rising Canadian country star got the crowd swaying and cheering to her lovely and endearing voice as she sang songs that were written straight from the heart.

     The pop, rock, and country artist Brooke Eden dazzled people with her rockstar moves and pop melodies. Brooke’s rendition of Ex’s and Oh’s by Elle King impressed the crowds, getting them moving on their feet.

     Frankie Ballard’s cool Johnny Cash-inspired Nashville style captured the country vibe at Boots and Hearts. Starting with his hit song “Young and Crazy,” and slowing it down with “It All Started With A Beer” off of his new album El Rio.

     Due to a severe thunderstorm warning, Boots and Hearts festival-goers were evacuated upon Dan + Shay’s musical appearance. 

     When the severe thunderstorm warning passed, Keith Urban performed on the Main Stage, while Dan + Shay, who were scheduled to perform on the Main Stage before Keith Urban, were relocated to the Front Porch Stage immediately after Keith’s set.


     Saturday’s acts on the Front Porch Stage were Patrick Dorie, Nice Horse, Jesse Gold, Lindi Ortega, and Tucker Beathard. The Main Stage hosted The Abrams, JJ Shiplett, Aubrie Sellers, Chad Brownlee, Eli Young Band, and the headliner, Brantley Gilbert. 

     Nice Horse played a tight show onstage. With three fun loving girls and some good old-fashioned country music, their slogan, "spice girls on a whiskey bender," is definitely fitting. The party got going with some original songs off of Nice Horse’s new EP A Little Unstable with “Jim, Jack, Johnnie, and Jose,” and ending their performance with their single, “Pony Up.”

     Starting off the show with a ripping solo on his electric guitar, the attention was on Jesse Gold as his fan base swooned over “Pretty Girl” from his album On Our Own. Flocking to watch Jesse Gold’s smooth moves as he sways to the rhythm of his guitar, the fangirls couldn’t get enough. Jesse quipped about the good weather on Saturday with a jest about the thunderstorms Friday night before launching into his single “Lightning.”

     Chad Brownlee played some of his popular tunes on the Main Stage. Hitting all the right notes with songs like “Something We Shouldn’t Do,” off of his 2016 album, Hearts on Fire. Sporting worn-out jeans and a black tee, Chad Brownlee strutted his stuff as he walked the catwalk on the Main Stage.

     The headliner on Saturday night was Brantley Gilbert. Brantley started the night off right with his new single “It’s About to Get Dirty” off of The Devil Don't Sleep, adding pyrotechnic FX to brighten up the stage. Performing “Country Must Be Countrywide” off of his 2011 album, Halfway to Heaven, and ending with “Bottoms Up” from his 2014 album Just As I Am, Brantley Gilbert wowed everyone with his energy and vigor. Brantley’s outlaw rock, pop, and country style is uniquely genuine. With brass knuckles on his microphone as his signature design, Brantley Gilbert proves country stars can have attitude.


     On Sunday, the Emerging Artist Showcase continued on the Main Stage with performances by the two finalists. The winner, Jade Daniel Eagleson, took home the grand prize. Other artists to grace the Main Stage on Sunday were Alee, Dani Strong, Delta Rae, Cold Creek County, Brett Eldredge, and Luke Bryan. The Front Porch Stage had Tomi Swick, Kelly Prescott, Midland, and Jess Moskaluke in attendance. 

     Donned in bell bottom jeans, Midland put on a ‘70’s throwback show. The boys of Midland showed their country side by exploring music from another era.

    Cold Creek County performed “Homemade” off of their new EP Homemade. With high energy, this all-male band merges vocal harmonies and bad-boy looks.

     As the show started, Luke Bryan swiveled his hips at the crowd to “Move” from his 2015 studio album Kill The Lights. Playing his hits all night long, Luke’s “Rain is a Good Thing” released in 2009 off his album Doin’ My Thing set the audience ablaze.

     The largest country music festival in Canada was a success with headliners Keith Urban, Brantley Gilbert, and Luke Bryan, along with many local acts bringing in fans to support the country music scene in the North.

The author

Marlo Ashley

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