Summer Country Round-up – Lookin’ For Some Hot Stuff

We’ve come to that stretch of the year when the heat warnings are coming fast and furious so, with a
tip of the hat to Donna Summer, there’s no better time to check out the hot stuff in Country music. Those asking what Ms. Summer has to do with Country music may be surprised to learn that she wrote a song called “Starting Over Again” which Dolly Parton took to #1 on the Country charts in 1980. Yes, Donna Summer was breaking down genre barriers in Country music some 40-plus years before Beyoncé released “Cowboy Carter”.

Now let’s move on to some of the stuff currently heating things up.

With earthy harmonies and rootsy guitar licks, The Redhill Valleys emerged with a force onto the Canadian music scene in 2016. The four-piece Americana alt-country group, whose name pays homage to their hometown of Hamilton, has just released a high-octane single entitled “Make It Out Alive”. “Making music is a constant reminder of when the road gets rough and the night gets dark, to let the creative process guide you to the light, says bassist-vocalist Chelsea McWilliams. “Make It Out Alive” is a rallying cry for those who dare to stand tall and fight for what’s right in the face of adversity”.

The Reklaws are celebrating a monumental few weeks after making their U.S. network debut, releasing their new single “One Beer Away”. “We have a ton of new music we’re really excited about, but “One Beer Away” felt like the perfect song to share right now,” says Jenna Walker, who with her brother Stuart, forms the Waterloo duo. “It captures the essence of the perfect summer night in your small town.” In addition to the new release, earlier in the summer the duo stepped onto a global stage, performing “People Don’t Talk About” on America’s Got Talent. The emotional and deeply personal performance earned four enthusiastic yes votes from the judges and allows the group to move on to the next stage of the competition.

Another artist from Waterloo, Nate Haller, has firmly established himself as one of Canadian country’s
premier talents, bringing his energetic live show to some of the biggest stages across the nation. With over 18M global streams, Nate has already landed numerous accolades and a Top 10 Canadian country radio hit. Nate’s latest single “Drive” is out now, and fans can expect new music later this year and performances at major country festivals like Oro-Medonte’s Boots & Hearts and Lucknow’s Music In The Fields. 

As the granddaughter of Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame royalty, Ray St. Germain, Catie St. Germain has always had music coursing through her veins and is finally ready to pave her own trailblazing path with her signature vocals and authentic songwriting. Her new 6-track EP, “Cleaning House”, is a carefully curated collection of songs that showcases Catie’s artistic journey from a busy mom of three to country songstress. “I am so thrilled that my debut EP is finally out in the world,” she says. “This has been a labour of love and I am so grateful to my family for supporting my dreams as an artist,”

New Brunswick’s Kylie Fox is back with a new single called “Brandi Baby,” the title of which refers to Brandi Carlile. “I used to straighten my hair to Brandi Carlile every day in high school, and she became a big influence for me becoming a musician,” Kylie gushes. “I’ve seen her live twice. I’m in the Bramily”. Now represented by manager Joe Bamford (The Kings, Glass Tiger, The Headstones, Leslie Spit Treeo), Kylie is gearing up for a busy 2024, including an eight-date tour of the East Coast Songwriter Circle.

Raised in Quebec City, Allison Daniels is the daughter of a musician and she began learning guitar and writing songs at age 11. She has made a substantial impact in her home province, performing a duet with Country superstar Keith Urban at Festival d’été de Québec, and opening for Canadian country star Tim Hicks. Allison seamlessly blends her love for country and rock music on her latest release “You Can’t Buy Me”, in which she delivers a strong statement of self-empowerment.

A song that flew under our radar a little while back is “Lying In Bed” by Arnprior Ontario’s River Town Saints. The song made pretty big dents in both the Canadian and Australian country music markets, the latter due to the inclusion of guest vocalist Kaylee Bell, who was born in New Zealand and now lives in Nashville, but her biggest success comes from Australia where she’s the most streamed country artist. hile the Saints are most well known for their upbeat numbers, “Lying In Bed” is an emotional ballad about a couple wrestling with their future while they’re under the covers.

Before we make a beeline for the lemonade stand, we’d be remiss if we didn’t offer congratulations to k.d. lang who will be inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame in September. With a career spanning over four decades, k.d. has amassed a remarkable collection of accolades including four Grammy awards, eight JUNO Awards, ten CCMA Awards including three consecutive wins for “Album of the Year”, two consecutive “Entertainer of the Year” Awards, and was recognized in 1996 with Canada’s highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada. “I am beyond thrilled, and frankly pleasantly surprised to be honored in this way,” says k.d. “My love for the prairies, the people and our culture underscores every ounce of my inspiration.  I am so stoked to be coming to Edmonton to bask in this celebration… with deepest gratitude.”

Roman Mitz - For Open Spaces

Open Spaces is a monthly column by Roman Mitz, covering the up-and-coming in the country music scene across Canada.

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