Sunday, July 1, 2018

Justine Blanchet is ready to fly with new Music

Having followed Justine for a number of years, having seen how proud she was to be able to sing for Remembrance day in her Air Cadet Blues.  She caught my eye with that one image, and knowing how hard training with the RCAC prepared you for life, having myself served with the 283rd Air Cadets Moss Park and having presented colours on Remembrance day.  It is great to see her taking that training and transforming it to her music career.  She is now making those dreams coming true with the release of one of 2 songs this last month.  Being from La Belle Province, makes it a little bit harder to break out in the world of Country Music but Justine is following the path taken by Jason Benoit, a couple of years back. Justine though is about to break out dropping 2 singles in the space of a month. 

The first "Ready to Fly" is opening the door for a great career going forward released just in time for Fathers Day, Justine has timed it just right.   With Co-writer Dean Young, the song is destined for many weddings this summer replacing the traditional "daddy's little girl" by Red Sovine at weddings across the country.

This Former Air Cadet from 682 Air Cadets Laurentides is putting her training to good use.

It's Only Country reached out to Justine to find out the idea behind "Ready to Fly", here is what she had to say:

The idea of writing a father-daughter wedding song came from my mom. She knows how much my father and I are close. I loved the idea and started right away to think about what message and feeling this song could carry. I wanted the song to be nostalgic about the past, so you can understand how deep the relationship is between a father and a daughter but also optimistic because father and daughter will always be close at heart no matter what.
Then I contacted John Payne, a guy that has a country radio show with his wife Arlene. I trusted John’s judgement and asked him if he knew a country singer who has a great voice and personality and would like to do a father daughter duet with me. He suggested Dean right away. I watched a video he made on his song Last Made Standing and felt in love with his voice and his personality. John contacted Dean and he was also interested. So we started talking and get to know each other.
I came up with the melody and the lyrics for the chorus and my verse and Dean wrote his verse. He and his wife also provided clips of their daughter which we included in the music video. Finally in March, Dean drove 7 hours to record in studio with me and shoot the video. We had so much fun together!
It’s heart warming to know that my song has touched so many people."
You can check out the Video here Ready To Fly

Her second release "Feelin Free" is a little more of a fun pop country, that does what I am sure every student has thought of doing but never had the guts..... you will even notice when the teacher gets mad she throws out a little french.... But it is a fun song and is a great followup to Ready to Fly 
 You can check out "Feelin Free" Feelin Free
Justine has a number of covers on her Youtube page. 
This lady is going to be coming up in country music and is going to lead the way for female artists from Quebec, You are not going to be able to say that Quebec has no country music because here she is:
Cadet Blanchet.........Move Out.
Miss Justine Blanchet
Justine's Web Page
Justine's Facebook
Justine's Twitter
Justine's YouTube
Justine's Instagram

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Diary of a Housewife not just a cup of tea

I am very lucky as a photographer to be able to meet so many great artists in the country music industry in doing so I have become friends with many.  As a result I also get the opportunity to see some great up and coming artists, and get to review their albums.

Diary of a Housewife by Andrea Nixon is one of them, hailing from the heart of Western Canada, Edmonton Alberta, Andrea puts it all out there in everything she does.  She is what I like to call true country, influenced by some of the greatest female country singers of all time, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and some would say Connie Francis at same time the attitude of Carolyn Dawn Johnston and Terry Clark.  She is kickin' butt and taking no prisoners with this album. 

But after having listened to the complete album, I can tell you she is 100% Andrea Nixon, with the flavor of traditional story telling country music.   Diary of a Housewife, is a play on the original songs of  Country Music with Andrea's personal touches.

Fire and Lace - is a traditional country story telling song with a great beat for hitting the dance floor, and moving the boots. I would have to say it is probably a little bit about Andrea, because it describes her to a tee.

Home Front - This is one of those you can see the video as the song plays, it takes you to the open fields of hay while horseriding.  The feel is one of those that Dusty could have dropped in a heartbeat and had a big hit with.

Breaking Through takes you on a trip through the thoughts of Andrea as she deals with some of life's troubles and how she comes to dealing with them.

Innerglow has that rocky Miranda Lambert or Taylor Swift feel with all the grit.  This is going to be a hit, this will be the breakthrough song for Andrea. It has everything needed to kick it up a notch and keeping you wanting even more.

Song Without a Name is a great 2 step that takes you back to the 70's style but keeps you dancing it up on the dance floor today with a Reba attitude and twang to it, but still keeping Andrea grounded to her first love Story Telling Country music.  Warning don't start tapping the right foot while driving I am sure that Andrea will not be paying those speeding tickets.

Stronger than the Storm  starts out a little like its going to be one of those sad songs but progresses to be just like the rest of the album a look into the feelings of Andrea Nixon, but there is little of that Karen Carpenter influence hiding in this one.

A Memory Ago - is that 1970's Joni Mitchell style that had you wondering what they were smoking while they wrote it, because your marching to the beat and enjoying that piano all the time thinking you have hit the time shift and dropped down in the middle of the country festival that has a little more than music smoking.  But again I tell you I can hear the crowd screaming as the song comes to an end.

Waiting for the Sirens -  life deals things up when you least expect it and Waiting for the sirens is a heart wrenching depiction of those feelings that rush through you as you are dealing with an emergency.  Andrea portrays those feelings through just the sound of her voice.

You didn't make me - here comes the troublemaker here, I am expecting to see her coming on stage and breaking down the front door to get in. and then seeing a big fight break out in the middle of the stage.  Defintely a Taylor swift influence on this one.  Except in this one Andreas blows smoke as she takes off the start line on the green light leaving everyone in her dust.

Nothing lies slows it down, and just in time for a waltz, country style.  Think along the lines of Georgia by Canada's Carolyn Dawn Johnston and you got this one, with such a great story told by an up and coming story teller.

You may ask why I left the first song on the album to the last.  I do it sometimes on purpose so i am not influenced by what the producer or artist think is the catch song on the album......

Million Miles Away - and this is where the Dolly Parton influence kicks in, giving you the style and feel of Andrea Nixon having all kinds of fun while creating her definitely original style and sound with pieces of everything she loves in country music.

The album Diary of a Housewife deals with life through the eyes of a storyteller, and a great singer. The trials and tribulations along with the fun, all through out you can feel Andrea singing directly to you and telling you her inner most feelings based on experience that can only be brought by having dealt with those situations in real life.

I love this album because it is great as well as a lot of fun to listen too.  I always love it when the sound of an artist reminds of those country songs I grew up with whether it's Tammy Wynette, Tanya Tucker, or Connie Francis, bringing back that sound today is something that makes you stand out in the crowd and Andrea definitely stands out in a good way.

After Listening to Diary of A Housewife I have to give it 4 guitars out of 5 with a steel guitar in there for good mix.

Now I want to hear Andrea's Next Album................. to buy her album on ITUNES or right off her page and get the CD from her in the store.

Ron Palmer - is a photographer, a member of the Association of Country Music in Alberta, Canadian Country Music Association and founder of A Cause for Country Foundation and festival in Edmonton.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Finding that Diamond - at the CCMA Country Music Week in London, Ontario

The Canadian Country Music Association always puts on a great week no matter where Country Music Week and the CCMA Awards are hosted.  My goal is always to get out and find some new talent from across Canada, who aren't in the big spotlight but maybe should be.

So last night I ventured off the beaten path and found myself at Bull and Barrel a relatively new bar in Downtown, London.  I found out as one of the girls who were handing out passes to that nights entrance that in fact they had live entertainment.  So off I went, only a short walk from the Budweiser Gardens, I ventured in.  To my surprise and that of others who had ventured down, the bar was showcasing 4 artists from the Country Music Association of Ontario.

About the Bar,  Bull and Barrel is the second in the chain with the first location in Windsor and the London Location opeing just about a year ago.  The Staff are definitely friendly and are kept off their feet as it gets busy and keeps busy all night long.

But now I am sure you want to know if I found my diamond.... To say the least I certainly did.  I was ready to shoot and catch some new artists but I wasn't expecting what I got.   The President of the CMAO Bruce Good, comes out to introduce a new artist Miss Brooklyn Roebuck.  I am going to tell you right of the top, she has the whole package when it comes to performing.  Brooklyn knocked the socks off everybody in the bar from the first note she sang, singing, working the stage, and having a blast all while entertaining.  But words can not do her justice but I am sure the pictures will give you some idea of what happened.  You can follow her on Twitter @brooklynroebuck on Facebook @BrooklynTNS5

Brooklyn just gives it her all during the complete performance at Bull and Barrel during CCMA Canadian Country Music week

We will have some more for you from London later this evening.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Olivia Rose is set to take on the Ladies of Country

Olivia Rose Promotional image

It's amazing to be able to follow an artist as they break on the journey that is country music in Canada.  I have the luxury of being able to listen to and see some of those artists that are coming up in the industry and this is another who I have been following for a number of years.

Olivia Rose is to say the least an amazing singer and is just starting out on her journey with her first release to radio "Make Up to Mud" which is receiving great reviews from across country radio.  Olivia has given me an opportunity to not only review this release but also her next 2.

"Make Up to Mud" is upbeat and wants to get the boots moving on the dance floor or while driving on the open road, just watch the gas pedal and the odometer.  Olivia is not responsible for speeding.  It's lots of fun and let's you start to see what kind of star Olivia is going to be.  I can say Kira and Jesse might have some competition in the next couple of years for CCMA female artist of the year.  The song is perfect for Radio and your mp3 player.

Her next release to radio, coming very soon, is "Daddy's Little Girl" which slows things down a little but is going to get lots of air play as we head into wedding season for the fall, especially once newly engaged ladies hear it, they will be requesting it for the Daughter-Father dances.  It is truly inspriational and takes you through the memories of a young lady and her life with her dad, remembering that she will always be "Daddy's Little Girl".  This is the wedding song for 2015-2016 wedding season.

I also got a sneak preview of a single that is heading to radio later in 2015, around or just after CCMA awards and Country Music Week 2015 in Halifax, NS.
"Please Maybe", another upbeat song with a little pop 80's flair to it, but remaining true to her country roots.  You can see the direction Olivia is going in her career and dance floors are going to be thankful.  But there is another thing that is for sure, the three releases this year are going to send Olivia into the spotlight on the country music scene in Canada.

Overall: Olivia is going to be on the charts of country music for a while if these three releases are where she is starting out.

Although not an album review, these 3 original songs are going to be hits and with so much ahead of her I am giving Daddy's Little Girl 5 guitars, "Make Up to Mud" and "Please Maybe" 4 guitars not because they are less than Daddy's Little Girl, but because Daddy's Little Girl grabbed me and I know it is going to be an exceptional release that will hold the test of time especially when it comes to brides and their Dads. 

It's important to also realize that female artists like Olivia are making moves on the country music charts and you will be seeing an influx of female artists in the next few years which is in contrast to the current country music situation, and that is a real threat to the boys.

Oh and Don't let the good looks fool you, this 16 year old is exactly, as she portrays in her music, soft but she is willing to go "Make-up to Mud" in 3 seconds, if she has to, to show her musical abilities both written and vocal.

Olivia Rose has over 10 years experience but she also wants to always make sure she only puts her best out there, with these 3 tunes she has.

You can check her out on her web site Olivia Rose Music

Who knows maybe she might let everyone else hear her new singles at K-days in Edmonton July 20th, 2015 at 8 pm on the North Stage.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Julia Nicholson's Self Titled EP "Julia Nicholson"

Julia Plays at the MacLab for the performing Arts
With Julia Nicholson, you are never ever going to be listening the same old songs over again.  When I first ran into Julia it was at the TELUS stage at K-days in Edmonton and I was hooked.  Julia was doing her own rendition of the Man in Black Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" which knocked me off my feet.

It was from that point on, that I couldn't wait for her to start dropping music.  She has done it again knowing Julia is not your normal country artist, she can rock it, pop it and country it all with the same full sound that caught me off guard the first time I heard her.

This CD does not disappoint me, she takes her country soul and pops it up a little, funks it up a little and even gets a little rap involved on the fourth single Lucky featuring the rap artist Toxsic. Which although it has the rap in it doesn't over do it and actually accentuates the song.

Black Camaro is the first single on the EP and gives you a little taste of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, and a jazzy guitar. It is a great way to start the listening experience of music from Julia, once started you can't stop. This is one of those songs that you can see the dance floor swaying with a little grind.

Julia on the TELUS Stage at K-days

First time I caught Julia Nicholson
Feel your love is a little Taylor Swift, and well JULIA, she takes every song she sings and puts a little Julia flair in it.  One thing you will notice is the guitar is the main instrument in every song but it's not over powering.  In "Feel Your Love" the guitar is light and airy and adds to the song.

"What does she do" is that country pop funky sound that many singers have tried and have not been able to accomplish.  In some ways it almost has a 80's pop kick to it, and that's not a bad thing. I can see the dance floors in both the clubs and country bars packed dancing and wanting more of that sound.   
So now that she has out interest now we want more.

Julia Nicholson's Self Titled EP gets 4 out of 5 guitars, would have gotten 5 but she left me wanting more.... which is not a bad thing.   

Go check her out at Julia Nicholson's Web Site

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: It's A Love Thing - Twin Kennedy

It's always fun when you get to review a new album by artists you have been following for a while and who are just as much fun in person, as they are on stage. This album is exactly what you would expect from these two amazing young ladies. Of course having it produced by Nashville Star winner and singer/songwriter/actor George Canyon, can not hurt.

Introducing the girls - Julie and Carli Kennedy are true homegrown talent. Having grown up in the small town of Powell River BC, on the west coast, and playing and singing together since they were knee high to a grass hopper, the twins are nothing but amazing.  Both have Bachelors degrees in musical performance, and have found a way to fuse classical, jazz, R&B, folk, country music and little thing called Kennedy into the music that separates them from the rest.  A true testament to their love of music is the program they have developed that let's them bring music into schools from the classical styles to today's country all while having fun.  But all the same it's their sound, originality and personality that comes through in everything they touch.

I was lucky enough to run into the ladies on their current CD release tour in Edmonton, at Giovanni's Music Center, and true to form it was a great performance (it always is when they hit the stage) and an introduction into the contents of their first full length LP (do they even make those anymore).  "It's A Love Thing" is an album you put in your CD player or on your mp3 player and connect it to your car's stereo, pop the convertible top open and travel down the open roads of country fields. 

Right from the get go, you hear the fun that was had in making the album. In "Get Back", which almost takes you back to the 80's and the fun pop songs  like "Mickey".  It makes you want to just start having fun as well.  Which knowing George Canyon the producer and the Twins is exactly what was the idea.

There is one thing that these ladies show throughout the album and it really is apparent starting in track 2 - "That's what I should have said" is the harmonies, for what it's worth, they have probably some of the best harmonies I have heard in a long time.

From guitar openers to fiddle solo's to the beauty of the harmonies this album will be enjoyed by more than just country fans.  There is even the trade mark classical guitar picking by Carli in the interlude which is where their musical story began and provides the transition into the second half of the album.

There a number of songs I can see as climbing up the charts including "Feels like Freedom" which could easily fit in the score for a country set movie, or "Over" which would make a great crossover song into Easy Listening or light pop as well as in Country Music.  You get a feel for the Producer as well in "Second Hand Gold" with a military influence on the drums but true country through and through.

Although I was never told this "Keep on Dancing" sounds like a story about their parents as the song leads you through the life of getting married, having kids and back full circle to be just the 2 of them again, the one thing you always remember is that first dance.

One thing about this album compared to their EP's the girls show how much their careers and music are growing, but they never ever forget where they came from.

 Go check it out and give them a listen

The album is definitely a 4 guitars out of 5

The Album now available on Itunes ‪#‎ItsALoveThing‬

Their website is and you can find them on Facebook at  on youtube

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Rebecca Stephens - "The Fight"

I was lucky enough to be able to hear the tracks from a new album by Rebecca Stephens, a young artist out of Ontario.  It's always a great opportunity to be able to to provide feedback for up and coming artists, and to the general public on what to expect.

First off let me explain what I do when reviewing.  Artists generally lay out the album as they would like you to listen to it.  I tend to break that trend and listen to the album by hitting play on any song on the album.  One it lets me hear the songs individually and 2 it's what the general public does.  Now don't get me wrong I know that the album layout is important and in this case there is a rhyme and reason for the layout.  SO let's get on with the review......

Album Cover and music for "the Fight" and Rebecca Stephens are Trademarked and Copyrighted by Rebecca Stephens Music/idreAM, Creative group

First and foremost my overall opinion............ WELCOME back to Country Music as it was meant to be.  We have seen a trend over the last couple of years for the introduction of BRO Country and Rap Country Music to Mainstream Country Stations.  If that's what your looking for ...... you are not going to find it here.  "The Fight" by Rebecca Stephens is not going to fit in that category.  It does however fit in to the Country Music genre that tells a story.  Providing the words and a simple country style, Rebecca takes her story from a very personal point of view throughout the whole album with personal touches of the intro to the album "Awake" a short swatch in the morning of waking up and leading into the first song on the album. Not to be confused it is an intro in the style as you would have heard on a Pink Floyd or  Led Zepplin to lead in to the album.  In this Case almost telling you to wake and hear the real music.

The Intro "Awake" leads  perfectly into the third song I listened and second track on the album to "Ol Small Town", having a little influence from another Ontario Girl "Shania Twain", Rebecca adds her own influence to the song and gives a flair to it that is truly her own.  Rebecca takes you on a tour of how she sees the world.

Moving into the 3rd track, the radio is still slightly apparent but a shift in the tone and sound leads you to the real sound and story of Rebecca Stephens, who although you hear some of those artists that are definitely an influence on her, has a distinct sound that is real Country.  That Story telling kind of Country, and "Till the End" is a love story that leads you through the story of her album.

"Let Love Slide" is definitely one of those songs that will put Rebecca on the map. Bringing her sound to mainstream country stations, and put her in the hunt for an CMAO award, when it hits.

"The Fight" like 'Awake' takes you from one phase of the Album to the next, and is a showcase of the guitar skills of Rebecca, in a similar fashion to that of Lyndsey Ell.

The Album "The Fight" is the story of life and how you need to keep moving forward and take chances.  Some may say it is a folksy blues album I would say that you really can hear the country.

The song "My Simple Man" is very country but has that touch of folksy rhythms and vocal runs that showcase the abilities of Rebecca Stephens.

The channel switches to the next song and "Sweet Like Honey" is a rustic rough and tumble country toon something like you would expect from Carrie Underwood or Shania Twain, but you can hear the Guitar rifts of Johnny Cash and all the great artists from the history of Country music.  I can see Rebecca swinging baseball bats and breaking things in the video for this one a great tune for Country Radio.

As the last song on the album starts you can see that it is about to end although you have travelled the road that Rebecca leads you on. "& Nobody Knows" finishes the story but like any good story leaves you wanting more and waiting for the next season to see what happens next.

The album is available on Rebecca Stephens Music it is definitely one to add to your playlist the whole album is worthy of it. But listen to the words the heart and the soul of Rebecca Stephens as she lays it all out there for the world to hear.

This one gets 4 guitars out of 5

Until the next string breaks.....