I have the Boots and Hearts after glow.  Yes, this rock and rolla loved the Boots and Hearts Country Music Festival in Orono, Ontario this weekend!  Did I go country?  Absolutely!  I went all the way.

Even though I had a media press pass, I was a virgin music festival attendee.  I was feeling very intimidated about going alone but once I arrived, the staff was wonderful, the campers around me so nice, and the atmosphere so welcoming!  I loved it and I’d do it alone again if I had to.

Here is my review on the Boots and Hearts Music Festival performers.  I will provide a full overview of the event itself in another post.  I arrived late Friday and was unable to attend most of Friday afternoon’s events due to media discussions, putting up a tent, and helping others get settled around me.

Kevin Costner

What else can I say about Kevin Costner besides being yummlicious!  Oops, this is a music festival and I have to critique his performance!

There were few attendees at his performance which was shocking.  I would have expected more people there just to see if this actor turned director turned country music singer could pull it off.   My thoughts on Costner?   Kevin Costner was one of my favorite acts.

He put on a fabulous show, his voice is amazing, and he knows how to interact with the crowd.  He had me dancing and I stayed for the whole performance.  (Remember: I wasn’t there just to be a media photographer.  I wanted to take part in everything!)

Big and Rich

Between raising hell and amazing grace, Big and Rich are a phenomenal team.  The energy that this duo displays really got Friday night off to a fabulous start!  It was party time!!

Their mixing of traditional country sounds with hip-hop, rock, and the occasional Native American yell adds to their uniqueness in the country music industry.

They were so much fun to photograph because one never know where John Rich would be at any given time.   Another part of the performance that I enjoyed was the fiddler.   She never took the smile of her face and looked like she was having a hell of a time performing for us!  Loved her and would love to interview her if I can’t land an interview with them.

Tim McGraw


Over the weekend, this legendary icon was the media photographer’s dream.  No media specifications despite the usual.  He was courteous and interactive with the crowd.

He was a show stopper!  He really did put Kid Rock and Carrie Underwood to shame in the media room.

As an attendee of the event, I stayed for the whole performance.  He was absolutely amazing to listen to in person and I would highly recommend attending one of his performances.

You can read more about Tim McGraw on my previous blog post.

Saturday Boots and Hearts Performers

Jason Jones

I missed

Shane Yellowbird


And the thunder rolled…….when Shane Yellowbird hit the stage.   This began a series of torrential downpours throughout Saturday’s performances.  But that didn’t stop Shane Yellowbird from putting on a stellar act for his fans.

I caught up with Shane on the main grounds after and seen him signing autographs for his awaiting fans.   He actually took the time to listen to what they had to say and for that, I appreciate his contribution to the Boots and Hearts event.

Growing up in Hobbema, Canada, Yellowbird, who is Cree, was a typical cowboy. His parents participated in the rodeo circuit and their son learned early on to rope and ride, fully embracing the cowboy lifestyle and accepting that it would one day be his future.

Dallas Smith and Phil Vassar

I would have loved to see these two performers but torrential downpours prevented me from attending.

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow Boots and HeartsThe clouds rolled past and Sheryl’s performance was dry yet damp.  What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this beautiful, talented woman?

With songs like “All I Wanna do is Have Some Fun” and “Soak Up the Sun”, Crow kicked off Saturday night with  a sympathetic nod about the Olympic Canadian Women’s Soccer Team game against the US.

“So, do you have Olympic fever?” she asked. “You know, I’m really sorry about the soccer match. I want to personally apologize.”  She did admit that she was holding out for the American team.

During her hour and a half performance, the rain made another appearance.  That didn’t stop Crow from walking the catwalk and belting out the songs that fans new and old knew by heart.

She was sensational!


Alabama-Boots-and-HeartsI am so thrilled to have seen Alabama in person.  My  night was complete!

This time the rain completely flooded the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, but that didn’t stop anyone from clapping and dancing to the songs of Alabama.    It also didn’t stop lead singer Randy Owen from walking the catwalk to extend his appreciation to his fan base while singing Angels Amoung Us.

The angels were listening as the rain stopped for the final act of the night.

Tim McGraw, Lionel Richie, Sheryl Crow and Alabama displayed characteristics of what legends are made of.  They know where they came from and they know who supported them through the years.    Alabama was a dream come true for me.

Kid Rock

Kid Rock Boots and Hearts CanadaKid Rock can put on a show stopping concert and that is a fact.  He certainly drew in a crowd and rocked it!  I will give him that much.

However, as a media attendee, he is the epitome of drama king.  With the puddles that formed throughout the day, he should have had his media specifications set in stone earlier in the day.  No pictures and most notable, Sheryl Crow didn’t hang around to sing their duet “Pictures” which everyone thought was strange.

Sunday Boots and Hearts Performances

Canaan Smith and Lauren Alaina

I missed them due to press and interviews.   I wish my daughter would have attended the event with me.  I could have covered everything.

Terri Clark

Terri Clark Boots and Hearts Music FestivalI love this woman!  This Canadian songstress brought in an early afternoon crowd which was lacking the two days previous.  It also didn’t hurt that the sun stayed out the whole day!

“I’m embracing my roots, who I am, my old friends and family, and coming full circle in my life… choosing some songs with those themes for this album.”  If there was any indication of Terri’s love for her homeland, it’s captured in the lead-off single, “Northern Girl”.

Loved this girl’s energy!


Gord Downie and The Sadies

Gord Downie and The SadiesLeaving the audience sometimes very confused with his selection and genre of music, Gord Downie, lead vocalist and lyricist of The Tragically Hip, played an outstanding performance with The Sadies.  It’s my type of music that leaves me wanting more!

The Sadies have been called “the best thing to cross the Canadian border since prohibition.” Their reputation as “musician’s musicians” and “a real working band” has been earned in roadhouses and bucket-of-blood bars as well  as theaters and festivals all over the world where for the last fourteen years they have astonished audiences with their earthy arsenal of traditional roots music, country, spaghetti western excursions, surf, garage rock, psychedelia, and the slippery beast known as alt rock, all with uncanny precision and passion.

Paul Brandt

Paul Brandt Boots and HeartsI love real people and my interview with Paul Brandt showed that he is the real deal.  Interviewing him was seamless as we struck up a 12-minute friendship.  More on this interview throughout the week.

Brandt stole my heart on stage.  His vocal are rich and his performance is true.   I stayed for his remake of the song “Convoy” because it’s been a song I’ve loved since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

Paul Brandt, I loved you before, but you’ve earned yourself a raving fan since the Boots and Hearts Music Festival!


Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie Boots and HeartsWow, wow, wow.  That’s all I can say about Lionel Richie.   He is a legend.  He played all of our favorites and he knows how to please his audience.

From having all the women sing Diana Ross’ part in Endless Love to having couples dancing to Three Times a Lady, Lionel Richie took down the park as we bid adieu to the sun that kept us warm Sunday.  I can honestly say that I’m so happy to have seen Lionel Richie in concert.

His band was phenomenal as well and the guitarist wasn’t hard on the eyes.    Had it not been for the closing act of the night, I’d still be dancing on the ceiling with his songs rather than icing my foot and knee.

Carrie Underwood


Don’t get me wrong I love and cheered on Carrie Underwood during her stint on American Idol, but there are only a handful of people I’d put myself in danger for. Carrie Underwood isn’t one of them.

Kudos to Carrie and Mike as they were intricate in getting Boots and Hearts off the ground!  Once Carrie signed on, the festival hit the ground running!   Her performance was impeccable and she was a delight to watch.

However, being sent to the dark crowded house tent, instead of along the stage, to photograph Carrie’s performance left me with many bruises and a swollen foot today.  It was a stressful and demanding situation where about 30 photographers were segregated into a corner and given their instructions at the last-minute.

At the end of the day, you have a voice of an angel and you put on a great performance for your fans.

There ends my wrap up of the performers at Boots and Hearts.  Despite the rain, bruises, swelling, and uncomfortable circumstances, it was the best event I ever attended.   It was an amazing weekend and I hope to be part of media next year to share my experience with you!

To view my photos of the Boots and Hearts Country Music Festival visit my Facebook page

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