Rundown of the CCMA Awards: John Deere Green Carpet

Rundown By: Jenna Melanson
Photos By: James Melanson

September 13, 2015 may be known to different people for different reasons, but anyone who is a fan of country music knows, it marked the 2015 Canadian Country Music Association Awards. For me, it also was a day of many firsts for myself and Canadian Beats.

I was able to attend both the John Deere Green Carpet and the CCMA Awards as media along with my husband, James; who took all the photos you’ll see in this post. Just being a part of this event was a huge honour, and I want to thank everyone involved for making it a huge success. I will talk about the actual CCMA Awards show in a later post, but for now, let’s talk the John Deere Green Carpet.

The room was buzzing with energy and excitement as all of us took our places around the carpet, and then the excitement only grew once we began to catch glimpses of the artists entering the building. Now, I’m going to take you through a brief rundown of the experience, I hope you enjoy.

First up, was Stacey Lee & Shane Guse from Waterloo, ON based Roots group, The Western Swing Authority.

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When asked about the Roots movement in Canada, Stacey answered: “I love the fact that Canada is a place where we can be as diverse as that, because there are a lot of things that are right up front and in your face, but there’s so much that’s kind of hiding in nooks and crannies too and if you go looking, you can find some wonderful music, so we’re just pleased to be a part of it all.

Carli & Julie Kennedy, otherwise known as Twin Kennedy was up next on the carpet. The girls looked absolutely gorgeous in their outfits, and their excitement was glowing as they approached our group. They were quite happy that they had made it through the green carpet without tripping and were very fun to chat with about their upcoming tour, the amount of hair care products on their bus (which is apparently A LOT) and their new single, “Feels Like Freedom”.

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We’re so excited about “Feels Like Freedom” and it’s what it’s really like this weekend, we’re feeling so excited to be on the East Coast and to be celebrating with everyone here, it’s a big country music family and we’re feeling pretty alive, that’s for sure.

Fox Island River, NL based artist, Jason Benoit was next to head our way. Jason was one of the nominees that was up for the Rising Star award and everyone in the media line seemed pumped to speak with him about his single, “Gone Long Gone” which was released in March.

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When asked why everyone from Western Canada should visit Halifax for at least one week, he responded “Just look outside the window, there’s so much history here, it’s beautiful, the salt water, the incredible people that live on the East Coast.

When brothers, Curtis & Brad Rempel of the La Crete, AB duo known to all as High Valley walked in the building, you knew. They seem to bring the energy up a level wherever they go and of course they had everyone pumped after they did their signature “heel click”.

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Later in the evening, Curtis stated, “It’s hard to keep my feet on the ground!” when asked about being nominated for the awards both now, and in the past.

Kira Isabella, who I think could safely be called Canadian Country Music’s sweetheart was up next, and greeted all of us hugs and warm greetings. We spoke about Caffeine & Big Dreams, and how it’s her fifth time on the Green Carpet.

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I jumped in and asked Kira if there was a certain performance she was looking forward to and I quite enjoyed the enthusiasm in her voice when she responded, “Well I’m very much looking forward to mine, for sure, I’m always very excited to hit the stage! Definitely looking forward to Dallas Smith and Tim Hicks, I heard them performing and they sounded pretty amazing, as usual so I’m looking forward to it.”

Up next, was a man that I must say I didn’t recognize at first glance, but thought “Wow, this is one cool looking guy”, and then of course, I realized it was Clayton Bellamy from The Road Hammers! I just had to snap a photo of him while he was next to me in the media line, because how cool does he look?

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We asked if they had been having a good time in Halifax, and his response was:

MacKenzie Porter was next to stop by our group for a chat, in her beautiful sparkly dress. She has a new album coming out in the New Year, and she’s very excited about it, and it has a different energy than her previous album with more up-tempo stuff.

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When asked where she got her dress, she stated “This dress is from my hometown in Medicine Hat, Alberta, I got it like two years ago and hadn’t worn it yet, cause it’s pretty blingy. And so, it’s just from this really tiny boutique store in Medicine Hat, and I’ve been just been waiting for the right event.”

Anyone in Canada must know the name, Alan Doyle, and if not, they would definitely know Great Big Sea, which of course is the name of Alan’s band. Alan was at the CCMA Awards as a presenter and had nothing but good things to say about Halifax.

“There’s a music celebration in a place that has a deep respect for music, and Halifax and Nova Scotia has always been that way, like most places in Atlantic Canada.”

Former rocker, turned country artist Dallas Smith was next to visit us. We chatted his album, Lifted and the new single, Kids With Cars.

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I never want to be the guy that’s safe; I always want to take a little bit of risk and introduce some new things to what I do.” I’d say that taking risks is definitely paying off! Keep it up, Dallas.

There was so much beauty in one room, and these ladies were no exception.  The Lovelocks, otherwise known as Ali Raney & Zoe Neuman, were next to approach with intense enthusiasm. They were up for Roots Artist of the Year, and told us about their single, “Born To Love” which is off of their upcoming EP.

When asked about how much time they had between showcases they responded: “It was pretty hectic, but you know what…that’s the CCMA [awards] and that’s what we love”.

Next, we had a few people that I didn’t get a chance to talk to, but still want to share the photos. Dianne Leigh was one of the selected to be inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Florida Georgia Line made their way through the room, all set to do their performance. The band is from the US and fans were quite excited to see the band perform live at the CCMA Awards.

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Jessi Cruickshank, the host for the show was next to take the green carpet by storm, making everyone laugh along the way with her comedic spirit.

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Langenburg, SK based artist, Jess Moskaluke was next in line and our group, made up of many Saskatchewan based media professionals was ecstatic to see her, and although I’m not from Saskatchewan, myself and all of us at Canadian Beats are huge fans of Jess, so I was excited as well! Jess was last year’s winner of the Female Artist of the Year, and later we found out won that title again this year, which I must say is well deserved.

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We had the chance to hear about her new single, “Kiss Me Quiet” which she says “It’s actually a love song, which I don’t have a whole lot of, so that’s new for me.”

Then we suddenly we were in the middle of a fun interaction:

Paul Brandt was looking handsome, as usual and was great to chat with, after the comedic interlude we experienced.

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Paul continued to chat with as after Jess finished up, and we had the opportunity to hear a bit about the upcoming #RoadTripTour with Dean Brody, and took a trip back in time to 1996 when his very first song, “My Heart Has a History” was released to radio and the journey that he’s taken through the years, stating, “I’ll tell you, they haven’t been able to get rid of me yet, I’m having a lot of fun.”

Johnny Reid was next to grace us with his presence, and it was an amazing experience to be in such close proximity to such an amazing talent in the country music scene.  We were all happy to hear the announcement that he has a brand new album, “What Love Is All About” to be released on November 13, and we got a heads up that he would be performing the title track from the album during the show.

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When asked about his new single, “Pictures Of You” he said, “If I could leave the world with just one memory, it would be a picture of you looking back at me…I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t have any pictures of the bad times hanging up on my wall.”

As people arrived, our excitement stayed high, and Autumn Hill only made my excitement grow. The duo, made up of Tareya Green & Mike Robins were excited to talk to us and the feeling was mutual. Although Tareya stated that she loved the rain, even though it made her hair flat, I would beg to differ, she looked stunning.

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We asked if they were nervous about performing on the awards, to which Tareya replied “I think there’s always a little bit of nerves, but it’s such an incredible opportunity”, followed by Mike’s comedic response, “Well, I was gonna say I wasn’t nervous until you asked the question, and now I’m feeling it suddenly.”

Roots Artist of the Year winner, Lindi Ortega was next to take her turn on the green carpet, although we never had a chance to speak with Lindi, she was absolutely stunning.

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Presenters, Jonny Harris (CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries, Still Standing) and Gemini Award-winning comedian, Susan Kent (CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes) made their way through the room cracking jokes along the way, and keeping everyone smiling.

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At Canadian Beats, we are a huge fan of the next artist that we had the opportunity to speak with; Charlottetown, PEI based Tim Chaisson. We got scoop about his new single, “Miss Saying Goodbye” which just hit Canadian Country Radio, and also about him joining the MDM Recordings family.

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When one of the group stated that the Roots category was a pretty cool category to be nominated in, Tim told us that he is a pretty big fan of all the bands, and that he thinks they are all awesome. “It’s an honour to be in the same category.”

Lindsay Ell was next up on the carpet, and although we didn’t get a chance to talk to her, her presence has to be noted, as she nominated in the Rising Star category, and looking astonishing in her dress.

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Another Rising Star nominee followed, Lindsay Broughton wearing an marvelous red lace dress, and she told us a story about how her mom was very excited to see it, as she was holding out on her since she didn’t like the previous dress. I think her mother would approve, as she looked beautiful.

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The Rising Star category was such an amazing group of artists, including this next artist, Jordan McIntosh. He talked about his new single, “All About The Girl” and of course the upcoming tour with Brett Kissel. We also touched on his outfit, which as you can see was pretty snazzy!

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We asked him about his Rising Star nomination, and his response was so touching and down to earth, “It means the world to me, and I’m crossing my fingers but just being nominated for the first time has been the best feeling in the world!”

I have to begin by saying that this next artist is just so down to earth, and you couldn’t help but smile when you saw the excitement she brought with her to the Green Carpet. Madeline Merlo has been featured many times on Canadian Beats, and we are huge fans of her music.

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She stated that her favourite show that she played during Country Music Week was the All Star Band Awards which took place on September 12. “I think you’re only as good as your band, and when you’re given the opportunity to play with the best in Canada, The All Star Band band, it was just great.”

Wes Mack made his way through the room next, although we didn’t get the chance to speak with him, he seemed to be having a blast!

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The Boom Chucka Boys definitely know how to steal the attention of a crowd, the band was up for Group or Duo of the Year, and they definitely brought some style and energy to the room!

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They were asked what they have discovered in Halifax and Joel took the opportunity to tell us this awesome story, “I came over early and I actually found that my great grandpa immigrated from Scotland on a boat right into the Pier 21”.

I had the chance to personally ask the next artist two questions. Tristan Horncastle, who was nominated in the Rising Star category was a pleasure to talk to, and although I was totally nervous, he made me feel comfortable.

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I asked him how it felt to be nominated for the Rising Star, and he responded:

I didn’t realize that The Rankin Family was going to be at the Green Carpet and I must say my childhood came flooding back when I saw them. I remember listening to their cassette, “North Country” with my friend and we were always singing along. They were there presenting an award and enjoying themselves immensely.

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They were asked what is like for them when someone covers one of their songs, and their response was “It’s very flattering; it really is because it’s been a while since we’ve done work together and if people are still listening to and even attempting to have it as part of their repertoire, it’s a real honour for us!”

If you listen to country radio, or pay attention at all to any Country news, you definitely know who Dean Brody is. Dean approached with jean shirt, sunglasses & cowboy hat, looking as suave as they come.

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Emerson Drive was next to reach our group on the Green Carpet, and we had the chance to ask them about their tour with Tebey, and also about how they will start working on a new album later on this fall.

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They were asked if they thought back in high school when they started, if they ever thought it would go this far, their response was, “No, I mean it’s come around full circle, and I’m just happy that we’ve had some longevity with this band and just coming in from outside and seeing all the fans makes you feel like you’re doing something right.”

Songwriter of the Year winner, Gord Bamford was up next. Gord is definitely one of the artists that seems so real and down to earth, and the more you hear stories from him, the more apparent this becomes.

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When asked how it felt to win Songwriter of the Year, he responded “It’s a big award! I’m very proud of it, and without a great song it just doesn’t happen so to be recognized in that category, it’s just fantastic!”

Mr. Chad Brownlee was next to arrive and we were happy to have the chance to chat with him. We asked him about his new music, and found out that he’s actually working on a new record, and debuted a new song at the MDM Recording Party.

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Although I was beyond nervous, I had it in my mind that I would ask Chad a question, and I did! When I asked how Halifax was treating him, he didn’t hesitate with an answer:

Steven Lee Olsen’s turn was next, and he seemed to having the time of his life, cracking jokes and having fun all the way through the line. When he finally reached us, he told us how excited it was to be nominated and also performing on the show.

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He told us about all of his performances during the week and when one of the group asked how he kept his voice intact, he gave us the secret recipe:

By now, you may be thinking that this is a very long post, but I can’t bear to leave any of this incredible talent out of the feature, so stay with me for a bit longer, you won’t regret it!

Leah Daniels was next up, looking phenomenal as she made her way through the crowd.

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When you think of male country artists, Bobby Wills may just be one of the first to cross your mind, I know that’s the case with me, and although we didn’t get the chance to speak with Bobby, just being in the same room was quite exciting!

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Tebey approached us next, and was so impressed by the fans waiting outside in the rain, just waiting to see the artists. He told us that he has a new single coming out in a couple weeks and will be shooting a video in Nashville.

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When we asked what else was coming up for him, his response was “I’m going on tour, we start in Halifax on Oct 29 and we finish up in Victoria.” So everyone be sure to mark your calendars for that!

Small Town Pistols, otherwise known as brother & sister duo, Amanda & Tyler Wilkinson came in with a bang speaking about their babies and how much fun they are, and how they will be bringing them on tour next summer.

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We asked them what’s up next for them and I was very excited to hear this, “The album is coming out on vinyl before Christmas, which we’re super stoked about!  It has two alternate versions of two of the songs that are on the record, there’s a live off the floor LP only exclusive version of “I Only Smoke When I Drink” and also same thing for another song off of the record called “Ghost”!

Tim Hicks, the voice behind “Stronger Beer”, “Young, Alive & In Love” and many more great songs was next to stop by for a little chat with  us.

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We talked about the upcoming tour, and his response was great, “I can’t wait, it’s a great group of guys and we’re gonna bring it every night, whether it’s Monday or Saturday.” So, if you don’t have you tickets yet, you probably should get some!

Another presenter for the show, Keshia Chante was looking absolutely radiant on her way through the room!

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Finally, Brett Kissel made his way into the building after spending an insane amount of time with the fans, but then that’s why he won Interactive Artist of the Year, he’s all about the fans, and that’s so great to see! I was over the moon excited to see Brett, and although we didn’t have much time with him, it was a great conversation.

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I recently reviewed Brett’s new album, “Pick Me Up” and I loved each and every song, so when I had the chance to ask him a question, it was an easy choice what to ask. I asked him if there was a certain song on the album that he was most proud of, and this was his response:

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I’m Jenna, and I am the founder and editor of Canadian Beats. I have had a strong love for Canadian music, which started with Hedley. I have a passion for promoting these talented Canadian bands and artists, and that’s how Canadian Beats came to be. I am so proud of what it has become over the last few years, with many talented music lovers and writers coming together to spread the word of Canada’s music.

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