Manitoulin Country Fest – Day 1

Thursday, August 4th, started with a Songwriters’ Cruise aboard North Channel Cruise Lines. We set sail from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Veteran Canadian Country Singer/Songwriter Jamie Warren was our host and one of the performers. Jamie has a wonderful wit about him and with his calming voice can make anyone feel at ease.

After a welcome and some introductions, Jamie entertained us with several of his hits like, “One Step Back” and “She Just Loves To Dance”, and a few stories.

Jamie Warren

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Following Jamie, was an artist I have only just recently heard about, Jessie T. This musically dedicated young lady was a delight to listen to, along with her accompanist, Jesse Pitcher. We had a chance to chat with her after the cruise. You can view that interview here.

Jessie T.

Jessie T.

Jesse Pitcher

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After a short buffet lunch, Andrew Hyatt closed out the cruise, performing some new material for us. From heartache comes genuinely truthful music. Andrew has a gift of putting his emotions into some very moving tunes.

Andrew Hyatt

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Jesse Pitcher, Jessie T., Andrew Hyatt and Jamie Warren

Jesse Pitcher, Jessie T., Andrew Hyatt and Jamie Warren

Once we hit dock, there was some time to prepare for the first evening of MCF over on the festival grounds. This night was destined to be good, with not one, not two, but three 2016 CCMA nominated artists – Madeline Merlo, Yoan and Brett Kissel.

Madeline Merlo is quickly becoming a household name. Her first CD has produced three hits and a fourth that is climbing the charts. It is no wonder this BC beauty won the 2015 CCMA Rising Star Award. Her hour long performance was fun and playful, starting her set with her recent release, “War Paint”. The crowd reacted well to “Honey Jack” and “Whatcha Wanna Do About It”. She ended with her first single, “Sinking Like A Stone”. I have come to really like this song. Rather than guitar, Merlo plays her Ukulele. Please view our interview from MCF with her here.

Madeline Merlo

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Next, Quebec Country Singer, Yoan. In the past year, I have seen him about five or six times. He is truly Quebec’s best kept secret! Despite the language barrier, Yoan puts on one hell of a show. He must be doing something right. His 2015 self-titled CD debuted at #1 and sold more copies in 2015 than any other record in Canada. It is no wonder he is up for 2016 CCMA Fans’ Choice Award. Normally, his performance is in both French and English, though, on Thursday night, all his songs were in English and mainly covers.


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Now, if Wednesday night’s Dinner Cruise with Brett Kissel wasn’t enough, he was also the Thursday night MCF headliner. I never get tired of see BK and his band on stage….And believe me, I’ve seen him a number of times! Most of the songs are the same, “Airwaves”, “Started With A Song”, “3-2-1”, etc. but, he always finds a way to mix it up where possible. Two, highlights of the evening: first, Brett invited Jamie Warren out on stage to perform Jamie’s songs that the band plays from time to time. There was a time, early in Brett’s career, that he opened for Jamie. It was a very cool moment. Second, as Yoan was on the bill, he and Brett did there duet of the Waylon Jennings tune, “Good Hearted Woman”, which is a song the two recorded on Yoan’s CD. Check out our very funny “On The Spot” Interview with Brett, recorded after the show!

Brett Kissel

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Jamie Warren with Brett KisselJamie Warren with Brett Kissel

Cheque presentation to Manitoulin Centennial Manor

Cheque presentation to Manitoulin Centennial Manor

Yoan with Brett Kissel

Yoan with Brett Kissel

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This little darlin' received a guitar from Brett Kissel

This little darlin’ received a guitar from Brett Kissel

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It was a good first night and everyone definitely enjoyed the music. Now, it was time for rest and gear up for Day 2! Be sure to head to our Facebook for more photos from Manitoulin Country Fest.

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