Dave Woods presented Story Tellers
My home away from home, the notorious Hugh’s Room Live, filled up quickly considering Toronto just got walloped with its first blast of winter and the streets were still being dug out. Diehard country fans and some 1st time HRL visitors, came in droves to enjoy a fabulous meal from the stellar menu and to get up close and personal with their favorite artists, truly was a musical
Hugh’s Room Live was the perfect setting to match this intimate, and engaging format. Even though the artists were confident, some were left vulnerable as they mesmerized their fans with some personal stories of how their hits came to be. This was PRESENTED by CMAO writer and Industry Person of the Year nominee, songwriter, radio and podcast personality Dave Woods. As well, was sponsored by Henderson Brewing Company along with Port Credit’s Archtop Café and Music. Dave’s decade long podcast ‘In The Country’ alongside his monthly songwriter series, ‘Stories, Songs & Six Strings’ have both been picking up momentum jettisoning into sold-out shows and he had this to say. “I had the idea for doing a songwriters showcase for a while at Hugh’s Room Live, it’s such an amazing listening room, serves great meals and holds up to 200 people. The name storytellers came to me one day and seemed to fit what it’s all about. I really wanted to create a night of magic with some of the best artists, writers, and voices around. All of them are Ontario artists, except Don Amero who flew in from Manitoba to take part in the show. We managed to almost fill the place and the night couldn’t have gone better and I loved seeing other artists and industry members in the audience. Right now, I’m working on more of these bigger shows including a repeat event at Hugh’s Room Live in 2020. Of course, my ongoing monthly songwriters series at The Moonshine Cafe in Oakville will continue to be something I treasure and look forward to.” I was shocked that this was Dave’s first Storytellers night at HRL! What a display of Canadian content, the Country’s creme de la creme. Both rounds consisted of 4 artists each, where each artist got to wear their heart on their sleeves as they discussed how their songs came together then showcased a new piece or an old hit.
1st round featured Barrie Ontario’s cottage country boys Brian Vain and Matt Davey of Kansas Stone. Did you know they were 1 of 6 finalists back in 2015 for the Next Country Music Star Talent Search organized in part by Havelock Jamboree? Their songwriting experiences have reached legions of fans, and their hit Blaze of Nothing was nominated for a 2019 CMAO for Music Video of the Year. Oh man, what soaring harmonies. Dave Woods asked Kansas Stone who their main influences in music were and who inspired them most? Matt said, “Bob Seger- Night Moves is great, anything off Live Bullet like Turn The Page, can’t go wrong there.” Woods asks, “How bout you, Brian?” “Well, I would have to say Alabama, Randy Travis and turn to rock with Guns N Roses or Michael Jackson. MJ was the 1st CD I ever bought and Garth Brooks, I have followed since I was a kid, because of his rock n roll stage performance with a classic country feel. I mean he totally modernized his shows with his rock in a country world.” Dave Woods talked about Kansas Stone’s cool Blaze of Nothing video which was so much fun. Then the 2nd portion of the 1st round consisted of Dave asking each artist a question with the answer leading to a song. Dave Woods stated, “We are going to kick things off with round one of the storytellers with Kansas Stone and the story behind their song How Does That Sound?” Brian replied, “I was sitting there thinking where do I picture myself in 1-15 years from now, what is my end goal, so I started writing this song. As I pictured myself and what I wanted, I talked to Matt. I mean, surprisingly you think we are tattooed with long hair but, we have the same end goals you know, the white picket fence so we ended up writing this song.” Their blends are peaceful with a traditional country flavor with tender guitar and beautiful harmony. They continued to perfect their song UP, and Right In The Middle Of A Wrong. What’s next for Kansas Stone? Well, they are traveling back and forth to Calgary to complete their 1st full-length debut album that is in the works at OCL Studio, Brett Kissel’s band is working on the tracks with producer Matty McKay. Visit them at Facebook, Twitter and YouTube @KansasStone Stay in tune with their various styles of country music at http://www.kansasstone.ca
Next up was Waterloo blues country-infused soulful performer Josh David, who also was a 2017 finalist at Next Country Music Star, American Country Star competition performer who rose to the top eight in the world finals and was a 2018 New Faces CMAO Showcase performer. Host Dave Woods got to slide a few questions Josh David’s way, asking him, “What was it about songwriting that led you to write?” Josh replied, “I think the 1st time I heard a song that really moved me, made me cry, or made me happy or made me mad, I just couldn’t believe the power it had behind it. Really how words mash-up together with a nice melody can bring out so much inside of you. I guess what really really got me inspired was the way you can move people and make a difference.” Then Dave let Josh open up about the 1st song he penned. “My 1st song was Everything I Said I Wouldn’t Do and I had the privilege of going to Nashville and hooking up a year ago with an artist named Emma Lee where we wrote this tune together and I am proud to share it with ya. He continued to wow us with Tired of Being Lonely and Safe Place to Break. Josh’s colorful guitar licks blended beautifully with his deep and rich vocals inside his unique and compelling lyrics. Keep up to speed by visiting Josh on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/joshdavid
Next was Mr. Jamie Warren, who is the largest independently awarded male artist in the Canadian country music industry to date (Junos, CMAO, CCMA). During his 35 year career, Jamie has released 54 singles. Dave asks, “Jamie Warren, can I refer to you as a legend?” Jamie replied, “sure” and huge applause followed. “I moved to Memphis TN in 1983, in that process I went to Nashville and met this lady Paige Levy of Warner Brothers. Back in that day and age, you dropped off a cassette tape. She quite liked it, then I moved back to Canada and she requested another cassette tape, as there was no emailing back then. So, I sent her new music and she quite liked it too. So by 1984, she sent a letter to my producer saying thank you very much for sending me Jamie’s music, we wish him all the best, and I am sure he will have a long career. However, we are going in a different direction and they signed Randy Travis instead.” Dave asked Jamie, “your signature song One Step Back, you redid the song and the video by going back to your high school in Hanover, where the original was filmed. Tell us what that experience was like to revisit a song 25 years later?” Jamie replied, “It was an accident that we did that. In all honesty, I reconnected with my video director Terry Odette, a good buddy of mine, and I said, let’s go back as my high school was closing and let’s shoot a video for the new record. I thought at the end of the song if I could just take 1 step back and I would put my guitar on its case and walk out of the gym, but the video would be done for one of the new songs on the new record.” Terry said, “have you ever thought of re-recording it?” I said, “no.” “But anyway, maybe you should,” Terry said. And I replied, “ok, I’ll think about it. So it was truly Terry’s idea and the really cool thing was I had to find the original video in my garage in a box and we managed to transfer the film footage over.” Leah Daniels humorously interjected with her hands mimicking the winding up of old film, as she asked, “this kind of film?” and the audience roared with laughter as Jamie said, “yes, exactly like the old movie projectors! So it was like me looking back at myself singing this song, it was quite a nostalgic day for me.” Dave further stated, “you added a cool sing-along audience portion to the new version of the song too?” “Yes, honestly Dave I was going to add that to all our live shows, it wasn’t going to be a recorded version, then Terry suggested I re-record it and my producer Rick liked it,” Jamie replied. 2nd portion of round 2 heard Jamie Warren open up about his in-depth career. “I started writing songs when I was 14 out of necessity but, also I found out that girls kinda liked it (audience laughter). I often find that the origance of songwriters and entertainers is the impetus that begins the process. The connection of this story is the first girl I was truly in love with, I was 17, and her name was Mary Ann Grow. I grew up in the small town of Hanover and the trick was that Mary Ann was the girlfriend of my best friend Shawn Hopkins. Now Shawn quite liked the fact we would go to parties and I would occupy his girl on the couch while he would go out and smoke and none of the guys would hit on her, so I was actually doing my friend a favor. Now my dad said that I should tell her and I said I can’t, my dad said, are you sure? and I said, yes I am sure. So I just let it go because it was my buddies girlfriend and I never told her. So when I was 35 years old and it was time to write a song about growing up in Hanover and about my home, it made total sense that the girl in the song might be her name. So there are some real people in this song I think you have heard before?” Jamie burst into a rousing acoustic One Step Back. This was the first song I became a Jamie Warren fan too that was released in 1996 from his debut album, Fallen Angel…still gives me goosebumps today. Jamie has this comforting way within his songs, as the words wrap around you and hold you tight, making your heart swell, your feet tap, you smile…the exact emotions songs are to emit when captivating your soul. He continued to hypnotize us with Sunny Day in The Park while he let us know his current 2018 album All Of The Above, is going strong as his 1st release in 5 years. Jamie surprised the fans with a newly penned song, out soon in 2020 entitled The Basement of a Church. Follow this fast
2016 CMAO Female Artist of the Year Winner and 4-time CCMA Nominee Leah Daniels mounted her post behind her keyboards as Dave got to ask her, “What is your proudest accomplishment, I know I didn’t ask you ahead of time Leah, so you don’t have time to think about it, but in music, what are you most proud of to date?” Leah replied, “Well, every time I release a new song I am very proud but, there is 1 award that I received that I am pretty proud of from the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA), an award for the Breakthrough Artist of the Year. It was for my song GO BACK which is for the Most Played Song by a new artist, (huge cheers) I think that was pretty cool, as it was for all genres not just for country right across the board in Canada.” 2nd portion of 1st round with Leah, she continued and asked Jamie Warren, “so you never told her that you liked her?” Jamie replied, “no, I am glad you asked that part. I finally found out where she was working. But, that one line in my song, Mary’s bedroom window, I was really not sure of keeping and I thought it made me look like a peeping tom. I spent 3 months trying to change that line and I couldn’t. So she was working at a record store in Owen Sound, Ontario and I called her up. It was so ironic that she was worked in a record store. She has 2 kids, married and very happy. I just wanted to let her know, that she was the Mary in the song and she said, “why didn’t you say anything?” and then Leah said, “I was the same as you, Jamie, back in high school. I never had a boyfriend and there was this 1 guy I was so in love with.” Jamie spoke out saying, “you never had a boyfriend?” and Leah said, “not in school!” and Jamie said, “omg, what is wrong with… where did you grow up?” Leah replied, “in Uxbridge!” and Jamie said, “obviously the boys are nutty there.” (tons of laughter). Leah then stated, “No, I was just so shy and I was so in love with this one guy and never said anything. Then his best friend showed interest in me and, I thought ok, I guess it brings me closer to him. Then we both got cast in Greece, and he was Danny and me, I was Sandy, so I got to kiss him 3 times at every show. But, I never ever told him that I liked him. Isn’t that crazy? So I wrote To Get Her.” Leah engaged the fans with that emotionally charged hit which led to her stupdendous hit Nothing, acoustically accompanied by Jamie on guitar and got the audience to sing loud and proud with her. Let me tell you, her Nothing sure is something, as Leah is the 1 to watch. Back and forth from Nashville to LA, Leah is ramping up to launch her next album, working with world-class producers such as Brian Howes (Hinder, Daughtry, Boys Like Girls & Taylor Swift) and Sam Ellis (Hunter Hayes, Danielle Bradbery and Thomas Rhett) you won’t want to miss what Leah Daniels has in store, visit http://www.leahdaniels.com
ROUND 2 consisted of London Ontario’s 5-time CMAO Nominee and internationally acclaimed Genevieve Fisher. She got to present her Take It On Home, followed by her Nanna’s Song~1943 which was also released to radio across the country on November 12th. She shared her NEVER performed or released song Boy In A Boat and got a chance to showcase
2019 Indigenous Music and 3 time Manitoba Country Music awarded triple Juno nominee Don Amero is a Canadian folk-country singer-songwriter who flew in from Winnepeg, MANITOBA to showcase his immense talents. Don was a contestant on the 2006 Canadian Idol who released his debut CD Change Your Life also in 2006. With 6 albums now to his name, he has already garnered numerous national and international following. He shared his originals Don’t Let Christmas Pass You By into Broken Hearts featuring Kelly Prescott. He jumped into What Do You Wanna Do? Then, right into I Hate That Song. This engaging storyteller is going places, keep up to speed visit http://www.donamero.ca
Ottawa Valley’s Kelly Prescott is no stranger to the stage, her smokey and sultry melodies totally and profoundly stunning. Her momentous stage presence was filled with bursts of passionate emotion. She is a third-generation singer/songwriter on both sides of her family. She grew up between a tour bus & a world-class recording studio, her childhood steeped in traditional country music. Moreover, Kelly and her family recently made their Grand Ole Opry debut as guests of Terri Clark. She has been very busy working on her highly anticipated new solo album in the works, the first since her 2016 EP Hillbilly Jewels. Kelly shared her musical gifts enlightening and revving up fans with her song Who Get’s The Church? and her humor was priceless as she went right into her Suzy Home Wrecker. Then, proudly she introduced her never performed song that will soon be released in 2020, Running Out of Love which she featured Don Amero, as she led us into her last song choice, a fun song about heels. Kelly joined Meghan Patrick and Tanika Charles on the CP Holiday Train in December from Illinois to Alberta cpr.ca and is about to embark on the road opening for Alan Doyle on his Rough Side Out Canadian Tour from February thru April where I will have a chance to capture her in full bloom on March 24th at The Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, opening for Alan Doyle. Take a peek at her busy schedule by visiting http://www.kellyprescottmusic.com
Stacey Lee Guse is a Canadian vocalist, is an international entertainer and a pertinent featured member of Canada’s supergroup, The Western Swing Authority. She performed an eclectic mix of western swing, jazz and traditional country original standards featuring her accompanied 5-time CCMA fiddle player of the year and CCMA Musician Hall of Honor husband, Shane Guse on guitar. She has engaged artists and audiences with her creative vocals upon several world-class stages, albums, radio and television themes. Her hypnotizing vocals thrilled the full house, presenting her originals making you feel mighty Beautiful Today. Her songs get you moving and dancing wherever you could find the room, fueled with high energy, making you feel like Swinging From The Rafters even In The Middle of a Song. The highlight for me was watching the deep husband and wife love and connective magic especially as they talked intimately about how they met and how their hit This Old Bar was written about 1 of their favorite places to play, at The Commercial Tavern in Maryhill Ontario. I enjoyed learning how to alter your voice as well by using a toilet paper tube lol. I have the honor and pleasure of attending as media at their back by popular demand performance with the entire Wire Megazine Awarded Western Swing Authority band on Feb 21st, right back here at Hugh’s Room Live in downtown Toronto. Stay in tune with their busy tour schedule by visiting http://www.thewesternswingauthority.com
Stay in tune with Dave Woods Stories, Songs and Six Strings Playlist – Volume 2 on Spotify, Feb. 19th Stories, Songs and Six Strings at Moonshine Café, In The Country with Dave Woods Podcast via Facebook and http://www.inthecountryinterviews.com also, watch for a return to Hugh’s Room Live for his Storyteller series.