'Emerging Indie Artist' for the month of August, is Aaron Allen! Originally from Chatham, Ontario and is currently residing in London, Ontario. His passions in life, are tattoos, music and his family and not necessarily in that order ! Allen is not new to the country music scene, with having recently released his 10th EP, and we feel he’s a breath of fresh air! Aaron has spent countless hours honing his songwriting skills. Even as a teen, songwriting helped Aaron get through the tough times and roller coaster that life can be. Remaining true to his signature sound that fans have come to love, with his raw and honest songwriting, he’s brought songs to a whole new level! He worked with multiple award winning producer - Jeff Diesel on his new emotionally charged EP, called Highway Mile! The songs are mature, honest and relatable. It’s easy to see that Allen is carving out his own path in the industry and taking the road less traveled with this new EP.
“I wanted to make something that stood up over time,” said Allen on the new EP. “Highway Mile is really about the stories from my real-life experiences — I just tried to be transparent with the hope that maybe my story would connect with others. I hope we’ve done that with this new record.”
Quickly becoming Allen’s fastest-growing single, the new releases’ title track — “Highway Mile” — was added to 7 playlists on Apple Music out of the gate, gaining almost 200,000 streams in its first month. It is set to surpass the previously released “Where Music Comes From,” “Highway Mile” demonstrates Allen’s dedication to creating deeply personal stories through music.
“I didn’t really intend for this song to be recorded but when Dalziel heard it he said we had to,” said Allen when speaking of “Highway Mile.” “The song is meant as a reminder to slow down — to take time for my wife and myself. Life can be so darn busy, especially in this industry, so I need that reminder every day. “ We couldn’t agree more with that statement ! Aaron’s voice is often compared to that of Eric Church and classic country - Willie Nelson. Believe us when we say, he is okay with that comparison!
The new EP includes three previously released singles and a handful of new tracks including “Can We Go Back,” “Superman” and “Mine All Mine.” Featuring many of the same players throughout, the record has a unique, cohesive feel, that the listener can identify with from the first song to last.
Aaron is currently nominated for two CMA Country Music Awards. of Ontario - “Rising Star” and “Male Artist of the Year”! How exciting ! We are very happy for you !
With more than a million streams to his name, Allen’s style remains as true-to-life as ever but after years of forging a devoted fan base as an independent artist, and working hard on performance side of things, he felt the time had finally come to take the next step. Pushed by the support of Dalziel and others in the Canadian country music scene, Allen has created music that will definitely have the industry listening!
We first met Aaron in Toronto at a showcase. We have since seen him about town, and a few other events, and he always takes to time to chat and to get us caught up. We appreciate that !
To stay up to date on all things Aaron Allen, you can visit his website, Instagram and Facebook.
RIVER TOWN SAINTS
If tragedy and overcoming adversity are the hallmarks of a good country song, then this band have earned their dirt road credibility. It's our pleasure to feature the River Town Saints as our 'Emerging Indie Artists' for the month of July.
Originally a 5 piece band from the Ottawa Valley, the River Town Saints have a lot to show for the last couple years, including millions of YouTube views and Spotify streams, a top 10 hit with their single, “Bonfire”, Canadian Country Music Association nominations, Country Music Association of Ontario and Canadian Radio Music Awards, tours with Tim Hicks, Kip Moore and large-scale festivals. Known for their energetic live show, rich vocal harmonies and good times, the Saints were just getting started.
When their original singer departed in 2018, and months later their bassist and best friend Daniel Di Giacomo died from a blood clot tragically at 31, it would have been understandable to throw in the towel.
NOT. A. CHANCE..
Remaining members Jeremy Bortot, Chris McComb and Jordan Potvin got to work writing songs and looking for a new lead singer. As fate would have it, newcomer Chase Kasner fit the bill. Kasner hails from Kirkland Lake, Ontario, where he was raised in a large musical family. Country music runs deep in his blood, given his grandmother Mary Bailey was an accomplished Canadian country singer, who also went on to discover and mentor Shania Twain early on in her career. Lifelong friend Joe Patrois was the final piece to complete the group. A friend to the band since the beginning and a gifted bassist himself, it only made sense for Joe to humbly continue on in Dan’s place.
The challenge of replacing a lead singer as well as dealing with the loss of bass player and dear friend, Dan Di Giacomo, was a lot for the guys to overcome. The fact that Jeremy, Jordan and Chris made the decision to keep the band together, rebuild and come back with more music to share with fans is a success story in itself and something we should all congratulate them for. Has it been easy? No. But their determination has been admired by their steadfast fans who have stood by them for the past few years encouraging them every step of the way.
And now with a powerful, soulful new voice from new lead singer Chase, the River Town Saints are back ready for action & ready to take the bull by the horns. They’ve already made a strong start with their new single 'Slow Kiss' right out of the gates. Combined with a renewed determination to pick up where they left off, the River Town Saints are reborn, recharged and ready to take Canada by storm. 'Slow Kiss' is at country radio now and is also available to stream anytime and anywhere on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and wherever you listen to great music. And since its release, it has racked up more than 60,000 spins on Spotify.
With a new EP released Friday June 26th called 'Long Time Coming' they're back to instantly turning people's heads again! We recently sat down and listened to it and loved every song on it! It's refreshing yet different enough to make you fall in love with the new version of the band. But you can definitely hear the similarities still in a few of the songs as Jeremy & Chris's guitar styles come right through it and remind us why we fell in love with the band in the first place! Most recently they were recognized by the Country Music Association of Ontario who featured them as June's 'Artist of the Month' which was a fantastic accomplishment to be supported by the country music family in Ontario.
The Two Christine's at C To C have been fans of these young men and their music since their humble beginnings and have travelled all over Ontario to support them and have been lucky enough to become friends with them over the past few years. Our next roadtrip is Saturday July 18th in which we get to see them perform at their first 'Drive In' concert in Pembroke Ontario. We're excited to finally seeing the new band perform live and we can't wait to hear the new music they've been working on and recording!
Yes, things are a bit different now, but what remains the same is the vibe that the band brings to Canadian country music. They are still RTS and they are still great. And they still a very fun band to follow! Kasner fits really well with the boys and his vocals lead the way as River Town Saints make their return to the airwaves. On behalf of C To C Canadian Country Music Insider we look forward to seeing what's ahead for these talented young men and we'll still be the fans up front at all the shows we can get to!! You've got this guys!
We are thrilled to share with you, our “Featured Indie Artist” for the month of June, were pretty sure you already know her, from Kingston, Ontario, Abby Stewart !
Abby is a singer/songwriter that has been described as a true Canadian girl! She fishes, plays hockey and softball but feels most at home on the music stage. You definitely can’t get more Canadian than that !Abby’s parents introduced her to rock music as a child and she’s always loved to sing ! At the age of 6, she sang a song in a school talent contest, and loved it so much, that she hasn’t looked back !
Stewart has had the opportunity of touring with Hunter Hayes , Dan + Shay, and has had the privilege of singing duets, with Dean Brody, Dallas Smith, Aaron Pritchett, and the Hunter Brothers! Abby has opened for many top Canadian talents, including Cold Creek County, Brett Kissel at CNE and in Ottawa on his Ice, Snow and 30 Below Tour. That’s not all, she’s opened for Tebey, Michelle Wright, Emerson Drive, Tim Hicks, Jessica Mitchell, and many others! That’s quite the accomplishments !
Abby and her 4 piece band, has performed sets at some of Canada’s biggest fairs, music festivals like Boots & Hearts Music Festival - where she was one of ten chosen for the Emerging Artist Competition, Havelock Country Jamboree, Trackside Music Festival and was chosen 1 of 8 across Canada for the “She’s the One competition” at Ottawa Bluesfest, and several others. While on her 2019 visit to Ottawa RBC Bluesfest, she received an invitation to promote the festival & showcase her own music, by appearing on CTV Morning Live! That’s pretty exciting in our books !
Stewart’s voice is that of an angel, that’s versatile, being able to sing a Dolly Parton song one minute and belt out a Carrie Underwood’s cover the next minute. She has been turning heads and collecting fans, every single time she performs, and rightly so!
She released her EP "Firsts", in 2015 which included “I’m Still Faster”, followed by her first music video, which now has over half a million views on YouTube! In 2017 she collaborated with Invictus Entertainment, Big Star Records and released a duet entitled "What If They're Wrong?" to national Canadian radio. A proud accomplishment we’re sure, especially at the age of 16 ! It peaked at #87 on the Canadian BDS Chart and was featured on 22 stations from coast to coast. Way to go Abby !
In addition to the achievements indicated above, Stewart received a Maestro Award at the World Strides competition in New York City for a vocal solo. She was the Winner of the Junior & Open divisions of the Country Singing Showdown at the Kingston Fair in 2010 and 2012 & was 1 of 6 winners of the first annual YGK Emerging Musicians competition.
Abby shows her love by contributing to her community, through her music. She has worked with the POSSIBLE Campaign for many years, ending the stigma surrounding people living with addiction problems. Her song “No More Falling Down” was dedicated to them, and was their 2017 campaign song! How cool is that ! Recently, the music video for “No More Falling Down” is posted on her YouTube channel. She has also worked with Lionhearts Inc, which provides a safe place for homeless communities of Kingston and Ottawa, to come together for food and live music through The Embassy Live Music Cafe. Lionhearts & Loving Hands Kingston have also been providing COVID-19 relief by providing free meals throughout all of quarantine. Abby has been raising money for these charities through live online concerts, where ALL proceeds go towards their relief. We can’t say enough about this talented young lady. Her contributions to all of these amazing charities, is a testament to who Abby really is and how lucky her community is, to have her.
Abby has taken some time to write and gain more experience in the craft she loves. Several trips to Nashville has gained her recognition in the field, collaborating with some of the best writers Music Row has to offer. Co-writes with Phil Barton, Patricia Conroy, Dave Thompson, Bill DiLuigi, and others, have led to more originals. She hopes in the future to write with Liz Rose, Aaron Goodvin & Deric Ruttan, to name a few. Further collaboration with CCMA Producer of the Year - Jeff Dalziel shows great promise for new music in 2020. We can’t wait !
Abby has some audacious goals, like singing with her hero Bryan Adams, to singing on the Grand Ole Opry stage, and we know with her talent and determination, that she will make it happen !
You can check her out on all the social media platforms!
Our “Featured Indie Artist” for the month of May is Alberta’s own, Mariya Stokes ! In January 2020, she was recognized and awarded, the Female Artist of the year (for 2019) by Association of Country Music in Alberta. Such an amazing honour, and we can’t think of anyone else that was more deserving!
Mariya is originally from Stavely, Alberta but currently resides in Calgary, Alberta. Mariya’s music influences were/are Lindi Ortega, Kacey Musgraves, Mary Gauthier, Ingrid Michaelson, Dixie Chicks & Maren Morris. Stokes debut single "Hands on My Body" was released in February 2019, and it debuted at #10 on iTunes Canadian Country Chart ! and was #8 most sold single in Canada, on iTunes, February 1st, 2019! It was also added to Spotify's curated New Music Nashville and Down Home Country playlists and has over 120,000 streams on Spotify alone ! She was crowned the #1 Most Active Indie at Canadian Radio, the week of August 9th, 2019 (Yangaroo/DMDS).
She may be from a small town, but her songwriting talent, certainly isn’t small ! Stokes gained international recognition when she won two awards for her work, including the “2016 International Modern Country Songwriter of the Year” from the North American Country Music Association. She has been a co-writer for other artists, Leaving Thomas, even crossing over to other genres of music, like alternative pop (Celia Palli) & blues (Devin Cooper). She wrote her first song at the age of 14 ! Stokes has worked with Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Stephen "Koz" Kozmeniuk during SOCAN Song House, as well as, Terri Clark, during her RBC Master in Residence program at National Music Centre in Calgary, Alberta (May, 2019).
Stokes was the Runner up in Project WILD, a country artist development program run by Alberta Music, WILD 95.3 (Calgary), and Jim Pattison Group (November, 2019). She also was selected to participate in Canada’s Music Incubator Artist Entrepreneur program in Toronto, honing her craft and learning more about the business side of the music industry. We are sure it was worth the time invested!
Mariya has always liked to give back to the community. So much so, that two of her songs are featured on the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre's albums "Shelter From the Storm" (2015) and "Verses Vs. Homelessness" (2016) in Calgary, Alberta. Mariya has recently performed on the Alberta Country Music Awards Show 2020, CCMA Showcase in Hamilton 2018, Alberta Spotlight in National Music Center 2018, Calgary Stampede 2018 & Country Thunder Alberta 2018 & 2019 and numerous others. Stokes has shared the stage with Jann Arden, Leaving Thomas, Jocelyn Alice for the Grey Cup Festival & Trixie Mattel & Nice Horse, to name a few.
We had the pleasure of meeting Mariya in Calgary Alberta at a pre-event for the Canadian Country Music Association Awards. We were blown away by her voice, she has a very unique tone, definitely country with a touch of blues shining through and her ability to captivate the audience, through her performance, she’s amazing! We are looking forward to the next time we get to see her perform ! We see a bright future for this young lady, the sky really is the limit and we’re sure your going to love her too!