Canada Day Weekend provides many reasons to celebrate this great nation and there is nothing better than being out in beautiful weather with food, drinks, and music, especially country music. This year I had the privilege of introducing one of my friends to the world of country music festivals and I couldn’t think of a better place to take them than The Trackside Music Festival in London.
I think any type of festival requires a certain mindset at the beginning of the day – it’s an adventure, it’s a ton of fun, and you’re in for the long haul arriving in the early afternoon with the headlining act performing as the sun sets and the stars come out to play. This year the second day of the festival, held on our beloved July first, featured some of country music’s finest artists. From Canada’s rising stars to Nashville’s hottest names, this was the place to be if you wanted to celebrate Canada Day in spectacular fashion.
With the sun already blazing shortly after noon, the dedicated “front row or go home” concert goers staked out their places and hunkered down in whatever shade they could find as each act took the stage. Performing first was Runaway Angel, a trio of spunky women who had powerful voices and enough energy to get the early crowd dancing in their cowboy boots and hats. Shortly following their final song, the attention shifted to the Homegrown Spotlight side stage where Patrick James Clark did his best to entertain those who were wandering through the festival checking out the radio booths set up by local radio stations, Country 104 and BX93.
This trend continued throughout the night as many concert goers would stick it out in the heat to watch the main stage performances of Midnight Shine and Chase Rice before ducking into the shade to watch Homegrown artists Jessie T, Nicole Rayy, and Five Oceans. Proving once again why it is one of southern Ontario’s best summer festivals, Trackside featured a multitude of food carts for hungry concert goers as well as a dedicated waterpark of sorts featuring many water games set up to spray a fine mist of relief.
Here are the top three highlights of my experience this year at Trackside Music Festival.
- Meeting Canadian country artist Eric Ethridge
Returning for his second time as an artist to the festival, Ethridge fondly recalled how he was the first artist to ever perform on a Trackside stage when the festival first captivated its southern Ontario audience in 2016. The unique challenge facing Ethridge this year is introducing country music fans to his music for the first time in a substantial amount on his self-titled debut EP after having success with radio singles over the last two years with “Liquors Calling The Shots” and “Makin’ Me Crazy”. I truly enjoy meeting artists who are as humble, hard-working and talented as this man.
- Thousands of country fans singing in unison
Canadian artist Tim Hicks had quite the crowd to entertain as the night wore on and there was no shortage of rock infused country hits throughout his set, including songs from his newest album “New Tattoo”. I would highly suggest listening to “What A Song Should Do” as one of the most meaningful performances of the set. However, the monumental moment worth mentioning came when the crowd sang almost the entire three minutes of “Stronger Beer”. Nothing like singing about Smarties versus M&Ms, Bryan Adams vs Bruce Springsteen, and our bigger balls and longer field (and one less down) in Canadian major league football to show the patriotism of the true north.
- Getting to see a headlining performance by one of my favourite artists, in Canada, on Canada Day. Thank you Dustin Lynch.
As the sun disappeared and night set in, the crowd eagerly awaited the singer’s arrival on stage. Walking out in his signature cowboy hat, boots and jeans, Lynch definitely earned some maple syrup points with the Canadian crowd as he proudly displayed a bright red t-shirt to complete his outfit. For a solid hour and a half, hit after hit was met with thunderous applause and deafening screams as the crowd was rewarded for their bravery in the sun earlier that day.
Lynch also kept the pop and rock attendees entertained throughout the night as he mixed in covers of Def Leppard and Drake with some of his most well-known songs including “Mind Reader”, “Where It’s At”, and his rapidly popular summer single, “Good Girl”. A very welcomed surprise saw Lynch perform a few songs from his first album as well as fans danced the night away to “She Cranks My Tractor” and slow danced to the ever popular and heart-warming “Cowboys and Angels”.
Normally I am one of those “front row or go home” concert goers, especially if one of my favourite artists is headlining the show. However, this particular night was a special treat for me because standing half way back in the crowd allowed me to take in the full stage experience. The lighting, the videos playing throughout each song, and the sheer animation and joy on every band member’s face proved to this crowd that Dustin Lynch knows how to throw a Canada Day party.
The festival ended in spectacular fashion as thousands of satisfied country fans stayed the length of an encore to watch the annual Canada Day fireworks.
From an avid country music fan and concert goer to anyone involved in making Trackside Music Festival happen in southern Ontario this year, THANK YOU. It was worth the four hour round trip of travel I had to endure to be able to attend and I look forward to hearing about the amazing Canadian and international talent country music has to offer in 2019.