Well its been a long time in the making for the first annual Canaan Country Music Festival. A lot of hard work and time went into planning and preparing for this day. The festival did have its critics stating that this festival would never fly. Well, we witnessed first hand that this festival was a huge success and is here to stay. Plans are already being discussed by investors, planners, staff for an even bigger event next year.
Let’s break down this event from start to finish. The event was set on a farm land on Canaan Mountain. You say farm. I say there is no better setting to host a country music festival than on an actual farm. The weather cooperated for the festival with mainly sun and heat all day. Gates opened at noon for the public as they prepared to get their lawn chairs ready for the opening act. Local favorite, Kevin Davison, took the stage to set the mood for what was certainly going to be a fantastic evening. Country Music Star, George Canyon, was the host for the day introducing each and every performer as well as playing a couple of his tunes as well.
Set after set a Nova Scotian Country Artist took the stage to showcase their talents. We have some super talented artists and we should be taking in their shows around our Province. One by one each of the following artists performed as the crowds continued to roll in and fill the field. Artists in which I can say I have got to know personally over the years and have become a fan and friend. Each Artist beside being very talented are quite humble and appreciative of their fans and all the support they get to be able to perform for a living. Artists included Mark Cameron, Amanda Riley both who took part in a CMT TV Series called Big in a Small Town. Other Artists that performed were Casino Nova Scotia Artist in Residence Program Finalist Samantha Power. Also performing on stage is the young but very successful singer/songwriter Makayla Lynn. Lets not forget Hall of Fame Country Singer Robert Bouchard. Everyone knows that I cannot say enough about all of these artists but I truly enjoy Jason Price and his traditional country sound. Lets not forget newcomer Casey May who sure has hit the music scene fast and hard. We also have JD Clarke who certainly entertains the crowd with his energy. Last but not least of the Nova Scotian Showcase was TJ King who certainly had the crowd electrified with his set just before the headliners would take the stage.
Well, lets talk about the headliners Jason Benoit, Wes Mack, Jess Moskaluke, and Brett Kissel. I could not think of a better lineup of our Canadian Country Superstars for the first annual CCMF. Jason Benoit sure has taken the country music scene by storm starting off with winning the CCMA Atlantic Discovery Program last year announced Cavendish Beach Music Festival. Benoit has a growing fan base and always has a great crowd during his performances. I had the opportunity to speak with Wes Mack just before he went on stage to perform. Such a genuine guy. We chatted about many things and the conversation was real and sincere. This guy is truly humble and has time for everyone. Of, Course lets not forget he can entertain. Wes Mack and his band never stopped performing from the time they started their set to time they finished. You could feel the atmosphere at the festival ramping up to a new level with fan interaction and participation.
Jess Moskaluke is our current CCMA female artist of the year as well as last year’s winner as well. After watching and photographing her performance I can say she is a serious threat for becoming three time CCMA Female artist of the year. I don’t know how anyone could not be a fan of Jess and her music. I could watch her perform over and over. In fact this would have been the third for me seeing her perform. But before her performance she took the time to meet our own local 5yr Country Cowboy Fan, Cash. Cash ran to Jess giving her a big hug. Cash, could be heard saying later that Jess is his girlfriend. Jess sure does have a way with her younger audience. I recall her performing for school students last year in Halifax as part of a program that provides money to schools for instruments.
Following up Jess would be Brett Kissel. Brett is the two time reigning CCMA interactive artist of the year. It was easy to see why. And not just on social media. Brett always has time for his fans including many meet and greets. Back to our 5yr old country music fan, Cash who truly idolizes Brett. Brett and his camp arranged for Cash to meet finally before his performance. To date, this moment has been my highlight of capturing artists in the music business. It was so nice to see Brett and Jess to take the time to meet their biggest fans including the younger ones. This is a night I am sure Cash will never forget and will always cherish. I was happy to be the photographer to capture these moments.
Now, I am no stranger to photographing Brett Kissel perform and his show never gets old to me. In fact I enjoy his show more and more each time. From his performances during CCMA Music Week in Halifax, to his show at Casino NS, to opening for Brad Paisley in Halifax, to his performance 3 yrs back in Cavendish Beach Music Festival. Lets not forget he opened up recently for his idol Garth Brooks. I think this could be a big year for Brett at CCMA Music Week and a serious contender for Male Artist of the Year as well as album, single, and video of the year. I surely cannot wait to attend CCMA Music Week in London Ontario to capture some more great moments in this industry. Brett has some Nova Scotian connections with family from Cape Breton including his band mate Matty MacKay. Brett was the perfect artist to finish off this great night at CCMF. We cannot forget the moment Brett brought Cash up on stage and asked him who was his favorite country musician. We were all expecting Cash to respond with Brett Kissel. But that would not be the case. Cash announced Jess Moskaluke was his favorite. Brett’s response shows his true character with saying yep, Jess is a great artist. Brett is very humble and did not press for Cash to change his answer and agreed with Cash. Brett did not finish there either and provided Cash with a brand new Gibson guitar and signed it right on stage. Who knows, maybe someday Cash will be opening for Brett.
To all the artists who performed at the first annual Canaan Country Music Festival I say thank you for making this event such a success. Of, course we cannot go without saying thank you to all the organizers, planners, investors, volunteers, fans, security, vendors, Hot Country 103.5 Radio, and the behind the scenes staff for such a great year. I am sure their were some hiccups along the way in the first year but its a learning curve and I am sure next year’s event will be even bigger and better. Lets hope they announce next year’s date soon as I am already looking forward to it.