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A Chorus of Country Bliss
June 24, 2016

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With two festivals on the go, it is going to be country music heaven in and around London next weekend.

The new Trackside Festival is set for July 1-2 at the Western Fair District with U.S. headliners and Canadian stars.

And the Thorndale-area Purple Hill country music hall has The Family Brown and other Canadian acts on July 2-3 at its Festival of Rural Living.

Along with such U.S. stars as Florida Georgia Line and Chris Young at Trackside, there are True North performers like Saskatchewan's Jess Moskaluke, two-time CCMA female artist of the year.

"I was born in 1990 so my idea of classic country isn't the same (as others)," Moskaluke said this week from Winnipeg. While other definitions of classic country might go back to Waylon (Jennings) and Willie (Nelson), Moskaluke shared her own list of classy stars including Shania Twain and Martina McBride. She would have heard them growing up in the 1990s and the 2000s. Moskaluke is the first Canadian female country solo star since Twain to go gold. She is working on a new single to add to her hits "Kiss Me Quiet" and "Take Me Home."

Moskaluke's path represents the new country success track. A few years ago, Moskaluke was making YouTube videos and getting plenty of online fame while studying criminal justice at Brandon. A record company guru noticed one of her YouTube videos and wanted to sign her. So he found an email address for her and sent her a note.

At first, Moskaluke thought it all too good to be true.

"All I was doing was sitting behind my computer, making videos," she once told Postmedia News.

These days, Moskaluke is working hard and making it all work for her. She is not fazed by any uncertainty, "I don't think you can predict anything in the music business," she said.

That is something The Family Brown's Tracey Brown might have said. She knows all about 1990, too.

That is the year The Family Brown broke up after a run of hits including "Raised On Country Music" and "Pioneers." The Brown siblings and Prescott then had more hits as Prescott-Brown.

The Family Brown's reunited 2016 edition brings Tracey Brown, her husband Randall Prescott and her brother Barry Brown to the Purple Hill hall on July 3.

CCMA Hall of Famers The Family Brown came up the old school way. The family band's patriarch was the late Joe Brown, a Nova Scotian who played with Wilf Carter. After relocating to the Ottawa Valley, he led the group with his children Barry, Lawanda and Tracey starting in 1968. (Barry seldom performs and Lawanda has stepped back because of hearing issues.) During its 22-year span, The Family Brown recorded 17 albums, hosted a syndicated television show for 13 years, played countless gigs and won more awards than anybody else out there. Old school.

These days, Tracey Brown is a performer and music entrepreneur who keeps track of what and who is playing in country.

"Honestly, if you listen to the radio, country radio, you're lucky to hear a female artist every six or seven songs," she said Friday from the band's Ottawa Valley music industry base.

Tracking the studio action, she has noticed there may be 15 men working on projects and perhaps one woman.

"What's going on?" she wondered. Brown said she is aware of such issues in part because her daughter, Kelly Prescott, could be that one woman on occasion.

"For the record, there are many male artists I really enjoy listening to Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Dallas Smith, Dean Brody. Great songs, too. My beef is just the lack of women artists on country radio, and hoping that changes," Brown added.

Kelly Prescott is old school in a 2016 way. Both her grandfathers are in country music Halls of Fame in various Canadian locations. She will likely sing that old school classic "The Auctioneer" during her solo appearance on July 3 at Purple Hill on the second day of the venue's two-day Festival of Rural Living. She will also join her parents and uncle, singing harmony with The Family Brown.

Kelly Prescott also has her own music to share, something she will do again at a songwriter's cafe event as part of the CCMA's Country Music Week, September 8-11, at venues around London.

Despite what Moskaluke knows about the business and trying to predict things, here's a prediction: Country Music Week 2016 is to be the next time - after the Canada Day weekend - Moskaluke, Tracey Brown and Kelly Prescott will all be here.

Here are two more predictions about where you might find Brown and Moskaluke off-stage next weekend.

Late on Canada Day, look for Moskaluke somewhere during Young's headlining set. She's a big fan of "Tomorrow" and "Aw Naw" hitmaker Chris Young. "I've only seen him live once," she said. Trackside should fix that.

Tracey Brown will be embracing George and Anna Taylor on July 3 somewhere at their Purple Hill farm and country music haven.

"It astounds me. Those are the people that keep country music going," she said.


Trackside Music Festival
What: First edition of new country music festival in London.

When: July 1-2, gates at noon both days.

Where: Western Fair District's concert site, raceway, 900 King St.

July 1: Chris Young, Randy Houser, Brett Kissel, Jess Moskaluke, Jason Benoit, Eric Ethridge; Homegrown Spotlight stage Ashlynne Vince, Kelsi Mayne, Brad James.

July 2: Florida Georgia Line, Cole Swindell, Kane Brown, Chris Lane, Steven Lee Olsen, Them Dang Rattlers; Homegrown Spotlight stage - Julia Haggarty, Ryan Bradley, The Reklaws.

Details: Two-day passes, $169.50 (general admission); $229.50 (VIP); plus applicable charges. Visit westernfairdistrict.com for information or for tickets, visit ticketmaster.ca or call 1-866-448-7849.


Festival of Rural Living
What: Two-day event in the Thorndale area. Among Canadian country music performers are The Boys of Purple Hill, Joan Spalding and Caroline Burchill (all July 2) and The Family Brown, Nora Galloway and Steve Piticco & South Mountain (July 3). London's County Road plays Saturday night dance, 8 p.m.

When: July 2-3, music starts at noon both days; gates open Saturday morning for campers.

Where: Purple Hill Country Opry, 20903 Purple Hill Rd., 12 km east of London off Dundas Street.

Details: $50 weekend pass (includes camping); music only - Saturday. $20; Sunday - $30; Saturday night dance only, $15 (weekend and day passes include dance admission); all-day pass Sunday - $30;. Visit purplehillcountryhall.com or call 519-461-0538.



 
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