Bélanger: CCMA Music Week aimed squarely at satisfying country music lovers



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This is the London I know and love, the one bubbling with anticipation and excitement.


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Finally, after nearly two years of cancellations, postponements and disappointments, London is back to prove that it has earned the UNESCO Music City designation, the first Canadian city to earn this honor.

There is a party next week. The Canadian Country Music Association’s annual Country Music Week celebration concludes November 29 with the live television broadcast of the awards show at Budweiser Gardens.

Until then, most of Canada’s country music stars will be arriving here to meet fans, perform and attend the awards ceremony which will be their first taste of fame for many country artists.

But make no mistake, this is a party designed for country music fans.

No musical genre treats its fans better than country. This is hardly a surprise, given that their songs – usually full of emotion – also reflect and celebrate everyday life and tell stories about ordinary people.


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When you feel like crying, turn on a country song.

When you want to laugh, put on a country song.

When you want to throw a party on the weekend, put on a country song.

Artists feed this truth. Not only do they love what they do, but they love to watch and hear their fans enjoy their music. And they love to meet their fans.

When Brett Kissel, one of the country’s biggest country stars, arrived on the red carpet outside Budweiser Gardens for the 2016 CCMA Awards, there was a large crowd standing along the carpet trying to ‘cheer. A person standing beyond the barrier caught her attention and Kissel jumped over the barrier, climbed a small wall and hugged her, having recognized her on other shows.

Country stars are polite, almost to excess, to everyone. Yes, there are great promotional teams and managers around them and the biggest stars are always celebrated. But they never seem to lose that kind of “aw, shucks” modesty.

There is also the element of surprise with CCMA Music Week. This is because the dozens of artists who will come to London will also hang out here. You never know who you are going to meet because most of these performers are just like ordinary people and love to go to bars to hear their friends play.


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So when Palasaad Social Bowl announces that The Washboard Union, Aaron Goodvin, Nice Horse, The Abrams and Friends perform next Saturday, you just don’t know who will be showing up. All of these artists are important and well connected. And that’s a $ 15 bill.

There are also several free events (register to attend at londonmusichall.com) for country music fans not only to hear their favorite artists, but to meet them. These include:

Friday’s SiriusXM Top of the Country final concert at CCMA House (London Music Hall) featuring headliners The Reklaws and performances by three finalists – Raquel Cole, Tyler Joe Miller and Kelly Prescott – shortlisted for a prize which includes a cash prize of $ 25,000 and an invitation to the SOCAN Songwriting Camp


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CCMA Fanfest at CCMA House at 2 p.m. on November 27 where fans can meet The Reklaws, Tenille Arts, Jade Eagleson, Tyler Joe Miller, MacKenzie Porter, Brad Rempel of High Valley and Dallas Smith

The CCMA House Party begins at 6 p.m. on November 27 with performances by Shawn Austin, Tim Hicks, High Valley, Andrew Hyatt, JoJo Mason, Tyler Joe Miller, Jess Moskaluke, Steven Lee Olsen, MacKenzie Porter, Dallas Smith and Tim and The Glory boys

Sunday November 28 at noon is the first of two unplugged sessions at CCMA House, the first session with James Barker, Jade Eagleson, Madison Kozak, Griffen Palmer and The Reklaws and the second session with Tenille Arts, Aaron Goodwin, Robyn Ottolini, Brad Rempel from Haute Vallée and Tenille Townes.


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And then there’s the CCMA awards show hosted by Lindsay Ell (who’s in concert at Rum Runners next Friday) and drag queen Priyanka on November 29th. That improved on Friday when organizers announced that artists Walker Hayes, Thomas Rhett and Chris Stapleton will be giving virtual performances at the awards show.

But Canadian artists will perform live, including Don Amero, Tenille Arts, Lindsay Ell, Tim Hicks, High Valley, Dustin Lynch, JoJo Mason, Tyler Joe Miller, Jess Moskaluke, Robyn Ottolini, MacKenzie Porter, The Reklaws with Sacha, Dallas. Smith and Tenille Townes.

Ticket prices for the awards show range from $ 69 to $ 154 (plus fees, available at budweisergardens.com), a good deal for an evening filled with this kind of talent.

And after so much time waiting and hoping that COVID-19 restrictions will ease, we have the chance to come together with people while listening to our country’s top artists perform.

Music City is back, big time. And I like it.

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If you are going to:

What : Canadian Country Music Association Country Music Week

When : from Friday to Monday

Or : London Music Hall (nicknamed CCMA House), RBC Place and Budweiser Gardens

Tickets : Visit the site ccma.org for information on events and tickets




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