Going Old School with Tebey: Canadian singer-songwriter celebrates release of new EP

*This article originally appeared on HelloVancity

On an August afternoon with temperatures creeping into the mid-thirties, my only reprieve from the heat was the golf-cart ride that escorted me from the Boots & Hearts media tent to my interview with Canadian singer-songwriter, Tebey.

Cruising along a dirt path, I watched as people milled about their campsites, opening trailers and RVs that would be considered “home” for the next four days of what’s considered Canada’s largest country music festival.  I was dropped off at a wooded inlet decorated with string lights, benches and Muskoka chairs, a stark contrast to the dusty open fields of the festival grounds. Clad in a ball cap and a casual black t-shirt and jeans, Tebey welcomed me to the informal cottage-like set up where we talked about his latest EP, Old School.

The title track, “Old School”, is a far cry from a traditional country song, void of any mention of corn fields, pick-up trucks or broken hearts. Instead, Tebey delivers a nostalgic anthem, heavily influenced by the music of his youth, likening the sound to Sugar Ray in the late nineties. In an age where kids are out hunting for Pokémon and sending Snapchats, Tebey sings of a simpler time when the drink of choice was Snapple, weekly episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air were recorded on VHSand your Reebok sneaker game was your status symbol in the neighbourhood.  

When asked whether the current trend of new-country inspired the song’s release, Tebey insists the desire for connection trumped any trend. “I think people will relate to that song. Not everyone will connect to every song, but with (Old School) in particular, it talks about things that we all had growing up: 90210, listening to Nirvana, Reebok pumps and Walkmans…I think people are going to hear it on the radio and connect.”

Tebey, who currently divides his time between Nashville and his wife’s hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario, has written for the who’s who of the music world; One Direction, Fifth Harmony, Cher and Big & Rich (just to name a few).  The married father or two says that when it comes to song writing, his work doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s going on in his personal life. “I’ve never really been an autobiographical song-writer. I love creating characters and that’s how I operate writing songs.  I do write autobiographically at times, ‘Old School’ is all about things I’ve grown up with, but the challenge for me as a songwriter is how to say, ‘I love you,’  In a way that hasn’t been done before.”

Tebey gives credit to songwriters Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose, the trio behind Little Big Town’s smash hit, “Girl Crush,” for finding new ways to write about relationships, despite causing some controversy in the process.  “It’s an example of brilliant song-writing, in my humble opinion. I’ve never heard that approach before. It did (create controversy), but in ‘Old School’ there’s a line about smoking marijuana in the chorus. That’s pretty controversial, too.”

The reference to herbal refreshment may raise a few eyebrows, but with his latest EP, Tebey remains committed to blending genres and bucking tradition in favour of music he can believe in. There’s an easy confidence about him, in the almost fifteen years since the release of his first single, “We Shook Hands,” Tebey has toured extensively, releasing two full length albums and several singles. While Tebey looks forward to his upcoming headline tour sponsored by Coors Banquet, his real priority is his family. While concert-goers looked forward to partying into the early hours of the morning, Tebey made Boots & Hearts a family affair by packing up the tour bus and making the long drive from Nashville to Oro-Medonte as a family unit.

 

After saying our goodbyes, I headed to the Front Porch stage to check out Tebey’s set, which doubled as a shoot for the “Old School” music video. That likeable confidence translated to his performance, with Tebey delivering a strong vocals that included a country cover of Avicii’s, “Wake Me Up,” that had the crowd singing at the top of their lungs as beach balls bounced throughout the crowd. From where I was standing, I could see Tebey’s daughter dancing in the front row, while friends and family snapped photos of the crowd that multiplied before their eyes. At the end of his successful debut on the Boots & Hearts stage, a humbled Tebey thanked the crowd who roared with applause. After signing autographs and posing for photos with fans, Tebey performed an acoustic set the next day and was spotted several times, dividing his time between the backstage area and taking in performances by other artists. With his creative wheels constantly turning, one can be sure that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg with Tebey. As an artist who is constantly growing and honing his craft, his future looks as bright as the sun on a Boots & Hearts weekend.

For more information and details on Tebey and his upcoming shows, be sure to visit his official website.

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Country’s rising star: David James talks latest release, CCMAs & the future

*This article originally appeared on HelloVancity.com

The Front Porch stage on the second day of Boots & Hearts 2016 drew concertgoers from the far corners of the dusty festival grounds like moths to a flame.  Taking shelter from the sun’s intense rays, I waited patiently at stage right for Canadian country singer-songwriter, David James, to perform. Around me, twenty-something’s nursed freshly opened cold ones and stripped themselves of shoes, shirts and their inhibitions. The crowd was primed for another day of country music and camaraderie, and James and his band happily obliged in providing the soundtrack to the biggest party of the summer.

During his performance, which included his single, “Lonely Girl” and a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” I could feel James’s excitement as he took in the audience during his Boots & Hearts debut. Although David James is considered a new artist, his vocals and stage presence are those of a seasoned pro. The Winnipeg native has been busy celebrating the release of his EP, Songs About A Girl, and two Canadian Country Music Association nominations in the Rising Star and Recording Package of the Year.

After an hour signing autographs and posing for photos with fans, I met up with James who was still riding the high of his set. “I’m feeling sweaty and exhausted,” he joked. “Whenever I see someone singing along to my music, I half can’t believe it, but it always brings a smile to my face.”

There’s an instant likability about David James, who peppers our conversation with jokes and graciously accepts my apologies for sweating profusely and appearing unprofessional. Despite appearing cool and collected, there’s an undeniable undercurrent of ambition; James is thinking long-term.

After a teacher overheard James singing in the hallways after school, he convinced the reluctant sixteen year old to audition for the school’s annual rock show. Singing Bon Jovi’s, “Living on a Prayer,” James had his first taste of being on stage. “It’s a big song, and I just remember being up there and how cool and freeing it was.  (Afterwards) I tried to figure out how I could get back on stage, and make this a career. It’s been a process since then.”

With an obvious talent for capturing big emotions and writing about love, don’t expect James to take a page out of the Taylor Swift playbook and name names. “I seem to gravitate towards writing and singing love songs, but there’s not one girl that it’s about. I love authentic music and for me the most honest, passionate, real emotion that humans can have is love. I’m just naturally drawn to packaging and conveying that message in new and unique ways.”

Fans have already connected with James’ music, with several people reaching out to the singer to tell him that his song, “What We Weren’t Looking For,” has been used at several weddings, a privilege that leaves him feeling humbled.  “My song had been on radio for less than a month and I hadn’t even grasped the fact that people I hadn’t met were listening to my music. To hear something so serious from someone that they were taking my song, letting it into their lives and making it this huge part of their life that they’ll always remember is crazy.” James shakes his head in disbelief, “For me, every part of my life has a soundtrack…To have someone choose my song for a special memory is something I’ll never forget.”

As the summer winds down, James seems as though he’s fully taking in the events of the last year. After finishing a radio tour across Ontario to promote his EP, he’s gearing up for the CCMAs. “Anytime you’re nominated for something or recognized by your peers for something, its super cool, just knowing that what you’re doing is connecting with people, but I wouldn’t have that without my team who work so incredibly hard with me every day.” James speaks highly of his label, MDM Recordings, who he affectionately refers to as his “road family” who have been with him throughout the entire process of recording and promoting Songs About A Girl.

Although enjoying the excitement of being nominated, James is always looking ahead. “I see those things as opportunities to keep working hard, keep grinding, and doing what you’re doing. If you grow stagnant as soon as you achieve some of those things then I think your ride is over.” However, one can’t accuse him of being all work and no play. After his commitments in September are fulfilled he’s heading to Europe for a month of travel to recharge his batteries. From his final stop in London, he’ll be flying straight to Nashville to begin writing for his next project.

Once we stopped recording, we posed for a (sweaty) group photo and said our goodbyes,  I left our interview certain of one thing: Whether it be London, Nashville or the top of the charts, David James is going places.

For more on David James and his appearances, visit his official website and social media.

 

#Emmys2016 Fashion: The Best & Worst Dressed from the Emmy Red Carpet

*This article originally appeared on Hello Vancity

Awards season is upon us! It’s that magical time of year when actors who make lots of money, wear clothes that cost a lot of money, and the rest of us sit on the couch and judge. Ah, it’s like my version of the NFL Kick-off.

Let’s get to it and start on a high note with some of the best looks from the Emmy red carpet!

Priyanka Chopra in Jason Wu

Coral? Persimmon? Perfection? Priyanka Chopra heats up the red carpet with this one shoulder, Grecian inspired gown. Let’s face it, Chopra could wear a garbage bag and still look like a million bucks, but her styling team gets an A+ for creating this look!

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Priyanka Chopra attends the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Sarah Paulson in Prada

This dress is so good, it almost makes me forget the unfortunate wig Paulson sported as Marcia Clark in  American Crime Story: The People VS OJ Simpson. It all paid off:  Paulson won the Emmy and brought Clark as her date. Slay on, Sarah. Slay on.

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Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Taraji P. Henson in Vera Wang

I need shades to handle this look. Simple lines, and a hint of leg and a whole lot of attitude. Taraji is comin’ in hot. Yellow was a popular colour on the red carpet, but the only ray of sunshine I see is Taraji. *insert praying hands emoji*

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Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Kristen Bell in Zuhair Murad

Kristen Bell is rocking her floral gown and giving off serious princess vibes. I would give anything – my first child or a kidney, to see a this fantastic skirt twirl (my offer stands for the rest of the evening).

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Todd Williamson/Getty Images

Emily Robinson in Carolina Herrera

Age appropriateness a tea length dress? I’m here for it. Transparent’s Robinson is not even eighteen old and is already turning heads on the red carpet in designer duds. In a world where teens are in a hurry to look older than they are, Robinson and her styling team get it right with this elegant frock.

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Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Fence-Sitters

I’m undecided on these looks: Fashion forward or “Meh”? Take a look at some of the looks that had me scratching my head for the evening.

Claire Danes in Schiaparelli

At first glance, this dress is head to toe Hollywood. Over bronzed, over tanned, over…boobed? I’m so confused by the middle halter that takes away from the glamour of the dress. It looks like a last minute modesty insert that makes me want to Claire Danes ugly cry. What’s going on here? Someone pass me some scissors.

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Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

Michelle Dockery in Oscar de la Renta

Lady Mary! I want to love everything about this ruffled gown, but I also want to dust my living room with it. Downton Abbey may be over, but Dockery can still dress like the Lady of the House. This dress reminds me of luxury bedding at a 5 star hotel. That’s not a bad thing, but that’s not a great thing either.

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Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Emilia Clarke in Atelier Versace

I’m hesitant to speak ill of the Mother of Dragons, so let’s just say I’m underwhelmed…and wish her hair was really ice blonde. I love a structured dress and I also love a nude coloured dress…but I also love a bangle and big jewelry. Give me something!

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Rex/Shutterstock

Try Again Next Year…

Swing and a miss! While I applaud their efforts, these are some looks that should have stayed on the hanger.

Mandy Moore in Prabal Gurung

Oh, Mandy. Remember A Walk to Remember? Those were good times. Tonight’s look…not so much.

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REX/Shutterstock

Aziz Ansari

It was a good night for Ansari, who took home an Emmy for his hit Netflix series, Master of None. So, why does it look like he just walked in the door after a long hard day, ripped off his bow tie and unbuttoned his pants and is ready to drink scotch and watch Narcos? C’mon Aziz! You’re better than the no socks trend.

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Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Kelly Preston

I can put up with a lot of things, but I can not and will not stand for John Travolta’s poor hair choices rubbing off on his innocent wife.  Has there ever been a more obvious cry for help than this outfit? Kelly, you’re the hot woman from the She Will Be Loved music video! Act like it!

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Todd Williamson/Getty Images

Anna Chlumsky

Yeah. I’m not really sure either, to be honest. One things for sure, it looks hella cozy. Perfect for the woman who loves to camp but is tired of the traditional sleeping bag.

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Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Who got it right?

Who got it oh-so wrong?

Tell us in the comments below!