• By: OLM Staff

Kenny Chesney Jump Starts Capital Hoedown to a Screaming Crowd

“We’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time!”

Everyone in the crowd on the first day of the 2011 Capital Hoedown could agree with the day’s second act, Tara Oram, who said  that she and her band had been looking forward to the event since the day they were asked to perform.

Oram, who hails from Gander, Newfoundland, played to a packed field of rowdy country fans, including her mother, who watched proudly from the very front of the crowd.

The Canadian singer looks shockingly similar to Carrie Underwood, and is just as beautiful from ten feet away as she is in her photos. She is funny, energetic, and has a voice as strong as her fan base. Oram’s first album, Chasing the Sun, was nominated for a 2009 Juno for Country Album of the Year, and won an ECMA for Country Recording of the Year. She also nabbed the Rising Star Award at the 2009 CCMA’s, and even performed at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Oram had the crowd dancing with her newest single, ‘1929’, from her latest album Revival. She sang her own tunes, as well as Sheryl Crow’s ‘Strong Enough’, to round out her set.

But Oram wasn’t the only Canadian talent to grace the stage this evening. After year of touring with her family band – which includes 2004 Canadian Idol winner Kalan Porter – Mackenzie Porter, who won the Nashville North Star competition just this summer, also won over the crowd with her killer vocals and amazing stage presence. Porter’s Nashville win allowed her to secure some very coveted performance opportunities, including opening for tonight’s Kenny Chesney and Doc Walker.

Porter, who was relatively unfamiliar to the Capital Hoedown crowd, captured the attention of all with her incredible energy, powerful voice and impressive violin skills. She sang a set of mostly her own songs, aside from the Dixie Chick’s ‘Sin Wagon’, which included a tune titled ‘I’m Cool’ about the time she fell on ice in front of a boy she liked in high school.

‘Fourth of July’ was another Porter tune, as well as ‘Last Night’, which, said Porter, we were the first crowd to hear. If the Capital Hoedown reaction to the catchy song is any indication, ‘Last Night’ would be a perfect choice for a radio single. Mackenzie Porter is currently writing and recording her upcoming debut album.

Third to hit the stage was Doc Walker, another Canadian group from Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. The group consists of lead singer Chris Thorsteinson, and guitarists Dave Wasyliw and Murray Pulver.

The band played a mix of old favourites and new songs, starting out their show with ‘Get Up Now’ – an appropriate choice to get the crowd excited. They also played the song that started it all – their first big hit, ‘She Hasn’t Always Been This Way’.

Doc Walker’s new album is titled 16&1, which is described on their website as a trip down memory lane with “a big old bush party waiting at the end of it.” The album was recorded in Thorsteinson’s old schoolhouse in Westbourne, Manitoba. When the school closed down, the singer bought the property – which is located just across the street from his parent’s home – with his father and turned the building into their very own ‘Old School Studio’.

As a huge fan of the group since hearing one of their first singles, ‘North Dakota Boy’, I was thrilled to see that Doc Walker was just as talented onstage as they are on the radio. Thorsteinson’s vocals were accompanied by the sound of a legion of fans singing along, and it was clear I was not the only fan.

After a successful slew of opening acts, the crowd was ready and roaring for the night’s headliner, country superstar Kenny Chesney.

Chesney played a mix of his biggest hits, which poured out of the impressive sound system at a level that you could not only hear, but feel. With his signature tropical flair, Chesney sang his popular warm-weather hits ‘Summertime’ and ‘When the Sun Goes Down’, as well as other favourites like ‘Young’ and ‘I Go Back’.

Chesney described how he got his start playing at a Mexican restaurant in college. “Just give me a guitar and a tip jar!” the singer joked. He gave us a taste of his college shows, setting up in front of the microphone with just his acoustic guitar to play his latest single, ‘You and Tequila’. Listening to just Chesney’s voice and his guitar, it is clear why the man is a country superstar – his talent is undeniable, as is his ability to pump up a crowd with his lively stage performances.

After exiting the stage, Chesney was lured back on by the cheering crowd to sing one more smash hit – one of his earliest successes, ‘She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy’. Judging by the reaction of the ladies in the crowd, it isn’t just Chesney’s tractor that women find sexy!

With the night ending on an upbeat note, the fans of Capital Hoedown streamed out of Le Breton Flats cheering, laughing, and ready for round two.