Boots And Hearts: Here's What We Know About Dallas Smith

Dallas Smith, one of the leading men of Canadian country music, is set to tear up the stage tonight at the Boots and Hearts festival north of Toronto.

He takes over the Main Stage tonight at 7:45 with an hour-long set ahead of Florida Georgia Line.

MORE: Jason Blaine Coming Home For Boots And Hearts

Smith has spoken to several times in the past two years about his music, his family, and his incredible success.

So, here’s some of what we know about Dallas Smith:

Before he turned to country music, he was belting out rock songs as frontman for Default.

“I didn’t want to be a one-dimensional guy. I really wanted to challenge myself and take risks and constantly leave my comfort zone.”

What about a Default reunion? “I hate to say that we’ll never play a show together again. I think there will be an opportunity at some point down the road where that makes sense to do. But right now every single one of us in that band is busy. We all have kids. It’s hard just to even get a lunch together let alone organize a show.”

He is proud of the state of Canadian country music.

“The production has really been stepped up. Everybody’s kind of looked at each other and said, ‘We need to take this to another level.’

“You look back at moments with Terri [Clark] and Shania [Twain] and Paul [Brandt] — where they were eating up every bit of Cancon there was. But now there’s such a competition for those spots. It’s such a great thing.

“Hopefully some more American labels and the American country community will start paying attention to what we’re doing up here now. We’re starting to turn heads and I hope that continues.”

He’s a big fan of Keith Urban, for whom he has opened shows.

“Keith Urban was one of those guys that helped bridge the gap from what I was doing to what I want to do now … I’ve met a lot of guys that I look up to that I wish I didn’t meet. To meet Keith and to have him be just the guy that he is [was] an incredible experience … He’s an absolute class act.”

He draws inspiration from a certain country music star when doing “I’m Already Gone.”

“I have to channel my inner Tim McGraw on that one. I just imagine what would Tim do with this song.”

He remembers the first time he heard one of his country songs on the radio.

“It was in the car. Me and my wife were on our way down to a hockey game, to a Canucks game in Vancouver, and ;Somebody Somewhere’ came on. It was a special moment. It was pretty cool.

“Now every time I hear my own song on the radio, I change the station.”

He loves tattoos.

Smith has a growing collection of body art by fellow B.C. resident Donovan Murphy. Is there a tattoo that only his wife and doctor get to see? 

“No, not yet. But I’m sure it will happen.”

Being a father has influenced his song choices.

“What I was doing was very, very negative content — you know, bad relationships, that kind of stuff. When you have kids your life changes for the better in a lot of ways and I wanted my music to reflect that.

“I want them — when they decide to look at my catalogue and sort of dive deeper into what dad did when they were kids — I want them to be proud of what I did and not think that I was unhappy while they were in my life. Because I’m not.

“These are honestly the best years of my life with my two kids and I want my music to reflect that.”

Yes, he sings in the shower.

“When I find a good bathroom in a hotel with some really good natural reverb, that’s when I’ll sing something and goof around.”

Perhaps something by Britney Spears? “No, I’m not going to admit that. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened — but I’m not going to admit it.”

He listens to rock music on tour.

“It’s really great bus music. When we’re traveling, or in the van to the venue or whatever, that’s our go-to. Rage Against the Machine, Stone Temple Pilots. We’ll pull out everything from back in the day. Alice in Chains. It comes out quite regularly.”

He knows how to take care of his voice when on tour.

“It’s just taking care of yourself and being healthy in general. The biggest killer for me is not the singing, it’s the talking. Especially if you’re going to go out at night to a bar, and you’re talking over everybody. That stuff’s worse for your voice than the actual singing.

“I’ve learned some tricks of the trade over the years. I’ve been touring for quite awhile.”

He has resisted the temptation to move to Nashville.

“I’ve got kids. I’ve got a family. My son lives four minutes down the street from me with his mom. I take him to school when I’m home. I’m very involved.

“So if I moved to Nashville full-time, it might be good for my career but it wouldn’t be very good for my sleep. I wouldn’t be able to rest my head at night knowing that that’s what the trade-off is.

“Spending more time down there will be OK but moving full-time, I don’t think that’s something that honestly I’ll ever be prepared to do.”

He’s looking at you when he’s on stage.

“It’s got nothing to do with what’s going on behind me. It’s got everything to do with what’s going on in front of me. Seeing the faces and how everybody reacts.