Jason Blaine Coming Home For Boots And Hearts

Jason Blaine said Tuesday his third Boots and Hearts festival appearance is going to be a particularly special one.

“This year, to be on the same bill as Alan Jackson is pretty awesome,” Blaine told iHeartRadio.ca, on the phone from his home in Nashville.

“I grew up spending Ontario summers around camp fires learning to play guitar to Alan Jackson music so to be on the same bill, sharing the same stage with him, is full-circle awesome to me.”

Blaine made his Boots and Hearts debut in 2013 alongside big names like Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley and, in 2016, he performed on the same stage as Tim McGraw. (“My parents, especially my mother, are huge country music fans so they were pretty thrilled,” recalled Blaine.)

Boots and Hearts, billed as the largest country music festival in Canada, runs Aug. 9 to 12 at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro Medonte, 120 km north of Toronto. In addition to Jackson, performers include Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Billy Currington and Canada’s own Dallas Smith.

Blaine, who is set to hit the main stage Saturday at 3:40 p.m., promises to take fans on a musical journey through a career that kicked off with the release of his first single in 2003. His latest collection of songs is Boy With A Guitar.

“It’s going to be a mix of the new and the old,” the singer said. “It’s really a blessing to get to have hits from 10 years ago and still have hits today.”

Blaine said when he asked fans via social media which songs should be on the setlist, he was surprised by requests for one of his songs from 2007. “I was just tickled that a lot of fans said ‘Rock in my Boot.’ They remember these songs,” he said. “Some of these young [fans] who are at the shows were not even in high school yet when that song was a hit.”

What doesn’t surprise Blaine is that he’s still doing what he loves all these years later.

“I had hoped that I would get to do this as a career and I started dreaming about it at a pretty young age and worked away at it,” he recalled, “and putting one foot in front of the other.”

Blaine and his wife Amy have lived in Nashville for about a decade and two of their four children were born there. Canada, though, is still in his heart.

“I really feel like both places are home. We really have a foot in both countries,” explained Blaine. “Canada always feels like home for me but Tennessee feels like home for my kids since we’ve basically lived here the whole time.”

Blaine easily recalled the first time he heard one of his songs on the radio. “It was at a real low point. It had been before any of the royalty cheques came in and I had no money,” he shared. "I was playing a little bar gig in Brantford, Ont. and I was getting into my vehicle on the break and I heard one of my songs come on the radio for the first time. It was an incredible feeling.”

Blaine said it still feels good to hear himself on the radio. “When I’m in Canada and we’re driving back to visit family and we’ve got all the kids in the vehicle and we’ll hear one of my songs… it’s a really cool moment.”

Before Blaine takes the main stage on Saturday, he will treat lucky fans to a more intimate performance at a noon-time tailgate party sponsored by iHeartRadio.

“It is full band but it’s sort of stripped down. We’re going to play a couple of my favourite tailgate covers and debut my new single,” said Blaine. (He’ll play the new single again on the main stage.)

Country music fans spending the weekend at Boots and Hearts will be happy to know that Blaine promises to bring more than just his music.

“I’ll do my best to bring some southern sunshine,” he said.