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COLUMN: Rising Canadian country stars set to shine at Burl's Creek

Endless Summer Series wraps up at Burl's Creek this weekend with a star-studded show that turns spotlight on some rising Canadian female singers

Welcome to the last long weekend of summer!

And it doesn’t have to be a sad one. There are lots of fun things to do this weekend, and one of the big ones is the finale of the Endless Summer series at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte. And what a finale it is!

With concerts and camping included, this weekend will be like a mini Boots and Hearts, with Friday night headliner Dallas Smith; Saturday, Tim Hicks; and Sunday, the James Barker Band.

This weekend is about more than just headliners, though, as a couple of female Canadian country stars are coming “home” to play, and are excited to be back in their birth country again.

Rising Canadian country star Mackenzie Porter was raised on a cattle and bison ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta. She began studying piano, violin, and voice when she was four years old.

“I honestly don’t remember a time I wasn’t obsessed with music or a time it wasn’t my entire identity," she said. "I started playing violin at four years old and really have no memories before that. It’s just always been the number one thing in my life.”

By the time Porter was a teenager, she was touring in a family band with her brother, 2004 Canadian Idol winner, Kalan Porter. In 2010, she launched a solo career, and in 2011, she won the 2011 Nashville North Star competition.

“I really feel like my career has been a sequence of small breaks over time but one of my first exciting moments was when I won the Nashville North Star and got to open for Kenny Chesney at the Calgary Saddledome," she recalled. "I still remember I wore a pink sequined dress and the feeling of walking out onto that massive stage for the first time.”

Porter went on to sing with Nashville-based Big Loud, becoming their first Canadian artist. She is also the first woman to land three consecutive No. 1 songs on Canadian country radio since Shania Twain. Porter’s big hits are About You, These Days, and Seeing Other People.

Porter is thrilled to be playing Endless Summer this weekend.

“I’m so excited to play this weekend. I haven’t played a show in Canada in over a year and a half. So much has happened since my last show and I can’t wait to play for my people again," she told OrilliaMatters.

Mackenzie Porter will also be playing this coming Saturday at the Endless Summer series at Burl’s Creek.

Canadian country singer/songwriter Meghan Patrick is also excited to be back on Canadian soil. Patrick was born in Bowmanville and currently resides in Nashville.

Patrick remembers the radio always being on, growing up, both in the house and the car.

“But when I kind of became aware that I was a musician myself, it was in, I guess, sixth grade, when I auditioned for the school musical. And that’s when I figured out that I could sing. I started taking singing lessons after that, which led me to studying music in university," she explained.

Patrick studied opera and jazz, and played in several different bands, ranging from funk to bluegrass. It was her bluegrass band, the Stone Sparrows, who played at Boots and Hearts in 2013.

“Touring with the Stone Sparrows made me realize that this is what I wanted to do for my life," she explained. "And that eventually led to me having a meeting with Warner Music…played some songs and signed my first record deal. The people over at Warner were really my first champions and really the beginning of everything for me as a professional musician.”

What can fans expect from Patrick’s set?

“Canada is where I got my start, and my career has largely been based in Canada,” says Patrick. “I was so excited when I got the call that we would be playing Burl’s Creek. I’ve always looked at Boots and Hearts and Burl’s Creek as my hometown crowd and the place that I love to play. I feel like this is going to be a big homecoming show for me. It’s going to be high energy, and you can expect a party.”

Meghan Patrick will be playing this coming Friday at Burl’s Creek Endless Summer series. You can get tickets here.

Sadly, summer is not really endless and yes, we are at the last long weekend of the summer. Take advantage of the last two nights of See You on the Patio in downtown Orillia, this Friday and Saturday. Lots of great food, music, art, and entertainment.

This weekend also marks the last few performances of both Old Love, at the Orillia Opera House, and Mariposa Arts Theatre’s Twelfth Night, at the Leacock Museum. Tickets for both are through the Orillia Opera House box office here.

Enjoy this last wonderful weekend and stay tuned, next week, for fall happenings!

If you have arts news, send it to annaproctor111@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon to be included.