Hillbilly Highway – Hitting the Highway to Sled Island


by Sheldon Birnie

Sun’s out, guns out, and it’s time to hit the Highway. I’m heading out to check the action at Sled Island, and enjoy the beautiful sights of the Number One Highway.

While Sled Island isn’t heavy on the country, western, or folk fronts, the festival isn’t parched, either. I’m looking forward, more than anything, to a set from Deep Dark Woods, who have a new album in the can (but no timeline for release, just yet). They’re playing an evening with Winnipeg’s curling ambassador of song, John K Samson on Friday that will be off the hook. Opening for John K on Thursday is our pal Northcote (whose set on Tuesday in Winnipeg I was forced to pass up).

There are a number of acts I’m keen to see that are outside of my normal Hillbilly persuasion, especially Shooting Guns, Powder Blue, and Edmonton’s Krang, among others. I’m also looking forward to checking out weirdo country/folk/rock acts the Seahags (Saskatoon) and Cowpuncher (Calgary), whose live shows I’ve been hearing much about, but have never seen to date. I’m also hoping to catch a few of the Manitoban acts making the trek, especially This Hisses.

I’ll also be partying with two pals of mine who are arguably the wildest country music fans I know: Dubbo, a truck-drivin son of a gun, and K-Money, a good buddy from back in the ole Pizza Place days (the both of us pictured above, over ten years ago). When I pause to consider the trouble we could get ourselves in, I shudder to think.

Coming hard on the heels of Sled Island is Dauphin Countryfest, which I’ll be attending to cover in this space here. Next Thursday we’ll be posting my unedited conversation with one of my favourite purveyors of alternative country, Hayes Carll.

Next week’s Hillbilly Highway will be a recap of my adventures in Cowtown, and will offer a brief preview of the wild weekend ahead in Dauphin. Thanks for reading, friends. We’ll catch ya on the flip.


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