A conversation with Hayes Carll


by Sheldon Birnie

With festival season bearing down hard upon us, it is with great anticipation that we wait here for some of the world’s best singers, songwriters, and guitar pickers to come pouring in off the Hillbilly Highway and into our backyards. With performances at Dauphin’s Countryfest in June and the Winnipeg Folk Festival in July, Manitobans have no excuse to miss out on Hayes Carll. Stylus caught up with this Texas troubadour over the phone from a tour stop in Tucson, AZ.

Continue reading “A conversation with Hayes Carll”

Hillbilly Highway – Blake Berglund, Real Deal


by Sheldon Birnie

Blake Berglund is a Saskatchewan songwriter with a keen eye for detail and the work ethic of his cowboy forefathers. With a full summer of bookings looming ahead, Stylus caught up with hard hustling troubadour on a break from seeding at his family farm in Kennedy, SK, to talk about touring, songwriting, his background in hard rock and country, and contemporary roots music. Our conversation stretched on for longer than anticipated, but here’s the bulk of what Blake had to tell me. Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Blake Berglund, Real Deal”

Hillbilly Highway – Tracking down Gram Parsons’ last partying place


by Sheldon Birnie

Last week, I was deep in the desert of southern California, waiting on Coachella festival to get cranked up. Of equal interest to me, though, was the proximity of Coachella to the Joshua Tree National Park. Perhaps most famous among pop music circles for inspiring arguably U2’s best album (if you can stomach any of them, that is), this beautiful space holds a special place in the hearts of country-rock fans as the spiritual home of Gram Parsons. Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Tracking down Gram Parsons’ last partying place”

Hillbilly Highway – Top 5 tunes about truckstop waitresses, topless turnpike dancers, and backroads beauties


by Sheldon Birnie

Last week here on the Hillbilly Highway, we spoke with Dustin Bentall leading up to his performance at the Park Theatre on Valentine’s Day.

Now that a few days have passed, I’m still stuck with his unbelievable tune “Emmylou” playing repeat on the jukebox in my brain. I can’t shut it off. I wake up in the morning, it’s there. I’m walking the streets of Winnipeg, it’s keeping me company. I try to drown it out by hitting the Windsor or the Times, but when I deke outside for some air, it’s right there. Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Top 5 tunes about truckstop waitresses, topless turnpike dancers, and backroads beauties”

Hillbilly Highway – Dustin Bentall & The Smokes to light up the Park

dustin bentall

by Sheldon Birnie

Dustin Bentall is an award winning songwriter off of the West Coast of British Columbia. Since the early Oughts, he’s been travelling hard across the Hillbilly Highway, churning out a couple albums worth of solid storytelling songs about drifters, gunfighters, and guitar slingers. On his recent EP, Orion, Bentall has finally locked down a solid band at his back. With the Smokes in tow, Bentall, son of Canadian folk-rock hero Barney Bentall, is rolling into town with Lindi Ortega to take the Park Theatre by storm.  Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Dustin Bentall & The Smokes to light up the Park”

Hillbilly Highway – Lindi Ortega, honest and raw

by Sheldon Birnie

Lindi Ortega is a Toronto born singer-songwriter with pipes of a honky tonk angel. Now based out of Nashville, Lindi is poised to release her sophomore LP Cigarettes & Truckstops, on Last Gang Records October 2nd. Her tunes touch on classic country themes of heartache, hard travelling, over indulgence, infidelity, and all that good stuff. While the production and writing give nods to country music’s past, Ortega’s tunes are contemporary in all the best ways. Next week, she’ll be cruising the Hillbilly Highway through Winnipeg opening for k.d. lang. Continue reading “Hillbilly Highway – Lindi Ortega, honest and raw”