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Cory James Mitchell having breakout year in country music

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Troy Shantz

As a teen, Cory James Mitchell dreamed of performing on the Bayfest Stage.

Today, the Sarnia barber is going one better, playing at the Boots and Hearts music festival after appearing at Bluewater Borderfest on July 26 in Centennial Park.

“It’ll be neat to be in that park and be in front of a hometown crowd,” said Mitchell, 32.

He and bandmates Mason Stewart, Jake Burton, Griffen and Kelan Lindsay have generated a buzz in the Canadian country music scene this year.

They took part in SiriusXM Top of Country and Next Country Music Star contests, placing third in the latter.

They were then chosen in a nationwide contest to play in the Emerging Artist Showcase at the huge Boots and Hearts Music Festival Aug. 9-12 in Oro-Medonte, which draws up to 50,000 fans on busy days.

“This is a big one for us,” said Mitchell. “The Sirius radio thing was good, but this is kind of the big one.”

The band is also signed to play the Havelock Jamboree on Aug. 16-19.

Mitchell noted his band is following in the footsteps of the James Barker Band. Barker, who performed at the inaugural Bluewater Borderfest last summer, also previously placed third at the Next Country Music Star contest and was a part of the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase in 2015.

“You know you’re kind of on the right path when you see the James Barker Band take the same route,” said Mitchell.

It’s been quite an “introduction year,” playing shows across Southern Ontario and being signed by the Feldman Agency, an international entertainment company that represents Jann Arden, Burton Cummings, Bryan Adams and Chris Hadfield.

“We’re staking our claim in all these places, kind of getting ourselves out there,” he said.

The schedule is hectic, but true to the working-class message of his music, Mitchell still works full-time as a barber at The Woods Salon in Sarnia.

“When you get the call you’ve gotta be ready,” he said. “Because if you don’t say yes, there’s literally tens of thousands of people behind you that will.”




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