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Kevin Costner says he 'came within a whisper of dying' at Alberta stage collapse

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TORONTO - Two-time Oscar-winning star Kevin Costner says being in the middle of a deadly storm at an Alberta music festival nearly three years ago taught him "that life is precious."

Costner and his rock-country group Modern West were about to perform at the outdoor show in Camrose, Alta., in August 2009 when severe winds collapsed the main stage, killing one woman and injuring 75 other festival-goers.

"I came within a whisper of dying and two of my bandmates did too," Costner said during a stop in Toronto Thursday to announce that he and his band will play at the inaugural Boots and Hearts Music Festival in Bowmanville, Ont., in August.

"The stage fell on me, it fell on them, and I was underneath it."

Costner returned to Camrose with Modern West the following year to perform at the same concert, the Big Valley Jamboree.

He and his band haven't faced any similar scares at outdoor festivals since, but "when I tell the guys to get off the stage now, they get off," Costner said by phone moments after stepping off a plane in Toronto.

"It shows you how precious and how quickly life can be in the balance," noted the actor-filmmaker-singer, who won Oscars for best director and best picture for 1990's "Dances with Wolves."

"I like to think of myself as someone that has pretty high survival instincts, whether I'm in a stadium or in a bar or in the street, and this natural phenomena dominated everybody so quickly. There was a loss of life, there were some injuries that have been probably impossible to recover from, and it was stronger and it just out-ran everybody."

The country-themed Boots and Hearts Music Festival will be held on two stages at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville from Aug. 10 to Aug. 12.

Other acts on the bill include Tim McGraw, Kid Rock, Carrie Underwood, Alabama, Paul Brandt, and Big and Rich.

Organizers say the event will be the largest international country music festival ever hosted on Canadian soil.

Costner was slated to attend a launch party for the festival Thursday night and then head with Modern West to Windsor, Ont., for a concert on Friday.

Though his time in Toronto was brief, the "Field of Dreams" star was well aware of the dynasty of the city's Blue Jays baseball team.

"You guys are beating up on the Red Sox, are ya? A bunch of bullies, huh?" Costner laughed in jest, in reference to the Jays' 3-1 victory over Boston Wednesday.

Costner and Modern West are about to release their fourth album, "Famous For Killing Each Other," a concept disc inspired by his miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys" that's due to air next month on History Channel in the U.S.

The group is also scheduled to perform in Regina on June 30 and Grande Prairie, Alta., on July 1.

"I have been treated really well by everybody here and there's a genuineness, and so it's made it easy for me to want to come here," said Costner, who has performed around Canada with his band and made several films here, including the Alberta-shot "Open Range."

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Online: http://www.facebook.com/BootsandHearts

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