It’s been about two and a half years since Wes Mack released his debut full-length album, Edge Of The Storm, and now the Calgary native is back with the release of his new single, House On Fire, and he has more new music on the horizon.
We caught up with Wes in Toronto during his press run for his single release, and had the chance to sit down, relax, and talk about music, his new video, acting, superhero movies, Gary Bettman, and more. Seriously, we talked about a lot of things.
On the top of our list of thing to talk about was (of course) the single, House On Fire. Wes co-wrote the song with Donny Anderson and Murray Daigle, a new trio on a first time write, and all three of them liked what they came up with. Wes truly sounds like he feels good about this being the first new single he’s released since the 2015 album.
In fact, we ran into Donny Anderson the day before the release, and he told us that that he was excited, he felt Wes was excited, and now that it’s out, we hope they feeling all of the good things that come from that kind of excitement paying off.
We also talked to Wes about the music video for House On Fire, and he was happy to give us all kinds of the making of and behind-the-scenes info.
Another trio came together for the music video, with Mack’s girlfriend and best friend joining him as producers on the project. He also told us that this was the fifth video he’s worked on with his cinematographer, which added a familiarity and comfort. As the star and director, Mack needed to lean on his partners to let him know about things he couldn’t or didn’t recognize from his vantage point when he was on set.
We also talked about the illusions of music videos, and this one in particular. House On Fire, the beer pong, good timin’, summer party video was shot in Vancouver… in October, not the warmest of climates.
Wes told us that the girls did their best to take care of themselves, wrapping up in warm parkas between shots. And when it was time for the cast to come back to the set, Bahamas was the codeword that got the coats off, warm feelings flowing, and everyone back in the action.
The Alberta native and two time nominee for Music Video Director of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards (2014: One More Girl: Love Like Mine. 2015: Wes Mack: Before You Drive Me Crazy) also gave a lot of love to his band, many of whom came into the shoot without the same kind of experience that he had. Wes told us that they needed very little encouragement, and that they gave him everything he hoped for on camera. From the beer pong to the party, they were all in!
We also talked to Wes about more new music, and he told us that the plan looks to be another single this summer, with a third to follow in the fall to go along with the release of a brand new album.
With a fall release, Wes Mack’s new album will come three years after his last. He told us that after Edge Of The Storm came out he started the writing process for a follow-up album… he had 10 songs, which would have worked, but something didn’t feel right.
Wes told us that the first album came without a timeline, and the songs were written worked on over about three years. And in working on songs for a follow-up so soon after the release, he felt rushed, and like he wasn’t sure if he was getting the best out of himself and the process. He also realized that the timeline he had was all in his head, and that he could choose to slow things down and get it right.
He told us that about 60 songs were written for the new project, 30 or so of those tracks made it to demo, and when the album comes out later in 2018, we’ll all be able to hear the complete and finished product.
While we were with Wes, we played a round of 5 Quick Questions. Check it out!
5 Quick Questions with Wes Mack!
Q1) What was the first song you performed for an audience?
Wes) Rush (original)
Wes wrote the song when he was 11, and at 13 he and his band Shades Of Grey (before the books, which changes a lot) played the song at his year-end hockey party. He laughed and told us that he’s not sure he’s ever played a room with more critics than those young teenage boys.
Q2) What was the first album you bought?
Wes) Wes told us that he doesn’t remember which album he bought first, but he does remember that his first CDs and some old tapes he had… hit play to find out what Wes listened to back in the day.
Q3) Do you have a dream duet partner?
Wes) Jess Moskaluke
Wes told us that he’s had the chance to sing with Jess on two occasions, but would like to add a third. The three-time CCMA Female Artist of the Year joined Mack to sing Duet on the Shania tour, which was their only official performance… but Wes told us that one night in PEI, he and Jess were in the same small bar and someone submitted their names on open mic night. The Mack/Moskaluke combo made their way to the microphones, Wes double checked with Jess that he knew the chords for Cheap Wine & Cigarettes, and they sang a medley of Moskaluke’s platinum single and Mack’s Duet.
Q4) Is there a city or venue at the top of your wishlist?
Wes) The Calgary Saddledome.
It’s Mack’s hometown arena. His team, the Calgary Flames play there. And, he wasn’t on the Shania Twain date that hit the arena in 2015.
Wes is a little worried that his window is closing, with talk of a new NHL arena coming to the city. So we’re crossing our fingers that the Calgary boy gets to play his hometown barn before it comes down.
Q5) Is there an artist that you think people should be paying more attention to or listening to more?
Wes) John Mayer… but with a clarification. Wes told us that he knows that everyone knows who Mayer is, but he was happy to have heard his new music on country radio after spending years hearing those sounds in his records.
He also mentioned that it was cool to see where the different points in Mayer’s career arc, and the movement in genre silos. He likes the genre-bending that’s going on, and pointed out that a lot of classic rock bands would be country now with the instrumentation and songs they released back in the day!
Before we wrapped up our hang with Wes, we talked about hockey and his fear that Gary Bettman is pushing things in a more polished, corporate direction that takes away from blue collar fans. He gushed about the crowds at Flames games in Calgary, and how it was a passionate, rowdy crowd that loved the game in a way that makes us want to go out to the Saddledome for a Battle of Alberta matchup.
We also talked about Mack’s acting and asked if he thinks he’ll find his way back into the DC TV universe… he told us that there’s always a possibility, and that living in Vancouver (where the CW shows Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl film) does increase the chance to audition and act in the Arrowverse. However, he also told us that music comes first, and that scheduling around that is sometimes hard.
There’s a lot on the horizon for Wes Mack, and while he couldn’t give us all of the details, he did say that there are tour dates coming to give fans a chance to see him live on stage, and that he’s excited to release more new music.
He also reinterated how excited he is to have House On Fire released to the world, and hope that his fans, and country music fans across the country like it.
Stay tuned for more from Wes Mack, it’s coming!
Note: While we were going through some of our Wes Mack content from the last few years, we found this video of Wes singing Listen To Me live at Toronto’s Rock N Horse Saloon at his album release party in September 2015. Enjoy!
This instalment of the New Music Spotlight offers a varied playlist to give you a taste of some of the tracks we’re into right now. From the top of the world’s playlists to a couple acts we think you should be discovering, we’ve got you covered.
In this spotlight, we’ve got five videos from pop, rock, and country. There are big label productions and indie offerings, and we are digging all of them.
Let’s do this!
Artist: Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran, Future
Hometown: Reading, PA
Related Artists: Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Selena Gomez
Single: End Game
Notes: One of my favourite tracks from the reputation era, T.Swift kills it with bff Ed Sheeran and Future on End Game. Honestly, if this is what it sounds like to have a big reputation, we’re in.
Artist: James Barker Band
Hometown: Woodville, ON
Related: Dierks Bentley, Old Dominion, Kieth Urban
Single: Good Together
Notes: JBB has moved past their 2017 EP, Game On, with their new single, and it’s working. Fans are connecting with Good Together the same way they have to earlier releases – online, and live.
Artist: No Liars
Hometown: Victoria, BC
Related: Farewell Letter, MakeWar, Light Fire Down
Single: Guilt Trip
Notes: The second track off their forthcoming album, The Cause & The Cure, Guilt Trip reminds me of the hits and fan favourites I loved earlier in the 2000s from Brand New, The Used and more. Turn this one up.
Artist: Justin Timberlake
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Related: Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Beyoncé
Notes: This is the second single from the upcoming Man Of The Woods album, and it’s still not what we thought was coming based on the trailer. Timberlake is keeping everyone on their toes with Supplies, bringing some powerful imagery to the screen.
Artist: Oh Geronimo
Hometown: Burlington, ON
Related: Hey Rosetta!, Texas King, Ivory Hours
Notes: The band explains that Mountains is a song about wholeheartedly pursuing your passions, while straddling the fragile line between ambition and humility. The track comes from the 2018 album, The Sled, and serves as a teaser for what we should all be ready to hear.
Toronto hovered around the freezing mark on Friday, but inside of The Phoenix Concert Theatre, things were hot, sweaty, and fired up as James Barker Band brought the Game On Tour to town with Meghan Patrick and Jojo Mason.
As one of the fastest risers on the Canadian country music scene in the last few years, James Barker Band (JBB) have gone from the small stages in local bars, to the stages of sold out country bars in the city, and now they’ve hit a new level as they sold out The Phoenix – just nine months after they released their first EP at Canadian Music Week 2017.
The Game On Tour is in full swing, and if what we saw in Toronto on Friday night is any indication, there are going to be a lot of satisfied country music fans across the country when it’s finished. All three acts on the bill brought their A game to the stage, playing hits, fan favourites, and peppering in a few fantastic covers that only added to the excitement in the crowd throughout the night.
Jojo Mason kicked off the night with a tight 25 minutes of music that revved up the Toronto audience and started the temperature rise in the building.
The Saskatchewan native looked right at home at The Phoenix, hitting the stage with his band and bringing the energy that he’s become known for. And as the 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Rising Star nominee rolled through songs like Red Dress, Good Kinda Love, and his current single, Edge Of The Night we could hear the crowd singing along simultaneously warming themselves up and getting the party started.
By the time Jojo wrapped his short set with It’s All Good, it was clear that things were only going to get louder and hotter on the Toronto stop of the Game On Tour. Jojo Mason did his job, and we should all be looking forward to the next time we get to see him on stage.
More photos below…
Jojo Mason Setlist, Game On Tour, Toronto
🎤 Edge Of The Night 🎤 Red Dress/Chicken Fried 🎤 Good Kinda Love 🎤 Something To Wrap My Heart Around 🎤 No Diggity [Blackstreet] 🎤 It’s All Good
After a brief intermission, Meghan Patrick, the 2017 CCMA Rising Star and Female Artist of the Year awards winner, hit the stage at The Phoenix.
The Bowmanville, ON star came armed with a 10 song set that included songs from her debut album, Grace & Grit, and her January 2018 release, Country Music Made Me Do It. And as she played tracks from each album, the crowd got louder, more involved, and showed her the love that the pseudo-hometown concert had to offer.
Note: Meghan also took the chance to wish a happy birthday to the one and only Dolly Parton before she broke into a rousing rendition of Jolene.
Accompanied by a full band of five dudes on stage, Patrick’s sound was full and tight. Her voice, which has always been a strength, ripped through the speakers and met the voices of the Toronto fans as they sang along with her.
And to see and hear those country music fans sing along to new songs like Country Music Made Me Do It and George Strait with the same love that they use to belt out Grace & Grit and Bow Chicka Wow Wow serves as a confirmation (not that it was needed) that Meghan Patrick truly has become a star, burning bright and hot in Canadian country music.
More photos below…
Meghan Patrick Setlist, Game On Tour, Toronto
🎤 Hardest On My Heart 🎤 Long Way From Waylon 🎤 Country Music Made Me Do It 🎤 George Strait 🎤 The Bad Guy 🎤 Grace & Grit 🎤 Jolene [D. Parton] 🎤 Be Country With Me 🎤 The Buzz 🎤 Bow Chicka Wow Wow
In August 2015 we saw the James Barker Band on the Boots & Hearts stage as finalists in the Emerging Artist Showcase… in the two and a half years since the boys haven’t slowed down a bit.
The Game On Tour serves as JBB’s first headlining trek across Canada, and with a fist full of Canadian country music chart hits and fan favourites, these boys came ready to play in Toronto.
From the jump, the warmed up (hot and sweaty) Friday night crowd was all in on the JBB set. And from the opening notes of It’s Working, they were loud and engaged. There were cheers and screams and laughs as James, Taylor, Bobby, and Connor played their set, cracking jokes, having fun, and clearly enjoying the chance to play for a sold out Toronto audience.
The band’s set was a well thought out mix of tracks from their 2017 EP, Game On, new songs that we expect to hear on their next record (including the brand new single, Good Together), and covers of Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, John Michael Montgomery, and Hank Williams. The pacing was smooth, the energy in the room never dipped, and it was clear that James Barker Band was in complete control of the crowd on the floor in front of them.
These boys are serious about their music in that they work hard and have released some excellent songs, but they don’t take themselves so seriously that they can’t remember that this is supposed to be fun. So when they called up volunteers from the crowd to make their cover of Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident) an interactive event, it fit perfectly.
Note: When we talked to James before the tour started we asked about Sold and whether we should expect it in the set. James told us that he wasn’t sure it would be a JBB show without it, and we’re glad that was his answer.
With radio hits like Just Sayin’, Lawn Chair Lazy, and Chills in their set, we were ready for a lot of singing along, and we got it. The country music fans in Toronto weren’t shy about participating in the action, raising their voices to meet James, and making sure that they contributed to the overall sound at The Phoenix.
It all came together to create an amazing atmosphere and a Friday night party in the city.
The Game On Tour wraps in Vancouver on February 10th, but that doesn’t mean that James Barker Band are planning to slow down. Be ready to see a lot more of them soon, and if you have a chance to catch them before the tour is over, do it!
James Barker Band, Game On Tour, Toronto
🎤 It’s Working
🎤 Going Places*
🎤 Just Sayin’
🎤 Good Together
🎤 Hey Good Lookin’ [H. Williams]
🎤 Living The Dream
🎤 I’m Gonna Miss Her [B. Paisley]
🎤 Keep You Happy*
🎤 Sweet Thing [K. Urban]
🎤 Looking At You*
🎤 Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident) [J.M. Montgomery]
🎤 Lawn Chair Lazy
🎤 Rock/Pop Medley
*new songs, unrecorded, names may be inaccurate.
James Barker Band Photos, Game On Tour (Toronto)
Meghan Patrick Photos, Game On Tour (Toronto)
Jojo Mason Photos, Game On Tour (Toronto)
Jojo Mason rolled into Toronto on Friday with the Game On Tour, ready for action and what comes next.
We caught up with Jojo before his opening slot on the James Barker Band show to talk about being on the road, his plans for new music, changing the game, and how excited he is to be doing what he does.
Note: Earlier in the day Jojo took over our Instagram account, posting photos and videos from a busy morning of TV appearances, a SiriusXM session, and the chance to meet Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta. Check out his timeline posts at @thereviewsarein.com.
The last time we hung out with Jojo Mason we were in Port Perry, ON in September 2017, and he told us that there were big things coming. He couldn’t share details then… but four months later, it’s all pretty clear. The Saskatchewan native is on tour with James Barker Band and Meghan Patrick for 21 dates, crossing the country from Halifax to Vancouver, playing a 25 minute set in each city, and getting the crowd ready for the rest of the night.
We asked Jojo about the experience so far (a week in) and he gushed about the chance to get up on stage at sold out shows to share his music. He is loving the chance to play for Canadian country music fans, and they are responding in ways he never expected. Jojo is hearing those excited fans sing back to him at each stop, and it’s wowing him every time. The 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Rising Star nominee told us that the feeling of hearing his own songs being sung back to him is almost indescribable.
Mason also talked to us about learning and growing on this tour. He told us that he is taking every chance he gets to talk to his tour mates about his set, asking for advice, tips, and feedback about what they’re seeing. He knows that JBB and Meghan Patrick have been on big tours before, and he knows there’s a lot for him to soak in. That willingness to put his ego aside to learn and improve fits perfectly with everything we already knew about Jojo Mason… and it is only going to make him a better performer as his career progresses.
Here’s the thing about Jojo Mason – he’s legitimately the best dude. There isn’t anyone we’ve met that has said anything to contradict that opinion. We’ve experienced it ourselves, we’ve heard stories from fans and industry folks, and it’s all true. In fact, when we talked to James Barker the night before the Game On Tour kicked off in Halifax and asked him to describe Jojo in three words… and he said: The Nicest Guy. And here’s another thing – Jojo gives the best hugs. We’ve been saying it forever, and on Friday night it was echoed in his introduction from KX Country’s Mike Fuller and Jerry Archer. The secret’s out!
In June 2017, Jojo Mason released his debut album, Both Sides Of The Bar, and gave country fans a collection of 10 songs, including singles, It’s All Good, Good Kinda Love, Red Dress, Made For You, Something To Wrap My Heart Around, and his most recent release, Edge Of The Night. The energetic singer has played those songs on every stage possible since then, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t also been working on the music that comes next.
Back in September, Jojo told us that he had started doing some writing for his follow-up project, and on Friday he told us that after a November trip to Nashville for more writing, the demo-ing process has started.
There was an excitement on Mason’s face and in his voice when he talked about what he wants to do with his new music… and for good reason. Jojo Mason wants to pave his own path with his next album. He’s looking to change the game a little bit, and carve out some space for something new.
As a kid, Jojo grew up on country music. And soul. And funk. And now, as an artist and fan of music, he’s looking for a chance to put those influences and passions together. He calls it Country-Soul, and he’s looking to make it happen.
Jojo told us that he’s already started to push producer Dan Swinimer for new sounds on the new songs, including horns. And while we haven’t heard any of the demos, it’s easy to imagine them as fun, full, energetic, and packed with all of the things we get from Jojo now.
Mason also told us that the next single he releases won’t be from Both Sides Of The Bar, and that it will be a new brand track. He didn’t tell us when it’s coming, but it is on the way.
Before we wrapped our chat and let Jojo Mason get ready for the show, we talked a little more about the tour and how it’s been going so far. Jojo told us (with a big smile) that it’s been a blast. He compared it to hanging out with his friends back home. Getting the chance to be with the James Barker Band boys and Meghan Patrick every day has been a lot of fun (and work). And whether they’re talking about hometowns, their dogs, relationships, life, or having Nerf gun fights (check out Jojo and Meghan’s Instagram stories) it’s all coming together to be a good time.
In fact, Jojo told us that he’s ready for Meghan Patrick (his bus-mate) to take him hunting and fishing.
We’ll all have to wait and see if the two country kids get out in the woods together, and we’ll do our best to be patient as we wait for new music from Jojo… but until then, we’ll be remembering the show he put on at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto on Friday night.
Jojo came out strong in his opening slot performance, playing a tight 25 minute set with the band, and rolling out the hits and surprises as he made the most of his time.
We could hear the crowd singing along, we could see them dancing, and when Jojo Mason and his boys played a cover of Blackstreet’s No Diggity, complete with a banjo, we were in 90’s hip hop/country music fan heaven.
Jojo Mason is a dude with a lot of career ahead of him. He’s ready to work, ready to learn, and ready to take chances. And, he’s ready to entertain the hell out of anyone that wants to come on out.
If you’re west of Toronto and you like to have a good time listening to live country music, we highly recommend that you get tickets for the Game On Tour stop near you.
Jojo recommends it too. And a nice guy like him wouldn’t steer you wrong.
Jojo Mason Setlist, Game On Tour, Toronto
Edge Of The Night
Red Dress/Chicken Fried
Good Kinda Love
Something To Wrap My Heart Around
It’s All Good