Thanks to some submissions from Wide Mouth Mason fans, we’ve added dates to the Gigography section, including links to fan-generated content for recent gigs at the Shell Theatre’s Performance Series on February 17th and the Thunder Bay Blues Festival on July 9th! If you have content you’ve created that you’d like to see on the site or gig memories you’d like to share, contact the Chef de mission!
Big Sugar brings sweet sounds to Rainmaker
Organizers of this year’s Rainmaker Rodeo and Exhibition to hear some sweet sounds from their rock lineup.
The St. Albert Kinsmen announced earlier this week that the annual festival’s rock concert will be headlined by Canadian reggae-blues-rock veterans Big Sugar on Friday, May 23, under the big tent at their rodeo grounds on Riel Drive.
They’ll be joined on the bill by fellow Canadian rockers Wide Mouth Mason.
Big Sugar has had a number of members rotate through their lineup since they released their first album in 1991, but the core of the band has remained lead singer/guitarist Gordie Johnson, bassist Garry Lowe and harmonica/saxophone player Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe. Together, they have gained a reputation for being an outstanding live band.
Their breakthrough came in 1995 when they released their album Hemi-Vision, which included such hits as “Diggin’ A Hole,” “Open Up Baby,” and “If I Had My Way.” They followed that up with 1996’s Heated, which included “Better Get Used to It,” “The Scene,” and “Turn the Lights On.”
In 2001, the band released Brothers and Sisters, Are You Ready?, which included “Nicotina,” “All Hell for a Basement,” and a blistering guitar version of “O Canada.” The band also recorded a track-for-track French version of the album for sale in Quebec.
Big Sugar decided to split up and played their last show at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on New Year’s Eve 2003. But they reunited in 2010, and released a new studio album, Revolution Per Minute, in 2011. Currently, they are promoting an acoustic album, YardStyle.
Meanwhile, Wide Mouth Mason is a blues-rock band that started in Saskatoon, Sask., in 1995. They are best known for sings like “Midnight Rain,” “Sugarcane,” and “Smile.” Big Sugar’s Johnson started pulling double duty as Wide Mouth Mason’s full-time bassist in March 2011, and also produced their last album, No Bad Days, which was released in July 2011.
The Kinsmen also announced about a week ago that the country concert on Saturday, May 24, will feature Tim Hicks and Michelle Wright.
Tickets for the 18-plus rock show are $39.99 each plus fees and taxes, and are available through Ticketmaster.
Kimberley Chamber announces JulyFest acts
JulyFest planning is now well underway and many have been eagerly waiting the announcement of which band will play the Civic Centre on Saturday night, July 19. The answer was worth the wait.
Following the huge success with 54-40 last year, the Kimberley Chamber is pleased to announce that two bands have been booked for this year’s JulyFest. They are Wide Mouth Mason and Big Sugar.
Mike Guarnery, Chamber manager, and Dave Clark, of the JulyFest committee had a long search to find just the right acts and believe they have found them.
Wide Mouth Mason and Big Sugar are touring together this summer.
Formed in Saskatoon in 1995, Wide Mouth Mason consists of Shaun Verreault (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Safwan Javed (Percussion, Backing Vocals), and Gordie Johnson (Bass, Backing Vocals). The pop/rock/blues band has had a number of hits including Midnight Rain and Sugarcane.
Gordie Johnson is the common thread between both bands. He plays bass for Wide Mouth Mason and guitar for Big Sugar, which was formed in 1988. Big Sugar has put out eight reggae-rock albums including this year’s Eliminate Ya! Live! Big Sugar has built their reputation as an outstanding live band, often playing without a set list. Band members are Gordie Johnson, guitar/vocals; Garry Lowe, bass; Kelly Mr Chill Hoppe, harmonica/sax/melodica; Friendlyness, keyboards and Stephane Bodean Beaudin, drums.
Tickets for the show will go on-sale in mid-May on the new Julyfest website (www.julyfest.com). Canadian Bocce Championship registration will also be available at that time.
Concert ticket prices are $45 (plus fees and taxes). The Kimberley & District Chamber is expanding the Saturday night entertainment with both these great bands, says Guarnery. All ticket holders must be 19 years of age to enter the show.
Paul Dean from Loverboy lends his talents to Musicians Care for Kids Concert
It may not be kosher to admit it, but when you’re involved in charitable events it actually really is OK to do it, even in part, for your own personal and somewhat indulgent reasons.
As long as it’s a win-win for everyone, there’s nothing really wrong with it
So you’ll forgive Loverboy guitarist Paul Dean if his participation in the Musicians Care for Kids Concert Wednesday night at Flames Central has altruistic intentions but with a side of selfishness.
“It’s going to be a really, really cool event,” Dean says. “Musically, I’m really looking forward to it.”
You can’t really blame him. The annual charity concert raises money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary, with all of the proceeds going to the Avenue 15 program, which provides temporary shelter and basic needs to runaways between the ages of 12 and 17.
Now, in celebration of its fifth year, the songwriters circle event is stepping things up slightly, moving away from its lower key lineup that featured unsigned but up-and-coming Alberta talent with, usually, one bigger name artist anchoring things.
This year the event is filled with Canadian star power, including country artist Jason McCoy, Big Sugar frontman Gordie Johnson, Wide Mouth Mason founder Shaun Verreault and classic rocker Greg Godovitz, backed by a house band of local giants including leader Russell Broom, Mike Lent, Mike Little and Pat Steward, with special guest, Mr. Dean.
And, again, while the opportunity to help kids in need is something he has an incredible amount of empathy for — partly as the father of a 17-year-old son — there was another opportunity here he didn’t want to pass up.
“The reason I signed on, besides the fact that it’s for an amazing cause and my heart really goes out to these kids … was because Shaun Verreault was going to be there,” says Dean of the guitarist, whose talents he was introduced to via YouTube clips.
“I would have done it regardless of Shaun, but that’s going to be the real cherry for me, personally.”
Dean was enlisted into the evening by friend Godovitz, whom he became close friends with over the past decade while both of them were living in Calgary, playing together weekly at the Blues Can and recording with one another.
He was also familiar with the people behind the event after meeting and hitting it off with local promoter Jeff Parry backstage at the Alberta Flood Aid concert — Parry’s promotion and production companies were heavily involved in putting on the McMahon Stadium fundraiser, which Loverboy performed at.
So performing another well-run and worthy charity event with such a stellar group of musicians was a no-brainer for Dean.
Just don’t expect to hear any of the hits from his past.
“That is not going to happen,” Dean says. “There will be no Loverboy.”
No, he won’t be turned loose. The guitarist says his role in the evening will be entirely as musical support for the other artists who are taking part, backing them as they run through their material and tell the stories behind the songs.
Besides, it’s not like you can’t hear Loverboy tunes everywhere else these days. There was, of course, Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy on Conan O’Brien’s show singing Working for the Weekend as the campaign song for Rob Ford.
More recently, and a much bigger deal, was the hit being used for RadioShack’s ’80s themed Super Bowl commercial, which featured cultural figures from that era such as Alf, Mary Lou Retton, Twisted Sister and the California Raisins.
“I thought Chucky was amazing in that (commercial),” Dean says with a laugh, noting the band had no advance warning of the spot. “That was my favourite part — that was so funny.”
And there could be some new hits on the way soon, as Dean says Loverboy are currently “in negotiations” with several labels to have a recently completed record released this year.
There is also another album coming from his other beloved Canrock project Streetheart, who reunited in Winnipeg in 1993 for a concert — Dean describes it as a “pretty smokin’ night” — which was recorded and will also be released in 2014.
But for now, the guitarist is focused on the task at hand, getting ready for Wednesday night’s Musicians Care for Kids show, which, if you haven’t already guessed, he’s predicting will be a night where the money raised may only be trumped by the good times had.
“It’s going to be nothing but big grins,” he says. “Grinning for the kids.”
Musicians Care For Kids featuring Jason McCoy, Gordie Johnson, Paul Dean and others goes Wednesday at Flames Central.
Article excerpt: The Grapes of Wrath and Odds featuring Shaun Verreault of Wide Mouth Mason play at the Florence Filberg Centre, Jan. 24, 2014.
WinterBites Concert + Stay packages for the double bill are being offered through Old House Village Hotel & Spa ($94.50 per person) and Holiday Inn Express Hotel ($99.95 per person). Individual tickets are $40. Doors open at 8 p.m. and show at 9 p.m. Ticket information, packages and concert listings are available at www.winterbitesfestival.com.