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!
Thanks to contributions from Shaun’s setlist capture from Peterborough, Jeremy Elliott Photography for his photos from Wide Mouth Mason’s recent gig at Toronto’s Festival of Beer, and Debra Kralka for her memories (and scanned ticket stub!) of when Wide Mouth Mason opened for 54-40 back in 1997, we continue to build the Wide Mouth Mason Gigography section with both recent and past gigs getting content updates. If you have digital content you’d like to share with other Wide Mouth Mason fans, send it on in! We’d prefer linking to content you already have posted on your own site or content hosting sites like YouTube or Flickr, but anything you have Wide Mouth Mason-related, we would love to see it!
Expect your JulyFest loud, Big and Wide
The East Kootenay’s rock event of the summer is taking place this weekend approaching, as two top Canadian rock bands — Wide Mouth Mason and Big Sugar — take the stage Saturday, July 19, at the Kimberley Civic Arena as part of JulyFest celebrations. Expect it loud. Expect to be transported.
Big Sugar, formed by singer, guitar player and producer Gordie Johnson in the late 1980s, are renowned for their heavy blues-rock-reggae stylings, Johnson’s mindbending guitar work, and high volume, marathon concerts.
Wide Mouth Mason draws its style from electric blues, and was last featured in the area opening for ZZ Top in Cranbrook in 2010.
Big Sugar’s Johnson spoke to the Townsman last week, from somewhere on the road, where he and the band usually are. Big Sugar is no stranger to the area. Though this will be their first Kimberley performance per se, the band has played Cranbrook several times, Invermere, Fernie … Johnson is asked if he’s partial to this area.
“Not be to be impartial,” he responds, “but I play everywhere at lot. Big Sugar’s been to Europe twice this year. My other group, Sit Down, Servant!!, has been to Europe once, and we’re going back in the beginning of November. Big Sugar’s going back to Europe at the end of November. We’ve got a cross-Canada toured planned for January and February next year — Man, I play everywhere all the time.
“I thought I might slow down at some point, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now.”
The two bands together can be expected to provide a charismatic display of rock, a perfect capstone for a hot summer Saturday night, and the centrepiece event for the summer party that is JulyFest.
“We call these shows Big and Wide,” Johnson said, “because it’s Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason together. And by the time Big Sugar takes the stage we bring all the Wide Mouth Mason guys in us with too, so there’s eight of us on stage.”
It should be noted that the two bands are also old pals.
“I produced a record for them back in 2000,” Johnson said. “And Wide Mouth Mason’s first cross-Canada tour was opening for Big Sugar, back in the mid-90s. They’re like our baby brothers. We’ve always been very close, these two bands.”
The synergy between Big and Wide is only increased by the fact that Johnson is currently serving as Wide Mouth Mason’s bass player, and has done so for the past several years. He was last seen here with Shaun Verreault (lead Vocals, guitar), Safwan Javed (drums), playing bass as they opened for legendary Texas rockers ZZ Top in Cranbrook.
“Their original bass player left the band, and they were kind of in the lurch because they had been offered the ZZ Top tour. I know Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top’s founder, guitarist and vocalist) quite well — and I thought, ‘Man, what a great opportunity for you guys, I’d hate to see you miss it. I’ll try to think of a bass player who can fill in for you.’ And they were like, ‘Uhhh, well, what about you?’ That sounded like a nice way to spend the summer, so I filled in with them for a while, but now it’s been four years! I think I might stick around for a bit.”
So in Kimberley, Johnson will hit the stage with Wide Mouth Mason, play that show, switch immediately to six-string and perform another high octane set with Big Sugar. Does one work a sweat that way?
“It’s pretty natural for me,” Johnson said. “That’s what I do — I play music. For anybody else that might seem excessive or exhausting, but that’s just what I do. It’s the other 20 hours of the day that are exhausting.
“When I’m on bass, that’s where I’m supposed to be, that’s where everything feels just about right.”
In other Big Sugar new, the band has a new album out — “Yard Style.”
“It’s our first all acoustic record,” Johnson said. “There’s about a dozen of us, guys who’ve been in and out of Big Sugar over the years, and other collaborators that we’ve worked with. Songwriters like the guys in the Trews, Meredith Shaw, the Rastas that have been a big influence on us in Toronto.
“All these people in one room, and without really being too aware of the recording process, we just played and sang live. We sat in a circle and recorded about 20 songs, and narrowed it down to the ones that are on the album. But it was a very informal get together, just singing and playing. It was pretty magical recording it, and think it really comes through on that record.”
Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason play Kimberley’s Civic Arena Saturday, July 19.
Wide Mouth Mason is sorry to announce that the Canada Day show in Regina has been cancelled due to flooding. We are hopeful the affected communities recover quickly.
In the process of being confirmed is an August date for Wide Mouth Mason at Sudbury’s SummerFest. Pre-sale tickets go on sale Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Check out the festival website at www.sudburysummerfest.org for more details!
Shaun: “Throwback to that time while on tour with ZZ Top that BFG and we poured ourselves into Winnipeg’s Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club and played the night into the morning.”
Just confirmed and announced is Wide Mouth Mason’s upcoming Toronto date at the Festival of Beer, opening for Matthew Good. Further details are available on the festival website and will be posted to the Wide Mouth Mason website once known and confirmed.
Recently, Shaun Verreault of Wide Mouth Mason talked about how the band’s name has led to the knowledge that a lot more people than he’d thought took vintage jars and preserving fairly seriously. Which caused us to realise that perhaps there are new fans to Wide Mouth Mason who may ponder this question: “How did Wide Mouth Mason become Wide Mouth Mason?”
“We were a cover band playing mostly small town gigs. Blues musicians began to dominate our hours of rural drives, & heavily influence our original music, which we’d increasingly sneak into our sets as we gained experience.
Our early agents had suggested (and booked us under) various antiquated names that we mostly hated – like “Some Kind Of Ruckus”.
One night, between sets at a particularly seedy bar, we were having drinks from mason jars (the bar’s preferred delivery receptacle). I looked down at the raised words “wide mouth mason” on the side of my jar, & mentioned to Shaun that it reminded me of Clarence “Gate-mouth” Brown. By the end of that night’s last set, we were Wide Mouth Mason.”
Powerboat Festival Concert Line Up Announced
The fourth annual Sarnia/Port Huron International Powerboat Festival promises to be bigger than ever.
At a news conference this morning(Thurs) at Sarnia Bay Marina, organizers announced the concert line-up for the festival running August 8-10.
Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason will kick-off the festival’s evening entertainment Friday, with The Trews and I Mother Earth the following night.
Along with the ticketed concerts, a new secondary stage will be set up on Front St. for local bands to play throughout the day. Michele Stokley says international street performers and buskers from chainsaw jugglers to stilt walkers and more will also be on hand.
The annual powerboat races begin around noon on Sunday.
Co-chair of the festival Scott MacLean believes this year’s event will draw over 45,000 people to Sarnia’s waterfront, by expanding marketing to London and Chatham.
Tickets for the evening concerts go on sale today at Stokes Bay, Stokes Inland and http://www.sarniapowerboats.com
A full list of event details can also be found at that website.
Sarnia Powerboat Festival boasts The Trews, I Mother Earth, Big Sugar, Wide Mouth Mason
This August’s International Powerboat Festival won’t be a quiet affair.
Organizers with the fourth annual three-day riverfront festival Aug. 8-10 in Sarnia and Port Huron are expecting even more roaring speedsters on the water, and announced four well-known rock bands Thursday for the signature summer affair.
Alternative rockers I Mother Earth will join The Trews, each with a full show, in the festival’s Saturday ticketed concert series. Wide Mouth Mason will open Friday evening’s concert for rock/reggae group Big Sugar.
Both evenings kick off at 8 p.m. at the George Street riverfront parking lot. There’ll also be a 19+ VIP area on the terrace of the St. Clair Corporate Centre, looking down on the concert grounds, where a kickoff “Get Launched Party” will be held Friday.
“We’re in a small intimate venue, so you’ll definitely be up close and personal with the bands,” said co-organizer Michele Stokley. “So I do expect the tickets to go fast.”
Meanwhile plans are to bring in up to 10 of the 40-to-50-foot super class powerboats for Sunday’s races, starting at noon. There were four on the water at last year’s event.
“It’ll just put the race itself in a whole different electrifying mood,” said co-organizer Dave Brown, noting nothing’s been confirmed yet. “We’re pretty pumped about it, to say the least.”
Last year’s festival featured 54/40 and Sarnia-fan favourite The Trews in concert and 29 powerboat drivers rooster tailing along the St. Clair River. It also attracted more than 35,000 people: more than doubling attendance from 2012.
“We’re not really taking baby steps,” said Stokley, who’s said she envisions bringing the festival to a Bayfest-level caliber, potentially incorporating the two in the future.
“It’s Sarnia’s premier festival without a doubt, but I can see it growing more,” she said, predicting attendance will hit 45,000 this year.
World-class buskers will work the streets juggling chainsaws, in addition to stilt-walkers all weekend, Stokley said. There will also be a kids’ workshop downtown on Sunday where they’ll teach youngsters some tricks of the trade.
A Power Wake wakeboarding competition is also back this year, taking place Saturday morning on the waterfront.
Boat parades, powerboat time trials, a meet and greet with drivers, an inflatable kids’ play area, vendors, artists and tall ships are all expected to return.
Outside of the ticketed concerts, the entire weekend is a free affair and last year donated $70,000 to charities from sponsorships and concert ticket sales.
A second stage at Front and Lochiel streets will feature local band Chemical Valley on Friday at 5 p.m., playing a free opening show before the ticketed concert. Smith and the Crazy 8s — featuring the 88s’ Ian Smith — Census and Gorgeous George will play Saturday, starting at noon.
“We’re really excited about the great concerts, but also the on-water activities,” said Scott MacLean, one of two festival chairs.
“We’re seen as one of the best race courses in North America,” he said.
It’s unique, Stokley said, noting the festival is the only split Canadian/U.S. powerboat racing event.
Concert tickets are $40, or $65 for a weekend pass, available starting at noon Thursday at sarniapowerboats.com, Stoke’s Bay and Stoke’s Inland. Complete festival details and event times are at sarniapowerboats.com.
Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason headline Rainmaker Rodeo
On the second last weekend of every May, the Rainmaker Rodeo blasts off for three days to remember.
The action starts on Friday, May 23 with a much anticipated rock concert featuring headline rockers Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason.
Pat Dower, the rodeo concert chair of the sponsoring St. Albert Kinsmen, is the man behind the scenes who spends hours emailing agents, negotiating contracts and gauging a budget.
And he is pumped for this year’s rock line-up.
Big Sugar just released Yardstyle on April 15 and it’s a slight departure from past albums. The 13-track of percussion-heavy acoustic reggae definitely rocks, but the band shows a different side of their sound.
The collection blends new material with overhauled versions of past cuts in a stripped down acoustic form. Many of the arrangements were inspired by spontaneous jam sessions held on tour buses and backstage.
As vocalist Gordie Johnson said, “This is what we sound like when people aren’t watching. We never rehearse our songs the way they’ll sound at a show. Instead we’ll grab a banjo, a guitar, and just play. This is how we get our groove on.”
Dower, who was privileged to see them perform at an Ontario festival noted, “They’re a pretty active band and they put on a great show. You want to get up off your seat and dance. They’re great to hear and easy to listen to.”
In contrast the Canadian blues-rock band Wide Mouth Mason is in the process of producing their eighth CD. The last one was No Bad Days released in 2011.
Going strong since the 1990s, the rock-blues-soul power trio has opened for heavyweights such as The Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, AC/DC and The Guess Who.
“I’ve never seen them play, but some of our senior members recommended them. They’re a very energetic bunch of guys and we’re excited to have them.”
On the local front, the Morinville-based Canyon Rose Outfit is all fired up to perform their full-throttle combo of rock and roll, psychedelic and blues.
The concert is an 18-plus show. Gates open at 6 p.m. Advance ticket prices are $39.99 plus GST. Gate admission is $59.99 plus GST.
Tickets are available on line at ticketmaster.ca. Fans can save the cost of service fees (about $12) by buying tickets at St. Albert’s Crown & Tower Pub or The Beer Hunter locations.
For additional information visit http://stalbertkinsmen.ca