Lyrics for Wide Mouth Mason’s 2011 album, No Bad Days, are now on the website. In the future, we may consider adding a fan component from the Wide Mouth Mason Fan Network that would allow fans to contribute and access guitar tabs for various Wide Mouth Mason songs. If this is something that would be of interest to you, let us know by commenting below! Got guitar tabs to contribute? Send it to our Chef de mission!
Songwriters get pitiful amounts as streaming offers tiny royalties
Writers of today’s hits earn as little as $20 for every million streams by online listeners
By Deana Sumanac-Johnson, CBC News
Posted: May 06, 2016 11:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 06, 2016 11:15 AM ET
They’re the brains that create the songs you love, but don’t expect songwriters to be able to make a living by writing hits that get millions of plays on streaming services.
“I’ll get a cheque in the mail for $20 for a million streams, and that just makes absolutely no sense to me,” says Canadian songwriter Luke McMaster, who’s penned hits for the likes of Rihanna and recently had a song he co-wrote get a million streams on Spotify.
McMaster is not alone. Though copyright laws vary from one country to another, the sentiment among songwriters is uniform: a hit song, when streamed, will buy a pizza, but not support a family.
American songwriter Kevin Kadish, who co-wrote the body-positive anthem All About That Bass with Meghan Trainor, complained to the U.S. Congress that he received $5,679 US for a song that had 178 million streams.
Songwriter Michelle Lewis recently revealed that she received a $17 US cheque for co-writing Wings, a hit for the British girl group Little Mix that had three million streams on Spotify.
Because they’re not celebrities in their own right, the songwriters’ problems have received less publicity than, say, Adele or Taylor Swift’s beefs with the streaming services.
“The songwriters have the least sort of leverage to be able to stand up for their rights,” says Toronto-based entertainment lawyer Safwan Javed, who also sits on the board of the Songwriters’ Association of Canada and behind the drum kit of the band Wide Mouth Mason.
“We’re in the Wild, Wild West situation with respect to how music is distributed these days and the role of various players play within that chain.”
Who gets the money?
The “players” he mentions are the streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, etc.), music labels and music publishers that typically represent songwriters and collect royalties on their behalf.
Historically, songwriters and music publishers made a small portion of profits anytime a song was sold or played on the radio. But copyright laws written decades ago could not have predicted the birth of streaming, where music is neither sold nor broadcast in a traditional sense.
Still, streaming services make money from advertising and paid-tier subscriptions — so why is so little of it ending up in the songwriters’ pockets?
“Spotify does contribute 70 per cent of our revenues to rights holders, so that’s a really big part of how we’re paying back into the industry, and we paid over $3 billion to the rights holders,” says Nathan Wiszniak, label relations specialist for Spotify Canada.
But just who the “rights holders” are is open to interpretation. Record labels have managed to strike deals with streaming services that enable them to take a slice of the profit anytime an artist’s song is played. But songwriters and music publishers — owners of the rights to the song’s music and lyrics — are not part of those deals.
“They have no system actually in place, for dealing with and assessing who are their stakeholders, who are the rights holders, who are the writers and who are the publishers,” says Javed.
“They haven’t done a very good job at proactively going out there and figuring out who they need to license the works from and pay for those uses.”
Fair trade music
Different people propose different solutions to the problem. In Canada, songwriters’ associations have petitioned the Copyright Board to adopt laws that better protect the rights of music creators. South of the border, songwriters have launched a $150 million US class-action lawsuit against Spotify as a reimbursement for lost royalties.
But Javed believes a quicker and more meaningful solution is in the hands of music lovers.
“I’ve really lost a lot of faith in the governmental sector doing something to fix this.”
Instead, he’s a proponent of Fair Trade Music, a campaign that seeks to certify streaming services, record labels, even album releases, that fairly compensate all music creators.
Fair Trade Music has tens of thousands of signatories around the world, and Javed believes ethical-minded consumers will gravitate towards it the way they do to fair trade coffee.
But for Luke McMaster, there’s no time to wait. A singer in his own right, he’s now touring to promote his new album — an option for him, but not for many other songwriters.
“It is a function of who you are, it’s almost like breathing, so I’m not going to stop writing songs,” he says.
“But for myself and a lot of my peers, it’s making it a lot more difficult. I have friends in the industry, some of the most talented people I have known, that have just given up.”
WMM can’t wait for hometown club show
In a convenient twist of reverse engineering, it’s Wide Mouth Mason’s 2009 album that is setting the tone for how the band is charting its future sound.
Live at Montreux captured the band sizzling in jam mode at the legendary jazz festival, with expansive solos and improvisations. The same approach informed Wide Mouth Mason’s No Bad Days album.
“It was very much a rock format but with a jazz philosophy to it where the framework of the song would be a suggestion,” guitarist Shaun Verreault said recently.
“The songs on No Bad Days are meant to be elastic, so a lot of that can come out.”
The band likes to keep things fluid in its live show. If something from a song they were listening to on the way to a gig sticks, it could well end up as a reference in the middle of their set – surprising each other as much as the audience.
“We call it the shapes we’re throwing each other,” says Verreault. “There’s a little bit of trying to raise eyebrows that you haven’t raised before.”
Verreault admits wondering if the band would remain viable after he and drummer Safwan Javed parted ways with original bassist Earl Pereira and added Gordie Johnson from Big Sugar. But the evolution continues. When Wide Mouth and Big Sugar are on the same bill, they become Big and Wide, with as many as eight players on stage.
Verreault keeps busy in music producing other artists, writing songs with and for other acts and collaborating coast-to-coast from Vancouver with Newfoundland musician Chris Kirby via Skype.
“It makes it so we have a lot of different things to draw on when we get together to play and get together to write.”
Verreault is looking forward to the homecoming and doing a classic Saskatoon club show, its first at the Capitol Music Club.
“I try and get back as much as I can. A bunch of my family is still there.”
He likens it to looking through the window of your elementary school, literally or metaphorically.
And speaking of family, Verreault’s two-year-old daughter Layla seems to have inherited some musical DNA. She already has her own pink Stratocaster, but she really likes playing with her dad’s guitar. Recently, she plugged it into an amp on full blast and, in Verreault’s words, “just railed it.” He thought she’d be scared and crying. Instead, “she was jumping up and down, smiling, and going ‘loud!’”
Wide Mouth Mason
with the Acronyms
Friday at the Capitol
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.
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
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.