I hope everyone had a great Canada Day/ Independence Day long weekend. Frank and I were out in a beautiful area of the province called Lac du Bonnet. Barbeque, friends, family, fireworks on the water. How can that not be great? I’d like to send a HUGE thanks to our friends Apryl and Kevin for an enjoyable and relaxing weekend! With everything that has been going on, it was much-needed.
Can I just say that writing this blog brings me such joy and happiness and it makes me really excited. And the thought of going to festivals and concerts in this new capacity is thrilling. Thank you for reading this and I hope you keep reading because there is so much more amazing stuff to come.
It doesn’t look like I got media accreditation for Craven this time. That won’t stop me from trying to bring you some great pics and articles from the weekend. Hey, I am barely a year into this and I have gotten pretty far. So, we won’t let this get us down! We will keep plugging away and get ‘em next year!
On that note, let’s get on with it…
Showing Gratitude To Those In Uniform:
Despite the fact that Chris Stapleton has been around for years as a songwriter, last year is when his career really took off. Since then, he has been one busy guy! He had originally planned to take July 4th off, but something came up that he just couldn’t say no to.
Instead of spending the day with his wife and 2 children, Stapleton will be playing for 40,000 troops and their families at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was quoted by People as saying, “I can’t think of a more appropriate thing to do.”
Not only is Stapleton performing for the troops, he is also there to help present a million dollar donation from Budweiser to Folds of Honor; a foundation that provides educational services to the spouses and children of fallen and disabled military members. It sounds this breakout star from the 2015 CMA’s is not only a talented guy but an honourable one at that. As if you needed one more reason to love him.
GoFund Brad Paisley:
It may seem odd that someone of the status of Brad Paisley would start a GoFundMe page. No he isn’t broke. No his last album didn’t bomb. In fact the money isn’t for him at all. Last week Paisley toured the flood stricken state of West Virginia (from where Paisley hails) with two senators to take a look at the damage. He did it on behalf of the Save the Children relief organization. One of the places he visited was actually one of the most hard hit structures, the Herbert Hoover High School in Clendenin, WV. Paisley said in a press release, “My thoughts and prayers are with the people in my home state of West Virginia. The towns and schools we have visited have been devastated by these floods. I pledge to do all I can to help my fellow West Virginians and have set up a GoFundMe account so others can join me.
The Save the Children organization partners with local schools to serve over 2,000 children, empowering them and their families in the state. They are currently collecting blankets, pop-up cribs and car seats to provide for the families in need.
So, if you are interested in donating to Paisley’s cause, here is the link to his GoFundMe page:
This weekend is the Cavendish Beach Music Festival in Prince Edward Island. The line-up is stunning and includes acts both from Canada and the U.S. Unfortunately, yours truly will not be there this year but someone who will be there is The Road Hammers. This high energy band, lead by singer Jason McCoy, is the epitome of down-home, gritty country. I have been a Jason McCoy fan from the “pre-beard” days so when I was offered the opportunity to chat with him, I obviously took it.
Our call was at 8 a.m. my time. If you know anything about me, you know that for me, getting up before 9 CST is pretty challenging, especially when it was the morning after a Garth Brooks show. I didn’t care. I knew the call would be 100% worth it and I was glad he would take the time to talk to me. I called the number I was given and a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Jason answered the phone. He had just gotten the kids on the school bus and was getting his day rolling. I never would have dreamed I would hear the guy who sings a song about a girl half-naked on a billboard telling me he just shipped his kids off to school. It was almost like I had seen the man behind the curtain or a magician had shown me how to saw a woman in half. “I am all domesticated,” he chuckled. Since the day prior was Father’s Day, I asked what he did (as he has 2 school age children). Well, he just got home from a show in Pilot Butte, Saskatchewan the day before and was showered with gifts and cards that they made for him in school, including a 3D card made of rocks to look like him that said “Dad, you rock” on the front of it.
This seemed like the perfect opportunity to ask about how he manages to get any work/life balance because of such a busy schedule. He was very honest with me. “I haven’t been good at it for the most part. Work supersedes life. But I am getting a little better and I’ve got plans to make it better in the next year coming too.” He, like all of us, tends to get sucked in by social media. He feels like he has been doing less music and doing more business when, as a musician, it should be the other way around. How does someone so busy unwind? Although his family has a place in Nashville, they live in southeastern Ontario on a farm. “I’ve got dirt to move and I play in the dirt with the backhoe. That’s fun for me.” Sometimes the kids get in the action and help dad on the tractors and cut the grass. His daughter loves horses so as a family they are outside a lot. They lived in Nashville until his daughter was 3. I asked him if he felt it was necessary to make the move to Nashville for his career. He replied, “At the time and it could be again.” Jason does go down there when he needs to work on certain projects. If you need to record or work on something right away, everyone and everything is there. He did add, “I don’t know if I need to live there.”
Jason has been involved in music for a long time. He started getting serious at about 12. At the age of 16 he started recording at home and at 17 he went into the studio to make a professional recording. At the time, he was the youngest guy in Canada doing this. He has had an extremely successful solo career, which includes numerous CCMA, Juno, CMA and SOCAN nominations and awards. So why would he be interested in starting a project like The Road Hammers when he was so successful on his own? According to Jason he had just come off of making Sins, Lies and Angels (2003) and was unsure what to do on his next record. He had a discussion with a friend of his at CMT. “I said I think it would be kinda cool to put together a Travelling Wiburys fun concept band and record for just a one shot and have fun with it. And I did. And it was huge. I kinda got lucky and so we decided to do more records and that was it.” He has done some solo projects since The Road Hammers got together. Everything was released in 2011 had a number of hits on it, including the title track. This was a Juno nominated album. He is considering going back into the studio to do a solo album but for now his career is “Hammer focused”.
He and I spoke about The Road Hammers’ music for a little bit. I had seen a YouTube video of their first photo shoot. The narrator asked Jason to describe their music and he said it was “That feeling of your first kiss mixed with the first time you ever fire a gun.” When I told that to him he burst out laughing. So I asked if he felt that this was still true of their sound. He replied, “I think it is probably a little more refined at this point.” He added, “We don’t drag our knuckles as much.” You can see why having this conversation with him was so much fun! While we were discussing the band’s music I was curious to know how they settle creative differences between them. He answered, “I don’t think we have too many creative differences. We are still lucky enough to be in the head space that the input from each other is the strength. Clay is the rock guy. Chris is the blues guy. I’m the country guy. That’s The Hammers’ sound.” One thing he said that stuck with me is “There’s no bad ideas is our motto.” He admitted that they have a pretty “chill” forum for writing music and basically that if the other 2 aren’t hot on an idea it goes to the wayside and they work on something that gets them all excited. “It’s music, not brain surgery!” I did need to have a very serious conversation with him about one of their videos. If you are a Hammers fan, then you know the song Mud and have probably seen the video. As someone with OCD (and I actually HAVE OCD), I had to ask how he could possible be covered in so much mud. I admitted to him that it literally made me cringe as much as I love the song. He laughed and his suggestion (from one person with OCD to another) was to just jump in. I was horrified! Well Jason, Craven is coming up and you can always count on a storm. If I happen to take your advice, I will tweet the evidence to you.
The Road Hammers will be performing at the upcoming Cavendish Beach Music Festival (http://cavendishbeachmusic.com) I asked him what it meant to be playing a festival of that size, as this is a HUGE festival with an extremely impressive line-up. He mentioned that they had a great time playing it a couple of years ago with Taylor Swift. But for him it was even more than that. “They listen to the ticket holders and ticket buyers. To be one of the bands they request is pretty awesome.” He continued, “You can’t force people to like what you do and if they do it’s pretty genuine. The fact that you get to be included in those shows means you are doing something right. It means you’re still relevant and still rockin’ and that’s important.” What is his favourite song to perform on stage? “ There’s a lot! I’m a Road Hammer because it symbolically kicked off what we do and we still get a lot of people requesting it. I love that. We still do Born Again in Dixieland from my solo album. There has never been a time when the crowd doesn’t overpower the band singing it. So we stop and let them sing the chorus. So that has been a career defining song for me.” All that being said, he said that there isn’t too much difference between the festival crowds and the arena crowds as far as acceptance go but doing the small towns is where the difference is. “They live what we sing about.” Where it really hits home for him is when people come up and say things like that song helped me get through this time or that time. He took a moment and said, “It’s pretty humbling.”
What can fans expect to see from The Road Hammers this summer? He commented, “We are actually going to be trying some new music. We are going to get in the studio this fall and we’ve got some really cool tunes we’ve been working on for a while now. Last year we weren’t ready.” He followed slowly with, “It could be dangerous.” as this is something the group has never done before. He said if you are new, people are a little more forgiving so it makes it more nerve-wracking. “People expect a certain thing from us.”
What does Jason consider to be the ultimate gig for him? Hosting things like the CMAO Awards this past May. “What I like the most, which is what I like about the solo acoustic shows too is the entertainment.” I don’t fancy myself a guitar player, a singer or a writer. I kinda like to be thought of as an entertainer.” He admits that he likes to interact with the other artists, sing, tell jokes (even though he says his are “lame” – don’t think I didn’t hear that, McCoy) and interact with the press. “At an industry function like that you get to chat with more people.”
I needed to wrap up our conversation. Of course I had to ask what the last photo he took with his phone was at that point? “My son’s gift he made me of the rock dad.” He returned the question. It was the first time anyone had done that! I had to admit that it was a photo from Garth Brooks the night before.
When the call was over I couldn’t believe I had just spoken to him. I remember watching his videos when we were both much younger and really loving his music. It was such an honor for me to get to be the one to “interact” with him that morning. Any time you wish to chat over coffee, give me a shout. It would certainly be my pleasure.
If you live in P.E.I. or close by or have the means to truck out there, check out the link above for the incredible line-up and for tickets for the Cavendish Beach Music Festival. Trust me, I wish I could be there because it promises to be a boot-stompin’ good time! Also make sure you check out The Road Hammers website (http://theroadhammers.com) (I think I hear a new trucker hat calling my name) and like them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/theroadhammers). Ladies and gentlemen…I present to you, the video that made this OCD kid ask “WHY GOD WHY?!” – Mud by The Road Hammers