I know I typically don’t publish things back-to-back like this but there is another fantastic talent that is going to be playing at Cavendish Beach this weekend that I REALLY want to tell you about. I have been trying to nail down an interview with him for a while and I finally got my chance. If The Road Hammers didn’t put you over the edge into going, this guy just may do the trick.
Let’s get at ‘er…
In keeping with the fact that it was Canada Day and Independence Day long weekend, I saved this interesting titbit for you.
If you think that Neal McCoy saying the Pledge of Allegiance with Charley Pride was a one-off occurrence, you are surely mistaken. Apparently this is something he does daily. In fact, he even tries to include friends and fellow musicians in the ritual. Not one person has ever said no. McCoy does it every day on Facebook and it has gotten him almost 10 million views.
McCoy has recently released an album of American standards, leaving behind his cowboy hat and jeans for a suit and bowler hat. But at the Taste Of Country Music Festival, he was back in country boy form. Despite the amount of time he has been in the business, McCoy came out and gave an energetic and charismatic performance.
Happy Birthday, Rob:
While on his Ripcord tour, Keith Urban played a 2 night engagement in Gilford, New Hampshire. Rob Joyce was there celebrating his birthday with his girlfriend. Lex (his girlfriend) had a sign that said, “It’s my boyfriend’s birthday”. Rob’s sign said, “I want to play your guitar”. You and I have been there. A fan gets up onstage to sing or play an instrument and it doesn’t go well. Urban decided that night to give Rob his birthday wish and pulled him up onstage. He gave Rob his guitar and prepared for…well…what we all prepare for. Rob NAILED IT! To the point where the rest of the band came back out to play the whole song and Urban just sang along. He even did 2 solos. The look on Urban’s face is priceless. The crowd went nuts. The YouTube video I have attached is Lex’s video. Please take the few minutes to watch it. You will be SO glad you did.
My mother’s pen pal of 50 years is from Newfoundland. With social media, they were able to start connecting online. They could now share details of their lives in an instant, rather than waiting for Canada Post to deliver them. This is how I found out about Jason Benoit. My mother’s friend told her to check Jason out. Whereupon my mother told me to check him out. I am so glad I did.
I loved what I heard. When I found out he was coming to Winnipeg with Tim Hicks and Cold Creek County, I HAD to get tickets. Not only is he talented, he is also so charismatic on stage. I tried to get an interview with him at that time. It didn’t work out due to scheduling. Later, I was offered the chance to do a phone interview with him and I jumped at it! Finally! A few minutes with Jason Benoit!
My call got put through and I could hear his kids in the background. I laughed. I loved that I was hearing something so real. Something that happens in everyone’s home. Jason is married and a father of 3 children all under 10. It had been Father’s Day, so I asked what he did to celebrate. This lucky guy had a big turkey dinner with his family at his father-in-law’s cabin.
Jason really started pursuing his career in 2013, leaving behind the credit union job he had. He learned how to play the guitar when he was 14. “My brother taught me how to play because he used to play the guitar as well.” When his brother moved away, he continued to learn on his own. I asked him how his family felt about him making the leap. This was something he had always wanted. When it came to signing with JV Records and Sony Music Canada, he had to do it. “Some opportunities you have to take even though it’s a risk. It’s been paying off so far.” Naturally his family couldn’t be happier.
Things have been really picking up for Jason. If you like him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jasonbenoitcountry/?fref=ts) you will see that he has been all over the country lately. I asked him how he is coping with such a busy schedule. “It’s not that bad quite yet,” he said. “I still have time to spend with family.” Spending time with his family is a priority for him. With such a full house though, what does he do to unwind? “It’s tough to relax when you have 3 kids,” he laughed. “After the kids are in bed we kick back and watch a movie.” Since I knew he had been out here in the west while on his travels, I asked him if there was a difference between the crowds out east versus crowds in our neck of the woods. “Oh yeah,” he replied emphatically. “Out west, country is king out there.” He said that there seems to be a higher concentration of country fans out west than there are out east. He was sure to add that they do love their country out east, but there is a bit more diversity musically.
The last 3 years has seen Jason be nominated for the CCMA Rising Star award in 2015 and be the recipient of the CCMA Discovery Atlantic Award. This was the first time that the CCMA had given an award specifically to showcase talent in the Atlantic provinces. I asked him how it felt to have achieved so much in such a short time frame. “It’s amazing. To this day I still count my blessings. I’m very, very lucky to be as far as I am in my career so quickly out of the gate.” He added, “It gives me confirmation that I keep going on this.”
Keeping things rolling is exactly what he is doing. He is releasing his first album this fall. I asked him which is his favourite song to perform live. “I’d say it’s tough to beat the one I released last year that went to the top ten in Canada – Gone Long Gone.” Seeing the crowd sing his songs, songs that he had written, is both humbling and touching for him to see. “It’s something all performers want to see.” Considering co-writing is something that he is just getting in to, most of his songs were written by himself. Being I am a writer too, I was curious to see how he deals with the dreaded “Writer’s Block”. “It’s one of those things you kinda let go.” He went on to say that it is hard to always have good ideas or new ideas and that is something I can completely relate to. What does he suggest? “Take a step back when that happens and go do other things. Listen to other music, try to find other influences.” When speaking about influences, he mentioned, “I started off singing mostly classic country. George Jones is my favourite country hero of all time. That’s the guy there that I keep coming back to.” He also was heavily influenced by the 90’s country singers; Joe Diffie and Mark Chestnutt to name a couple.
This weekend is the Cavendish Beach Music Festival in Prince Edward Island (http://cavendishbeachmusic.com/lineup/) and Jason will be playing there once again. Last year he played on the side stage, of which he said, “That was amazing in itself.” That side stage is also where he was presented the CCMA Discovery Atlantic Award. This year will be a little different. “This year I get to do it again, but I get to do it on the main stage. It’s a dream come true to be able to play on the main stage.
It was truly a pleasure to finally get some time with him. Cavendish starts tomorrow! If you have the means, if you live close, if you think it may be a good idea…GO! It has an insane line-up! Go to the link above to get tickets! If you can’t go, then take the time to look Jason up on Facebook, check out his website (http://www.jasonbenoitcountry.com/) and follow him on Twitter (@JBenoitcountry). Here is something to check out while you do, Jason’s favourite song to perform – Gone Long Gone: