Before I start off with our usual shenanigans, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims in the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. It is unfortunate that something that should be bringing people together has been the centre of such a horrific act. Our hearts go out to you at this difficult time.
I always swore to not dwell on too much serious stuff on here. This is our escape from that. A way to unwind. So let’s continue.
The title of the blog relates to the artist I am featuring today but it is a great opportunity to tell you how this blog actually got started. I am not sure how many of you know the actual story. Well, I started fun tweeting Blake Shelton. Then sarcastic tweeting Blake Shelton. I could never get him to even LIKE one of my tweets, so I opted to switch to the smart-ass approach. After a few beverages, liquor started calling the shots. It became drunk, sarcastic tweeting. This didn’t happen once. It happened a number of times. And when I did it…I gained followers. When I looked them up, some of them were up and coming artists. I decided to start talking to some of them and interviewing them to put on this blog. And…here we are today. I know. Bizarre. And no. Blake Shelton still has never liked or re-tweeted me. It’s alright. I am ok with it now.
Let’s get on with the fun stuff.
Jason Kirkness has been quietly lurking in the background, preparing his latest project A Beautiful Disaster (set to release May 30). We hadn’t heard from him in a while, then he comes out with this kick-ass summer tune “Whiskey Kiss”. (If you use my Spotify playlists, it is on the first one I did). “Whiskey Kiss” is just one of the tracks from this new album. So if you like it, you are in for a treat. For me, this is probably some of the best work of Jason’s that I have heard, and I have heard a lot of it.
This year has already been a pretty big year for Jason. Not only has he released a single, a video and set to release a whole new album, he has also signed with management company Edge Entertainment in Portland, Oregon. AND look for him on the main stage at Dauphin Countryfest with Ryan Keown, Meghan Patrick, Tim Hicks and Keith Urban.
Like I said, A Beautiful Disaster is some of the best work I’ve heard from Jason. The album has this theme of love found and lost, which I guess is why it’s a beautiful disaster – because love can be. From sweet melodies like ones found in “Take Your Picture” or “Man Like Me” (a very pretty song about being there for someone and being the person you need them to be), to the sexier “It’s What I Like About U” (which fans have come to love seeing live), he reminds us of who he is. Then he kicks it up a notch. Ok. A LOT of notches. If you want a good southern rock song for the summer “Good Life” will fit that bill! I also suggest “Tall Glass Of You”. It has this really catchy modern country sound. BOTH are making the Craven Playlist. There is a good blend of sweet and sassy on this album. “Barefoot” keeps us on a date night in and “One More Night” is a beautiful slow song about missing someone. There really is a good balance. Enough happy stuff to balance out the broken heart.
I am going to break it down to you. The whole album is great. It has a great summer feel and I can’t wait to hear it in my truck when I’m driving around. If you are hesitating at all (I don’t know why you would, but in case you are), I urge you to listen to the song “One More Fix”. This song is breath-taking. It is this haunting song about newly lost love and it is masterful. There is an orchestral section at the end that is exquisite. This is le pièce de résistance on this album. Trust me. Pick this up. You will be so glad you did.
I would like to start off by saying that, honestly, I don’t know if I have laughed that much during an interview. Eric Ethridge is not only a really talented guy, he is charming and has a great sense of humour.
Eric was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario, went to high school there and continues to live there. Well, he travels back and forth a lot between Sarnia, Nashville and Los Angeles for recording and writing. He is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario where he earned a degree in kinesiology/sports science. He even played football for the Western Mustangs. While he was going to university, he was playing in the bars in London. When graduation came, he couldn’t decide between going to chiropractic school full-time or pursuing music full time. So, he tried doing both. “It turns out it is very hard to do both,” he commented with joking surprise. In his third year of school he met his now manager who really pushed him to work toward his dream of music. She heard his demo and really felt like he had something. He went in and recorded a couple of songs and again, with this surprised sound in his voice, he said, “They turned out pretty good!”
His first gig was at a festival called Rock The Park In London, Ontario. He was booked for the side stage. “Our first gig was between a poncho stand and a popcorn stand. It was this little stage. I had a seven piece band. It was the weirdest thing. People were walking by and were like, ‘who are these guys?’ They wanted us playing in between all of the main stage acts. That was right as Tim Hicks was really starting to bust out. his 5:01 record was out. “Here Comes The Thunder” was killing it on radio. Tim Hicks was there. Dean Brody was there. Darius Rucker was there. Eli Young Band was there and we were on this little stage beside the ponchos and people would walk by and be like, ‘these guys are alright.’ We played four sets throughout the day. Every time we went back to the stage, more and more people gravitated to us.” We joked about the ponchos being really spectacular. “By the fourth set, people were waiting for us to get back on stage!” That was just the beginning. That September, he opened for Brett Kissel. He loved the experience, “Brett Kissel brought me out on stage to sing Bryan Adams’ “Summer Of ’69” with him. I tell people that was my TSN turning point in my career.” Once an athlete, always an athlete.
Eric has had the opportunity to play with some pretty heavy-hitters in the industry. I asked him who some of his favourites have been, Without hesitation he said, “Chad Brownlee. I’ve played with Chad a whole bunch of times and he’s just such a nice guy. Really down to earth.” Eric continued, “Tim Hicks was fun. I’ve literally met everybody but Tim Hicks in the Canadian industry. He’s like this elusive ghost I’m trying to track down.” We joked about his near misses in meeting him. Tim – if you are reading this, can you just call Eric and put him out of his misery. Thanks.
The last couple of years have been quite a ride for Eric. In 2015, he was named runner-up in the Boots & Hearts Emerging Artists Showcase. In 2016, He was name winner of the CCMA Discovery Showcase. This year, Eric has released his first single, “Liquor’s Callin’ The Shots”. While on his first radio tour, Eric said, “Since the poncho stand, we’ve come a long way. This is about three years in the making. My dream has always been to travel the world playing music and I’ve never heard my own song on he radio. I’ve heard covers that I’ve done on the radio. But this is the first time hearing something that I’ve co-written on the radio and it was a pretty unbelievable experience.”
The song is great and it is a total summer song. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but it is a Jim Lahey quote (The Trailer Park Boys) – that is something you may NOT know. “It’s gotten a really awesome response from people at radio and on social media. People are loving it apparently. So this is great news because it’s scary releasing your first song to radio.” He came back and said, “It was terrifying.” He elaborated on this a little bit for me,”I’ve been working on this for three years now, officially. I’ve been playing music for over a decade, but really pushing hard for the last three years. There’s been a lot of times as an artist you really doubt yourself, you know.” Well, people certainly are loving it. “Liquor’s Callin’ The Shots” is currently sitting at number 38 on the Canadian Billboard Country Chart (up four spots from last week). Eric is planning to release another single in a couple of months and an album after that. I, for one, can not WAIT!
This summer, Eric can be seen at Tweed Stampede with Gord Bamford. He will also be playing in Nashville during CMA Fest. As Winner of the 2016 Discovery Program, he is offered an opportunity to perform in Music City. What’s even more exciting, is that this will be his first time going.
For more dates and information about this talented and super funny guy, check out his social media:
This was one of those interviews that make me wish I did a radio show. If you could hear him tell a story, you’d be dying. I wish him all the best. Let me leave you with the official lyric video for “Liquor’s Callin’ The Shots” by Eric Ethridge!