A Conversation With ... Jason Blaine

The Grand Ole Opry seeped through everything in our region of the world. There was Porter Wagoner, Minnie Pearl, George Jones, Conway Twitty – the outlaws, the in-laws, the humor, that good country ‘grits and gravy’ cooking. The family would gather ‘round the Sylvania every time Roy Clark would pluck the guitar and marvel at the ‘the man’ and his sidemen.

Roadside jukebox’s wept big ‘buckets of sorrow and pain’ songs, then folks belly laugh when Roger Miller spun one of those “Dang Me” ditties or that “Boy Named Sue” Johnny Cash style. Then the old hands passed the torch to a younger generation. That young generation decided to rock more than weep and abide by a sound of their own invention. I recently caught up with one of Canada’s very best, country star, Jason Blaine for this conversation.

Bill King: Jason, you are back in Pembroke your hometown June 14 for the third annual Night with the Stars Gala with pals Jason McCoy and Dallas Smith at Pembroke Memorial Centre then the following day the Jason Blaine Charity Golf Classic – music and golf. Who are the beneficiaries?

Jason Blaine: Once again, we are proud to be supporting the Algonquin College Capitol Campaign for the new waterfront campus in Pembroke, The Boys & Girls Club of Pembroke, The Community Foundation, Mental Health Initiatives, as well as the Local Food Banks this year.

B.K: Are you a big fan of golf and a golfer yourself?

J.B: Not really, Lol! That’s the funny thing; I’m not very good and I don’t even play that much except for at my own charity event or at another or when I get out with my dad a couple of times a year. I just don’t have time but I always have fun when I do play.

B.K: How important is sports and music to you?

J.B: Both have long been apart of my life. I played a lot of sports as a kid and I’m now a coach on my son’s baseball team. These days I’m often involved in a lot of charity events where you’ll find sports celebrities and music stars coming together for a good cause. A few years ago, I was invited to play in Gord Bamford’s Charity Golf Event where I ended up playing golf with Curtis Glencross who was with the Calgary Flames at the time. The next year, he invited me out to his charity poker & rodeo event in AB.

B.K: You tagged Muhammad Ali in a recent tweet – the greatest. What did he mean to you?

J.B: Yes, The Greatest. He was a special spirit from a history-defining era and we were all lucky to live during his time. He was a true champion who inspired us all to chase our dreams and to fight the good fight both in and out of the ring.

B.K: You hit the Mudbog Music Festival in Azilda, Ontario June 11. What’s the summer looking like for touring? Are there a few stopovers you’re anticipating?

J.B: Yes, Summer 2016 kicks off there for us and we’re looking forward to hitting the road and seeing the fans again! I’m also excited to play Boots & Hearts with Tim McGraw, Lucknow Music In The Fields with Lee Brice, and Halifax with Rascal Flatts, just to name a few! All the dates are up on my website at jasonblaine.ca/tour. Of all the awesome summer tours we’ve done, this might be the best one yet!

B.K: You will be surrounded by four children and they most certainly will want your attention. How do you balance the demands of touring and home?

J.B: It can be crazy at times. My wife & I are expecting little baby blessing #4 on July 10th and we couldn’t’ be more excited. I’ve taken the month off to be home for the main event and to help out as much as I can before I hit the road again in August. I try to just be present and in the moment with them when I’m home and they understand that I don’t have a very normal job. They also know that nothing comes before my family and if they needed me to, I would drop everything to be there for them.

B.K: Every father thinks of that dance with his daughter – either in the living room as a young child or at a reception after she’s been married away. What was the inspiration for Dance with My Daughter (from Country Side) for you?

J.B: My wife had signed my daughter and me up for a father-daughter dance about a year or so ago. It was the sweetest thing and I had never been a part of anything like it before. All the dads were dressed in nice suits and the little girls in pretty dresses and it occurred to me that, one day not too far away, it would be a wedding dress! I was just moved by the whole experience and later that night, after my wife and I tucked our little girl into bed, I pulled out my guitar and wrote that song. I’ve been amazed by the number of social media messages I’ve received from fans telling me that they are planning to use this song for their wedding. That’s pretty cool.

B.K: How have the themes in your songs changed over the years?

J.B: Well, certainly when I was 25 or 26 years old I didn’t have the same life experiences as I do now; 10 years later, as a father of four and married for over 10 years. I sing about those things that are real to me and a part of my story, but I’ve also collected a lot of stories from people over the years so I’ll write about that as well. I think my subject matter has matured somewhat but I still include a good measure of Friday night fun on all my records as well.

B.K: What’s that sensation like for you when you assemble the band together and begin shaping and arranging a new song?

J.B: I love that process; it’s the best kind of high! I always say that a song is born 4 times: the day you write it, the day the band brings it to life in the studio, the day it gets released to radio and becomes a hit (hopefully) and the day you’re playing it live on the road somewhere and the fans are singing it back to you for the first time. There is nothing more rewarding then seeing a song’s life come full circle.

B.K: Are you actively trying to place your songs with other artists?

J.B: Yes. When I’m not on tour, I write for Word Music Publishing/Word Country Nashville. I have had songs recorded by Tim Hicks, Madeline Merlo, Colt Ford/Luke Bryan, and others. Some songs I keep for myself but I write so much that there’s plenty to go around. I’m looking at you Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, and Keith Urban! :)

B.K: How has Nashville affected your evolution?

J.K: Nashville is a city that brings out the best in music creators. I didn’t move here to be famous, I moved here to get better and I think just being around such great talent for the past decade, trying to compete, it tends to rub off, you know?

B.K: Is there a writer or writers in Nashville you scratch your head and ask yourself, how did they turn that phrase like that?

J.B: Yes, Craig Wiseman and my pal Deric Ruttan on Blake Shelton’s current #1 Came Here To Forget, “that first kiss was like a Colorado hit we’d better keep on keepin’ it lit”. Love that :)

B.K: Keith Urban has cultivated a following that continues to expand as he does so himself musically. Do you see yourself as a growth artist – the long run kind of guy?

J.B: I’m a huge KU fan. Yes, I hope so! That’s what I’m trying to do now more than ever and I think it’s really about recording great songs that you can see yourself singing 10-15 years from now.

B.K: Who do you listen to for inspiration?

J.B: Wow, there are so many but a few favourites that I always come back to are Vince Gill, Bryan Adams, John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa and a ton of today’s current country artists as well.

B.K: If you could step back in country music history, what one person would you think of to record that dream duet with?

J.B: Merle Haggard. 

 

 

 

 

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