On the heels of last year’s record Both Sides of The Bar and his recent single Edge of the Night, JoJo Mason is heading to Bo’s on Jan. 29th with the James Barker Band.
“I wanted people to see me. There are really so many different aspects of this album that represent me, and I don’t think we could have captured it any more perfectly than we did. There’s good, there’s fun, there is sad - the title track is also a true experience that I went through.”
As a bartender, Mason had seen a regular customer who always seemed like a happy guy. But one day, he came in with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Mason lent a listening ear, and the fellow returned a few days later telling him what a profound difference that time of conversation had made in his life. Mason said it was one of the most emotional experiences of his life.
And it’s that kind of authenticity that shines through at every moment as the project unfolds.
Hailing from Regina, Mason spent most of his early years playing hockey on ice rinks and frozen lakes. And according to his bio, with the opportunity of a successful career in the sport, he relocated to Victoria, B.C. in 2004 to play at the junior ranks. But this pursuit suddenly came to a halt after suffering a herniated disk.
But a gift for music was to be his true calling.
“One thing I had always wanted to do growing up was to sing in a talent show. I had zero confidence - it was something else,” he recalls with a laugh. “I had no idea what was cool, either.
“I sang in the shower, I sang in my car - and that was it. I would never sing in front of anybody! But I always wanted to.”
Fast forward to a pivotal evening in Vancouver. Mason had emerged from a dark time in life, and had relocated from Victoria to Vancouver.
At one point a friend invited him to a Christmas party (he was reluctant to attend) and he unexpectedly struck up a conversation with Dan Swinimer of Manicdown Music.
Swinimer was looking for a singer to connect with a group of musicians he had put together, and was also struck by Mason’s charisma and vibrant personality.
”He asked me if I had ever sang for anyone before, and I said, well, I’ve sang in the shower. And I sing in my car. So does that count? We kept chatting and when I was about to leave, he said, ‘I want to give you my card’.”
Mason called him the next day. And the rest is history. “I knew it would be fun, and fun it has certainly been. We’ve been working together ever since. It’s the most bizarre story!”
He went on to release his first single It’s All Good in June of 2015, and the tune was the number one most added song at radio in its first and third weeks of release, an accomplishment that has never before been achieved by an independent artist’s debut single in Canadian radio history.
Mason’s second breezy, instantly infectious single titled Good Kinda Love was released later that year and also hit the ground running. It was the number one most added song its first week, debuted at #42 on the charts and eventually became Mason’s second Top 10 hit.
Ultimately, Mason’s music is about having fun, appreciating life and sharing stories. It is passionately country, but with no fear of a deep groove, fresh lyric or original melody.
Fast forward to 2017, Mason now has four Top 20 singles under his belt and has released his highly anticipated debut album Both Sides Of The Bar.
“I get to record with one of my best friends,” he said of Swinimer.
“He’s been my guy, my number one - he’s taken me from what I was to where I am now. I give him a ton of credit for it. I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am, in every aspect of my life, without him. He’s one of those guys you really, really value.”
His slickly-produced, superb latest single Something To Wrap My Heart Around was his highest charting single, peaking at number eight on the Canadian Country Charts and quickly became a crowd favourite at his live shows.
“There is nothing better than seeing fans sing your songs back to you - it’s something! It means something to me. I will never in my entire life take it for granted,” he said.
“I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. I’ve had some crazy things happen in my life, and a lot of hard lessons learned in my life. But I feel like I’ve grown so much in the past three years as a musician and as a man and a person; as a boyfriend and a son. I also feel like I’ve grown exponentially past what I had ever thought I could be.
“I’m so much more happy now than I think I have ever been. As much stress that there can be that comes along with it, I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”