By David Kenney
Almost four years ago, Wide Mouth Mason started paying their dues playing noon gigs at SAIT. Soon after, they were headlining their own shows and setting the scene with songs like "This Mourning" and "Midnight Rain." Nowadays, the blues rock group can boast tours with both the Rolling Stones and the Guess Who–and they’re only on album number three.
Stew comes off the heels of a successful opening stint for the Guess Who. Playing with the Winnipeg legends proved both humbling and inspiring for the Saskatoon band. Vocalist/guitarist Shaun Verreault says the experience makes him appreciate Wide Mouth Mason more.
"We’ve still got a lot to do," he says, on reaching Guess Who status. "Nobody knows what’s going to happen. The thing we try to focus on is making every show one that would leave you going ‘it’s about time there’s a band like that.’"
The Saskatoon trio have definitely evolved on Stew. Brewed into the group’s usual blues rock groove is a funk feel reminiscent of superstitious Stevie Wonder and producer Gordie Johnson’s band, Big Sugar. Songs like "Once You’ve Got It" and "Bushi Su" reveal a looser sound with Verreault howling at all types of ranges.
"Rather than focusing on ‘I bet this would be a good single,’ we would love to go and get something that isn’t available," says Verreault "Our philosophy was we recorded this record like the ’80s never happened."
Besides the progressive blues/funk sound feel of the album, there’s a party sound unlike Where I Started and Wide Mouth Mason. Admittedly, the band had a blast in the studio.
"We were laughing our asses off recording this entire record," says Verreault "That’s what it’s about, and going out and playing a full room for a few hours is a great place to be."
Working with Big Sugar’s Johnson also made a difference for the band. Besides being a friend and fellow musician, Johnson knew how the band worked on stage and helped to translate that in the studio.
"He was pretty much the perfect producer," says bassist Earl Pereira. "We got on a roll and it just got more fun. He was hitting all points. Gordy was like ‘Okay, you guys can make heads move, now we got to make people’s asses move.’"
Stew will start shaking booty on Tuesday, July 25.