During a weekend music festival that’s gone digital, JoJo Mason will perform a special song with someone special.
The schedule involves dozens of musician playing short sets – mostly country but some pop and rock, too, including Shawn Hook, Wide Mouth Mason and Big Sugar.
Also involved are Tim Hicks, The Washboard Union, Dallas Smith, Tebey, Aaron Pritchett and Terri Clark, among many others.
The online concert is hosted by Dan Davidson, an Edmonton-based musician who had plans to launch the festival in a live-concert format in 2021, but went digital with it a year early when the COVID-19 pandemic hit this month.
The festival schedule has Mason performing third on Saturday (March 28), at 11:10 a.m., on the festival’s Instagram feed.
“I’m going to play one song, something special,” Mason told the Now-Leader this week.
“I’m heading over to my mom’s house, and we’re actually going to do a song together. She’s quite the piano player, and I had the privilege of bringing her out on stage during a recent show I did (at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom) in February, and we’re going to recreate that moment and do it online. But of course we’re going to be six feel apart and all that. I’m excited for that.”
Mason’s mother, Joan, lives near him in the Clayton Heights area of Surrey.
“She used to play piano quite a bit all through high school and into college, and that went away for a long time,” Mason explained. “We had a piano in our house growing up, and she used to play for us, me and my brother, and then when we moved to B.C., the piano got sold.
“So she hadn’t played for close to 20 years or so,” Mason continued, “and yeah man, I rented a piano for Christmas and she’s had a heck of a time with it. I asked her in January if she’d play at my show in February, and she said yes. She’s having fun with it.”
The Diesel Bird fest is free to watch, with donations encouraged.
Davidson said the event’s focus is to support COVID-19 relief/prevention efforts and also to support artists in a time of great uncertainty. A donation page is posted to dieselbirdfest.com.
“I have a lot of connections with the musicians involved,” Davidson told the Now-Leader. “I just saw a lot of show and tour cancellations, and it started hitting us that if we start cancelling into June and July, summer, that’ll be really hard on musicians. There are not a lot of safety nets in the music industry.”
Davidson will host the festival from his studio in Edmonton.
“I’ll talk, then I’ll bring on an artist and hit the split screen button so we’re both on the screen, they’ll talk and answer some questions,” Davidson explained. “So they’ll play from their living rooms or wherever, and then the music will happen.”
In mid-March, Mason was on a #REDNEK Musicfest tour with Gord Bamford when “the whole thing came crashing down, when all the rules came in about large gatherings,” due to COVID-19 concerns.
“The tour got postponed after we played in Moose Jaw,” Mason said, “so I came home, and the idea came about to bring all these artists together, you know, the country music community. It’s a cool thing to keep us connected, the musicians, and also the fans who can’t get out to see our shows. We’re all in this together.”
Mason said plans are to reroute the postponed tour in the fall – “hopefully when everything is back to normal and just forge ahead with it, to make up for the dates lost.
“It was a crazy experience and just emotional, to get into the swing of things on the tour and all of a sudden, within a couple of days, it just came crashing down. We were in a limbo phase for a couple of days there and once we all got sent home it’s been, you know, two weeks of quarantine. Saturday will be my full 14 days in solitary. I’ve pretty much been locked down.”
Another 2020 event on Mason’s gig calendar is Gone Country, the annual cancer concert-fundraiser held at Cloverdale’s Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre every July.
“Hopefully we can get this virus contained by then, and I want to get to playing live as soon as possible,” Mason said. “I’ve done Gone Country once on my own, and then I made guest appearances, like when my boys Washboard (Union) headlined and brought me out to do a song, and that’s some local love right there.”
The concert venue is located not far from Mason’s home, of course.
“Oh man, yeah, I get to stumble my butt home from that!” he said with a laugh.