Wide Mouth Mason’s Stew is back on the menu — and just as funky as it was when they first dished it up two decades ago.
The Canadian blues-rock vets have announced the forthcoming 20th anniversary reissue of Stew this Nov. 27. Set to be released as a limited edition LP by the band and their management, We Are Busy Bodies, the original album was released by Warner Music Canada and licensed to the band for the anniversary release.
“Stew was intentionally Wide Mouth Mason’s funkiest offspring,” recalls singer-guitarist Shaun Verreault. “It showcased a specific subset of our musical influences, and was a mashup of musical styles passed through the filter of Wide Mouth Mason.”
Adds drummer Safwan Javed: “But it was also a case study for Wide Mouth Mason to better understand those musical styles. We’d been listening to a lot of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies and the like. Meanwhile, our good friend Gordie (Johnson, Big Sugar), who produced it, was hipping us to bands like The Meters and The Gap Band. We dug in and deconstructed the component parts of records that were undeniably funky.”
Inspired by the tunes and arrangements on those records, Wide Mouth Mason honed in on the audio ingredients to utilize. “Drums that were punchy and taut, almost 808-like, the bass ran simultaneously through a bass amp and a little guitar amp hanging on for dear life,” Verreault says. “We made falsetto harmonies — almost like horn parts — a recurring theme, and broadened the sonic palette with some keyboard parts by Gordie and a string section.”
As Javed recalls, “they were fun, funny, joyful sessions. Though we’d plotted a defined sonic mission statement, there was a lot of room for happy accidents and spontaneous invention.”
Formed in 1995 in Saskatoon, Wide Mouth Mason‘s 1996 breakthrough debut The Nazarene immediately drew interest and attention from industry and fans alike. But it was their gold-selling, Juno-nominated self-titled followup a year later that launched their trajectory as one of the country’s most popular blues-based rock bands. The hits kept coming: Wide Mouth Mason appeared twice at Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival, toured with AC/DC, ZZ Top and The Rolling Stones, while their 1999 release Where I Started hit gold status and 2000’s Stew delivered their second Juno nom for Best Rock Album. Their eighth and most recent release, 2019’s I Wanna Go With You, has been nominated for a 2020 Western Canada Music Award.
Stew’s 20th Anniversary Edition will be supported by tour dates when possible. Meanwhile, special online performances to celebrate the anniversary are in process. The reissue will be available from the band and the We Are Busy Bodies web store. It has been remastered for vinyl by Dany Laj.