NOTES AND NEWS FROM THE COUNTRY MUSIC SCENE
We’ve teamed up with the crew from Front Porch Music to bring you a round up of news and interviews from Barrie’s growing country and western scene.
Every month, Logan Miller of Front Porch will share a conversation with an emerging local artist, as well as news and notes from around the horn.
This month Logan chatted with Rob Watts!
Rob Watts is a local Canadian country artist who has been making a splash in the world of country music, and calls the Barrie area home! He’s been a staple in the local music scene for some time, playing at venues like Donaleigh’s, Flying Monkeys, Red Line Brewery, and many others. He’s also played some of the largest stages across the country.
Rob is an incredibly talented artist. He’s a songwriter, a vocalist, guitarist, and a very charismatic performer. It’s next to impossible not to smile when you’re watching him perform live. He even had one of the Top Summer Songs on the Canadian Country Music Show.
Since he’s local, we wanted to catch up with him to chat about the local music scene, and learn more about him. We talked about a lot and we’re very excited to be able to get to know him a little more.
Front Porch Music Guest Interview: Rob Watts
Rob, it’s so great to be able to have you join us! We’re really excited to be able to introduce you and your music to our audience. Since this is your first time joining us, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Hey folks, thanks so much for having me! I love your analogy of what a front porch means to people, spot on! I’m Rob Watts, born and raised in Simcoe County, Ontario. I was brought up with country music always on around the house and cottage. I used to wake up and fall asleep to Shania Twain, Dwight Yoakam, and Brooks and Dunn among many other artists as my parents always had on the radio. I’ve been playing music in bars and other venues since I was 18 and formed this band in May 2015. I’ve always had a dream to bring my friends along with me on this journey and I’m very fortunate to be able to do what I love on some of the biggest stages in Canada with them.
We understand that your musical journey started at a young age, but you really found the love for singing at an open mic night when you were in high school. What is it about the stage, performing, and music that you connect with?
I’ve always considered myself an influencer of sorts. I think there’s something magical about stepping out onto a stage and inspiring energy and captivating the people watching. Using good music, clever lyrics and being truly passionate about performing are all tools I use to bring people together at shows. If I can improve someone’s mood or expand their musical palate, that’s a solid day’s work that I take pleasure in.
Your single “Hope God Likes Beer” has performed really well – with well over half a MILLION streams. Why do you think this song has resonated so well with audiences?
It’s funny, because I wrote ‘Hope God Likes Beer’ as a joke for my dad and his hockey buddies. We’re a big hockey family, and I’ve grown up watching my dad play across Canada, so I’m also very close with his teammates. After I joined them for a game of 3 on 3 a couple years back, we got into the change room and I chugged back a can of Bud Light in one solid go. One of the guys said “Woah you better slow down or you’ll end up dead if you’re not careful” Seeing how incredibly exhausted I was after trying to keep up with them, and I looked up and said, “Well, I hope God likes beer then!” They all froze and said “That’s your next hit! Write that!” so I went home and did just that.
First time we played it was opening for Jason McCoy and the Roadhammers at Barrie’s Kempenfest. During that song I noticed people singing the words by the second chorus, and that was the first time that had ever really happened to me. We also sold like 80 beer Koozies right after we played that, so that helped! I think people like the song because it’s real, and it’s a fun, light song. You don’t need to think about anything when you’re listening to it, and I think people like that element of escapism that the song brings.
We don’t have to tell you, but Barrie is a great city! Tell us a bit about the music scene in Barrie – where do you love to play, where do you love to listen to music, etc.?
I absolutely love Barrie. There’s a very healthy music scene that spreads across multiple genres. Donaleighs Irish Public House on Dunlop Street has been a large supporter of us, and they’re currently opening another venue that will be HUGE for country music in Simcoe County. Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery supports all kinds of music, live, covers, originals: they’re a hub for introducing musicians to the Barrie scene. I host an open mic night there every Wednesday and the talent that comes through there is amazing. Redline Brewhouse is a solid supporter of live music, as well as Barnstormers Brewery, Kenzington Burger Bar and British Arms, just to name a few.
Front Porch Music Guest Interview: Rob Watts
“In order to survive, we have to adapt to trends and country has always been great at accepting other genres.”
The country music genre has really evolved in the past few years, and has become much more approachable to the average listener – blending the lines of pop and country, or country and rock. We’re interested to know what you think about this trend.
I’m all for it. In order to survive, we have to adapt to trends and country has always been great at accepting other genres, blending, and growing. I really took to what Morgan Wallen said in an interview at Boots and Hearts when talking about his new song “Heartless”. Even though it may not be “traditional country” it has the potential to introduce country music to folks who wouldn’t have normally listened to it. To me, that’s a win for the industry.
I’ve always been a fan of 90’s country music. Absolute gold in my eyes, but I’m also a fan of some of the creative samples I’ve started using in my music. A healthy mix of styles and inspiration is how you grow, not only as an artist, but as a person.
What’s next for you – when can we expect new music, or shows?
I wanted to start 2020 off with a “bang” so I released a song to radio called ‘2 Days’ which features Jason Aldean’s steel guitar player, and it’s a tune I’m personally very proud of. I’m currently in the studio with Jason Blaine’s drummer, Shawn Moore, a very talented producer. We’re working on 3 tunes and have another 3 lined up, hopefully to release my debut album by spring 2022. These are some of the best songs I’ve ever written, so I’m extremely anxious for people to hear them!
We’re also doing a little Eastern Canadian tour with some university stops and radio visits in the coming months. I’m a huge travel fan so this is very exciting.
www.robwatts.ca has a full list of performance dates for 2020 so far. Looking forward to them!
Quickly – what are the 5 songs that you currently can’t get enough of?
Details – Billy Currington (written by Newmarket’s Steven Lee Olson)
Hello Country – Steven Lee Olson
Some Girls – Jameson Rogers
21 Summer – Brothers Osborne
Who do You Love – Chainsmokers
About Front Porch Music
In country music, the Front Porch has long been a place of reflection. A place where you can look at the life you have inside that front door. A place where time almost seems to stand still, where you can get away. It’s also a place where you can go to observe the world as it passes by you. To think about your place out there beyond the driveway.
That’s the idea behind Front Porch Music. We want this to be the digital Front Porch. Where music fans can come to get away from their lives and take a look at what’s happening out there in the world of Canadian country music. A place where we can sit together and talk about everything this great world of music has to offer. We are committed to promoting Canadian country artists, festivals, and shows to help both emerging and established artists connect with fans and find new ones.
What did you think of the Front Porch Music Guest Interview: Rob Watts? Let us know in the comments!