Safwan Javed and Shaun Verreault — Wide Mouth Mason — return to the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival on opening night of the 2021 event.

Author of the article:

Dave Deibert  •  Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Wide Mouth Mason (from left: Shaun Verreault and Safwan Javed)
Wide Mouth Mason (from left: Shaun Verreault and Safwan Javed)

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For the first time in two decades, local band Wide Mouth Mason is playing the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. In advance of their opening-night performance alongside The Sheepdogs (7 p.m., TD Mainstage at Bessborough Gardens), the Saskatoon StarPhoenix spoke with percussionist/vocalist Safwan Javed to discuss the Jazz Fest, what he’s been binge watching during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kyle Lowry leaving his beloved Toronto Raptors and more …

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Q: Do you feel any more nerves, excitement or anything out of the ordinary leading into this weekend?

A: If you’d asked me that two years ago, I’d have been, ‘No, we don’t get nervous anymore. It’s something we do all the time.’ It’s like breathing, second nature, especially when you’re playing songs that, by and large, you’ve played thousands of times. But, the qualifier in that is, since COVID happened and we’ve had no live gigs, it’s weird. Now it’s almost like starting kind of new, definitely fresh, again. I was actually telling friends the other day, I wasn’t sure what this feeling was, and I think it might be nervousness, which I haven’t experienced before a gig in more than 20 years.

Q: Much of life over the past 16 months has been digital. What have you been binge watching during the COVID lockdown?

A: The Watchmen. Unbelievably good. I couldn’t get enough of it. There was a show, Ramy, which is really good. I didn’t expect it to be. There was I May Destroy You. I went back to finish off The Americans. It was really good, about Russian spies. And with my kids, there’s the whole ‘Let’s watch all the Marvel movies, let’s watch all the X-Men movies, all the Star Wars movies.’

FILE – November 25, 2012: On November 27th, 2012, it will 70 years since the birth of Jimi Hendrix. The US born musician is widely regarded as one of the greatest ever guitarists. He died in London on September 18, 1970, aged 27. Rock guitar virtuoso Jimi Hendrix (1942 – 1970) caught mid guitar-break during his performance at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 1970.
FILE – November 25, 2012: On November 27th, 2012, it will 70 years since the birth of Jimi Hendrix. The US born musician is widely regarded as one of the greatest ever guitarists. He died in London on September 18, 1970, aged 27. Rock guitar virtuoso Jimi Hendrix (1942 – 1970) caught mid guitar-break during his performance at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 1970. Photo by Evening Standard /Getty Images

Q: If you could have one artist or band, dead or alive, join Wide Mouth Mason on stage, who is it?

A: Group decision or just me?

Q: Just you. Forget (guitarist/vocalist) Shaun (Verreault). He’s not that important.

A: (Laughs) It’s probably gotta be (Jimi) Hendrix … 1A is Hendrix. 1B is Freddie King. He doesn’t get enough love.

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Q: Speaking of Shaun, in the Al Pacino-Colin Farrell movie The Recruit, in the closing credits you’re listed as Band Member No. 2. Shaun is listed as Band Member No. 1. How often has he held over you that he had higher billing in The Recruit?

A: He doesn’t have to. It’s been the general theme our entire band life (laughs). Sometimes I see a little twinkle in his eye, a wink and a nudge, an acknowledgment. It’s a quiet lording over me.

Q: Kyle Lowry just said farewell …

A: I’m busted up over it, but here we go.

Q: Is this the business of the NBA or is it just pure heartbreak that he’s gone from the Raptors?

A: It’s both. I understand if we want to be competing for championships, we can’t be locked into a three-year Kyle Lowry deal right now without other pieces. We’re not in a contention window right now. Having said that, I’m pretty sure he’s the greatest Raptor of all-time. It hurts to see him go.

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors holds the championship trophy during the team’s victory parade on June 17, 2019 in Toronto. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors holds the championship trophy during the team’s victory parade on June 17, 2019 in Toronto. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Q: I don’t know how much time with life, work, parenthood you have to get out and hoop a little bit like you used to at Aden Bowman. But if you were to play Lowry in a game of 21, you get first ball, what would the final score be?

A: I’m going to say … 21-0.

Q: You don’t even get one, hey?

A: Wait. Is it winner out or loser out?

Q: Would it give you a chance to break the goose egg if it’s loser out?

A: Loser out is better for me. So … yeah, I’m still going to go with 21-0 (laughs). Maybe I can get lucky and a fluke shot goes up. It’d probably because I make him laugh or some kind of distraction.

(This interview was condensed for clarity and space)

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