James Barker is perfectly happy to let the past two years fade from memory, but 2022 is one he certainly won’t forget.
“Most years I would say I was tired, but after the last two years I’m just glad to be back,” said the Woodville native and founder of the James Barker Band, which includes Taylor Abram ( guitar/backing vocals), Connor Stephen (drums) and Bobby Martin (bass).
Earlier this year, the band joined Dallas Smith on his Some Things Never Change 25-city tour which wrapped up on the Budweiser stage in Toronto on June 30. Kee to Bala on Lake Muskoka.
“The crowds were so excited to come back and hear live music,” Barker said. “Right before we went out with Dallas, we had a feeling it was going to be a really good year, but there’s always that doubt in the back of your mind. [The response] was really reassuring. He just feels good.
In a way, Barker credits the pandemic.
“It gave us the opportunity to sit down, take a look under the hood and take stock of how we can do things differently, how can we improve… As an artist , you usually can’t do something like this because those pauses between [tours] are for charging,” Barker said. “You don’t really get better by playing on tour, because it just becomes muscle memory. You almost have to force yourself to change things.
It’s “paid off,” Barker noted, as the band’s new music has garnered significant favor not only from fans, but also from the industry.
Tracks such as Wastin’ Whiskey – written by Barker, Jared Keim and Travis Wood – Over All Over Again and New Old Trucks featuring Dierks Bentley exploded up the charts. The group also continues to capture social media attention; a TikTok teaser for Wastin’ Whiskey has been viewed over a million times.
The platinum band also received five nominations for this year’s Canadian Country Music Association awards which take place on September 11. These include Artist of the Year, Amazon Music and Alexa Fan Choice, Group/Duo of the Year, Interactive Artist or Group of the Year and Single from the year for Over All Over Again.
“It’s just extreme confirmation for us that we’re doing something right; that we are moving in the right direction,” Barker said.
To find out more about the band and upcoming concerts, go to www.JamesBarkerBand.com.