We might be a bit bias when it comes to our 'FEATURED MUSICIAN' for the month of June. Enjoying a growing friendship over the past 12 years we've experienced first hand watching Andrew Mactaggart grow into an accomplished musician with one of the most versatile musical resumes we've ever seen. We first met Andrew when he accompanied Canadian Idol winner Brian Melo back in 2008. Anyone who has had the pleasure to meet Andrew knows what a big heart this soft spoken musician has and we instantly became friends. He's a very talented self-motivated musician who has taught guitar and been a sought after studio musician for over 13 years.
Previously to touring with Brian Melo, Andrew as lead guitarist and backup singer, has toured across Canada with Juno winner Tomi Swick playing at all major venues & arenas such as Roy Thomson Hall, Massey Hall & the Scotiabank Arena opening for the Goo Goo Dolls and Bare Naked Ladies. In 2009 he joined the 'CMT Live Tour' with performers JASON BLAINE, Steven Lee Olsen, Tara Nichole Oram & The Higgins. He also toured exclusively with Tara Oram for several shows over the next few years and had the amazing experience of accompanying her to Afghanistan to play for the troops. Adding patriotism to these impressive performances, he’s also played for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at Parliament Hill.
Andrew is among a very small group of musicians who is the 'first call' for most of the country artists in Canada. He has played with Jason McCoy, Dallas Smith, Kira Isabella, Suzie McNeil, Small Town Pistols, Tim Hicks, Tebey and Madeline Merlo just to name a few. His years of performing in this genre has made him an incredible master of his trade. He has analyzed and picked apart every aspect of country guitar which makes him an expert in the country music genre, and the first choice for many pop artists as well.
In 2013 Andrew became engaged to fellow Canadian musician Suzie McNeil in Las Vegas on a special trip to celebrate her birthday. If you're Canadian you're sure to know who Suzie is as she too has an incredible list of musical accomplishments. She finished fourth on the TV show 'Rockstar INXS' when the band INXS was looking for a new lead singer. She's had an amazing list of singles of her own such as 'Hung Up', Super Girl' 'Merry Go Round' and the 2007 Olympic themed explosive hit 'Believe'. Andrew and Suzie (known affectionately as 'Druzie' when they perform together) wed June 7, 2014 have one son Findlay born in November 2017.
Together the 2 of them were a part of forming the Nashville country-buzz Loving Mary Band in 2013 while Andrew was touring with Canadian country music performer Tim Hicks. This turn saw them moving their lives predominantly to Nashville while they wrote and recorded with their new band. Lovin Mary Band then caught the eye of rocker Steven Tyler who had recently decided to record a more country sounding album as a solo artist and he instantly wanted them as his back up band.This gained them the opportunity to travel with Steven on his 'Out On A Limb Tour' which resulted in them touring North America and doing television appearances on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Seth Meyers Show, Ellen and Good Morning America.This tour also set the stage for Steven Tyler to put together the part biopic, part concert film 'Steven Tyler: Out on a Limb' which was available for streaming on Netflix in which Andrew and the Loving Mary Band have appearances in.During this time Loving Mary released their first EP 'A Little Bit Of Love' and they had radio success with the single 'Drinking With You'.
In summer 2019 Andrew was approached about rejoining Tim Hick's band again as Tim was gearing up for a 2020 spring and fall tour. Seeing Andrew performing again at CCMA fan Village and the Canadian Country Music Association Awards in Calgary last September felt like he'd never left and made our hearts happy as we'd been missing him playing the country circuit. Unfortunately due to Covid 19 restrictions Tim's tour has recently been postponed but Andrew is currently enjoying his time at home spending quality time with his wife and son. This down time has also given him time to write and explore new music out of his home based studio in Burlington, Ontario.
With so many years of experience on the stage, in the studio and in TV appearances Andrew is most comfortable when he’s behind a guitar. Growing up his musical inspirations have been The Beatles and Buddy Holly. He may be young but he's a old soul when it comes to his musical roots. Andrew is also a multi-instrumentalist and when he's not playing the electric guitar he is also proficient at playing the mandolin and lap steel guitar. Music is not just a hobby for him, it is his life and any artist that lands Andrew to play for them should be considered lucky. And as his personal friends we consider ourselves pretty lucky to have watched him grow into an incredible musician over the past decade. We look forward watching our friendship grow with him and to seeing him perform for many years to come!
Our 'Featured Musician' for the month of May is one of the most top hired guns in the country music scene. Known for his purveyor of tasty licks and vast quantities of facial hair he has become a stand out in the industry and one of the most sought after musicians in Canada! Mitch Jay started playing guitar when he was 11 years old and only started playing pedal steel guitar about 5 years ago.
Born and raised in Charlottetown, P.E.I. he grew up on the Island but made a decision to make his way to Calgary. There he attended Rocky Mountain College and he now resides out of Calgary permanently. He originally wasn't a country or bluegrass fan or even had it on his musical radar when he moved to Alberta but he quickly developed an interest in in it. His father was a really big fan of older country music so he was exposed to it as a kid, but he come around to it until he was in his twenties.Growing up he was very much into blues music and still is but he has always tried to approach country music from that angle. He'd been playing the electric guitar for a long time and a couple of other folk like instruments like banjo and mandolin when a couple of friends in Calgary suggested that he buy a steel guitar and try it out. He had always loved the sound of it so he took a leap of faith and self taught himself to play it. What he lacked in experience he gained with great work ethic and soon word got out which lead to a lot of work for the freelance musician. Even though he was originally playing electric guitar at gigs he would bring his steel guitar to play on a few songs with artists who loved and embraced it and that eventually his name got out and he started playing it a lot more outside of Alberta.
Learning to play this instrument has been one of the best decisions he says he has ever made in his music career. But he has to work hard to pick up gigs, playing for as many different acts as he can, on an instrument that doesn't have the biggest demand. For many acts it's considered an auxiliary instrument and one of the things these acts don't add to their band unless they have a budget for it.
Some of the artists he's played or recorded with are the likes of Madeline Merlo, Kelly Prescott, Meghan Patrick, Tebey and Drew Gregory.He's also got some amazing recording credits on the songs 'Gold Ole Days' from The Abrams, 'One Thing Right' by The Jim Cuddy Band ,'Now Or Never' by Brett Kissel and the huge top 10 country hit 'Shine' from The Washboard Union.
Mitch has picked up some pretty serious hardware in his short time playing the pedal steel guitar. He was nominated for a Canadian Country Music Association Award for playing Steel Guitar in 2016 and won the award in 2017, 2018 and 2019. He also won the Specialty Instrument Award at the CCMAs in 2019. Along with those awards he picked up the 'Musician of the Year Award' for the 2018 Association of Country Music in Alberta Awards. What makes the nomination and awards even more impressive is that people know his skills completely by word-of-mouth, as Jay is a freelancer, not a name from a famous band like most other Country musicians in Canada.
Earning these awards has put his name in front of a million more eyes in the Canadian country music world and has made him become quite the respected musician that so many other musicians look up to and so many artists want to record with. Lately we're sure he's been spending a lot of time with his wife Laura and 2 children in isolation during this pandemic & recording from his home studio. We're positive that he's hoping that he's back on the road playing live shows and beautiful music on his pedal steel guitar very soon!! And when that happens we know we can't wait to meet him!