Ontario-crafted country outfit James Barker Band formed in 2013, and consists of James Barker, Taylor Abram, Bobby Martin, and Connor Stephen. As winners of the 2015 Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase, they were awarded a release with Universal Music Canada and an all-inclusive trip to Nashville, Tennessee. The band was also given the opportunity to open for Thomas Rhett on the Boots and Hearts main stage in front of 40,000 of country music’s biggest fans and returned to play the mainstage at the festival in 2016.
The guys have had a busy year, with no signs of slowing down. Their first single, “Lawn Chair Lazy,” which was written by band front man, James Barker, along with fellow Canadians Gavin Slate and Travis Wood, became the highest charting debut single ever from a Canadian artist at Country Radio. Their video for the song also spent two weeks at #1 on the CMT Canada’s Chevy Top 20 Countdown. The band’s follow-up single, “Just Sayin’,” received mass praise from the industry and fans and just like the first, went Top 10 at country radio. The third, single “Chills” released on March 3 also received a #1 from CMT Chevy Top 20 Countdown, but also a #1 at Canadian country radio, making them the first band to have a number one at radio off a debut album. The boys have played shows with the likes of Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, Brothers Osborne, Kip Moore, Jon Pardi, Dean Brody, High Valley, Tim Hicks and more.
The band performed live on the 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Awards and were nominated for five awards: Single of the Year – “Lawn Chair Lazy”, Album of the Year – Game On, Rising Star Award, Video of the Year – “Chills”, Group or Duo of the Year.
In April the band dropped their first EP, Game On, via Universal Music Canada, the country’s leading music company, which debuted at #2 at iTunes during release week. On the EP Barker found an immediate chemistry with writers Gavin Slate, Travis Wood, Todd Clark, and Donovan Woods with who he wrote the majority of the songs for the EP, which was engineered and produced by Todd Clark. The result displays a consistency of voice, which is both authentic and clear. The cohesiveness of Game On leaves no doubt that James Barker Band knows the land on which they stand. On this EP they lay bare questions of love, life, and responsibility – and ask of their fans to be equally uncompromising on this journey.
“We’re so excited to finally release our EP, Game On. It feels like we’ve been working on these songs for so long that everyone should already know them, but at the same time it feels like only yesterday that we were recording Lawn Chair Lazy. We have poured everything that we have into these songs, and I hope people can feel that,” says Barker. “From the diverse collection of tunes, to the working album art and EP title, we wanted to make sure that the whole project made sense with who and what we are. We are a group of fun loving country music fanatics that are influenced by all kinds of genres, but we aren’t just party animals. We have personal lives and relationships just like everyone else. We really hope our fans enjoy listening and can relate to these songs as much as we do!”