PREVIEW: Rob Mayes Talks UPtv’s Just Jake and Playing The Bluebird Cafe
Country music, Colorado and chemistry — three things viewers can expect when they tune into UP Entertainment’s latest rom-com. Just Jake stars Mistresses’ Rob Mayes and Brittany Bristow, from Hallmark Media’s recent The Love Club movies.
If “Mayes and Bristow” sounds like a country duo that’s a beautiful thing because the movie’s about an up-and-coming country singer who reunites with his high school sweetheart when his career hits major turbulence. After Nashville does Jake Collins wrong, he returns to the Colorado hometown he left behind years ago in order to lick his wounds and search for inspiration. A sudden reunion with his ex, Amber, who’s talented in her own right, leads to sparks, a bit of angst and, of course, sweet, sweet music.
Speaking of which, Mayes and his singer/songwriter alter ego share similarities when it comes to living that country music life. “It’s what my day-to-day life is, you know? Literally I just got out of a co-write with two guys who have had all these hits,” the Nashville-based actor excitedly reveals. “We just wrote a song today — in two-and-a-half hours. We write every single day at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and then I’m in the studio cutting the best songs that we’ve written recently.”
The fact he relates so harmoniously with his Just Jake character is only one of the reasons he appreciates this “incredible” experience. Other reasons include filming in Castle Rock, Colorado and working with Bristow. Plus, the two co-stars are executive producers on the film. “I love getting to tell these uplifting redemptive stories of hope,” says Mayes. “And when I get the opportunity to do that with a backdrop of country music, to hybridize the two things I love to do — make movies and make music — there’s really nothing more special than that.”
It’s even more special when he’s able to play such a layered character. Jake’s childhood wasn’t the easiest and the movie doesn’t hide or avoid the realities of what happens if the trauma isn’t dealt with or treated. In fact, it’s his past that contributes to the character’s loneliness and insecurities as an adult.
“I’m a big believer in being seen and being heard and acknowledging our value and our worth as individuals and human beings,” explains Mayes. “I think that informs a lot of Jake. It’s what I love about these movies is that they’re never too heavy, you know? There’s always a levity and lightness to it. But the fact that [Jake’s background] is a part of this movie, it’s like, we’re digging a little bit deeper here.
I think for someone like Jake, not really having a family, not really having a bonafide home life growing up, he doesn’t really know where he fits in,” he continues. “I don’t even know if he really knows who he is. I think he’s afraid of love, afraid of acceptance, afraid of that unconditional love that Amber provided him, that her family provided him growing up.”
There’s nothing but admiration, encouragement and acceptance between co-stars Mayes and Bristow. The Sweet on You star loved working with Brittany. “She’s so down to earth,” he raves. “She’s just so humble and such an amazing human being. She really enjoys the process. There’s no ego there. It’s always a blessing to get to work with people like Brit who really appreciate getting to do what we do.”
One of the real treats in Just Jake is the opportunity to get to hear Bristow and Mayes duet. However, in one of the actress’ Instagram posts, she admits to being nervous for everyone to hear her singing. During filming he says, “She was like, ‘I just want to do a good job. I want you guys to be proud.’ And I was like, ‘Man, just go make it your own. Have fun with it. Just own it. You’re amazing. Whatever you’re going to do is going to be incredible.’ And then she went in and what she did was super incredible.” Sounds like she had nothing to worry about. “I mean her voice is magnificent. It’s so beautiful, so pure.”
Two of the songs featured in Just Jake are originals written specifically for the movie. “New Favorite Song on the Radio” has a pop country summer anthem vibe going for it. The showstopper is the Jake/Amber duet called “Without You.” Mayes co-wrote both songs with Nashville heavy hitters Will Weatherly, Heath Warren and Eric Van Houten.
When Mayes and Bristow perform the song at the end of the movie, well, the 5000 Blankets actor says it’s one of his favorite moments. Most of the guys who wrote the song with him are up there on stage with him. “Them getting to kind of rock out and just have a blast, it felt good to be able to do that towards the end of the movie,” he says. “You never know what order you’re going to shoot it. Sometimes you might shoot the big finale on day one. We’re fortunate that we got to shoot this way down the line on one of the last days. I think it made it all the more special.”
Earlier this month, he performed at one of the quintessential country music venues in Nashville for the second time — The Bluebird Cafe. “It’s the absolute mecca, the absolute songwriting mecca,” says Mayes, who’s clearly still in awe of the experience. “Taylor Swift got her start there. Garth Brooks. The magic of that place is just unparalleled.” The first time he played The Bluebird was during Covid. So this second opportunity meant everything to him. He could feel the history. “I think I played the best show of my life at The Bluebird. Not a bad place to feel like I played the best show of my life. I think that’s a testament to the history that place exudes and represents.”
While Mayes has projects coming up where he stars alongside the likes of actors Dennis Haysbert and Beau Bridges — “such an amazing guy, so humble. Just watching him is a master class” — he feels lucky to be able to exercise so many different muscles with Just Jake. “It’s a grounded rom-com with culture, a good message and great music.”
Just Jake is currently available on UP Faith and Family. But it premieres on UPtv itself, Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET. Also available is Rob’s version of “Without You” that he did with American Idol and Grand Ole Opry alumni Lauren Mascitti.
Photos and trailer courtesy of UP Entertainment
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