Blackie and the Rodeo Kings was the most amazing act we came upon, simply because it's made of three huge talents that have careers, indeed, legacies in progress, of their own. In this conversation, we focus on the most successful and most explosive of the trio, Tom Wilson. (Rest assured, we will be covering recent records by Stephen Fearing and Colin Linden in the next issues.)
Tom Wilson's group Junkhouse hit it big in the '90s in Canada, with several Top 5 records. He's led the rock 'n' roll lifestyle that goes with that kind of carnival ride. He's much better now, in a great relationship with Canadian comedy star Cathy Jones, who's even one of his musical co-writers. He's a complex and endearing personality of the first order, and we enjoyed the hell out of talking with him. Tom's a painter and a poet, a storyteller and a house frickin rocker when he turns that on. He's got a boatload of presence and a low voice that would upstage Darth Vader.
Wilson's so compelling, he makes this writer want to go to Canada and check out more of this scene for myself. So I'm headed up to the Hillside Festival in mid-summer in Guelph, near Toronto. I'll see if I can't come back with some live video of Tom doing his thing and collaborating with others, planned or otherwise, for your enjoyment.
The Canadians, they've got something going on that shows me what's inadvertently being left behind here. Maybe part of it is that their government is more supportive of the arts in general. (They are not, for instance, starting wars all over the planet that use up all the nation's capital, and then some.) Also, they may not be as celebrity-obsessive as we are. But there is a depth to the music they're making that I find very interesting, indeed.
Since the last Blackie album, BARK, Tom also released a record with Bob Lanois called The Shack Recordings, to critical acclaim. Check that out, and by all means get his latest, Dog Years--this is one great record.