So I’ve been somewhat negligent with my website responsibilities of late. Sorry about that. New year, new stuff to write about. I went to my first concert of 2014 last week. Canadian roots-rock “supergroup” Blackie & The Rodeo Kings came to Guelph to the River Run Centre. That is a great venue to see a concert. I’ve said for ages that we need more shows like this at the River Run. It works for Centre in the Square in Kitchener. Let’s see more like this here. But I digress.
For those not familiar with Blackie & The Rodeo Kings (BARK for short), they are often referred to as a supergroup. Colin Linden, who now resides in Nashville, has played with or produced a long list of awesomeness; Bruce Cockburn, Lucinda Williams, T-Bone Burnett, Colin James, Rita Chairelli, The Band and some guy named Bob Dylan. Stephen Fearing has had a very successful solo career and some very talented folks have played on his records like Josh Finlayson, Richard Bell and Ian Thornley. Tom Wilson is, in my opinion, a national treasure. His amazing songwriting aside, that distinctive voice of his…oh yaaa. Tom was a founding member of the Hamilton rock band Junkhouse which also featured Blue Rodeo’s Colin Cripps. After Junkhouse Tom released a solo album in 2001 which contained the hit “Dig It”. Simultaneously to BARK, Tom created another project called LeE HaRVEY OsMOND which he styles as an artist collaborative. The line-up constantly changes but originally was a collaboration with members of the Skydiggers and Cowboy Junkies.
So BARK have embarked (haha, pun intended) on a Canadian/American tour to promote their new album South. Guelph was the fourth stop on the tour. They played two sets with no opener which was nice for a change. BARK were backed by renowned drummer Gary Craig and a bass player who’s name I can’t recall. The first set saw Tom, Colin & Stephen seated around a kitchen table for their take on the distinctly Canadian kitchen parties that are especially a part of Maritime culture. Both sets were “acoustic”. I say acoustic in parentheses because Colin played a resonator guitar with a slide most of the show. Thanks to his pedal assortment (and talent) he made that thing sound like anything from an acoustic to a Les Paul. His solos were just blazing! The setlist covered the breadth of their catalogue but obviously the emphasis was on the new material. The title track “South” and its single b-side “North” were highlights and perfectly capture the feel of the whole record. My favourite was the Colin penned number “Summertimes’ Over” which they described as the anti-surf song. The encore closed with “Price Of Love” in tribute to their hero, the late Phil Everley.
The show was fantastic. I had seen BARK several years ago opening for Blue Rodeo at the Molson Amphitheater in Toronto. I’ve been a fan for years but had not managed to see them for quite some time. I missed BARK when the came through Guelph on the Kings and Queens tour so I’m glad I caught them this time. Here are a few pictures I took at the show.