BLACKIE & THE RODEO KINGS
What started out as a tribute project to Willie P. Bennett has evolved into one of the most entertaining Canadian roots super groups of all time, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings. In 1996 when Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson came together to record what was supposed to be a one-off tribute album to the great Canadian songwriter Willie P. Bennett, there was nary a thought that they would eventually become a going concern as a band. Now, thousands of miles and more than a decade later, Swinging From The Chains Of Love proves to be a remarkable collection of songs from a remarkable band.
After releasing the critically acclaimed, Juno nominated High or Hurtin’ in 1996, Tom Wilson, Colin Linden (who also acts as producer) and Stephen Fearing, fresh off successful solo projects, found themselves drawn in by the chemistry between them and started writing songs that could only be expressed through the Blackie & The Rodeo Kings medium. In the aftermath of High or Hurtin’, the band began to receive requests for performances. This wasn’t part of the original agenda. “I was the folk guy from Vancouver, Colin was the blues guy and Tom was Mr. longhair crazy Junkhouse guy. People were still scratching their heads that we were even making a record together. How is this gonna work? They’re just totally separate worlds. So, the idea of actually playing shows together wasn’t even on the table.” stresses Fearing. These separate worlds collided together to form one of the most beloved roots bands in North America.
The future of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings translated into Juno nominations for BARK (2003) and Let’s Frolic (2007), as well as a Juno Award for Best Roots & Traditional Album for Kings of Love (1999).
Swinging From The Chains Of Love features a collection of tracks from the Blackie catalogue including favourites “49 Tons”, “Stoned” “Heaven For A Lonely Man”, the title track “Swinging From The Chains Of Love” and a previously unreleased tracks; ‘Caves of Jericho’ featuring the late Richard Bell and a rousing cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’. The CD also includes extensive liner notes written by Canadian professor of ethnomusicology and 1996 Grammy award winner Rob Bowman.
Willie P. Bennett passed away on February 15, 2008 but his music and memory live on through the genius of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings and Swinging From The Chains Of Love.