Colin Linden

Colin Linden. Guitarist, songwriter, singer, producer, b Toronto 16 Apr 1960. Blues-oriented musician Colin Linden lived for a time in White Plains, New York, before his family returned to Toronto in 1971.

Linden, Colin

Colin Linden. Guitarist, songwriter, singer, producer, b Toronto 16 Apr 1960. Blues-oriented musician Colin Linden lived for a time in White Plains, New York, before his family returned to Toronto in 1971. His childhood influences included American, British, and Irish blues and folk musicians such as the Flying Burrito Brothers, Taj Mahal, John Mayall, Van Morrison, James Taylor, and Johnny Winter. In Toronto, he became interested in the music of American bluesmen, eg Howlin' Wolf. Linden made his adolescent debut as a singer-guitarist at Toronto's Fiddler's Green Coffee House, after which he learned finger-picking and slide acoustic guitar styles and played at the 1975 Winnipeg Folk Festival. David Wilcox hired Linden in 1976 as a member of his rock band, the Teddy Bears, at which time Linden also began to play electric guitar. After solo shows in 1977, Linden formed the Group du Jour, which mainly played cover songs.

1980s - 1990s

In the 1980s, Colin Linden began songwriting and recording to a much greater extent, influenced by The Band. Linden's albums include 1980's Colin Linden Live!; The Immortals (1986, Stony Plain Records); and When the Spirit Comes (1987, A&M). Songs by Linden from the 1980s include "When the Spirit Comes" and "Miles Away from You." He also was sideman for Willie P. Bennett, Amos Garrett, Mendelson Joe, and Gwen Swick; signed with Warner Chappell; and did production work for Mendelson Joe, Bruce Cockburn and others. Cockburn hired Linden as sideman 1991-5, and Linden released his own 1993 album South at Eight, North at Nine (for the US blues label Deluge Records; released in Canada on Columbia), which included guests Cockburn and Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, and Levon Helm of The Band, and won a 1994 Juno award. Linden released 1995's Through the Storm, Through the Night; 1996's Orphans of God; 1997's Raised by Wolves; and 1999's Sad and Beautiful World.

More Awards and Recordings

In 1996, Linden co-wrote Colin James's hit "Real Stuff," and began his collaboration with Tom Wilson and Stephen Fearing in Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. The group, whose music is produced by Linden, released High or Hurtin' (True North Records) and 1999's Kings of Love. Linden won a 1998 Maple Blues award for producer of the year. Linden co-produced Cockburn's 1997 album Charity of Night, and won a Toronto Arts Award in 1999. He lived in Vancouver part-time in the late 1990s.

Colin Linden won a Juno award in 2000 as a member of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, and albums he produced won as best blues and best roots albums. In 2000-1, he produced Sue Foley's Love Comin' Down and Paul Reddick and the Sidemen's Rattle Bag, for which he won his fifth and sixth consecutive Maple Blues awards as producer of the year. In 2001, he released the acoustic-oriented Big Mouth, which won a 2002 Juno award for best blues album and was released in the US in 2003. Grammy-nominated albums for which Linden performed or produced cuts include A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf (1998, Telarc), and Timeless (2002), which won country album of the year.

In 2002, Linden co-produced Fearing's That's How I Walk and Cockburn's You've Never Seen Everything. In 2003, he won another Maple Blues award as producer of the year for Sue Foley's 2002 album Where the Action Is. With Blackie and the Rodeo Kings he released 2003's BARK and 2006's Let's Frolic, and he released his own Southern Jumbo (2005) and Easin' Back to Tennessee (2006), the latter of which was nominated for a Juno award in 2007.

In addition to performing with and producing reunion projects by The Band, Colin Linden worked with Mavis Staples; won a Maple Blues award in 2005 for his co-production work on Janiva Magness's Bury Him at the Crossroads (NorthernBlues); and won the 2007 Maple Blues lifetime achievement award. Linden lived part-time in Nashville, Tennessee in the 2000s and collaborated on aspects of the soundtrack for the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? In 2008 he toured with Emmylou Harris as lead guitarist for her band The Red Dirt Boys. He also produced albums for Bruce Cockburn and Cindy Doire and was producer and co-writer for Paul Reddick's Sugarbird. Linden's album From the Water (2009) was nominated for a Juno award in 2010.


Further Reading

  • LeBlanc, Larry. "Colin Linden stretches musical boundaries," Billboard, 20 Mar 1993

    Posner, Michael. "In person: still hungry like the Wolf: Colin Linden's friendship with bluesman kicked off his career," Globe and Mail, 30 Nov 1998

    Devlin, Mike. "Canada's blues master, Colin Linden, tours to support his Big Mouth," CanWest News, 21 Apr 2004

    Quill, Greg. "Colin Linden: close to the bone," Songwriters Magazine, Summer 2009