Review: Blackie and the Rodeo Kings @ Burton Cummings Theatre
“I wonder whatever happened to Tom Wilson from Junkhouse…”
This is a question I often asked myself after Junkhouse broke up. But like all questions, some get answered and some don’t.
A few months ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and I came across an ad for “Blackie and the Rodeo Kings”. I thought to myself, “Hey, that’s a cool name, I wonder who they are”. In a rare moment, I did a bit of research and discovered what happened to Tom Wilson.
If you’re a huge fan of Blackie, you might be thinking “What’s wrong with this woman? Little late to the party…” Which, could be the theme for this entire blog. But I prefer to think of the theme as this:
It’s never too late.
So what if I just discovered Blackie and the Rodeo Kings? So what if I’m twenty years and eight albums behind? It’s not like their music (or ANY music) has an expiry date.
One ticket please.
While we were waiting for the show to start, we were treated to Hank Williams on a turntable, piped through a wooden antique radio/speaker. While the music played, I watched as Stephen Fearing (guitar) chatted and took photos with the crowd.
Then Colin Linden (guitar) knocked over the turntable (accidentally) and introduced Tom Wilson’s son, Thompson Wilson. He doesn’t sound like his Dad, which is good. I found his songs lent themselves to reflection and became deeper and more interesting with his Godfather playing a simple drum kit next to him.
Then Colin came back out and spoke to us about Care Canada which is an organization that empowers girls and women by providing maternal care, education, etc. He said he felt this was important because the men in the band were raised by women and when we help women, we all benefit.
During intermission, they played Johnny Hodges on the turntable which felt incredibly natural in that theatre. Big Band was my gateway into the world of Jazz and I was thrilled to hear it. They turned the record player off at “Take The A Train” and I almost had a stroke. You can’t stop that song in the middle! Sacrilege!
All was forgiven once I saw Tom Wilson and heard him sing “Stoned”. Oh how I’ve missed Tom’s “got punched in the throat 30 years ago” voice. Sigh…
As the band played “Live By The Song” and “Shelter Me Lord”, I thought maybe this was a natural progression for me. I’m not convinced I would have appreciated this music 20 years ago. So maybe musically, this is where I’m at now.
Next, Tom spoke about his love for Winnipeg and how his home town (Hamilton, ON) is basically “Winnipeg-South”. He referred to “My Winnipeg” as a “stoner movie”, which he recently enjoyed repeatedly with his friend Angela while she smoked pot.
Then he spoke about finding out he was adopted three years ago and the women he thought was his cousin was actually his Mother. Trippy. People’s lives are amazing aren’t they?
Anyway, he wrote a book and then flipped the bird to his high school teacher who told his parents to take him out of school because he couldn’t read or write. He told us these stories with such humour and character. It’s hard not to like Tom Wilson.
Thompson Wilson came back on stage for “Beautiful Scars” and “Secret Of A Long Lasting Love” followed. This chunk of the set felt really relaxed like driving across the prairies in the summer, or sitting by the fire pit at your cottage.
Then the band brought out Sam Palladio from the show “Nashville” (which I’ve never seen). The young women in the balcony went a little nuts over him as he sang three tunes. It was fine, but he was very polished which is the complete opposite of Tom, so it didn’t really reach me.
The next guest DID reach me. Also from “Nashville”, Jonathan Jackson made me forget I hadn’t heard Tom sing for four songs. “Keep Asking Why” was really rockin’ and his cover of Dylan’s “Love Rescue Me”, ended up winning me over due to the passion and energy he put into it. I wrote in my notebook “What? Who IS this guy?” He’s quite the performer.
Later, everyone came back on stage and gathered around the front. Tom told us the band played music on the tour bus and then broke into a cover of The Band’s “Acadian Driftwood”. It was cool and I found myself dreaming about sitting on the bus with them listening to this great song.
It felt like this should have been the end of the set, but the other guys left and the songs continued.
Colin played a fantastic guitar solo and received a partial standing ovation and then Tom talked about a friend who quit school to become a lighting tech for Teenage Head.
“White Line” ended the set and the band came back on stage almost immediately for a rockin’, danceable two song encore.
Despite the first balcony of The Burt being only half full, the applause was quite loud at the end.
Earlier in the show, Colin mentioned Dallas Green from City and Colour and sang a song off their new album “King & Kings”. When I got home I found it. Dallas sings with Tom Wilson on “Beautiful Scars” which, quite frankly, is a match made in Canadian heaven and I’m listening to it as I type this review.
Aaaaahhh…my brain is sleepy and happy.
P.S. These pics were taken by the talented Dwayne Larson of It’s A Music Thing. Check out his page for more shots of tonight’s show!
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMs