“Canadian roots music heroes”
~ Rolling Stone
In 1996 Stephen Fearing, Colin Linden, and Tom Wilson came together to record a one-off tribute album to their friend, the great Canadian songwriter Willie P. Bennett. Each was deeply committed to their respective burgeoning solo careers and had no plans to turn the collaboration into a going concern. They picked a band name for the project (a reference to Bennett’s 1978 album Blackie and the Rodeo King) and released the 14-track collection that included the core band of Gary Craig (Drums) John Dymond (Bass) and Richard Bell (Keyboards) with guest appearances by Bruce Cockburn, Rusell deCarle , and even Bennett himself on the iconic White Line.
High or Hurtin’: The Songs of Willie P. Bennett was such a success with fans and critics alike, they decided to reconvene in 1999 for their second album Kings of Love, a collection of covers and original material. Together the guys crafted songs that blend roots, folk, rock, blues, country, and more, building a genre-defying sound from Bennett’s folk inspiration and cementing their commitment to Blackie and The Rodeo Kings as an ongoing creative springboard.
More than 20 years later, with nine albums, one JUNO award, and several JUNO nominations under their belts, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings has organically evolved into one of the finest roots bands in North America and one of Canada’s greatest musical treasures.
Along the way they have worked and performed with some of the greatest artists in music – musicians, producers, songwriters, and creators. Their list of collaborators includes legends, long-time friends, fresh voices, and chart-toppers like John Whynot, Ken Pearson, Daniel Lanois, Murray McLauchlan, Emmylou Harris, Rosanne Cash, Garth Hudson, Jim Weider, Lucinda Williams, Serena Ryder, Ron Sexsmith, Cassandra Wilson, Matt Andersen, Pam Tillis, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Nick Lowe, Exene Cervenka, Holly Cole, City and Colour, Keb’ Mo’, Jason Isbell, Vince Gill, Sue Foley, Rodney Crowell, Amy Helm, Eric Church, Patti Scialfa, Raul Malo, Sam Palladio, Samantha Martin, Ian Tyson, Lindi Ortega, and many more.
Now into its third decade, the band continues to tour and record as each individual member’s busy schedule allows.
“Blackie and The Rodeo King, they were just good friends,
been to every rodeo and they rode on every old train.”
~ Willie P. Bennett