Cam Penner
Gig Seeker Pro

Cam Penner

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | SELF

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Gypsy Summer Review"

“His sound now has a lot of the sound of his compatriot Neil Young working alongside the harder edged material and he has increased the density of his music and the power but somehow he hasn’t lost the delicacy and gentleness about his singing that has been so endearing for a few years now. I am hearing a man who is changing, keeping the essential qualities of his music but also finding new things to say and ways to say it.” -

"Gypsy Summer Review"

"Cam Penner is the working man’s musician. He’s out there on the road, hoping beyond hope that his music, and all good music gets heard. His latest record, Gypsy Summer, finds Penner exploring new textures and bolder sounds, and even though his fractured rootsy persona still creeps into the mix, this isn’t a depressing record. Gyspy Summer is full of hope. It’s full of love. It’s full of everything we should be looking for, not only musically, but in life." - Hero Hill

"Gypsy Summer Review"

“Penner's determination and trust in his art and vision prove utterly, undeniably well-founded on Gypsy Summer. It’s an autumnal album, as honest and natural as the changing of the leaves, with Penner’s gruff, sure vocals an oak cask where his experiences have aged to pour out that much more potent, that much smoother. It’s undoubtedly his best effort to date, and certainly one of the best local albums of the year.” Mike Bell - Calgary Herald

"Trouble & Mercy 4 STAR Review"

“From the worn edge in his voice to the wired and sleepy guitar picking...the excellent songs and his stripped-down, folk Americana is straight forward and deceptively simple.” - MOJO Magazine

"Trouble & Mercy"

"I have listened to hundreds of artists so far this year, so when I say Trouble and Mercy is the best album I've heard so far, I really mean that. I'm a firm believer that to write songs that move people and their emotions you need to have lived a bit and seen and experienced the suffering that life can dish up and throw at you in dusty handfuls.

"There are no fancy thrills on this album...the tracks are stripped down to allow focus on guitar and voice. The songs come across in an honest and intrinsically beautiful way that allows the sentiment in each to strike you right in the chest. I heard every word of sorrow, weariness, love, truth and tale of everday life. Cam Penner is a storyteller from the Steinbeck / Jack London mould and if he had been around in the dustbowl era, he would have been singin' alongside the likes of Woody Guthrie.

"....I can't recommend this man enough, if you get a chance, go and see him and get Trouble and Mercy." - Folk Radio UK

"Trouble & Mercy"

Trouble&Mercy Review by Joe Breen

"If music had a quota system, then the category of singer- songwriter would be closed due to overcrowding. Thankfully there isn"t, because Cam Penner and his emotional songs of lives lived and experiences endured and enjoyed deserve to be heard in all their stoical splendour. Penner was born into a Mennonite community in Manitoba but left to work in a women"s shelter and run a soup kitchen in Chicago. Returning to Canada, he distilled his belief in social justice into songs of quiet, melodic intensity that are low on preaching and high on warmth and empathy. His gruff, lived-in voice belies the tenderness that flows through these 11 slow, soulful, folky tunes, anchored by his acoustic guitar but embellished by sparse electric guitar, banjo and piano." - Irish Times

"Trouble & Mercy"

"This really is a wonderful, evocative and passionate record. She's In My Head is as uplifting as the lyrics are downbeat, a road trip transposed into music. Too Tired to Pray is achingly beautiful and the perfect showcase for Penner's simple and soothing vocals while Once A Soldier shows his ability as a storyteller and easily puts him up their with Loudon Wainwright III or Tom Paxton.

"If You Love Somebody may just edge it for me as the standout track but with an album of this quality it is liable to change with every listen. This record has caught me completely by surprise and has touched me in ways that music rarely does. This is 46 minutes of honesty and beauty that is quite simply wonderful." - The Music Critic UK

"Trouble & Mercy Review"

Cam's new record, Trouble & Mercy is devastating. The songs were written on a six month tour across North America and explore the differences between rich and poor, life on the road, love, lust and loss. These songs are the type born in in hotel rooms and grubby couches when the heartache and home sickness of being on the road for months finally wins out over wanderlust. The type of songs when emotions and thoughts float to the surface and surge through your body uncontrollably.

Remarkably even as he delves into these heartfelt emotions, Cam keeps a steady hand on Trouble & Mercy and when you think he might have hit rock bottom, you still get the impression that he knows life will get better. You can hear his heart break countless times on this record, but his need to keep fighting challenges any regret or pity you might feel and really pushes this record along and keeps you listening.

The album opener, All Of, showcases Penner's determined nature. Without shame, he admits he's willing to do whatever it takes to get back to his lover. The beautiful banjo and harmonies thicken the song, but make no mistake, All Of is one man's painful journey. Penner follows with the powerful 13, a tale of a convicted man that uses electric guitar and ominous steel to haunt your thoughts. The echoes of his picked notes and steel the band throws in on If You Love Somebody does the same.

Throughout this 11-song gem, Penner proves he's a fantastic song writer, formidable story teller (Once as a Soldier) and does all of this without trying to spin clever phrases or relying on pretentious word play. Penner speaks to the people as one of us. At one point, that's what we expected from folk artists, but somehow lately it's changed. Today, coffee shop strummers sing about their own life, unconcerned whether or not you can relate. For Cam, each and every lyric comes from the bottom of his heart, but it could be about any of us. If you can't relate to a song like Tired of this Town you've either lived a charmed life or you haven't lived at all
Hero Hill blog
- Hero Hill

"Trouble & Mercy Radio Review"

"This album is already one of my favorites for the year. Soulful, innovative, and insightful songs throughout." - KVMR-FM, Larry Hillberg

"Trouble & Mercy Review"

Further proof that the best Americana comes from Canada.

In his promotional material, Cam Penner peers out from behind a shaggy beard and fur-lined hood, looking every inch the grizzled backwoodsman. It's an impression the album itself does very little to dispel. Having produced two albums of archetypal roots rock, Penner has stripped right down, his finger-picked guitar and gravelly vocals now only occasionally dusted by hints of accordion or pedal steel. It's a rustic sound, conjuring stark landscapes and endless horizons, from the frozen north to the dust-bowl south and the instrumental economy is complimented by simple but effective melodies which retain their potency despite the sharp focus.

The songs here were written on a six month tour of that vast continent and they possess an authenticity only such experience can bring. Outlaw ballad Roam is surely the album’s highlight, a dualistic paean to wanderlust with a recurrent guitar figure reminiscent of another great outlaw ballad, Jerry Garcia’s Loser. The grandson of a bootlegger from a Mennonite community in Southern Manitoba, Penner is a born storyteller and his lyrical skill is evinced throughout the album, from the brooding gallows refrain of Thirteen to the weary recollections of Once a Soldier. Such songs are lent authority by his gravelly voice, reminiscent of a less affected Steve Earle.

Given the instrumental and harmonic minimalism, not to mention the predominantly downbeat tempo of many tracks, it would be easy for the mood to pall somewhat. It’s a testament to Penner’s narrative skill that this is rarely the case. Occasionally, there is a little too much homogeneity. Placing two songs as similar as the title track and Too Tired to Pray together was perhaps unwise, but this does nothing to detract from the pieces themselves. Indeed, the album hangs together remarkably well as a collection of spare, intense Americana, every bit as powerful as some of the big names in the genre. It deserves to bring Penner much greater recognition. - Americana UK


To Build a Fire, 2013
Gypsy Summer, 2011
Trouble & Mercy, 2009
Balsam Fir E.P. 2008
Felt like a Sunday Night, 2005
Get Up, 2003
Drive E.P. 2002

Constructive Revolutions II 2003
Frank Slide:100 Years from Them 2004
What's Kickin' (UK) 2006



In a complicated world, Cam Penner finds beauty in simplicity, with an honest, spare approach to folk music that is refreshing in an age filled with so much insincerity and irony. Singing uncompromising songs about redemption and truth, his is a voice for the disenfranchised, a storyteller for those who never reach their destination. The symphony of sound and lyricism showcase the inevitable evolution of a growing artist. It's folk. It's rock n' roll. It's Cam Penner. Breathing fire into every note and lyric.

Look no further than the titled track of the new album ?To Build a Fire' to understand Cam Penner. "I've got to know that you'll make it through the night, make it through the day, that you'll make it out alive, that you'll always have water running down the mountain side, always have shelter, know to build a fire." This album is a rallying call. It reaches out, boldly and courageously into present-day existence.

His fifth and soon to be released new album, 'To Build a Fire', finds Penner exploring new textures and bolder sounds. Though more stripped down than 2011's Gypsy Summer, Cam Penner finds new textures and bolder sounds on his fifth release. The fractured rootsy persona still creeps in but this is not a depressing album. ?To Build a Fire' is full of hope. It's full of love. It's electrifying and provoking. It's full of everything we should be looking for, not only musically, but in life.

The lush beauty of the opening brass track lures you in but leaves you wondering what is to come...then it begins. Ukuleles, guitars, banjos strummed. Floorboards stomped. Kick drums kicked. Feet stumbled. Thighs, knees, hands slapped and clapped. Voices strained and bent. Fingers gripped, grabbed and picked. Arms and hands flung. Body and sound thrown against wood and metal.

Cam Penner's last album, WCMA Nominated "Gypsy Summer" debuted at number 16 on the FOLK BILLBOARD Charts. It was featured along with a full interview on NPR's 'All Music Considered' and toured the album through both Eastern & Western Canada, UK, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany and France. Through constant touring and promotion Cam Penner has sold over 5000 copies of 'Gypsy Summer'.

At eighteen Penner left small town life to wander the highways and back roads of North America. A year later he found himself in Chicago serving mystery soup and stale bread to two hundred and fifty homeless men a day. Next, a women & children's shelter, then youth shelters and detox centers. For thirteen years he immersed himself in this subculture absorbing as much raw humanity as he could. When the shift was over he would spend endless cathartic hours writing and playing his guitar, exorcising his emotions through music. After becoming a self-taught expert on homelessness, he decided to become a full time touring artist, meanwhile becoming homeless himself.

Cam Penner has carved his own path. Music born from the soil and sin of this world.