Jay Linden
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Jay Linden

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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Canadian folk camp followers know Jay Linden as Colin's quieter, humbler brother, as a reliable and acquiescent keeper of countless songs and arcane folk trivia, and as a gentle picker who knows his way around the guitar, banjo, tiple, laud, banjo-ukulele and other weirder fretted instruments. Many will have forgotten his burgeoning career in the 1970s as a songwriter of note, and few will even wonder why he quit music for almost two decades. It doesn't matter now. With this debut, the veteran newcomer makes a remarkable impression with a set of 16 contemplative acoustic ballads and instrumental vignettes -- all originals, except for Stephen Foster's "Camptown Races" and A.P. Carter's classic "Wildwood Flower"-- that benefit from the artist's restraint, good musical taste and personable, untutored voice. These are simple songs, and owe much in their rustic style and pretty melodic structure to Linden's admitted mentor, Townes Van Zandt. Through them shines the light of a good soul and a weary traveler who knows both his own limits and those of listeners for whom the sheer communal delight of an honest song sung well is company enough.

- Toronto Star

Jay Linden was right in the thick of the Canadian folk thing in the 1970s. However, he turned his back on music through the '80s and '90s, rarely picking up a guitar and writing no songs.

He found music again after moving to Cambridge four years ago. He played at folk venues throughout Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph.

Linden marks his return to music with his debut album, Satchel, a collection of 15 songs, all original except for two instrumental covers of the classic Camptown Races and Wildwood Flower.

The album is co-produced by Linden, who plays guitar, banjo-uke and harmonica, and Ken Brown, who plays standup bass. It's mixed by Linden's famous musical brother, Colin, who plays dobro and mandolin. Local fiddler Jay Weiler plays on a couple of tracks.

Linden's songs are firmly planted in the folk-songwriter tradition that took root in the '70s, with a taste of country added for flavour. As a singer, he sounds a little like Townes Van Zandt, who he describes in his album notes as "the best songwriter ever."

Satchel is available online at jaylinden.com - The Record -- Kitchener/Cambridge/Waterloo, Ontario

Jay Linden - Satchel

De cover en de foto’s in het boekje zijn vergeeld. Satchel lijkt een werk uit vroege jaren maar is nagelnieuw. Het had wel een werk uit vroege jaren moeten zijn. Maker Jay Linden, broer van Collin, is namelijk niet meer de jongste en debuteert op middelbare leeftijd. Deze Canadees maakte in zijn jonge jaren al muziek maar van opnemen kwam niks. Er wordt een beetje vaag gedaan over wat Linden in de jaren ’80 en ’90 uitspookte maar als ik naar de foto’s kijk dan kan ik me een beetje voorstellen hoe hij die periode heeft doorgebracht. Laten we het er maar op houden dat hij geen instructeur is geweest in een fitness- en health-centrum. Linden is een fan van Townes van Zandt en dat is te horen. Ook hij klinkt fragiel en kwetsbaar en ook hij gebruikt woorden om zich te beschermen. Mooie woorden. Linden is (ook) een verborgen romanticus. Of verborgen?

In the morning she makes me coffee
She makes me coffee and makes me smile
She sits beside me and whispers softly
She whispers softly throughout the while (uit: In The Morning)

Daar is weinig “verborgen” aan. Dat is romantiek in de kiem. Linden laat zijn hart spreken, net zoals Blaze Foley dat deed. Waarschijnlijk te veel ervaring en te vaak op zijn bek gegaan om zich nog zorgen te maken over zoveel openheid.

The closer that you come to feeling that you’re home
The harder it becomes to find your doorstep
Back when I was young, I set out on my own
Walked the path ‘til I could take no more steps (uit Something Better To Believe (Icarus’ Fall))

Satchel is er omdat Linden besloot om toch door te lopen.
- Patrick Donders


by Jay Linden
copyright 2006

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 8/06
"Kevin's Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"

Change is happening in the folk music field. What Dylan wrote, "...the first one now will later be last..." is coming to fruition. How else can the likes of Diana Jones, Zoe Mulford, Jamie Byrd, Danny Schmidt, Pat Wictor and now Jay Linden, all relative unknowns, be releasing CDs that will appear on the critics' lists of the Top CDs of 2006?

It's not like these individuals were born yesterday or are just out of their teens. No, they have paid their many dues and yet remain vastly underpublicized. But still, the front row of the folk music world is beginning to get crowded as these 'newbies' are now elbowing Dar Williams, Richard Schindell, Ellis Paul, John McCutcheon, Eliza Gilkyson and the like for air time.

In Jay Linden's case, his obscurity can easily be attributed to this being his very first release. In his fifties, he's been playing music for some time, particularly in Canada, and apparently awaiting just the right moment to deliver his debut release. Do not take it out on him, but his deliberateness has shortchanged us because, yes, "Satchel" is that good.

His voice is strong and clear with a slight touch of twang--John Gorka with Townes Van Zandt flavoring. His writing flows between the relatively guileless and the delicately obscure. The instrumentation here is spare, but primarily offers guitar, with mandolin, fiddle and dobro augmentation.

From the opening and closing cuts, "Traverse County" and "Upon The Winter's Morning," the listener will immediately pick up strains of Townes Van Zandt's "Rex's Blues" and also "Brother Flower." In fact, the ghost of Van Zandt hovers eeriely throughtout this CD. Some may say there's been a touch of reincarnation bewitchery at work.

Linden writes of relationships, of the inner thoughts and feelings, as well as their outward expressions, and of the infinite and kaleidoscopic variety of nature.

He does so in the melodious, with the learned, sagacious eye of experience and the talent that makes the listener want to delve deeper and hear more.

A prime example of his songwriting is the opening verse of "Riding On The North Wind," the 13th song:

"Oh the night was cold and cloudy, the rain blew in my eyes
Thunder broke the silence and the lightning lit the skies
From the ground to the horizon there was nothing there at all
Up above the heavens clashed like the sky was gonna fall
As I looked for cover I watched a spark flash by
I thought I saw an angel in the corner of the sky
Riding on the north wind..."

On "Something Better To Believe (Icarus' Fall)," cut 14, Linden's writes of the clarion call of freedom clashing with the resulting unfamiliarity:

"The closer that you come to feeling that you're home
The harder it becomes to find you doorstep
Back when I was young, I set out on my own
Walked the path 'til I could take no more steps

Young and full of dreams - hopes and plans and schemes
Crossing all the streams to reach the mountain
Westward to the sea, northbound to the sky
I could fly - soaring smooth, soaring high
As I looked for something better to believe..."

These are indicative of the motherlode of music here--songs as impressive as these finishing out the release!

Jay Linden doesn't offer a 'money back if not satisfied' guarantee for his CD, but he easily could and have no qualms about ever finding a return in his mailbox. This is a very impressive CD that should quickly and deservedly go to the top of the folk music charts in both here and Canada.

Track List:

* Traverse County (3:11)
* August Night (4:50)
* Blue Skies Of September (4:00)
* Sonora Twilight (laud) (1:13)
* It Falls To You (Ring Around The Night) (4:51)
* Tiple medley (1:27)
* I Know Where I'm Going (3:09)
* For The Love Of You (3:38)
* Shadows Of The Morning (5:30)
* Camptown Races (banjo-uke) - Stephen Foster (0:25)
* In The Morning (3:39)
* Wildwood Flower - AP Carter (1:18)
* Riding On The North Wind (3:06)
* Something Better To Believe (Icarus' Fall) (5:34)
* Upon The Winter's Morning (2:56)

All songs written by Jay Linden, except as noted. - Kevin McCarthy -- "Kevin's Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"

Jay Linden – Satchel (Independent)

Jay Linden is afkomstig uit de omgeving van Toronto, Canada.
Hij heeft minstens 40 jaar muzikale ervaring, maar “Satchel” is zijn eersteling.

Nadat hij ongeveer 5 jaar geleden gestopt was met roken kreeg zijn dobberende muzikale aspiratie een concrete invulling.
Hij moest zijn handen iets te goed geven om zijn hoofd af te leiden van zijn voormalige verslaving.
Zodoende plukt hij genoeglijk aan de snaren van zijn banjo om de nicotine behoefte te onderdrukken.
Zijn gerookte stemgeluid is echter gebleven, en verraadt een diep gerijpte klank. (proefde op John Gorka lijkend stemgeluid)
De liedjes welke hij uit zijn rugzak trekt zijn behoorlijk knap; beeldend, landschappelijk en warm.
Ze stralen bezieling uit tot en met.

De banjo vind je redelijk centraal terug in deze folk georiënteerde en zeer verzorgde muziek.
De frontcover illustreert ten overvloede de fantastische melangolische sfeer welke dit wonderschone album beheerst; een vergeelde koffer met herinneringen.

Heerlijke poetische muziek, bol van fraaie metaforen vergelijkbaar aan de stijl van een andere Canadeese globetrotter; Ian Tamblyn. - http://www.volkskrantblog.nl/bericht/75229



By his own admission, Cambridge-based singer/songwriter Jay Linden has been making music Under the Radar for much of the past 40 years.

So the title of his sophomore release, following 2006’s Satchel, is regrettably accurate. On the strength of his eloquent songwriting and warm baritone it’s easy for listeners to regret Linden’s 20-year hiatus from music in the 1980s and 90s after launching a promising career in the 70s.

Recorded in Linden’s living room and produced, mixed and mastered by brother, Colin Linden, Under the Radar has a sparse, spare, bare-bones, alt-country vibe with Jay on guitar, banjo, harmonica and harmonium, among various sundry instruments, and Colin on dobro, mandolin, guitar and bass.

Linden’s originals hold their own in the company of covers written by the likes of Willie P. Bennett, Lowell George and Townes Van Zandt. If you doubt this statement, turn your ear to the love ballad Coming Through. Moreover, it’s spooky how much Linden sometimes sounds like Bennett and Van Zandt.

http://news.therecord.com/arts/NightLife/article/623678 - Waterloo Region Record

Translation says, in part: "The the most beautiful album of 2009, irrespective of the genre."


Mijn systeem staat voortdurend op scherp om ultieme muziek te vinden. Muziek die trefzeker is, muziek met gevoel. Op zijn vorige cd – Satchel – gaf Jay al veel van zijn talent prijs, maar Under the Radar overtreft mijn idiootste verwachtingen. Openingstune Baltimore start met een warm en weemoedig klinkende intro waardoor meteen de toon gezet wordt voor dit melancholische album. Banjo, mandoline, mondharmonica hoor je naast Jay’s stem, verder zal je niet veel toevoegingen opmerken. Ze zijn er wel, want behalve Colin Linden, Jay’s broer, is ook Chris Donahue aanwezig, maar allemaal zeer subtiel in hun uitvoeringen. Under the Radar is de zeer treffend gekozen titel van dit album. Negen eigen nummers bevat deze plaat, met daarnaast 5 voortreffelijke covers en wat overige ongein. Under the Radar gaat over de tijd, zowel de tijd die verstreken is, als de tijd die ons rest. Muziek geënt op het verleden, maar het hart in het heden.
Vooral de beide Willie P. Bennett nummers hebben voor mij een enorme symbolische waarde. Ik was enorm getroffen door Bennett’s solo optreden in Assen 2002. Ik had mijzelf uigerust met een minidiskspeler, en wist – tot mijn eigen stomme verbazing – dit optreden haarscherp vast te leggen. Eigenlijk had ik het niet vreemd gevonden wanneer dit jaar een officiële release als eerbetoon aan Willie P. Bennett oeuvre zou volgen. Het zal mij niet verbazen wanneer nog onuitgebracht materiaal zweeft, en wanneer dat aangevuld wordt met live materiaal, dan heb je ongetwijfeld iets weergaloos. Ik beschouw Under the Radar dan ook als een tribuut aan de te vroeg gestorven mandolinespeler, die zijn laatste jaren doorbracht onder de vleugels van Fred Eaglesmith. Ik hoor uitsluitend respect voor een oude vriend. What’s the Matter with You is door Bennett zelf nimmer vastgelegd op een plaat, en krijgt hiermee een primeur.
Jay Linden kruipt in de huid van zijn helden, want de wijze van interpreteren is werkelijk uitzinnig. Dit geldt voor Snake Song van Townes van Zandt, maar ook voor de vertolking van 20 Million Things van voormalige Little Feat icoon Lowell George. That Lucky Old Sun van Haven Gillespie & Beasley Smith neemt iedere luisteraar ongetwijfeld mee naar een absurd eenzame hoogte. Een klassieker die al oneindig veel bewerkingen heeft gehad, van Frankie Laine (1949), tot Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra en Ray Charles om er maar een paar te noemen. Volgens mij geeft Jay de meest uitgeklede variant die mogelijk is, eentje die waarschijnlijk het dichts bij het oorspronkelijke scenario hoort van deze voortreffelijke song hoort. Qua instrumentatie slechts een banjo, en dan daarnaast de hemeltergende tekst:
Show me that river, why don't you take me across
Wash all my troubles away, I know that lucky old sun,
He's got nothing to do, but just roll around heaven all day.
Jay Linden vat op Under the Radar samen waar het bij muziek om gaat, want afgezet tegen de voortreffelijk covers die hij ten gehore brengt vallen zijn eigen nummers allerminst in het niets. Dit is muziek van een man met zijn hart op de juiste plaats, en met het talent om dat gevoel van verlangen, weemoed en pijn hoorbaar vast te leggen. Under the Radar is niet echt een plaat met vrolijke nummers, het is een weergave van het leven. Weergegeven in eenvoudige elegante melodieën en tot de verbeelding sprekende teksten.
Ik had dit jaar tevens gehoopt op een nieuw album van Bob Martin, of eentje van Larry Jon Wilson. Een heruitgave van albums die momenteel nog uitsluitend op LP beschikbaar zijn was mij al lief geweest. Gelukkig compenseert dit album niet alleen, maar gaat zelfs nog over mijn inschattingsvermogen heen. Die anderen komen vanzelf wel, daarover maak ik me geen zorgen. ’t Is alleen dat tijd een moeilijke inschatbare factor is. Daarmee rekeninghoudend is deze nieuw Ray Linden plaat een zegen voor de muziekliefhebber. Zeker voor mij, want ik had al waanzinnig veel mooie muziek gehoord dit jaar, maar niet van dit zeldzaam mooie niveau. De titel van dit album beschouw ik al ironisch bedoeld, want voor mij is dit, paradoxaal genoeg, het mooiste album van 2009, ongeacht het genre. - http://www.johnnysgarden.nl


Satchel (debut CD, 2006)
Self-distributed; contact me to purchase or go to http://jaylinden.com/buy_the_cd/ to use PayPal for Canadian purchase or http://cdbaby.com/linden for US/global purchase.

2009 -- "Under The Radar"; distribution being organized through the same channels. If it's not in place yet when you want the album, contact me!



"Under the radar" -- doing something undetected. Sometimes this phrase is used to mean "getting away with something", as in doing something nefarious without getting caught. Sometimes it just means doing something and not getting noticed.

Jay Linden has been making music, all-told, for over 45 years, since he was a pre-teen. He plays dozens of instruments, and has written dozens and knows and plays thousands of songs. But mostly, he remains a pretty well guarded secret outside of the people in the communities where he's lived.

He's unabashedly acoustic, unabashedly folk rooted. His musical trail comes up from Woody, Pete, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, through Dylan, Johnny Cash and the 50s folk scare and through contemporaries like Townes, Willie P, Dolly Parton, Dave Carter and more. He writes and sings memorable folk songs and plays a lot of fretted and stringy things, flutes, hand drums, and novelty instruments, some more novel than others.

Back in the '70s, Jay was an up-and-coming folkie. A decent songwriter and a good guitar player who shared stages and backstages with many of Canada's finest -- Jay hates to drop names (and usually won’t do so even if you ask), but he will admit to some interesting acquaintances:

"Stan Rogers used to call me by name when he wanted me to move out of his way. Adam Mitchell used to chide me for making an occasional mistake when I sang his songs. I spent two years as the guitar player Jack Schechtman (then a Toronto-based singer/songwriter and now a working rabbi in California). I have sung high falsetto harmony notes I can no longer hit onstage with Willie P. Bennett. I have driven around town with such luminaries as Tom Rush, Livingston Taylor and John Allan Cameron. I have eaten dinner with All Three Members of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings. At the same time. Their treat. I've known Paul Mills since before Trevor Mills was born. Leon Redbone has played my guitar -- while I was holding it. Steve Goodman played it onstage at Mariposa one year. I knew Grit Laskin before he started making guitars (and have one of his very earliest ones.) And I know Bob Dylan's first name."

Then, more suddenly than it started, Jay took the 80s and 90s off, writing no songs and rarely even picking up a guitar. A reformed smoker who quit a 35-year habit 8 1/2 years ago, Jay's figured out that he started making music again "for something to do with my hands". And started writing songs again. Memorable ones, this time.

The new album, "Under The Radar" is again filled with road miles and timelessness. Jay's songs are slices of universe with mature, universal themes, impeccable lyrics, simple yet elegant melodies ... poignancy without too much pathos ... they float in time and space like a Monet painting and a Douglas Adams story. Complementing his own songs are five covers -- new ones played in old ways, and old ones played in new ways. And all-told, in addition to guitar, Jay plays harmonica, banjo, cumbus saz, tambura, harmonium, backwards lowered bass Jew's harp, Maui Xaphoon pocket saxophone, bass kazoo, and yes, a little nose flute.

Sorry, still no cuatro.

Like the first album "Satchel", the production remains sparse and folksy. Recorded in Jay's living room, produced, mixed and mastered by Colin Linden. Colin plays some guitar, dobro, mandolin, bass, etc. Yes, they're related, a little. Stand-out bass from Chris Donahue, the stuff played with a bow, recorded in Nashville.

Nine songs by Jay, plus:

* a cumbus saz version of Townes Van Zandt's "Snake Song"
* a banjo version of Lowell George's "20 Million Things"
* a tambura/harmonium version of Willie P. Bennett's "One Vessel"
* Willie's previously unrecorded "What's The Matter With You"
* and the bonus track, "That Lucky Old Sun" by Haven Gillespie & Beasley Smith, a very old jazz/pop standard that Jay has loved since almost it was new. Jay needs to use all three of his guitar chords for this one!

The 2006 album "Satchel" spent three months among the top radio played Canadian folk albums in both Canada and the US. And "Under The Radar"? One hopes!

45-plus years of road wear and miles and music. In short, Jay Linden must be one of the world's most slowly emerging talents. Truly, under the radar.