Tom Wilson
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Tom Wilson


Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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"Dog Years Review"

Tom Wilson doesn't bother trying to reinvent the wheel on his current, 10-track outing. Instead, the Hamilton rocker is content to tighten the spokes. The disc, produced by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings cohort Colin Linden, ranges fluidly across the terrain of traditional rock, from the fuzzy, straight-ahead opener "Super Sun Natural" to the low-key, contemplative closer "Dreamland." Apart from Linden, who also plays on the album, Wilson's supporting cast includes Rosanne Cash, whose distinctive vocals add dimension to "Talk of the Town." A couple of hooky, pop-oriented tracks "I'm in Love with the System" and "Little Domino" lend buoyancy to a durable, unpretentious set.Wilson performs April 7 at the Rivoli. VW - Toronto Star

"Wilson Rocks, twangs on new CD"

Tom Wilson spent Sunday in a barn outside Vancouver, battling the physical elements. He had rain pour down on his head, snow (among other things) blown at him.

Before we get overly concerned about Hamilton's favourite rock star's condition -- physical and mental -- allow me to clarify: Wilson was filming the video for the first single from his new album, Dog Years, which arrives in record stores today on the True North label.

The song he was singing while having all this ... stuff ... hit him in the face is called Super Sun Natural. You may have heard it on Y108. They've been giving it good play the past couple of weeks.

It opens with a nasty subterranean growl that only Wilson's baritone can unleash and proceeds at an unrelenting pace -- driven by the bass of legendary Motown Funk Brother Bob Babbitt, and the feedback-laden guitar of producer Colin Linden. Wilson maybe better known as a roots artist since folding his '90s band Junkhouse, but this track rocks wildly. As a matter of fact, it's hard not to think of Junkhouse's big hit, Out Of My Head, when you hear the Super Sun Natural "digging a hole in my head" chorus.

So why was Wilson getting filmed in a barn getting hit by all that crap?

"I wanted a video of me battling physical elements in order to be able to sing a song," Wilson said from his Vancouver hotel room. "Basically what it really represents is what it's like to be an artist in this day and age or trying to be true to your art. You've got to battle a lot of bull... to be true to yourself."

Wilson should know. Over the years, he's battled enough personal demons, culture gurus and record industry types to make you wonder how he still keeps pushing that muse. Every time you think he's down for the count, Wilson manages to Keep On Grinning -- which just happens to be the title of track 2, a song he cowrote with his fiancee, comedian-actress Cathy Jones.

Dog Years is the sort of high-quality album we've come to expect from Wilson in recent years, whether it's recording with his other band Blackie & The Rodeo Kings or doing an acoustic set at Bob Lanois' Shack studio. Somehow he manages to input folk, roots, rock, country, blues and soul -- shake it up -- and make it sound like Wilson out for a stroll on his beloved streets of Hamilton. There are rock shuffles such as Domino and Tell It Like It Is , old country twang like Talk Of The Town, the pure poetry of Romeo's Barbershop (written with Dunnville's Rob Lamothe) and the Stardust-style crooning of Dreamland.

"I've come to understand the reality of who I am," Wilson says. "When I was playing in punk bars, I wasn't a punk and I wasn't really accepted in the cool punk crowd. When Junkhouse was at the peak of it's popularity, indie bands and alternative bands hated us because we didn't fit in with that.

"With Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, I'm in a band that even though we play the Country Music Awards we're not really accepted by the country music people. And even though I make a folk recording that's more true to folk music than anything this country has seen since maybe Gordon Lightfoot's first record, the folk community shuns us."

All humility aside, Wilson gets respect from where it counts -- his fellow musicians. Linden, a Toronto-bred guitar wizard, is one of the more sought-after producers in Nashville as well as a friend and partner in Blackie. He was the obvious person for Wilson to turn to as producer.

Linden had no trouble attracting a crack team to perform Wilson's 10 songs. He pulled an impressive array of bass players. Besides Babbitt, there's Gary Tallent of Bruce Springsteen's The E Street Band and David Roe of Johnny Cash fame. The familiar keyboard sound of Richard Bell (Janis Joplin, The Band) leaves its mark on every track.

And, to complete the duet for Talk Of The Town, Linden called Rosanne Cash, a fan of Wilson's ever since she heard him singing her father's Folsom Prison Blues at a Calgary festival.

"There's definitely a creative chemistry going on there," Wilson says about the duet with Cash. Close your eyes, turn up the volume and listen real close. It's almost like there's a third voice on the track, kind of a ghost.

"Yeah, I know," Wilson sighs. "I think it may be Johnny."

Wilson is always at least one album ahead of himself. He recently recorded 28 new Blackie &The Rodeo Kings songs with Linden and Stephen Fearing at the historical Bearsville studios ( Muddy Waters, Todd Rundgren) near Woodstock, N.Y., with The Band keyboardist Garth Hudson. Linden is currently mixing the recordings while touring with Colin James.

Expect another Blackie album in the late summer and maybe another the following spring.

For fans of last year's Shack Recordings, there's a DVD in the works that was filmed at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre in October and another Wilson-Lanois CD coming next year.


- Graham Rockingham

"Tom Wilson unleashes 'Dog Years'"

Cute. Whatever you call Tom Wilson, don't use that word to describe him or his music.

Down the line from Hamilton, where he is in the midst of plotting spring and summer dates in support of his second solo release, "Dog Years," and penning songs for Jimmy Rankin's next disc, the 46-year-old former member of Junkhouse and full-time conspirator with Colin Linden and Stephen Fearing in the roots-country offshoot, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, says if there's one thing he doesn't try to be, it's cute.

"I've been playing music my whole life and the cliche is true," he says. "I'd be doing this with or without any sort of fame."

But after having created a "fairly groovy computer record" with his first release - 2001's "Planet Love" - Wilson came to the realization that what he really likes is collaborating with other musicians.

"I found that having people standing around playing music with me was really important," he says, with a low drawl. "The challenge of confronting the songs with a small army of session players was far more interesting."

Joining forces with producer, and co-musician on the album, Colin Linden, Wilson took the project south of the border, recording some of the disc's ten tracks in Nashville and New York City.

Phone cradled to his ear, Wilson says the plan worked fantastically. "Colin wanted me to play with people who had no preconceptions about what I did. Going there, no one gives a shit that I've never had a record played on pop radio. Nobody is going to say, 'You're this kind of an artist and you write these kind of songs.' Nobody said that. People just liked my music and were really into playing and writing with me."

On the eerily good "Talk Of The Town," Wilson evokes country's black-clad statesman in a gravelly, whiskey soaked duet with the legend's daughter - Rosanne Cash - that haunts with its refrain, "I know for certain/ Young heart's get broken."

"She became a fan of mine, and a fan of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings (after they covered "Folsom Prison Blues" for 2003's, "Johnny's Blues: A Tribute To Johnny Cash")," he recalls. "I think it was a perfect choice by Colin to call her up."

With a melodies that fuse Wilson's seductive grit to the disc's timeless hybrid of rock, blues and country, the record dives into a broad range of ideas. From bittersweet love songs (the "Harvest Moon"-sounding, "Dreamland," and the wiggly guitar howl of "Little Domino" come to mind) to tongue-in-cheek reflections on the music industry ("If this world don't change me baby/ I'm still the same," he issues on "I'm In Love With The System") to standing up to "politicians running for their lives" (on the foot-stomping, keys-tickling, "Tell It Like It Is").

And tucked neatly between all these musical and philosophical zigzags, Wilson ends up in Junkhouse territory with the album's first single, the "Out Of My Head"-ish "Super Sun Natural," thanks to a twisting chord arrangement.

"I'm more alive than I've ever been," he says, explaining the disc's wide-ranging musical excursion. "I've seen a lot of people crash and burn, but I managed to avoid those things. I never killed myself and I didn't buy into my own bullshit."

Hot on the heels of "Dog Years," Wilson is also gearing up for the release of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings' "Let's Frolic," which is due out on September 12.

Regaling it inception (the album was written as the trio toured with Merle Haggard in 2004, and later recorded in Woodstock, NY), Wilson says it's the group's strongest batch of songs. So strong that there's a good chance the 20-plus tracks they laid down last year will appear on two discs.

"If you ever listen to old Everly Brothers or early Beatles, there's a sense of brotherhood going on," he says. "Like those bands, in Blackie, even though we all come from different backgrounds, our voices have all become one. It was pretty fucking scary when we were recording it down in Woodstock."

"We are kind of misfits in our own right," he continues. "We have never attempted to be cool or hip, individually or as a group. We're all men. We aren't boys. We don't try and be cute. And we don't try to fit in with whatever is happening in today's music."

"As a result, what we share is a love for the music that we're standing there playing. That will sustain anybody as an individual artist or a band until they're walking around with false teeth and a colostomy bag pushing their walker around the home."

Clearly not shy, Wilson rattles on about contemporary artists ("There's just no passion in music anymore"), "Canadian Idol" ("It's people who don't know what they want, playing music for people who don't know what they want to hear") and manliness ("Joe Strummer was a man, you know. He talked like a man and walked like a man"). But as our interview draws to a close, one question lingers: What's it like knowing that the world's most powerful man has his iPod queued to one of your songs?

Wilson laughs good-natu - Canoe - Mark Daniell

"Ottawa, ON"

"[Wilson does] what he does best: served up a gritty portrait of his own heart and rolled out the stories of those who find themselves on the business end of life's bulldozer"
- Patrick Langston, The Ottawa Citizen

"Brantford ON"

"...the audience was a still a buzz in the lounge... Before the first chorus was sung the folks found their way back to their seats and promptly had their jaws hit the floor."
- Nathan Thom, The Expositor

"From the review of Planet Love"

"...Wilson is a major Canadian rock force."
-regarding Planet Love, The Ottawa Citizen 12/29/01 - The Ottawa Citizen


Dog Years 2006 (True North Records)
Planet Love 2001 (Sony)

with Bob Lanois
The Shack Recordings Vol. One 2005

High or Hurtin' 1996
Kings of Love 1999
BARK 2003
Let's Frolic 2006
Let's Frolic Again 2007


1993 Out Of My Head (Sony)
1993 Gimme The Love (Sony)
1993 Oh Linda (Sony)
1993 Jesus Sings The Blues (Sony - Europe)
1995 Old Brown Shoe (Sony)
1995 Down The Liver (Sony)
1995 Father Gone (Sony - Europe)

1993 Strays (Sony)
1995 Birthday Boy (Sony)
1997 Fuzz (Sony)


1982 Tom Wilson And The Florida Razors [7" EP] (WARPT)
1984 She's A Real Nice Girl (WARPT)

1985 Half A Rock 'N' Roll Record (Razor/WARPT)
1986 Beat Music (Razor/WARPT)
2000 Beat Music: The Essential Collection (Bullseye)



As the saying goes, every dog has his day. Or in the case of TOM WILSON, DOG YEARS. On this his second solo album, the well-traveled troubadour has come up with a gem of a record that surely confirms him as one of Canada’s most compelling singer/songwriters.

There is no over-arching concept or grand mandate behind DOG YEARS. “This is just a collection of songs I’ve written over the last couple of years,” explains Tom. Nothing more elaborate than that was required, given the strength of this material.

Over the course of a career that now spans three decades, Tom Wilson has put together a body of work impressive in both quantity and quality. Beat Music, his first full album, was recorded in 1986 with The Florida Razors, a popular band on the Hamilton scene.

Tom struck Canadian rock gold in the ‘90s as the leader of the much loved Junkhouse, and then found a whole new audience as a crucial component of roots-rock super-group Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, with whom he now shares a label home in True North Records. He found time to release a solo debut, Planet Love, in 2001, while last year’s collaboration with Bob Lanois, The Shack Recordings, Vol. 1., was critically acclaimed.

Wilson is now in top form, personally and creatively. As he explains with typical candour, “For years I was in love with music and in love with a lot of my life, but I was completely destructive. In the last little while, I have been productive, and I am figuring out how to be happy.” That is reflected in the optimistic and positive spirit of many of the tunes on DOG YEARS, while others prove his ability as a storyteller and social satirist remains undiminished.

To call DOG YEARS a solo album is something of a misnomer. Tom Wilson thrives on collaboration and creative interaction, and the benefits of that process are well in evidence here. A varied group of co-writers was recruited, and the A-list musicians corralled by producer Colin Linden further spurred Wilson on to greater heights.

Award-winning producer and musical renaissance man Linden is, of course, a fellow member of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. He and Tom first met when they were playing folk festivals in their teens, and their deep musical and personal empathy shines through the grooves of DOG YEARS.

“I trust Colin so much,” states Wilson. “It is startling to be involved with someone whose love for your music even goes beyond your own. It makes you respect what you do more, because someone is putting so much time and love into it.”

Linden’s idea of bringing Wilson down to his Nashville base to record was an inspired one. “I wanted to take Tom out of his natural habitat for some of the recording,” he notes. “I wanted to see him with some musicians who didn’t know him. I knew they’d be knocked out by Tom’s songs, singing and musicality, and I knew Tom would rise to the occasion.”

The core of Dog Years was recorded in just three days at The Rendering Plant, a studio in Nashville favoured by Shelby Lynne. Tom and Colin later added some backing vocals and guitar parts at Linden’s home, but the essential spontaneity of the sessions remained.

Lending their talent are such legendary players as Funk Brother Bob Babbitt, Gary Tallent of The E Street Band, and bassist David Roe (Johnny Cash), while Colin Linden adds characteristically fluent guitar. Their approach complements Wilson’s musical mission. “The whole point of making music to me is to communicate,” he stresses.

Tom communicates via a voice best seen as a force of nature. Seemingly spawned from the mud of the Mississippi Delta, it is steeped in the spirit of the blues. It also reflects Tom’s beloved hometown, Hamilton, Ontario. It is raw, honest and unpretentious, primal and a little dirty, but possessing its own unique grace. If Steeltown could sing, chances are it would sound a lot like Tom Wilson.

That voice is a natural resource that Wilson has both mined and gently honed over the years. As The Shack Recording showed, it is now capable of a real subtle delicacy and soulful expressiveness. On the disc DOG YEARS, that is exemplified by songs like Talk Of The Town a haunting, honky-tonk duet with the wonderful Roseanne Cash. Then there is Dreamland, a classic-sounding ballad with a cinematic feel. He can still rock out righteously, as on the gloriously raucous opening cut Super Sun Natural and Little Domino.

A colourful cast of characters assist with co-writes on DOG YEARS. They include Englishman Stephan Starbuck (The Verve), American David Ricketts (Sheryl Crow, David & David), and such ace Canadian songwriters as Josh Finlayson (Skydiggers), Craig Northey (Northey Venenzuela, Odds), and Tawgs (Edwin, Kazzer). Top comedienne Cathy Jones (This Hour Has 22 Minutes) proves herself a real musical talent with Keep On Grinning penned with real-life partner Wilson.

Not that the prolific Wilson requires help in the writing department. After all, his compositions have been covered by the li