Colin Linden performing with Emmylou Harris - 2008
|Origin||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Occupation(s)||musician, songwriter and record producer|
|Years active||1970s - present|
|Labels||Yellow Dog, True North, Compass, Various|
|Associated acts||Blackie and the Rodeo Kings
Colin Kendall Linden (born 16 April 1960) is a Canadian musician, songwriter and record producer. He has worked with a wide variety of artists including Bruce Cockburn, Lucinda Williams, T-Bone Burnett, Colin James, Leon Redbone, Rita Chiarelli, Chris Thomas King, The Band, and Bob Dylan.
Linden is a very versatile guitarist, both on acoustic and electric guitars, specializing in slide guitar and country blues and Ragtime fingerpicking. He frequently collaborates with country and folk performers. He is also a member, with Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson, of the group Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.
Linden was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. When he was still an infant, his family moved to White Plains, New York. The ten-year old Linden heard rock performers in New York venues, such as Van Morrison, the Flying Burrito Brothers, James Taylor, John Mayall, Johnny Winter and Taj Mahal.
When the family moved back to Toronto, Linden became interested in performers such as Taj Mahal, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Howlin' Wolf. When Howlin' Wolf played at Toronto’s Colonial Tavern, the then-11-year-old Linden spent three hours talking with the elder bluesman. A young Linden began performing at a local coffee house, the Fiddler’s Green Coffee House, singing and strumming a guitar. By 1973, Linden began learning how to finger pick. When Linden met David Wilcox, Linden decided to learn how to play slide guitar. Wilcox gave 140 blues albums to young Linden, to help Linden to learn about blues styles.
Paul Mills, the producer of Sylvia Tyson’s Touch the Earth show, at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and an outlet on CBC Radio for acoustic roots music, booked Linden in 1975 . At the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Colin met Mississippi bluesman Sam Chatmon, and later that year made a pilgrimage to US to meet South Detroit's Sippie Wallace. North Carolina's Peg Leg Sam, and Mississippi's Son House.
In 1976 Wilcox had asked Linden to join his band, the Teddy Bears, which meant that Linden had to learn to play the electric guitar. In 1977, he played solo gigs and did his first western Canadian tour, which was booked by Holger Petersen. In Edmonton he met then 13-year-old Colin James, also a budding blues performer. In the late 1970s, Linden formed his own group, the Group du Jour, which played a mix of covers and a few Linden originals, and a group called The Lucky Charms, which was featured on his first album "Colin Linden Live!!!!!" (1980) . In 1979, Linden recorded the Sam Chatmon album.
In August 1980, Linden recorded his album Colin Linden Live!. As well, he played as a sideman for Joe Mendelson, Willie P. Bennett, Gwen Swick and Amos Garrett. Linden's second album, Colin Linden and the Immortals was released by the Stony Plain Records label in 1986. Linden has acknowledged the influence of The Band. In the early 1980s, Linden met three of the original members, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm. Members of The Band contributed to Linden's recordings, and songs like "When the Spirit Comes" got radio airplay and "Miles Away from You" made the rock charts. When the Spirit Comes was released by A & M in 1987. Linden signed a publishing deal with Warner Chappell and did producing for Mendelson Joe, Morgan Davis, Jackson Delta and Hans Thessink.
In 1991, Bruce Cockburn recruited Linden as a sideman, and for three-and-a-half years, Linden playing guitar. Subsequently, Linden became Cockburn's co-producer. Linden's blues album of 1993 titled South at Eight, North at Nine was distributed by Sony Music in Canada, and won a Juno Award in the Blues and Gospel category. Guests on the album included Bruce Cockburn as well as Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm of the Band.
As Linden got more interested in gospel records, he began taking vocal lessons from Bourbon Tabernacle Choir singer Dave Wall, such as breathing and warm-up exercises.
In 1996, Linden won a Juno in the Blues/Gospel category for his producing Lennie Gallant's The Open Window. Linden co-wrote Colin James' hit song "Real Stuff". As well, and, Linden joined with Tom Wilson of Junkhouse and Stephen Fearing to form Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. This band was a tribute to Canadian singer songwriter Willie P. Bennett. After the album High or Hurtin' on True North Records, the second album Kings of Love won a Juno.
In February 1998 Linden shared the Maple Blues Producer of the Year award with Colin James. A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf was released by Telarc Records in 1998. In 1999, A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best Traditional Blues Album. In 1999, Linden received the Toronto Arts Award.
In 2000 Linden won three Juno awards, of which the "Blues" category award was as the producer of Ray Bonneville's Gust of Wind. In the Roots and Traditional: Solo Artist category, Linden won as the producer of Bruce Cockburn's Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu. Finally, in the Roots and Traditional: Group category, Linden won as a member of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. In 2000, Linden produced Sue Foley's Love Comin' Down and Paul Reddick and the Sidemen's Rattle Bag.
For the album Big Mouth, a more acoustic recording, Linden recruited Keb' Mo', Bruce Cockburn, and other musicians. In 2002 Big Mouth won a Juno for Best Blues Album. In 2002, an album Linden worked on, Timeless, won the Grammy for Country Album of the Year. In 2002, he co-produced Stephen Fearing's That's How I Walk and Bruce Cockburn's You've Never Seen Everything. In 2003, a third Blackie and the Rodeo Kings album, BARK, was released, and in 2006 they released Let's Frolic and Let's Frolic Again.
Featured on Diane Krall's Glad Rag Doll album in 2012
- Colin Linden Live (1980)
- The Immortals (1986)
- When the Spirit Comes (1988)
- South at Eight, North at Nine (1993)
- Through the Storm, Through the Night (1995)
- Raised by Wolves (1997)
- Sad and Beautiful World (1999, greatest hits)
- Big Mouth (2001)
- Southern Jumbo (2005)
- Easin' Back To Tennessee (2006)
- From The Water (2009)
- Still Live (2012)
- Orphans of God, A Tribute To Mark Heard (Fingerprint, 1996)
- Johnny's Blues: A Tribute To Johnny Cash (Northern Blues, 2003)
- "Colin Linden". Allmusic. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- "About Colin Linden: Timelines". ColinLinden.com. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- "Speechless". Cockburn Project. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- "About Colin Linden: Producer credits and information". ColinLinden.com. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- "Mary Flower and Colin Linden". Callipe House. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- Linden contributes his version of "Dry Bones Dance", originally released as the title track of a 1990 Mark Heard album.
- Linden contributes his version of "Big River".