Playin’ with the greats

By Kristy Kalin

Colin Linden is the unsung hero of guitar. He began his lifetime love affair with music at the age of 11 with a providential meeting with Howlin’ Wolf, one of the most influential bluesmen of his time. Linden has gone on to have over 300 recordings to his name and perform with names such as Emmylou Harris, Tom Wilson, Morgan Davies and Bruce Cockburn.

His music ranges from blues, roots and folk, and even a brief stint with an electric guitar. When describing his style, Linden is quick to disband the idea of adhering to only one label.

“I don’t think of that as being style changes really,” he says. “I think part of the problem is with the way people look at music. They have a tendency to categorize it too much. I think it’s selling it short.”

Linden’s 11th solo album, From the Water hit stores Feb 3. He described it as deeply personal. He created it during and after the death of close friend and collaborator Richard Bell.

“It’s very much blues based, but it’s songwriter based [as well],” Linden explains. “It was made with a bunch of my very, very close people.”

Although the production of the album was emotional, Linden is adamant it was necessary.

“It was important that all the people who were involved shared a common bond that way, and that sure makes it a lot easier,” he says “It ended up being a joyful experience.”

Linden ended his tour with Harris in October and is once more on the road to promote From the Water. This time around, he’s bringing his good friend Bobby Johnson along for the ride to play some shows. Johnson uses the pseudonym of Gary Nicholson and has credits on two songs from the album. Whitney Johnson will also be playing alongside Linden for six of the performances.

Linden’s music is deeply moving and his dedication to his work is unquestionable. Something he credits to his feelings surrounding the craft.

“It’s that incredible bond that you have with an instrument you love, be it the bond you have with your instrument or the bond that you have with the people you make music with,” he says. “Then it’s a bit of a different dynamic when you bring other people into it. Both of those things are very crucial relationships and both things that I’ve cherished.”

With the last posted performance date Sept. 12, Linden’s tour will take him across Canada to the Atlin Arts Music Festival, as well as appearing at Southside Shuffle in Port Credit, Ontario.

“When you come to this kind of music you feel like it’s your calling no matter what kind of context you use,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s part of who you are.”


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