Blackie & the Rodeo Kings are currently preparing their upcoming release: an impressive collaboration by the name of Kings & Queens. This release pairs Blackie & the Rodeo Kings with some of the band’s favourite female singers and friends – and some of the biggest names in roots, blues and jazz – including Roseanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Serena Ryder, Lucinda Williams and Cassandra Wilson. Grammy- and Juno-winning producer Colin Linden (Bruce Cockburn, Tom Wilson, Stephen Fearing, Colin James) took the helm for the new album.
The idea for Kings and Queens was hatched in a rental van at the end of a Rodeo Kings tour. Late one night, on a long drive between Somewhere and Somewhere-else, the band began talking about the various female artists they have had the privilege of working with over the years. What began with a page torn out of a notebook and a lot of interjections like “Hey, what about…” and “Wouldn’t it be great to work with …” has transformed into a whole album featuring these legendary and iconic female voices on each song.
Blackie & the Rodeo Kings originally formed in 1996 when Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson came together to record what was supposed to be a one-off tribute album to the great Canadian songwriter Willie P. Bennett. At the time, all three members were deeply committed to burgeoning solo careers that they had no intentions of putting on hold, and had no plans to turn Blackie into an ongoing concern.
Twelve years and a Juno Award later, while they still spend most of each year working on their individual projects, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings has organically evolved into one of the finest roots-oriented bands in North America. In the interim, they have released five CDs and gradually developed a feeling of brotherhood manifested in a sense of groove, timbral blend and melodic and rhythmic-play that is distinctive, mystical, energizing and evocative. The sum is indeed greater than the parts – and the parts are as good as they get. Blackie and the Rodeo Kings remain one of Canada’s greatest musical treasures.
The new recordings have taken the Kings from Nashville to Toronto to New York City to New Orleans, Los Angeles, Woodstock, New York and back again. As the band explains, “No destination is too far for love….”