Colin Linden’s tale is the stuff of legend, the kind told in the Coen brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou or Inside Llewyn Davis, both of which featured his guitar playing on the soundtracks. That film would begin with an 11-year-old meeting his musical idol Howlin’ Wolf at a matinee show in his native Toronto, accompanied by his mom, who took a picture of the two during a nearly two-hour long conversation before the gig, the legendary bluesman idling over coffee and cigarettes.
“I’m an old man now, and I won’t be around much longer,” Wolf told him. “It’s up to you to carry it on.”
Linden is a genuine renaissance man of roots music. He’s a singer and songwriter of great skill, an in-demand and prolific record producer (Bruce Cockburn, Tom Wilson, Colin James), a sideman to the stars as guitarist for the likes of Bruce Cockburn, Emmylou Harris, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and, for the past decade, a member of the highly successful trio, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.
Colin’s songs have been covered by The Band, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Keb’ Mo’, and Colin James, and his well-stocked trophy case includes nine Juno, multiple Maple Blues Awards, and a Toronto Arts Award. His received first Grammy in 2020 for producing Keb Mo’s Oklahoma, winner for Best Americana Album, and was involved in the ground-breaking O Brother Where Art Thou phenomenon. Linden has a well-deserved reputation as a slide guitar virtuoso of real originality, and his riveting slide work can be heard both on albums from such artists as Cassandra Wilson, The Rankin Family and Whitey Johnson and on his own sizeable solo catalogue.