“High or Hurtin’” - the first album from Canadian folk/alt-country trio Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, was released today in 1996.
Taking their name from a 1978 album by Willie P.Bennett, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings were formed in 1996 for the express purpose of recording a one-off tribute to the Ontario folk singer-songwriter, afforded hero/mentor status by the three musicians who came together.
As guitarist Stephen Fearing (who came up with the idea) said, “I was the folk guy from Vancouver, Colin (Linden) was the blues guy and Tom (Wilson) was Mr. longhair crazy Junkhouse guy. People were still scratching their heads that we were even making a record together. How is this gonna work? They’re just totally separate worlds.”
Released on long-established Canadian independent label True North, “High….” saw the trio perform fourteen Bennett compositions, with assistance from guest musicians Bruce Cockburn, Richard Bell and Willie P.Bennett himself.
Highlights include a version of Bennett’s 1969 debut single “White Line”, “Country Squall” and “Come On Train” (not the Don Thomas Northern Soul number). The success of the Juno Award-nominated record inspired the trio to continue recording and touring together under the Rodeo Kings banner, with further Bennett songs covered on follow-ups, “Kings of Love” & “BARK”.
Willie meanwhile continued to back fellow Canadian Fred Eaglesmith and perform solo, with his 1999 release “Heartstrings” winning a Juno Award. Following a heart attack in 2007 however he was forced to give up touring – the Rodeo Kings, Eaglesmith and other performers playing a fundraiser for him. Sadly, Willie died in February 2008 but his music lives on, via Blackie & Co.
Check out and purchase Blackie and the Rodeo Kings CDs from our e-shop, Propermusic.com by clicking on the logo below:
And here’s some footage of the Kings in action: