Jul. 11, 2012 - Issue #873: The Big Cover-Up
King of the rodeo
Workaholic Tom Wilson juggles two bands and a painting career
Sat, Jul 14 (8:30 pm)
Haven Social Club, $26
'My art tells me what to do, nobody else," says Canadian music stalwart Tom Wilson, joking that he was born with authority issues and doesn't handle being told what to do very well.
Even at age four, when most children are dreaming of becoming super heroes, Wilson was determined to become a writer and a musician, and nothing was going to stop him. Now, at age 53, he continues a prolific career that's accomplished exactly what he set out to do decades ago.
A self-described workaholic, Wilson has collaborated with the likes of Sarah McLachlan, Colin James, Billy Rae Cyrus and the Rankin Family, as well as numerous eclectic music projects of his own. Aside from his solo work, Wilson tours and records extensively with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, which is gearing up to release a new album after the wildly successful Kings and Queens, which included female music royalty such as Lucinda Williams and Emmy Lou Harris. The trio will hit the road again in November for a cross-Canada tour.
"Blackie and the Rodeo Kings is a real group effort," Wilson notes. "It's a project that is a labour of lust. It's something that came together without any egos.
Wilson's latest project has been the musical collective LeE HARVeY OsMOND, which is often described as "acid folk". Wilson is the core member and is joined by a few Cowboy Junkies and a few Skydiggers for a sound unique to the country's folk scene. The group's debut album was A Quiet Evil in 2009 and a second album, Folk Sinner, is slated for a fall release, which sees Wilson team up with Hawksley Workman, Michael Timmons, Oh Susanna, Sean Dean from the Sadies and members of Wilson's former band Junkhouse.
"I love Canadian folk music, but the one thing it lacks is balls and LeE HARVeY OsMOND is kind of folk music with a giant pair of nuts on it," Wilson adds with a laugh.
Folk Sinner is an ode to Highway 6 south connecting Hamilton and Lake Eerie. The highway is the home of Six Nations Indian Reserve, tobacco fields, echinacea fields and a summer resort, which Wilson says creates an interesting chemistry between those who travel it that he wanted to capture with his songs.
"It's a mystic highway and I decided to dedicate a lot of my writing to that highway because I owe a lot to it," he notes. "I was at BBC in London, England and they suggested that LeE HARVeY OsMOND had a lot of southern influences and I said, 'yeah, southern Ontario.'"
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and LeE HARVeY OsMOND share the number one spot on Wilson's priority list, meaning its unlikely he'll release another solo album. He says he gets enough satisfaction in music through his involvement with each band and no one really needs another Tom Wilson album. However, there is one solo venture he continues.
Wilson took up painting the second time he decided to get sober, which he's sustained for 13 years. His vivid artwork, which has been commissioned and shown in galleries, including the Daffodil Gallery in Edmonton, is inspired by love and he believes the only thing more addicting than substances is creative energy.
"My art is the best therapy a fellow like me could ever ask for," he says.
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