Live Review

Colin Linden: Live At Music By The Bay

Colin Linden on January 16, 2016

Photos by Kim Lowes

There was a time when Colin Linden, ex of Toronto and now in Nashville, was on the road all the time. There was ample chance to see him exercise his excellent chops with The Band, Bob Dylan, Bruce Cockburn, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, numerous others or all by himself.  Of late, though, his heavy schedule producing, playing on others’ albums and making a major contribution to TV’s Nashville has often kept him close to home.  So it was with great pleasure that I found he was going to be playing the blues right close to where I live, in a solo show in a beautiful theatre setting. It’s not often you get to see a guy with multiple Grammy nominations, too-numerous-to-mention blues awards and several Junos (Canada’s Grammys) right in your backyard, when you don’t live in Nashville or Toronto.

In fact, it wasn’t a solo show.  In-demand bass player John Dymond (Nashville and Toronto) joined Colin for about half the set at the St. Francis Center, and together they made it one hell of a gig.  Colin was in fine form on various guitars, including solid and hollow body electrics (mainly loaned for the gig) and a tiny mandolin-sized guitar introduced as a “Les Paul” (he said “It says so, right here on the neck”) which produced a huge sound to laughter and applause.

Colin became a big fan of Howlin’ Wolf in 1971 when he was a pudgy eleven-year-old, and took in his first Wolf set that year at Toronto’s old Colonial Tavern.  His mother took him to the balcony restaurant (not licensed for liquor, so he could go there), and Wolf came to meet him, saying he was an old man and it was Colin’s generation that had to carry on.  They remained in touch and good friends up until the Wolf’s death, and Colin was subsequently involved with the Grammy-nominated tribute album that came out shortly thereafter.

Well, Colin has carried on remarkably well, with a life dedicated to the blues, but also to the widest variety of roots music. 

The highlight for me was Colin’s explosive take on the Howlin’ Wolf song Just Like I Treat You, with screaming slide riffs on his ancient resonator guitar lifting us all off our seats.  Several songs from Colin’s new CD demonstrated all his roots credentials, with a particularly nice live version of the CD’s tender title song Rich In Love. Johnny Dymond provided the perfect bass floor for Colin’s guitar, and fine harmonies on several of the songs.

It’s rare to find a quality roots music event in a theatre setting, but that’s just what this was.  Less than 150 seats, but those seats are theatre seats.  Music By The Bay Live is the non-profit outfit that puts together the series at the St. Francis Center in Ajax, just east of Toronto, with proceeds to various children’s charities.  This was their 60th event over the past several years.  Colin was the first act and then he was the 30th.  He closed the show by saying he hoped to be back for the 90th.

Read more about Colin on ND here.

Forthcoming gigs in the Music By the Bay Live series include Alvin Youngblood Hart and Devon Allman (Greg’s son). See their website for more information.