Blackie and the Rodeo Kings

VigilKings Of Love
Everything I AmSouth
49 TonsKings Of Love
RemedyKings Of Love
Water Or GasolineBARK
The Fool Who Can't ForgetLet's Frolic
If I Catch You CryingBARK
The Lucky OnesKings Of Love
I'm Still Loving YouKings And Queens



Contributor: Jerry Tenenbaum

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (B&RK) formed in 1996, initially coming together to release a CD in tribute to the Canadian songwriter, Willie P. Bennett.

They are one of the finest roots-oriented bands in North America.

Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson all had successful careers at the time. Colin had been on the Toronto scene and had released a number of excellent solo albums. Stephen Fearing (see toppermost #176) was in the midst of his first decade and had also released a number of solo albums while performing regularly. Tom Wilson had risen in the band, Junkhouse, and was an integral part of the Canadian music scene.

With the release of High Or Hurtin’ (1996), B&RK were on their way. While continuing to perform solo, they would come together every year or so and perform live. They were under the management of True North and were ably directed with the input of Bernie Finkelstein. Their next release, Kings Of Love, was a 2 disc release and firmly put them on the map in Canada. During their performances, there was a freewheeling comfortable banter on stage and each player had the opportunity to show his wares with, as Tom Wilson said recently and I paraphrase here, the sum being greater than the parts.

BARK was released in 2003 and Let’s Frolic in 2006. Since that time, they have released Let’s Frolic Again (2007) and Swinging From The Chains Of Love (a best of album). An ambitious and successful project culminated in Kings And Queens (2011) where they released songs with Lucinda Williams, Amy Helm, Serena Ryder and many others. The most recent release (January 2014) is the album South.

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings have played with a number of well-known musicians; Richard Bell, (keyboards etc), John Dymond (bass), and Gary Craig (drummer) especially receive specific mention.

They have received a number of nominations for awards and Kings Of Love received a Juno Award (Canada) for Best Roots and Traditional Album by a group (2000). They have several other Juno nominations under their belt.

The members continue to tour independently and to do other projects. Colin Linden is the producer of B&RK, releases independent albums, recently did a stint with Bob Dylan and his Band (2013); Stephen Fearing continues to perform, works with Andy White (an album was released and it has been noted that another one may be in the works), and has recently had a photography exhibit; Tom Wilson has worked with many artists while releasing his own albums and is currently a member of the band, LeE HARVeY OsMOND.

The B&RK shows are a treat. They hearken back to The Band and are a part of the ever present and growing scene of Mumford and Sons, the Lumineers and many others. The present is good and the future is bright.

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings official website

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings biography (iTunes)

TopperPost #183


  1. Colin J Duncan
    Feb 21, 2014

    Really enjoyed reading the list and the accompanying article. A good addition to the Stephen Fearing post.
    I really enjoy listening to BARK – the three guitarists, three good singing voices, the brilliant Richard Bell on keyboards, the Willie P. Bennett songs, the original compositions, and their rendition of other artists’ work.

    I like your choice of songs JT. However, if I have a favourite album it’s ‘Let’s Frolic Again’ and there’s no track from that album on your list. ‘The Lucky Ones’ is a special song by Willie P. Bennett, who I had never heard of until I heard BARK a few years ago. Here’s a Toppermost list of ten Willie P. Bennett songs. Thanks for your articles, JT.

    Has Anyone Seen My Baby Tonight (High or Hurtin’)
    Music In Your Eyes (High or Hurtin’)
    Rains On Me (High or Hurtin’)
    Willie’s Diamond Joe (BARK)
    Red Dress (Kings of Love)
    The Lucky Ones (Kings of Love)
    If You Have To Choose (Kings of Love)
    Sometimes It Comes So Easy (Let’s Frolic Again)
    Don’t Blame Your Blues On Me (Let’s Frolic Again)
    Step Away (Kings and Queens)

  2. Jerry Tenenbaum
    Mar 2, 2014

    In doing the research for B&RK, I was reminded again of the major contribution made by Richard Bell to the success of this band. This led me to many different bands. Richard Bell was a major contributor to the wonderful music of bands (from Full Tilt Boogie/Janis Joplin and Crowbar to Burrito Deluxe). Until his untimely death in 2007, Richard Bell was the consummate sideman. This took me on a journey looking at sidemen in general. My ‘magnifying glass’ will focus on Richard Bell for a future Toppermost.

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