“Singer/songwriter John K. Samson enlists the rhythm section from his renowned band The Weakerthans for much of his second solo album, Winter Wheat, available from Epitaph/ANTI, October 21st, 2016.
Inspired by the search for connection and community, his hometown of Winnipeg, and our individual and collective struggles with addictions to drugs, screens, and fossil fuels, John K. Samson’s new full-length album, Winter Wheat, is a sprawling, masterful and timely work by a writer at the peak of his powers.
Winter Wheat was produced in garages and homes through a Winnipeg winter by Samson’s partner and collaborator, Christine Fellows, and his Weakerthans co-founder and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Jason Tait, and mixed in the spring in Toronto by Robbie Lackritz (Bahamas, Feist). The spare and thoughtful arrangements also feature Greg Smith of The Weakerthans on electric bass, Ashley Au on double and electric bass, Leanne Zacharias on cello, and Shotgun Jimmie on electric guitar.
Several of the 15 songs, most directly Select All Delete, Vampire Alberta Blues, and VPW 13 Blues, are inspired by Neil Young’s enduring 1974 album On the Beach, and that record’s honest and unvarnished spirit is evident throughout Winter Wheat. Postdoc Blues follows an aging student struggling to maintain faith in the possibility of a better world, while Fellow Traveller is loosely based on the life of the British art critic and Soviet spy Anthony Blunt. 150 years of Winnipeg’s history is revealed in the two and a half minutes of Oldest Oak at Brookside, and Samson’s recurring characters Virtute the cat and her troubled human companion (from The Weakerthans songs Plea from a Cat Named Virtute and Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure) make their final appearances in 17th Street Treatment Centre and Virtute at Rest.
Like the crop itself, which is planted in the fall, sprouts, goes dormant through months of snow and rises in the spring, Winter Wheat is a determined, beautiful, resilient response to difficult and extraordinary times.”
Happy autumn, friends.
In mid-September some of Canada’s most prominent artists, authors and activists—from Neil Young to Naomi Klein to Leanne Simpson and Ellen Page—stood alongside Indigenous, labour, and non-profit leaders to launch an inspiring declaration for a country based on caring for each other and the earth, entitled The Leap Manifesto.
I’ve signed the manifesto because I believe this is the moment for a powerful shift to a clean energy economy in Canada.
Will you join us and sign the manifesto? https://leapmanifesto.org/
The Leap Manifesto sets out a vision for Canada to fight climate change in a way that changes our country for the better – achieving meaningful justice for First Nations, creating more and better jobs, restoring and expanding our social safety net, reducing economic, racial and gender inequalities, as well as welcoming migrants and refugees.
We can move in the direction of a 100% clean economy – while building a fairer, more humane society in the process.
Now is not the time for small steps. Now is the time to leap.
Please join me and sign the Leap Manifesto: https://leapmanifesto.org/
Here’s an old video of me and my friend Jim.
Very pleased to announce I will be joining Ashley Au, Christine Fellows and my Weakerthans comrade Jason Tait to perform an original live score, For the Turnstiles, with Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, May 7, 8, and 9 at the Gas Station Arts Centre in Winnipeg.
For the Turnstiles is a musical, choreographic and visual response to Neil Young’s 1974 album On the Beach. We’ve composed 8 original songs, WCD’s Artistic Director Brent Lott has developed a full-length choreographic work featuring 6 dancers, and video artist jamez will provide live projections, all inspired by Young’s masterful and enigmatic record. We’ve been working on it all winter, and I think it will be a remarkable show.
For Torontonians, Christine and I are also busy writing songs inspired by the writings of our friend Miriam Toews, which we will perform at an evening celebrating her work on May 30th at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre in Toronto. More info here.
My dear fellow Winnipeggers, I will be playing a solo show at The Good Will Social Club on Sunday, November 23, with the wonderful Tom Keenan. It is an 18+ show, my apologies to anyone that excludes.
Londoners, my London solo show on Monday, December 8 has been moved from The Lexington to Oslo (the club in Hackney, not the city).
I strongly encourage Winnipeggers to attend a rare performance of Christine Fellows’ collaboration with the amazing visual artist Shary Boyle, Spell to Bring Lost Creatures Home, at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on November 14. It is indescribably great.
Happy autumn, friends.
I’m very glad to announce that I’ll be playing some solo acoustic shows in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, and finally, after all these years, the UK. See details here.
Looking forward to winter, here’s a Record of the Week Club collaboration I participated in back in 2009 with Nikki Komaksiutiksak and Blunderspublik: