Developmental psychologists have pointed out that the tween years are often the most important ones for determining one’s musical tastes. The stuff one listened to as a preteen has a profound and cutting effect on one’s psyche. Sure, tastes change over time. One gets smarter and appreciates nuances not heard before. But it’s the music that first knocked one out as a kid that still intuitively seems like the real deal as one gets older.
So imagine what it must have been like to be an 11-year-old Colin Linden meeting his musical idol Howlin’ Wolf before a show in his native Toronto. During an almost two-hour conversation, the legendary bluesman told him, “I’m an old man now, and I won’t be around much longer. “It’s up to you to carry it on.” His mom took a photograph of the encounter, which Linden still carries in his wallet.
Linden also took Wolf’s advice. He’s been performing live since he was 12 years old. For the past 45 years, he’s accompanied such notables as Bob Dylan, Greg Allman, Rihannon Giddens, the Pistol Annies, and John Prine. He’s played on over 500 albums and produced 140. That includes receiving a Grammy Award for his work on Keb Mo’s Oklahoma. Linden also has been nominated for 25 Juno Awards and won nine times.
Linden recently released a lyric video for the single “Until the Heat Leaves Town” from his forthcoming album bLOW (17 September). It will be his 14th solo record and his first electric blues release. The song has a down and dirty vibe thanks to greasy slide guitar licks and lyrics about living in the street, street preachers, and hiding from the heat. “Until the Heat Leaves Town” sounds old and lived in like a pair of brown shoes whose laces may be broken and there’s a hole in the bottom of the sole, but they get you where you are going. Like the music of Howlin’ Wolf, Reverend Gary Davis, and other past masters, there’s something timeless and holy about the whole thing. The performance reminds one that sometimes it’s necessary to descend to arise to the heavens above.