Blackie and the Rodeo Kings brings collaboration to Airdrie


Bert Church Live Theatre will welcome one of Canada’s finest roots-oriented bands Oct. 2, when Blackie and the Rodeo Kings takes the stage at 7:30 p.m.

Comprised of three of the country’s greatest folk, blues and rock musicians, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings have been nominated for a number of Juno awards in the past 20 years, including one win.

“We have three lead vocalists and three very distinctly different personalities fronting the band, backed by a very fine rhythm section,” said folk singer-songwriter Stephen Fearing, one of the founding members of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. “I think that’s one of the things people really like about us – it’s kind of an odd band.”

Fearing came up with the concept for the group more than 20 years ago, when he moved to Ontario and started writing songs with blues artist Colin Linden. According to Fearing, the project initially started as a tribute band honouring Willie P. Bennett, but quickly evolved into something more after the duo brought rock musician Tom Wilson on board.

“It started with us deciding to make one record, and now, 20 years later, we’re about to release our seventh album,” Fearing said. “We’re all real busy with solo projects, too, but this band has been going 20 years because we really like it. There’s something that happens when all of us climb on stage together. This band has lasted longer than my previous marriage. It’s just one of those things – it’s too good to go away, so we just try to make it work around our schedules.”

The band’s latest album will be released in October, and according to Fearing, it’s a bit of a continuation of the group’s 2011 release Kings and Queens. Blackie and the Rodeo Kings featured a number of female artists as guests for each track, and with Kings and Queens, the group worked with male artists.

“The idea behind these albums was collaboration. The group is already a collaboration – a blues guy, a folk guy and a rock guy – we thought we could continue that idea as a band,” Fearing said. “It’s an interesting mix of wish list names and reality, who we could get to be on the album, and ended up kind of a weird combination of chance and effort.”

However, Fearing said the band’s performance in Airdrie will feature just the three vocalists with their band. According to Fearing, each artist brings something unique to the table, making a “combination that is greater than just the parts.”

“After being on the road with these guys – in cars, vans, tour buses, planes – there’s a rapport and a friendship between us that’s pretty hard to quantify. Our friendship revolves around this band and this music,” Fearing said. “We get on stage and there’s a magic and a chemistry and all those clichés about the music business are true.”

Fearing added it’s something audiences seem to appreciate as well. With each of the three artists presenting something different, Fearing said each performance is deeply textured with plenty of variety.

“The audience gets a sense, I think, of watching three guys in their 50s having a hell of a good time and throwing down,” he said. “Nobody is dialing it in. Everyone is really committed to this and I think that’s what our audience really loves – watching us having a ball and making pretty great music.”

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings will be performing at Bert Church Live Theatre Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $49.95, and doors open at 6:30 p.m.

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