Colin Linden

Colin Linden’s tale is the stuff of legend, the kind told in the Coen brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou or Inside Llewyn Davis, both of which featured his guitar playing on the soundtracks. That film would begin with an 11-year-old meeting his musical idol Howlin’ Wolf at a matinee show in his native Toronto, accompanied by his mom, who took a picture of the two during a nearly two-hour long conversation before the gig, the legendary bluesman idling over coffee and cigarettes.

“I’m an old man now, and I won’t be around much longer,” Wolf told him. “It’s up to you to carry it on.”

Linden still carries that frayed photograph in his wallet, along with a Sears 5/8” socket wrench in his pocket to play slide guitar. He has taken Wolf’s plea seriously, performing since he was 12 years old, leaving home as a teenager to travel the south at the invitation of Mississippi Sheiks delta blues guitarist Sam Chatmon which took him to Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Memphis and Hollandale, Mississippi, meeting and visiting the sites of his heroes – Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters, Sippie Wallace, Tampa Red, Blind John Davis, the Rev. Robert Wilkins, Sleepy John Estes and Son House, visiting the landmarks and juke joints, many of which he’s played in during the course of a 45-year career producing and playing blues and roots music. As a singer/guitarist, he’s accompanied everyone from Bruce Cockburn (as his producer and touring musician) to Bob Dylan, Greg Allman, Rihannon Giddens, Pistol Annies, John Prine and more.

He was the main contributor to the music for the Nashville TV show and subsequent live tours. Along the way, Linden played on over 500 albums and produced 140, including his first-ever actual Grammy in 2020 for producing Keb Mo’s Oklahoma, winner for Best Americana Album. He has also nabbed a staggering 25 Juno Award nominations and nine wins.

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