"I still think of myself as punk, because the way I became empowered to play music is entirely due to punk bands. I listened to lots of other kinds of music, but punk is what allowed me to actually play music. Mostly early Nineties pop punk. Like, I can appreciate Nirvana, but I understand Green Day. I feel like I could play in a Green Day covers band, but I simply wouldn’t know what to do in a Nirvana one, you know? So in my mind I still qualify as punk, though I know four out of five punks would disagree." John K. Samson
Winnipeg's John K. Samson is without doubt one of Canada's (and by extension, the world's) best songwriters - ever - as evidenced by his long and storied career in bands Propaghandi and The Weakerthans. He is a tireless promoter of social justice causes who puts his money where his mouth is and marries complex lyrics with uncommonly good music; those traits put him solidly in a league all his own in today's record biz landscape.
It's been a long time since John performed (solo) in Halifax at the In Dead of Winter Festival and even longer since performing here with a full band. HUFF attendees will get the benefit of both iterations, thanks to our All Star Band program, and his headlining show at The Carleton will be one any self-respecting music fan cannot affrord to miss.
"Fallow, The Weakerthans’ first shot, remains an uncut diamond that will always be the respectable beginning of something truly beautiful." Sputnik Music
"Left and Leaving is a damn perfect album, and there’s no way I could trash it, even if I wanted to." Pop Matters
"Reconstruction Site [is] their most inspired, coherent, adventurous, engrossing and fully realized work. A disc that clearly establishes the reed-thin, reedy-voiced Samson as the most gifted and creative songwriter this city has produced in a generation." Toronto Sun
Reunion Tour - "songs of brutal beauty, little rock n roll vignettes that perfectly capture the malaise of the peculiar, disorienting times in which we live. If such a prize existed, it would be the leading candidate for this year’s Punk Pulitzer.” Paste Magazine
Provincial - "Leave it to John K. Samson to turn a little holiday away from the Weakerthans into the solo-record equivalent of a master's thesis." Toronto Star
"John K. Samson's name will occasionally come up in discussions about Canada's greatest lyricists alongside Gord Downie, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, and his second solo album, Winter Wheat, makes yet another strong case that he's not cited often enough." Exclaim!
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 challenging 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.