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Video: John K. Samson – Alpha Adept

john-k-samsonWeakerthans‘ frontman John K. Samson has premiered a new music video for the song “Alpha Adept,” which appears on his recent solo effort, Winter Wheat, which dropped late last year via Epitaph Records.

Watch the video below.

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John K Samson

John K Samson

Live in Vancouver, BC (02/02/17)

The Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver, BC
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John K. Samson is the king of the understated.

Honing his chops with Propaghandi before breaking off to form one of Canada’s most beloved indie rock bands The Weakerthans, John K Samson has already cemented his name in the annals of Canadian music history.

For several years he’s be traveling and performing under his own name and it was that tour – in support of last year’s Winter Wheat – that saw him and his supporting band hit up the Commodore Ballroom Thursday night in Vancouver; and right from the start there was something magical in the air. Magical and understated.

Thanks for coming out to see a middle aged soft-rock band” he mumbled into the microphone as the quartet walked onto the empty stage. There was no grandiose entrance, no pulsating lights, no thundering intro music. They walked leisurely onto the simplistic stage, void of even a backdrop, and proceeded to croon to the audience for an hour long set that included two (somewhat unnecessary) encores.

There was a bare bones simplicity to the evening that reverberated even in the historic and massive ballroom. The four huddled together in the centre, leaving most of the stage completely empty. There were no matching outfits or color schemes and the lights were constant throughout. No flashes, no strobes, each song had a color delicately illuminating the black curtains behind that faded to red to white to green and blue between songs.

Instead of over the top showmanship and bombastic stage set ups, John K Samson strummed his guitar and let his soothing voice take center stage. There was no barrier, no distance between him and the crowd. When he needed to put his guitar down to try and sing a song with his hands free, he politely asked someone in the front row to hold it for him. No stand, no roadie running to grab it – just “hey, can you hold onto this for a second?” and it all felt right.

Despite touring in support of Winter Wheat, Samson relied heavily on his Weakerthans material as well – alternating between his solo material and his former band’s greatest hits almost every song. You could tell that would be the structure when the second song of the night was Sun In An Empty Room sandwiched between Select All Delete and Post Doc Blues.

There were times his Weakerthans material got the biggest cheers – One Great City and Plea From A Cat Named Virtute are iconic Canadian anthems at this point, hearing them live will always garner a cheer. However, that’s not to say his solo numbers didn’t go over well – they did. When he stood up alone playing 17th Street Treatment Center, it gave you shivers down your spine as the passion and emotion seeped through the speakers and into everyone in attendance.  Vampire Alberta Blues, dedicated to “all the people protecting water rights”, was greeted with jubilations as was The Last And from his 2012 album Provincial.

John K Samson, a middle-aged man wearing a plain gray tshirt and drinking green tea on stage, isn’t the type of person you’d associate as the headlining front man of  a major touring rock band. Yet it’s that understated simplicity that made the evening so memorable, so jovial, so… Canadian.

It’s like the quote from Miriam Toews that he references in the final verse of Winter Wheat: “We know this world is good enough because it has to be.” The line stood out last night and I smiled because when you’re listening to John K Samson, the world is good.

Tours: John K. Samson

john-k-samsonWeakerthans‘ frontman John K. Samson will be touring over the next few months.  Samson continues to support his recent solo effoty, Winter Wheat, which dropped late last year via Epitaph Records.

Tour dates are below.

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Footage of John K. Samson In Live In Churchill, Mannitoba

john-k-samsonWeakerthans‘ frontman John K. Samson has premiered some live footage of a performance that took place in Churchill, Manitoba in support of the community during the closure of a port that resulted in a 10% hit to the surrounding workforce.  Samson performed  “Postdoc Blues” and “Reconstruction Site.”  The first track appears on his solo album, Winter Wheat, which dropped earlier this year via Epitaph Records.

Listen to the songs below.

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john-k-samson

John K. Samson

Winter Wheat

Epitaph Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

When The Weakerthans closed up shop, the move came after years of inactivity, so the announcement was particularly bittersweet for fans that had been holding out for a formal swan song.  As it turns out, fans would be given the chance for at least a sense of closure two years later, when front man John K. Samson would release his latest solo album, Winter Wheat.  More stripped down and personal in scope, the album continues to capture Samson’s penchant for small town prairie simplicity.  While at times lagging in energy, Samson’s telltale charm makes for an intimate listen.

Listening to Winter Wheat is akin to sitting fireside, listening to a close friend whispering confessions trustingly in your ear.  While the album primarily benefits from full band accompaniment, Samson’s careful pacing ranges from meandering spoken word crawls to jovial sing-along jaunts.  Right out the gate, the dreary tempo of “Select All Delete” contrasts clearly with the catchy mid-tempo chorus of “Postdoc Blues.”  Despite the single-worthy aura of the latter, the former’s intimate charm validates its purpose during repeat listens.  Given a focused listening environment, most of the slower-paced, piano-laced tunes (“Requests,” “Carrie Ends The Call”) make for an immersive listen that somehow avoids lagging.

A song like “17th Street Treatment Centre” exemplifies the poetic allure propelling these melancholy narratives to life.  Set on the twenty-first day of the protagonist’s “court ordered stay” in a rehab centre, the descriptions of barren walls, nights spent staring at empty ceilings, and vivid characters instantly spring the song to life.  Samson describes the unique and diverse cast, “the punk and the priest and the real estate agent, the girl with no teeth and the shaking marine, the serbian deadhead who wears his sunglasses, so no one can see at my eyes.”  The track’s minimalist nature is an easy reminder of just how lyrically driven The Weakerthans were, and Samson’s solo work is no different.

Of course Samson is always good for a catchy melody, even in his simplistic solo medium.  As always, Samson is at his best when laying down some subtle prairie twang.  Perhaps the most instantly memorable is the politically driven anti-oil anthem, “Vampire Alberta Blues.”  Through a steady tempo and country-drenched chords, Samson projects the personification of ecological destruction of northern Alberta at the hands of faceless corporate greed.  Dressed respectfully and moving cautiously, Samson describes this faceless figure’s social benevolence in the succinct visual of a businessman wearing, “a bowtie and pin that says, protect the arts.”  The juxtaposition of decaying habitats far removed from prospering cities proposes a sad moral reality in which we our own lifestyles serve to feed such an unquenched thirst.

The only stumbling block comes in the form of the spoken-word narrative, “Quiz Night At Looky Lou’s.”  The vivid imagery and topic details a wandering quiz master, traveling the country in search of “alpha adepts” by embedding hidden messages at quiz nights at local bars marks a curious prospect.  While an intriguing premise, the problem emerges after the first listen or two.  The story becomes less striking, and the plodding tempo becomes boring.  Throughout Winter Wheat, the track holds the dubious honor of being the one track worth skipping on repeat listens.  While initially engaging, the result lacks the staying power of its neighbours.

Overall, John K. Samson overcomes the modest lethargy inherent in Winter Wheat’s tempo, and succeeds on the merits of his timeless charm and masterful lyricism.  Considering that the album was recorded in conjunction with some of The Weakerthans’ lineage as instrumental support, the outcome is nothing less than what fans would expect.  

Video: John K. Samson – Postdoc Blues

john-k-samsonWeakerthans‘ frontman John K. Samson has premiered a new music video for the song “Postdoc Blues.”  The track appears on his solo album, Winter Wheat, which dropped last week via Epitaph Records.

Listen to the song below.

Read More…

John K. Samson (The Weakerthans) Streams Solo Album in Full

john-k-samsonWeakerthans‘ frontman John K. Samson has premiered a stream of his upcoming album, Winter Wheat, which is set to drop on October 21, 2016 via Epitaph Records.

Listen to the album here courtesy CBC.

John K. Samson – Alpha Adept

john-k-samsonWeakerthans‘ frontman John K. Samson has premiered a new song from his upcoming solo album.  The track is titled “Alpha Adept” and will appear on the upcoming album, Winter Wheat, which is set to drop on October 21, 2016 via Epitaph Records.

Listen to the song here courtesy Exclaim.

Live Concert Review

John K. Samson

Live (March 31st, 2012)

Biltmore Cabaret - Vancouver, BC
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No one was quite sure what to expect from this John S Samson solo show. In a small, intimate venue – you’d imagine it’ll be a laid back night of acoustic numbers performed by the Weakerthans front man. But with The Provincial Band in tow, that would seem like a misuse of the instruments at his disposal. So would he go all out? The question lingered in the air until the moment the Winnipeg singer-songwriter stepped on stage and said “Tonight we’re going to play some really slow songs and then some rocking songs – and nothing much in between.”

Guess what?

That’s exactly what he did.

Pulling the crowd into it from the get go – Samson performed the stripped down fan favourite One Great City! before calling up the remaining three band members to join in on Heart of the Continent and  Cruise Night (a song, he explained, about driving back and forth down a road in Winnipeg all night because there’s simply nothing else to do). Already the vibe in the air gave off the sensation that the night would be one to remember and that’s what it became.

Switching between songs from his recent solo album, Provincial, to some old school Weakerthans song and even a Propagandhi tune (Gifts), Samson continually switched it up and yet it all flowed together seamlessly.

He tied the songs together with stories as he went from Reconstruction Site to The Last And to Left and Leaving to When I write My Master’s Thesis. With help from Shotgun Jimmie (guitar) and Doug Friesen (bass), new life was pumped into songs like Tournament Of Hearts and the impossible to remember www.ipetitions.com/petition/rivertonrifle/ with their straight-faced back-up vocals.

But more than that, it was the unexpected that made the night so memorable. Who would have ever expected to hear a cover of Jawbreaker’s Boat Dreams From A Hill at a John S Samson song? Then there’s Elegy for Gump Worsley – a fantastic spoken word tribute to the famed goaltender that would seem out of place at a concert. Yet, Samson raised his coffee cup and said the toast without hesitation.

The four song encore was bookend by Plea From a Cat Named Virtute and Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure; but it was the latter that was truly mesmerizing. Unplugging his guitar and stepping out to the edge of the stage. He slowly began playing his unplugged acoustic and the crowd’s murmur softened. As he sang the first few lines, those in front picked up the call until everyone in attendance was singing softly alongside him. The song grew in energy but stayed constant in volume so that the guitar was still audible amidst the hundreds of voices – creating a sing-along environment unlike any I had ever seen before.

And that, I found out, is what you get from a John K. Samson show.

Stream: John K. Samson – Provincial

John K SamsonJohn K. Samson, the front man behind Winnipeg’s The Weakerthans is set to released his new LP, Provincial, this past Tuesday on Epitaph Records. If you haven’t ran to the store to pick it up yet, the entire album is currently streaming on Exclaim.ca. 

You can listen to the album here.

Samson will be hitting the road in support of Provincial this March. The dates are below.

He also just released a new music video for the single Longitudinal Centre”. The Aaron Himes directed video can be seen below as well.

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John K. Samson – When I Write My Master's Thesis

John K SamsonThe Weakerthans front man John K. Samson has released a new song from his upcoming solo album, Provincial.

The track is called When I Write My Master’s Thesis and can be heard here.

Provincial will be released on January 24th, 2012 and contains re-recorded versions of songs from Samson‘s previous twp solo EPs – City Route 85 and Provincial Road 222 – alongside several new tracks.

John K. Samson – When I Write My Master’s Thesis

John K SamsonThe Weakerthans front man John K. Samson has released a new song from his upcoming solo album, Provincial.

The track is called When I Write My Master’s Thesis and can be heard here.

Provincial will be released on January 24th, 2012 and contains re-recorded versions of songs from Samson‘s previous twp solo EPs – City Route 85 and Provincial Road 222 – alongside several new tracks.