Rooftops and Satellites

Cover October 9, 2010

By Sandy Graham

Colin James (Munn), born August 17, 1964 in Regina, Saskatchewan,  is a Canadian singer, guitarist, and songwriter who plays in the blues, rock, and swing genres.  My early influences were inspired by my parent’s love of music. They listened to the usual artists of their era (R&B, Folk, etc) but they also introduced me to all kinds of music. I loved the blues from an early age, discovering legends Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, Muddy Waters, The Staple Singers, BB King, Otis Redding and when I was still in my teens, I was discovered by blues guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, who became my  mentor and inspiration”.

Colin James has juggled his skills as a singer, guitarist and big-band leader so well over the years that diversity seems almost synonymous with his stellar career. He’s also been a restless voyager, traversing genres and embracing many types of musical styles. James is no stranger to writing memorable songs. His 1988 self-titled debut was the fastest-selling album in Canadian history, thanks in large part to him having written two of its biggest hits: “Voodoo Thing” and “Five Long Years.” That earned him his first of six Juno Awards. He been nominated for 14 Junos, holds the title of 2007 Maple Blues Award Entertainer of the Year and Electric Act of the Year and Recording of the Year.

Throughout it all, Colin has always forged ahead, without regard to fads or trends, going wherever his wandering muse takes him.  Over the years, with a career that has brought him worldwide popularity, he has continued to release albums in rock, blues, and acoustic styles, in addition to his Little Big Band. In 2005, he gave a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to his home province of Saskatchewan.  James' backing band frequently includes members of the Vancouver-based band Odds, and he has co-written songs with Odds singer-guitarist Craig Northey. In February 2005, James guest-starred in an episode of the television program Corner Gas, a Canadian sitcom based in rural Saskatchewan. The episode was very tongue-in-cheek, with a scene that had James auditioning for the part of a guitarist in the house band.

Once again, the diversified Colin James has re-invented himself and “Rooftops and Satellites. When Colin set out to make Rooftops and Satellites, he had a vision for a gentler album, full of quiet, introspective songs. “Despite my best intentions,” he says, laughing, “it didn’t turn out that way.” The change came about as a result of his songwriting collaboration with Tom Wilson, founder of the 1990s alt-rockers Junkhouse and now a member of roots-rock trio Blackie & the Rodeo Kings. “Tom and I really hit our stride together,” says Colin who co-wrote eight of the album’s songs with Tom and Tawgs Salter, who has written for Edwin and produced the debut album by rising synth-pop star Lights. “Tom’s a super creative guy and he’s tapped in at all times and Tawgs is a hot up-and-comer.” Rooftops and Satellites is co-produced by Colin and Mike Fraser (AC/DC, Metallica).  The compositions on this new release have wisps of Boz Scaggs, Van Morrison, Todd Rundgren and other artists who hold up throughout the years. The sound and writing, however, is 100% Colin James.

Colin James has never shied from exploring all of his musical tastes. “Music is such a passion and a life force for me,” says James, “I can’t help but be drawn to something that moves me. If it’s not pulling you in, then what’s the point?” He adds: “I am a chameleon. I’ve learned to realize that all the things that get you to where you’re going are important. As long as you keep striving to become better, that’s all that counts.”

With Rooftops and Satellites, Colin has done just that: his singing and guitar playing has never been more soulful and his new songs are among his most meaningful ever. It’s not a breakthrough disc or a comeback record, because Colin’s an established rock and blues institution who’s never gone away. But it is an album that serves notice that Colin James just keeps on getting better.

Not bad for a kid born on Canada’s prairies who had big dreams and big guitar licks. Colin James makes it easy to buy Canadian music. He is all about the music and lyrics, and this CD doesn’t let the listener down in that department. 

For further information visit: www.colinjames.com