March 25, 2019

Winnipeg
0° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

John K. Samson's musical road trip

Weakerthans frontman travels the backroads of Manitoba on his first solo album

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/1/2012 (2620 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

John K. Samson doesn't believe his music will change the world, but he'll settle for getting Reggie Leach into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The hockey star known as the Riverton Rifle played 13 seasons in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975 and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy the following year when he scored a record-setting 19 goals in the post-season.

Leach's Manitoba hometown of Riverton has honoured him with a mural and named a street after him, but Samson is hoping to take things to the next level by being immortalized with hockey's top honour.

With a record of 381 goals and 285 assists in 934 games, Leach might not have the numbers to make the hall, but Samson believes it's more than points that should be taken into consideration.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/1/2012 (2620 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

John K. Samson is using his music to help get the "Riverton Rifle," Reggie Leach, into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

John K. Samson is using his music to help get the "Riverton Rifle," Reggie Leach, into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

John K. Samson doesn't believe his music will change the world, but he'll settle for getting Reggie Leach into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The hockey star known as the Riverton Rifle played 13 seasons in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975 and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy the following year when he scored a record-setting 19 goals in the post-season.

Leach's Manitoba hometown of Riverton has honoured him with a mural and named a street after him, but Samson is hoping to take things to the next level by being immortalized with hockey's top honour.

With a record of 381 goals and 285 assists in 934 games, Leach might not have the numbers to make the hall, but Samson believes it's more than points that should be taken into consideration.

"What is there is intangible rgreatness," he says during an interview over coffee at a downtown restaurant. "There's all the things you don't see in the numbers, so I wanted to talk from the point of view of the townspeople who felt strongly about Reggie and why the community would feel pride in someone."

To achieve his goal, Samson wrote the song www.ipetitions.com/petition/rivertonrifle/ and created an online petition that he will present to the hockey hall in Toronto after spreading the word about his proposal and touring in support of his debut solo album, Provincial, set for release Tuesday on the Epitaph Records imprint, Anti-.

He came up with the idea to pay tribute to Leach during frequent visits to Riverton, located 130 kilometres north of Winnipeg. Samson wrote three songs about the town his father grew up in while researching material for a three-song EP, Provincial Road 222, released in 2010.

The EP was one of four the frontman of indie-rock group the Weakerthans was planning to release about different Manitoba roads, but after Provincial Road 222 and City Route 85 — three songs that deal with people and places on Portage Avenue — he decided his vision would be better served by a full-length album.

"I got this idea I'd really love to make a record if someone came to me and had a couple days of free time I could take them to the site of each song. I got that in my head and couldn't shake it really," he says.

Provincial is something of a musical Manitoba travel planner that starts on Highway 1 East, comes into Winnipeg, heads out to the tuberculosis sanatorium in Ninette before getting back on the Trans-Canada on the way to Riverton, then finally back to the city house he shares with his wife, singer-songwriter Christine Fellows.

"I didn't want to leave listeners on the side of the road, I wanted to leave them with something domestic and that immediate community of home so I ended it with a song Christine and I recorded together in our living room," he says.

Fellows is one of 15 different musicians who appear on the album as what Samson calls his "safety net" who helped him achieve the sounds he was hearing in his head, whether it was a string section, horns, the guitar work of Damon Mitchell or Gilles Fournier on double bass.

"I wanted different musical palettes to signify different places and a kind of broader thing than is sometimes possible with a rock band," he says. "It's probably the most musicians I've ever played with. That was fun, too, kind of going on every whim I had. I wanted to play with some classical musicians and got to do so with the Correction Line Ensemble people. I wanted horns and (producer Paul Aucoin) dialed them up."

"For me a real John Samson solo record would be pretty dire. I don't think I would want to hear that record — just me clanking around on some instruments. For me, that collaborative process of making these songs come to fruition was a big part of it."

And it wasn't just musicians who the 38-year-old relied on for collaboration. He did countless hours of research and writing at the Millennium Library and the Archives of Manitoba as he completely immersed himself in Manitoba's history.

As a child, he heard stories about the former tuberculosis sanatorium in Ninette from his mom — who grew up down Highway 18 in Killarney — which left an impression on him and the urge to learn more about the facility that treated patients from 1910-72.

He travelled to the site at the northeast tip of Pelican Lake (now an RV park) and delved into the archive records and imagined a story where a student is trying to write a thesis about the sanitarium (When I Write My Master's Thesis) and a letter that might have been written by a patient there (Letter in Icelandic from the Ninette San).

"The letter is not real. For me I pictured it as a piece of research the guy in Master's Thesis has in his desk drawer lying there untranslated. It's something I think would help his thesis if he managed to get his act together and get it translated. That was my idea. I invented this piece of research, this piece of evidence or something. It was the last song I wrote for the record. For me it ties up all the places on the record, too, because I picture the patient who's writing the letter is from Riverton and he's writing the letter back to his brother in Riverton. I don't expect anyone to read as much into it as I do," Samson says with a laugh.

Maybe not, but much like his locally themed music in the Weakerthans, Samson hopes the regional subject matter will translate to a broader audience wherever they are from.

He will be spreading the Provincial word with a 30-date North American tour that stops at the West End Cultural Centre on March 27 followed by a trek to Europe.

Weakerthans fans shouldn't worry this is the end of the group. Samson's band members were fully behind the project and the band has even laid down some of the groundwork for its followup to 2007's Reunion Tour but doen't have any sort of deadline.

"I'm not as workman like a lot of writers. I need a lot of input from the world to write. I don't think I could be one of those six- or eight-hour-a-day writers, people who just sit down and write. I need input and other things to do. I'm kind of a part-time writer, which kind of makes it even slower for me. Then again, to be honest, I've always apologized for how slow I write, but I like writing that slow. I like walking around with a song for a long time and working away at it while I'm doing other things, it's just kind of the way it works."

rob.williams@freepress.mb.ca

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us