Blackie & the Rodeo Kings exists alongside Fearing's, Linden's, and Wilson's solo careers. Their newest release, Bark, came out this summer, and they're touring hard in support of the album. The disc itself sports a childish drawing of a dog smoking a doobie. Pop it in the player and sit back for fourteen songs that play and growl and frolic like a happy pack prowling the neighborhood for the first time in months. Everyone shares songwriting duties, and there are plenty of guests too. Things kick off with "Swinging from the Chains of Love," a country stomper that, as I have found, is not safe to play while driving south on I-75. Track 4, titled simply "Stoned," is a spoken/sung reverie with a funky beat and spooky, dense guitars. My favorite could be Fearing's sad and wistful "Born to Be a Traveler." My thrash-folk favorite is guest writer Bruce Cockburn's "Tie Me at the Crossroads When I Die."
But other people's favorites don't mean much. Good, interesting, compelling songs abound here. You can check them out yourself when Blackie & the Rodeo Kings play the Ark on Thursday, September 9.
[Originally published in September, 2004.]