Tag Archives: Canada

Singer Songwriter John K Samson

Singer Songwriter John K Samson

Singer Songwriter John K Samson


According to his siteJohn K. Samson is a singer-songwriter from Winnipeg, Treaty One Territory, where he also helps run a curling league and a chapter of Book Clubs for Inmates.”

And that is as good a description as you can give in one sentence. Unfortunately for me, I plan on doing a few more sentences.

Singer Songwriter John K Samson


I first heard John with the band Weakerthans and I have the feeling that my next sentence will be as much a help to you as this one. The band appeared on Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe.

I told you.

Though it is unfair to both great raconteurs, Stuart McLean was Canada’s Garrison Keillor in that both created and related wonderful stories about a fictional place. Humor is the centerpiece of both men’s skill. And both men have musicians play live.

Singer Songwriter John K Samson

Singer Songwriter John K Samson


Stuart McClean was a proud Canadian and promoted Canadian performers. Unfortunately for we often-myopic Americans, many of these great Canadian performers are unknown south of their border.

The Weakerthans and John K Samson are prime examples. Like McClean and Keillor, Samson songs typically tell tales. Short stories, like “Winter Wheat” which begins…

Woke up in a parking lot
Air mattresses gone flat
The sun selecting targets for the shadows to attack
So make a visor with your hand
Squint at where you’re from
A lonely line of buildings you can block out with your thumb
Salute the way we tried
Singer Songwriter John K Samson

No stinkin’ categories

Categorizing the Samson’s melodies is useless. We don’t need no stinkin’ categories! Folk, punk, indie rock, post-punk, hardcore punk if you insist. Simply great music if you don’t.

Winter Wheat is also the name of his most recent release, his second solo album.  I love it. I love all his work whether solo or Weakerthans.

Let’s just follow one trilogy. The first from the Weakerthan album, Reconstruction Site. A cat begs its owner to get out of his doldrums:

Plea From A Cat Named Virtute
Why don’t you ever want to play?
I’m tired of this piece of string
You sleep as much as I do now
And you don’t eat much of anything
I don’t know who you’re talking to
I made a search through every room
But all I found was dust that moved
In shadows of the afternoon

Singer Songwriter John K Samson


Then from another Weakerthan album, Reunion Tour comes…

Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure
It had something to do with the rain
Leaching, loamy dirt
And the way the back lane came alive
Half moon whispered, “Go”
For a while I heard you missing steps in the street
And your anger pleading in an uncertain key
Singing the sound that you found for me

The end of the trilogy is sadly but not unexpectedly the end of Virtute. From Winter Wheat, 

Virtute At Rest

Now that the treatment and antidepressants
And seven months sober have built me a bed
In the back of your brain where the memories flicker
And I paw at the synapses, bright bits of string
You should know I am with you, know I forgive you
Know I am proud of the steps that you’ve made
Know it will never be easy or simple
Know I will dig in my claws when you stray
So let us rest here like we used to
In a line of late afternoon sun
Let it rest, all you can’t change
Let it rest and be done

Singer Songwriter John K Samson

Much more

Of course, there is more, much much more, to John K Samson than songs about a beloved cat. The the deep sense of love and belonging these three songs display are typical of Samson’s songs whether the love and belonging have succeeded or gone away.

Link to NPR review of Winter Wheat album.

Singer Songwriter John K Samson

Since then…

In 2018, Samson recorded a version of Fellows’ “Saturday Night at Utopia Parkway” for a split single with American musician Kevin Devine.

In 2019 he collaborated with Safia Nolin on a cover of Taking Back Sunday‘s “Cute Without the E” for her EP xX3m0 $0ng$ 2 $!nG @L0nG 2Xx.

In February 2020, Samson wrote and released “Millennium for All”, a song supporting the activist campaign against the new security restrictions at Winnipeg’s Millennium Library. He followed up in July with the single “Fantasy Baseball at the End of the World”

In February 2023, Fellows and Samson released Hold Music, an album of almost entirely instrumental music except one song with vocals by Samson. The album was credited to Vivat Virtute, the name of Fellows’ online music and crafts store.