HURONIA CULTURAL CAMPUS
Tom Wilson came face-to-face with the truth of his life when he was 53.
“I am a Mohawk,” he writes in his best-selling book Beautiful Scars.
Finding out about his Indigenous background, and that his parents weren’t his biological parents, turned his world upside down. But the artist in Wilson turned it into a story of strength, resilience and rediscovery.
“I have unchained all the prisoners from my basement and freed the ghosts from my attic,” he says. “It was me who let them out. I was the guy who ended up holding the keys to their freedom.”
Wilson has shared his story in his book, but now he is bringing it to audiences through recital concerts around the country, with a stop in Orillia on Friday, Nov. 2, at St. Paul’s Centre.
“I told my truth the way I heard it and the way I remembered it and that’s all I have - everything else is bullshit,” says Wilson, who lives in Hamilton.
Before becoming a best-selling author, he was well-known for his work as a musician with his band Junkhouse, which scored 11 top-ten hits, and his iconic, Americana-fuelled Blackie & The Rodeo Kings. They were widely publicized for their music being on George W. Bush’s iPod.
Wilson has also won three Juno Awards and the Canadian-Indigenous musician holds multiple gold records.
“Tom is a charismatic performer with a powerful story to tell,” said Fred Larsen, board chair of the Huronia Cultural Campus (HCC). “We got a glimpse of his immense talent at our First Nations Literary Festival this summer. And we’re looking forward to seeing a full performance by him in November.”
Wilson has written for and recorded songs with Sarah McLachlan, City and Colour, Jason Isbell, Colin James, Lucinda Williams, Billy Ray Cyrus, Mavis Staples and The Rankin Family, to name a few.
“Tom Wilson is a songwriting iconoclast,” said Lance Anderson, artistic director for the HCC. “He has a big personality to match his sharp wit and poet’s eye. To see Tom live is to experience Tom live. You will laugh, but Tom also makes you think. As they say, ‘He has a way with words.’”
Wilson’s most recent project, LeE HARVeY OsMOND, has received extensive praise and airplay throughout the United States.
And he doesn’t just stop at producing award-winning music and writing a bestseller, Wilson has also produced art. His paintings have shown in galleries in New York City, Vancouver, Toronto and, more recently, The National Gallery in Ottawa.
Wilson will be accompanied by Jesse O’Brien, who is a sensational keyboard player. Starting at the age of 12, O’Brien was already performing with musical greats such as Ronnie Hawkins. He continued to perform with Hawkins, touring Canada and the U.S., over the next few years.
This year, O’Brien has written, recorded and toured with Colin James, as well as with Harrison Kennedy.
“Jesse O’Brien is the best blues and roots pianist in Canada and ranks in the top three in the world,” said Anderson. “We call it feel, swing, groove and soul. He’s got it all. Whatever he’s got … you can’t teach.”
Tickets are available online here and will also be available in town at Alleycats Music & Art and Manticore Books.
More information on our upcoming programming can be found on our various social media channels, Facebook (@HuroniaCulturalCampus), Twitter (@HuroniaCultural) and Instagram (@hccpresents), as well as on our website.
The Huronia Cultural Campus is a not-for-profit organization, which began its activities in 2017 in Orillia and area and is committed to and firmly believes in providing Orillia and area with experiences in contemporary arts.