Colin Linden is the Music Director for “Salvage” in Hollywood. Colin wears a lot of different artistic hats, as a music director, guitar player, songwriter, performer, and record producer. They all seem to fit perfectly, keeping him on the move and happiest as an artist when he can work on projects that combine them all. We caught up with him to talk about his latest gig, a live stage production of an original play with music.
Hi Colin. You just arrived in Hollywood for the final rehearsals of Salvage. Where are you from and how did this journey with the show begin for you?
I’m from Toronto but I flew in from Nashville where I’ve lived and worked for many years. My friend Buddy Miller, who is a great artist, was approached by the writer, Tim Alderson. They had both been good friends with a rather notable songwriter named Mark Heard, whose work is featured in this production. When Buddy wasn’t able to work on the show, he asked me if I’d be interested in the job. I had known Mark a little bit, and always loved his music so I was thrilled to get the offer to work on the show.
When did you begin working with the actors? Was it in-person or on Zoom?
I came out here about a month ago between some shows that I had in Canada and it worked out quite well. I was able to spend some time with Tim and to work with the cast for a few days. Those live rehearsals were preceded by some Zoom sessions with each actor individually and then I continued to work with them virtually 2 – 3 times a week after I left California. It’s easy with these actors, you plant the seeds and let them figure out their own way of getting there. I’ve worked with actors more recently in film and TV, quite a bit on the ABC series “Nashville,” but it had been a long time since I worked with actors on stage. When I was younger and living in Toronto, I was more involved in theatre and I enjoyed it. I had even written some music for it, but really this project feels like a whole new thing for me.
What do you consider to be your day job – playing the guitar, performing, songwriting, music directing, record producing?
Each one of those that you mentioned. Playing the guitar has allowed me to be able to do all of those other things. I’ve done a lot of touring but the nature of my career has never kept me out on the road for months at a time. In the past few years, I’ve kept pretty busy producing albums, including my own. When I can combine all of those jobs into one, that’s what I enjoy the most.
When you produce your own albums do you have an associate producer as a second ear, or not really?
Well, not really in a formal sense but I feel very fortunate that I have a few people who are really keen listeners and really astute musicians. The bass player, John Diamond, and drummer, Gary Craig, who I’ve been playing with for decades are my dearest friends and historically have been very helpful…and I have to say that my wife, whose name is Janice Marian Curry Alexander Powers (that’s all one person), co-wrote the title of the song on my album and we write quite well together, I think. She’s a really good second set of ears on the things that I do so even though I don’t have an official go-to producer on my albums I feel like I have a few people who I really trust a lot and they are great sounding boards for me.
What’s your latest album? Is it released here?
The album is called bLOW and yes, it was released in the U.S. I’m from Toronto and even though I’ve been living here for over two decades, it’s my first album that has come out on an American-based label first. The label is called Highway 20 records, which was started by Lucinda Williams and Tom Overby, and released through Thirty Tigers. Lucinda and Tom always knew that they wanted to ultimately expand and find other artists that they could promote and release through their label. They hadn’t had the infrastructure to do it in the past but they do now and I’m their first artist, and it’s such a privilege. I’m very pleased with the way it’s been received.
What do you like most about the show that you’re working on now?
Salvage, to me, is a story with music. The songs are what drive that story, but I wouldn’t call it a musical. These songs existed long before the show so, I feel that the challenge and the joy of this piece is letting the songs be as natural and unaffected as possible. That is the strength of this play, the lyrics and the melody helping to tell the story. The whole thing is very satisfying.
Would you want to perform in a musical acting role on stage, like maybe the role of Preacher in Salvage?
Oh yeah, I would be up for that. I’ve done a little bit of acting, nothing as big as a role like that, I would be very interested. Actually, years ago I played a singing priest in a Coen brothers movie called the “Intolerable Cruelty.” It was a wonderful experience getting to know the Coen brothers a little bit through T-Bone Burnett and through working on “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” I’ve worked on a few of their films but that was one I actually had an acting role in and it was so much fun. I married Catherine Zeta Jones two Billy Bob Thornton.
What’s up next for you?
This weekend I’m playing in British Columbia for two nights and then back to Nashville where I have a couple of album projects coming up. I’m hoping that 2022 will bring more opportunities to play live. Supporting “bLOW,” my 14th album would be a great thing to do. I’ve never really played much on my own in America. I’ve played back up for plenty of people here and toured throughout the country a lot with artists like Bruce Coburn, Bob Dylan, and Emmylou Harris, so that’s what I’m projecting right now. Just putting it out there and hoping to make it happen.
Salvage runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm through November 14, 2021.
The Hudson Theatre is located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, 90038. Street parking and valet. No late seating. Everyone must present proof of FULL VACCINATION against COVID-19 along with a government-issued photo ID in order to attend (information is not collected).
Face masks are required to be worn indoors at all times. Tickets are $35. Reservations and information www.Onstage411.com/Salvage