Aug 312011
Authors: Joe Vajgrt

Several weeks ago, I was headed across campus when, whizzing past me on a bike, I noticed a guy wearing a t-shirt with a familiar design. Being the unapologetic über- nerd that I am, I quickly turned my bike around and raced after this puzzled grad student.

I’m sure the dude thought I was a complete weirdo, which, under the circumstances, is probably a pretty fair assessment. The reason for my complete
geek-out? He was wearing a shirt from Canadian rocker Sam Roberts, the very artist I
was listening to at that moment.

Why did this random chance encounter excite me to the point of chasing down a complete stranger on a bike? Because the Sam Roberts Band is tragically unknown and unappreciated in the U.S.

I’ve grown accustomed to people poking fun at my love of Canadian music over the years. The joke most often bandied about is that Bryan Adams and Celine Dion are the only musicians that have ever come out of Canada.

This is way off-base, though. In recent years, Canada has produced the likes of Feist, Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, and The New Pornographers – and that’s just skimming the surface of some of the incredible Canadian music out there today.

Roberts has stood at the forefront of this surge in impactful independent music since 2001’s release of his first EP, “The Inhuman Condition” which went on to become one of the best-selling independent music releases in Canadian history.

Since then, Roberts has released four full-length albums: 2003’s “We Were Born In a Flame,” 2006’s “Chemical City,” 2008’s “Love at the End of the World,” and most recently, “Collider,” which was released in May of this year.

Over the span of his young career, Roberts has cleaned up at the annual JUNO awards, Canada’s version of the Grammys. Roberts’ first three albums were nominated for 10 awards – winning six of them – including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, and Video of the Year.

Roberts’ sound is definitely rooted in classic rock, deeply infused with Americana influences – and at times – reggae and soul. I know you kids aren’t too keen on albums these days, so instead of fruitlessly encouraging you to check out one of Roberts’ stellar albums, you should take a few moments to watch some of his videos on YouTube.

Classics such as “Where Have All the Good People Gone” or “Hard Road” will give
you a taste of the quintessential Roberts sound and introspective lyrics. Are you more in the mood for a Motown-inspired, soulful piano romp instead?

Check out the video “Detroit ’67,” based on the race riots that took place there.

Finally, maybe you can help Roberts answer the question he poses about why this generation doesn’t dance to rock and roll in the highly infectious rock anthem, “Them Kids.”

Give Roberts some love. Just be aware that if I see you appreciating this exceptional artist in public, I will chase you down on my bike.

Ãœber-nerd and music lover Joe Vajgrt can be reached at

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