Today, Lee Harvey Osmond (aka Tom Wilson) shares the new video for “Colours” from his Polaris Music Prize long-listed LP, Mohawk. The video pairs Wilson’s track with scenes from Hard To Be Human, the film from director Valerie Buhagiar. On the song, Wilson says : “The colours roll down our skin after the sweat and blood are soaked into our clothes and all our heroes have turned to dust. We listen for the sound that will bring us into the new day…the sound of a thousand mothers from a thousand summers. A lazy heat that conjures up hope for hard living and tells the untold stories of every Hank William’s railroad train that has crashed.”
This fall, Wilson heads out on the road for a run of tour dates, some supporting Mohawk with performances and some featuring readings from his acclaimed autobiography, Beautiful Scars. Full tour information can be found below.
When Wilson created the moniker Lee Harvey Osmond he wasn’t entirely certain if this was a new stage name or merely a provocative handle for the musician/artist collective assembled by producer Michael Timmins to record a collection of Tom Wilson songs that would become A Quiet Evil. This was the first of four albums bearing the featured artist Lee Harvey Osmond. The Folk Sinner was next, followed by the break through Beautiful Scars. It was during this time between releasing Beautiful Scars and recording Kings and Kings with Blackie and The Rodeo Kings that Wilson went public with his recent discovery. He was not exactly the person he thought he was.
In his 50s, Wilson learned that the parents who raised him were not his birth parents; that, in fact, he was adopted and that his biological mother and father were Mohawk from the Kahnawake reserve, just outside of Montreal. Grappling with this newfound sense of himself plunged Wilson into a quest for his heritage and his truth, and led to the writing of his bestselling autobiography, Beautiful Scars (Doubleday Canada). The book is a colourful and truthful tale of this quest, and his life’s tribulations and successes along the path.
“It is a story of finding your way home,” he says. “It’s a story of adoption, of growing up thinking you’re a big, sweaty, Irish guy, and finding out at the age of 53 that you’re a Mohawk.”
Under the steady hand of producer Michael Timmins, the musician collective Lee Harvey Osmond revives the origins of ‘Acid Folk’ with appearances from old friends Ray Farrugia (percussion), Aaron Goldstein (steel guitar), Jesse O’Brien (keyboards) and introduces Anna Reddick (bass). The expanded use of Darcy Hepner’s brass and baritone sax and brilliant harmonica flashes from blues veteran Paul Reddick and Wilson’s son, Thompson Wilson, sound as guideposts behind the moody grooves of Wilson’s literary recital. Suzie Ungerleider (Oh Susanna) provides the perfect backing vocal ingredient for Wilson’s baritone.
Wilson’s life has been an ongoing quest so it is perhaps inevitable that after decades immersed in poetry, literature and music he would turn attention to visual art, a language that transcends the verbal and the written. The packaging and visual elements of Mohawk incorporate Tom Wilson creations. In particular a painting of the same name from his collection Beautiful Scars: Mohawk Warriors, Hunter and Chiefs
He is still driven to ask questions, to seek meaning from the elusive mysteries hidden beneath the surface of everyday existence, to come to terms with his history, his identity; to aspire to higher truths and to understand his place in the world. “If I have 20 more years on this planet, I hope to keep becoming a Mohawk, because I can’t become a Mohawk the way my brothers and sisters and ancestors did.”
LEE HARVEY OSMOND TOUR DATES
July 1 Brampton, ON Canada Day
July 5 Orillia, ON Mariposa Folk Festival
July 6 Evanston, AB Pembina River Nights Festival
Sept 13 Bolingbroke, ON Althorpe Bolingbroke Community Hall,The Festival of Small Halls
Sept 14 Ottawa, On City Folk Festival
Sept 15 Toronto, ON Kensington Jazz Festival
Sept 28 Burlington, ON Burlington Performing Arts Centre
Oct 16 Brantford, On Gord Downie Legacy Concert SandersonCentre
Oct 17 Kitchener, ON Latent Artist Stage Centre In The Square
Oct 18 St. Catharines ,ON Gord Downie Legacy Concert First Canadian Performing Arts Centre
Nov 1 Uxbridge, ON The Book Drunkard Festival
Nov 20 Edmonton, ON Festival Place
Nov 23 Duncan, BC Cowichan Theatre
Dec 11 Niagara On The Lake, ON Words and Wine Festival