John K. Samson

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John K. Samson
Background information
Birth nameJohn Kristjan Samson
Born1973 (age 50–51)
OriginWinnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
GenresFolk punk, indie rock, post-punk, hardcore punk
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar, bass
Years active1980s–present
LabelsEpitaph, ANTI-

John Kristjan Samson (born 1973)[1] is a Canadian musician from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is a singer-songwriter and best known as the frontman of the Canadian indie folk/rock band The Weakerthans. He also played bass in the punk band Propagandhi during the mid-1990s. Today, Samson is making music under his own name, John K. Samson. His latest solo album, Winter Wheat, was released in 2016.


In 1993, while still a member of Propagandhi, Samson released a fifteen-track solo album on cassette tape, entitled Slips and Tangles. In 1995, six of these songs were featured on a split album shared with the now-defunct punk band Painted Thin. Following the critical success of The Weakerthans, Samson's side of the split was re-released online by G7 Welcoming Committee as a digital EP in 2006.

In 1995, also while still in Propagandhi, Samson released the song "Letter of Resignation" on a split with F.Y.P. Although credited to Propagandhi, Samson was the only band member to appear on the song. He later rerecorded "Letter of Resignation" on The Weakerthans' debut album, Fallow.

Samson performing with the Weakerthans in Montreal, 2004

In 2006, he and his wife Christine Fellows recorded The Old House, an album intended as a Christmas gift for friends and family. They eventually released two songs, "Taps Reversed" and "Good Salvage", for airplay on CBC Radio 3 in 2007. Fellows and Samson also performed live on the network on March 17, 2007, to mark the final night of the network's terrestrial simulcast on CBC Radio 2. Both Samson and Fellows also participated in writing and performing music for Clive Holden's multimedia project Trains of Winnipeg.

In 2008, Samson collaborated with electronic musician Blunderspublik and Inuit throat singer Nikki Komaksiutiksak on the song "Keewatin Arctic", as part of the collaborative music project Record of the Week Club.[2]

Shortly afterward, Samson announced his first solo project since 1995's Little Pictures: a series of 7" releases about Manitoba roads, which he planned to release over the next 18 months. The first, City Route 85, was released on November 3, 2009, through Epitaph and ANTI-.[3] In August 2010, Samson announced his next EP, Provincial Road 222, to be released on September 21.[4] In December 2010, the Weakerthans performed four concerts in Winnipeg, one for each of their albums. In their final concert at the Burton Cummings Theatre, they performed all four of their albums in one night.

In 2011, Samson, Fellows and Sandro Perri participated in the National Parks Project, working with filmmaker Daniel Cockburn to produce and score a short film about Ontario's Bruce Peninsula National Park.[5]

On November 29, 2011, Anti- Records announced that Samson would be releasing his 'first full-length solo album', Provincial, on January 24, 2012.[6]

He appears on Michael Feuerstack's 2014 album Singer Songer, contributing vocals to the song "Friday Night Guard".[7]

In 2015, Samson, Fellows, Ashley Au and Jason Tait collaborated on the music for For the Turnstiles, a dance performance by Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers troupe inspired by Neil Young's 1974 album On the Beach.[8]

On August 15, 2016, Samson announced that his second solo album, Winter Wheat, would be released on October 21, 2016.[9] While technically a solo album, Winter Wheat features contributions by his Weakerthans bandmates Jason Tait and Greg Smith, and much of it was recorded by Weakerthans sound tech Cam Loeppky.

In 2018, Samson recorded a version of Fellows' "Saturday Night at Utopia Parkway" for a split single with American musician Kevin Devine.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] He followed up in July with the single "Fantasy Baseball at the End of the World".[13]

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.

Other activities[edit]

Samson is also a founding member of Arbeiter Ring Publishing, a publishing collective. In 2012 he published his Lyrics and Poems, 1997-2012 with the press.

In 2006, Samson championed Miriam Toews' novel A Complicated Kindness in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's annual Canada Reads, and the novel went on to win the competition. In the 2007 edition of Canada Reads—an "all-star" competition pitting the five winning advocates from previous years against each other—Samson returned to champion Heather O'Neill's novel Lullabies for Little Criminals, which also won the competition.

In 2008 and 2009, Samson spent several weeks working at the CBC's Winnipeg studios as part of the production team for the CBC Radio 2 program The Signal.[14]

Samson was a writer in residence at the University of Manitoba in 2013. He has also been adjunct professor with the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia.

Samson and Christine Fellows frequently produce music for Jonathan Goldstein's podcast "Heavyweight".[15]

Personal life[edit]

Samson is married to Canadian singer-songwriter Christine Fellows.[16] Samson is a Quaker.[17]





Year Song Peak chart positions Album

2012 "Cruise Night" 36 Provincial
"When I Write My Master's Thesis" 29
2016 "Postdoc Blues" Winter Wheat
2017 "Prayer for Ruby Elm" non-album single
2018 "Saturday Night on Utopia Parkway" Devinyl Series No. 10
2020 "Millennium for All" non-album single
"Fantasy Baseball at the End of the World"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


  1. ^ "John K. Samson interviewed by Nick Mount". YouTube. September 9, 2013. 55:21. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  2. ^ "Mastermind behind indie-music innovation". Vancouver Province, June 21, 2009.
  3. ^ "The Weakerthans' John K. Samson Reveals New Seven-Inches Series in Honour of Manitoba Roads". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  4. ^ "The Weakerthans' John K. Samson Announces New Solo Seven-Inch". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on July 8, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  5. ^ "John K. Samson, Christine Fellows and Sandro Perri "Bruce Beckons" (National Parks Project) (video)" Archived November 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Exclaim!, May 17, 2011.
  6. ^ "John K. Samson To Release New Solo Album 'Provincial'". ANTI-. Archived from the original on June 12, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  7. ^ "Michael Feuerstack & Associates, 'Singer Songer'" Archived April 23, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Exclaim!, April 21, 2014.
  8. ^ "John K. Samson Scores Neil Young-Inspired Project in Winnipeg". Exclaim!, April 29, 2015.
  9. ^ "Exclusive: The Weakerthans’ John K. Samson announces new solo album, Winter Wheat". The A.V. Club, August 15, 2016.
  10. ^ Dan Ozzi, "This John K. Samson Song Will Keep You Warm Through the Winter". Vice, November 7, 2018.
  11. ^ Holly Gordon, "Tegan and Sara, Scott Helman, Safia Nolin and more: songs you need to hear this week". CBC Music, October 2, 2018.
  12. ^ Sarah Murphy, "John K. Samson Fights for Your Right to Libraries on New Song 'Millennium for All'". Exclaim!, February 20, 2020.
  13. ^ Chris Deville, "John K. Samson – 'Fantasy Baseball At The End Of The World'". Stereogum, July 24, 2020.
  14. ^ "The Weakerthans make plans for no plans" Archived July 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Canwest News Service, April 20, 2009.
  15. ^ "All episodes of Heavyweight".
  16. ^ "John K. Samson and Christine Fellows" Archived September 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Discorder, December 4, 2009.
  17. ^ Krahn, Sara (November 6, 2017). "Music and Spirituality". Rupert's Land News. Retrieved July 11, 2023.
  18. ^ "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Alternative Rock – March 6, 2012". March 6, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  19. ^ "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Alternative Rock – April 10, 2012". April 10, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2012.

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