Cootes Leland is the latest incarnation of Hamilton’s Tim Gibbons. A band/entity/persona developed in Latent’s Clubhouse while recording the collection of songs that make up Trail Of Smoke.
Gibbons first started playing music in high school as a drummer in garage bands, then switched to banjo and guitar around the age of seventeen. It was then that he scored his first professional job playing guitar in a blues combo backing exotic dancers at a notorious burlesque theatre called Starvin’ Marvins. Emboldened by this experience he left home to play in a series of country bands and at one point was playing guitar for a travelling hair tonic show. The eighties found him rocking out in such bands as The Shakers and the Trouble Boys. These bands also provided early recording experiences resulting in the Shakers’ In Time and the Trouble Boys’ Pass the Bottle Baby. He also recorded a rare out of print solo album entitled Dead Guy Won A Muffin. It wasn’t long after that a serious alcohol abuse problem landed him in hospital, stopping his music career short. Rescued by guitar playing pal Daniel Lanois, he soon found himself in L.A. recruited to play bass, drums and organ on Lanois’ soundtrack to the Oscar winning film Slingblade. After this he toured Texas with another guitar playing friend, the late bluesman Chris Whitley. He also released another solo recording with producer Mark Howard, 1999’s Shylingo.
Back home from the road he started a succession of local blues bands playing the many roadhouses and biker bars of southern Ontario and further developed his hybrid style of blues and country music. By chance, at one show in a Toronto bar Cowboy Junkies guitarist Michael Timmins happened to wander in and catch a set. Touched by Gibbons meaningful songs and raw unpolished naturalism he signed him to his Latent Recordings label and produced Gibbons’ latest album, Trail Of Smoke. The release of this collection of folk, blues and country will find Gibbons full circle, back onstage with (or as) Cootes Leland, playing the rough hewn songs of his life and times.