Kim MitchellAl Pettman ©justaclick Photography

Kim Mitchell

Legendary Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell is set to return to Windsor for a highly anticipated show at the Chrysler Theatre on March 9th as part of YUNITY Bluesfest, a two-night event benefiting The Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation and Transition To Betterness. In an exclusive interview with 519 Magazine, the energetic frontman opened up about his love for live performance, his musical roots in Windsor, and the inspiration behind his latest album, “The Big Fantasize”.

For Mitchell, performing live is where he feels most at home.


“It’s just sort of the most comfortable thing I do,” he shares. “I love transmitting musical energy with a band to an audience. I think it’s a pretty magical thing that we humans do.”

Despite the nerves that come with each show, big or small, the singer-songwriter thrives on the energy exchange between the band and the audience.

“We all get together with one common thing, and that is to sort of escape into Rockland Wonderland and let this musical energy that’s being transmitted wash over us,” Mitchell explains. “It’s just a nice way of escaping for two hours because there’s a lot going on in the world.”

He sees live music as a unifying force, bringing people together regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds.

Mitchell’s return to Windsor is particularly meaningful, as the city holds a special place in his heart. It was here that he began his professional music career, playing in a show band at the Metropole Supper Club.

“My paying career, like as a musician, where I started to make $150 a week, started in Windsor,” he reminisces. “Just a bunch of memories of Windsor rush back – sitting at the Tunnel Barbecue, eating pie and walking downtown Windsor, playing the Metropole Supper Club.”

The memories come flooding back as he recounts his early days in the city, from sleeping on an air mattress in someone’s basement to performing at the iconic supper club.

He’s excited to reconnect with fans in Windsor, many of whom have been eagerly awaiting his return.

“On social media, I often get people asking, ‘Hey, when are you coming to Windsor?'” Mitchell explains. “And all music consumers need to know: It’s not up to the artist. We don’t just sit there and go, ‘Okay, let’s go play Windsor.’ You have to have a promoter ask the band.”

Mitchell’s latest album, “The Big Fantasize”, released in 2020, marks a departure from his usual rock sound. The atmospheric record came about thanks to a chance encounter with producer Greg Wells, who was in Mitchell’s band at age 17.

“He paid me a visit at my house in Toronto, and I did the typical thing – assuming he’s a successful guy, I thought, ‘I’ve written some songs, Greg. That’s the last thing a producer wants to hear.’ But because he was in my band at 17, he responded, ‘Yeah, man, absolutely’ when I asked if he’d listen to my stuff,” Mitchell shares. “So I gave him the metaphorical ‘USB key of shame’ with some songs on it. Two weeks later, he got a hold of me and said, ‘Please come to Los Angeles. Let’s record this.'”

Working with Wells in Los Angeles was a great experience for Mitchell, who found the city’s creative energy inspiring.

“Some people dislike Los Angeles. They’ll say, ‘Oh, the waiter is just an aspiring actor.’ It’s what the town is about, right?” he says. “I love the creativity of that place, and I think the studios there are very inspiring and well set up. They have to be.”

Mitchell also reflects on the legacy of his former band Max Webster, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023. While he admits he didn’t give much thought to the band for many years, social media has brought renewed attention to their impact.

“There were many years prior to this year, 2024, where I never gave much thought about Max Webster. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t listen to the songs anymore. It was just part of my life I wasn’t in anymore,” he shares. “But with social media, people keep bringing up the band’s name and mentioning it. I realized this band had an effect on some.”

When asked about the potential for another Max Webster reunion tour, Mitchell is clear that it’s not in the cards.

“No. Everybody’s retired,” he explains. “The keyboard player, Terry Watkinson, he’s totally retired from music. He just paints his art now. Gary McCracken, the drummer, he’s completely retired. Paul Kersey, the first drummer, he’s totally retired. Mike Tilka, one of the bass players, is not retired. He actually lives in Florida and Toronto and plays a lot, but he kind of does jazz gigs. That Max Webster ship has sailed a long time ago.”

Mitchell cites a quote from Robert Plant about the possibility of a Led Zeppelin reunion, saying, “You know, when people talk about that stuff, sometimes I remember the quote from Robert Plant. When someone asked, ‘Do you think Led Zeppelin will ever tour again?’ And this isn’t my case, but I like what he said. He said, ‘Led Zeppelin? Are you kidding me? In a couple of years, I’m going to need help crossing the road.'”

As for the inspiration behind Max Webster’s progressive hard rock style, Mitchell attributes it to the music he grew up listening to and the life experiences he had.

“I think most bands’ influences and inspiration come from what they grew up on, what was going on in their household. But it’s for kids. It’s an accumulation of that along with the life you have led,” he explains. “That’s where it comes from, so it was kind of like what I was listening to at the time. I was an aspiring guitar player. I was taking lessons. I was studying music. I was jamming a lot. And that’s just where it kind of went.”

Mitchell also cites the influence of growing up in Sarnia and listening to the Detroit rock scene.

“Well, that’s what I was born and raised on, Detroit rock, so yeah, that influenced me for sure,” he says. “There was no local Sarnia scene. It was all Detroit radio. I remember walking around Sarnia with a radio, just one earplug since there wasn’t even stereo then – I’m that old. I’d be listening to CKLW, which was actually a Windsor station, and later WRIF in Detroit. That’s in my DNA, along with Motown, which I also loved.”

Maintaining his health while touring has been a challenge for Mitchell, who suffered a heart attack in 2016. His gastroenterologist isn’t thrilled with his on-the-road lifestyle.

“Truth be told, my gastroenterologist hates when I go on the road because after 50 years of 2:00 AM shows and coming off stage, it’s a terrible lifestyle,” Mitchell admits. “I do recommend being a musician, but a touring musician’s life, unless you’re at a level like Bryan Adams where you have a chef 24/7 and you’re a vegetarian, it’s tough. You come off stage, say, in Vancouver after a late show if you’re from Windsor. You’re starving when you get off, and the options are limited.”

Despite the challenges, Mitchell remains passionate about performing and connecting with audiences through his music, both solo and with Max Webster. As he gears up for more shows in 2024, he reflects on the journey that has brought him to this point in his career, and the legacy he continues to build.

“I want this to be fun. I want to give a good show. I want to take care of myself because I think it serves the audience better than a burnt-out old dude walking out on stage going, ‘Oh god, here we go,'” he says. “That’s not me. I want to go out on stage and think, ‘Yeah, I’m older, but check this out. I’m ready to give it my all for you.'”

With a career spanning over five decades, Kim Mitchell remains as passionate as ever about connecting with audiences and sharing his love for music. It’s apparently his rock and roll duty.

Tickets are available online.

As seen in the February 2024 issue:

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