Sam Roberts said it was easy to remember the last time he played in Toledo.
"It was during [President] George W. Bush's reelection campaign," Roberts said during a recent phone interview from his home in Montreal. "I remember because his motorcade went by us at the venue. That's the first time that has ever happened in our rock and roll experience."
Roberts and his band were the opening act for fellow Canadian rockers, the Tragically Hip, in the fall of 2004 at Club Bijou, which was knocked down to make way for Huntington Center. The Sam Roberts Band will play Saturday at Frankie's Inner-City, 308 Main St., in support of its new album, "Collider."
Toledoans and Roberts have something in common --an affinity for Detroit -- something Roberts displayed on his Juno Award-winning 2008 album, "Love at the End of the World" with the song "Detroit '67." It is an homage to a city that Roberts said "through all of its adversity, it's always been able to bounce back.
"There are a lot of connections to where I am from in Montreal. Detroit [he pronounced it (day-twa)] was French speaking, a part of New France, the same colony [Montreal] was a part of. For two cities that are so different on the surface, there's this link through history … even the street names are the same."
Sometimes it's a battle for a Canadian band to break into the U.S. market, but Roberts takes it in stride.
"We feel like there ought to be a natural affinity for what we do in America," he said. "The challenge is to get people to pick up your record. The challenge we all face, even American bands, is competing with other bands to come see our shows. Hopefully, when we get them to come see us for the first time, we get this connection with them."
The new album, "Collider," features 13 songs, including the keyboard-thumping "Longitude" and stripped-down "Streets of Heaven (Promises, Promises)." Roberts and his band -- Dave Nugent (lead guitar), Eric Fares (keyboard), James Hall (bass), Josh Trager (drums), and Matt Bauder (saxophone) -- have been happy with the album's reception.
"The response has been really great," Roberts said. "The true test of the music is how it performs on stage every night and how much we enjoy playing it. This one has opened some new horizons, and in that sense the record is a great success to me."
The Sam Roberts Band will be in concert Saturday at Frankie's Inner-City, 308 Main St. Words After and Lucian Townes are the opening acts. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance at $15 at the door. Tickets are available at all TicketMaster outlets, charge by phone 1-800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com, and at Culture Clash, 419-536-5683, and Ramalama Records, 419-531-7625.
Contact Bob Cunningham at email@example.com or 419-724-6506.