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Bruce Cockburn honoured on postal stamp

Bruce Cockburn gets stamped
Bruce Cockburn at the National Art Centre in Ottawa with his stamp image. (CNW Group/Canada Post Corporation)

5 May 2011 – Bruce Cockburn poses with his forthcoming stamp, which will be issued June 30. (Canada Post)

Canadians might find Bruce Cockburn in their mailbox this summer, following Canada Post’s announcement of a new stamp featuring the celebrated singer-songwriter.

Canada Post said Thursday that a stamp honouring Cockburn will be issued on June 30 as part of the third installment of its Canadian Recording Artists series.

Bruce Cockburn gets stamped - May 11, 2011
Bruce Cockburn gets stamped – May 11, 2011

His stamp will join the previously announced stamps of Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Robbie Robertson and Ginette Reno.

The series will be issued June 30.

“This is very exciting,” the Ottawa-born Cockburn said in a statement.

The stamp’s design — a black and white image of him against a red background featuring titles of his hit songs — is “beautiful,” he added.

Over the years, the folk-rock singer and activist has won multiple awards for his music, which includes hits such as The Coldest Night of the Year and If I Had a Rocket Launcher. His original songs have inspired covers by a wide range of artists — from Jimmy Buffett to the Barenaked Ladies.

Bruce Cockburn gets stamped - photo True North Records
Bruce Cockburn gets stamped – photo True North Records

He released his 31st album, Small Source of Comfort, in March and is currently touring the U.S. Cockburn, who is also an officer of the Order of Canada and member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, is slated to publish his memoir in April 2012.

Credit: CBC News, via Bernie Finkelstein.

Bruce Cockburn to Receive People’s Voice Award

Folk Alliance International to Launch People’s Voice and Clearwater Awards
Posted by: Jerod Rivers

11 January 2017 – As part of a permanent commitment to honoring the socially-conscious roots of folk music, Folk Alliance International (FAI) will launch two new awards during the 2016 International Folk Music Awards show.The People’s Voice Award will be presented annually to an individual who has unabashedly embraced and committed to social and political commentary in their creative work and folk music career. The Clearwater Award will be presented annually to a festival that prioritizes environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in education and sustainable event production. Additional awards include Lifetime Achievement, Spirit of Folk, and Album, Song, and Artist of the Year presented on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Folk Alliance International Awards Show
Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 6 pm
Westin Crown Center Hotel, Century C Ballroom
Kansas City, Missouri USA
Open to FAI conference delegates and registered members of the press.

Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn to Receive People’s Voice Award

The inaugural People’s Voice award will be presented to multi-platinum recording artist Bruce Cockburn, whose 40-year career has consistently highlighted environmental, social, and indigenous issues globally.

Bruce Cockburn has been all over the world to Mozambique, Nepal, Vietnam, Baghdad, Nicaragua, and Guatemala to protest refugee camps, landmines, and Third World debt. He has been tirelessly vocal in support of native rights, the environment, the promotion of peace, and has highlighted the work of Oxfam, the UN Summit for Climate Control, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and Friends of the Earth.

His songs “Mines of Mozambique” from album The Charity of Night, “Stolen Land” (Waiting For A Miracle), and “If a Tree Falls” (Big Circumstance) have traveled the globe providing context for some of the world’s biggest issues of the day, while exhorting to all who listen for engagement with our shared humanity.

In over 300 songs on 30 albums that range from folk to jazz-influenced rock, he has sold more than seven million records worldwide and prolifically captured the story of the human experience through protest, romance, spiritual searching, and politics. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1985, after observing the horrors of refugee camps along the Guatemalan-Mexican border he shared that he went back to his hotel room, cried, and wrote in his notebook, “I understand now why people want to kill.” The experience led him to write “If I Had A Rocket Launcher” from the album Stealing Fire.

Cockburn is the recipient of 13 Juno Awards, the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, nine honorary doctorates, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. Pacing the Cage, a documentary film about his life, music, and politics was released in 2013. His memoir, Rumours of Glory, was published by Harper Collins in 2014.

“We can’t settle for things as they are,” Cockburn has warned. “If you don’t tackle the problems, they’re going to get worse.”

Masterwork guitar exhibit honours Group of Seven painters

by Brad Wheeler – The Globe and Mail

‘The wood doesn’t lie.”

At her Cabbagetown studio, the luthier Linda Manzer talks about the organic nature of her trade. Holding a guitar of her invention, she says you can’t make wood what it is not, that you have to co-operate with it, that you have to be honest with yourself. “You can’t fake it,” is how she puts it.

Of course, the honesty Manzer speaks of doesn’t refer solely to the craft of guitar making. A novelist or a ceramist would agree with her; even a cocktail mixologist – the booze doesn’t lie? – would find common ground here.

Mt LeFroy - 1930 - Lawren Harris
Mt LeFroy – 1930 – Lawren Harris

As would a painter. The guitar Manzer cradles is a salute to the Canadian landscape rock star and Group of Seven ringleader Lawren Harris. It’s a doozy, untraditional with its grooved ridges on the bottom, icy-blue splashes of colour on the top, big mechanical drawing on the back and a second neck thrusting outward from the body like a Harris-y mountain peak.

The acoustic instrument is part of The Group of Seven Guitar Project, an exhibit commissioned by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and set to open on May 6, in time for the country’s sesquicentennial summer.

Seven masterwork guitars were made by seven of the country’s top luthiers – each instrument an homage to a particular Group of Seven member. An eighth instrument (a baritone guitar that honours the rough-cut woodland enthusiast Tom Thomson) was a creation by committee.

While the project will be seen as a unique commemoration of Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, et al, what it really represents is a party thrown for the Canadian guitar makers themselves, a group that has carved out an impressive standing in the luthier world. Seven guitar-makers, then, as a loose-knit, supportive collective – a group, for lack of a better word.

Manzer, well known for the four-necked Pikasso Guitar she designed and built for the jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, refers to the project as an “amazing journey of discovery.”

That discovery began with her visit to the National Gallery of Canada, where she saw a collection of Group of Seven sketches in a back room. Thinking about the support the artists had for one another, she began to draw a comparison to her own experiences in the 1970s, when she was one of the first six apprentices to work with the master guitar-maker Jean Larrivée.

Doing the math wasn’t difficult: Group of Seven, seven luthiers, hmmm. And neither was it very hard to get the other luthiers – Sergei de Jonge, Tony Duggan-Smith, David Wren, George Gray, Grit Laskin and the guitar-making godfather Larrivée – on board.

Matching a luthier with a Group of Seven artist was an organic process – no drawing of straws involved. Duggan-Smith had lived in a house once lived in by Arthur Lismer, so that was an easy pairing. Laskin was attracted to the landscapes of F.H. Varley, and so on. Manzer was drawn in particular to the 1930 oil on canvas Mt. Lefroy, a snow-capped quintessential Harris depiction. “If Lawren Harris made a guitar, what would it look like?” she thought to herself. “And if one of his paintings morphed into a guitar, how would that look?”

Bruce Cockburn - Linda Manzer - McMichael Gallery - Group of Seven - Mt LeFroy - Lawren Harris
Bruce Cockburn – Linda Manzer – McMichael Gallery – Group of Seven Guitar Project

The result, which won’t be unveiled until closer to the exhibit’s opening, is an exotic six-string acoustic model with an extra neck that holds an eight-string harp-like offshoot. “Technically, it was quite hard to do,” Manzer says. “But I think the result is a little controversial, and I had fun doing it.”

The next step was an audition. The folk-rock icon Bruce Cockburn, a friend and customer of Manzer’s, would give the guitar a playing. Reached in San Francisco, Cockburn described the guitar as a “pretty spectacular piece of sculpture, which manages to sound decent as well.”

Cockburn, who has sung about trees in forests but has never made paintings of them, wrote a song specifically for the guitar that will be featured in documentary film on the Group of Seven Guitar Project. The Mount Lefroy Waltz is a solo instrumental in F minor, played by Cockburn with the strings capoed at the third fret, with the strings tuned D-A-D-G-A-D.

“I tried to come up with something icy sounding,” Cockburn says. “The guitar favours the higher frequencies, and I tried to write that into the piece. It played very well. I was even able to use the ‘harp’ strings that are part of its architecture.”

The process of making the guitar was a lengthy one. Manzer spent more than two years just researching Harris. The turning point in her study was reading his letters to his confidante and fellow artist, Emily Carr. “He was a cheerleader for her, and the things he wrote to her about being brave became my inspiration from him,” Manzer says. “I took those words to heart.”

Each of the luthiers worked on their individual guitars on their own, but in talking to them all, Manzer believes their processes were similar to hers. “I was going to do what was best for my journey of discovery of Lawren Harris,” she says. “I think we all did that.”

As Manzer says, the wood doesn’t lie. And neither does the muse.


Update – 20 January 2017: From a tweet by Linda Manzer.
The shadow knows…Coming to the McMichael gallery in Ontario in May 2017

Linda Manzer - Group of Seven - McMichael Gallery
The shadow knows…Coming to the McMichael gallery in Ontario in May 2017 – ManzerGuitars

A Landmine Free World

by Rob Caldwell

The Mines of Mozambique - The Charity of Night     

In 1995 Bruce Cockburn wrote “The Mines of Mozambique,” a song which helped call attention to the plight of Mozambicans dealing with the aftermath of almost 30 years of war: a war of independence from Portugal and an even longer civil war. Wars which left the country riddled with unexploded landmines inflicting injury and death whenever men, women and children stepped, unawares, on them. It took over 20 years of work, but in September 2015 it was announced that the last landmine was removed.

The Coming Rains - The Charity of Night     

“The Mines of Mozambique” (along with a good chunk of “The Coming Rains“) was composed on the night of September 11, 1995 in a hotel room in Quelimane, Mozambique while Bruce was on a fact-finding tour at the invitation of charitable organization Cooperation Canada Mozambique (COCAMO). It wasn’t his first time in the country. He had been there 7 years earlier when COCAMO asked him to Mozambique to help them generate support for a hunger-relief program. At that time the country was still in the grip of civil war and he was very restricted in his movements around the countryside, being shuffled from city to city.

Between that time and when he returned, the war ended and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines was founded in 1992. De-mining efforts were well underway, but moving slowly due to the dangerous conditions of the job. In a 1997 interview in Pause and Play, Bruce said,

“It was a country at peace when I went there, but the effects of war were everywhere. Landmines are almost like an evil spiritual part of the landscape, like some kind of mythical ogre that’s under your bed when you’re a kid and you’re afraid to step down onto the floor at night. People just simply walking or driving down the road and who have to take a leak, they have to think before they make any moves. They have to remember to leak on the road and not wander off into the bushes or they might be killed by a landmine. And the children can’t be children and venture off to play. The landmines are everywhere.”

Similar to the way his earlier song “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” came about, he witnessed the situation and then distilled those experiences into words and music. “The Mines of Mozambique” was “not an attempt to address the issues of land mines, but it reflects the atmosphere in a country that’s infested with them,” he explained in an interview on Portland, Oregon’s KINK FM. The track was included on The Charity of Night, issued in February, 1997. Yet, it had become a standard part of his shows immediately following his return from Mozambique in 1995, and would remain in his set lists for years after. To give context and to raise awareness of the landmines crisis, Bruce usually preceded performances of the song with a spoken introduction.

The opportunity to publicize and build awareness of the landmines issue even more directly came in the fall of 1995, immediately following his return from Mozambique. It was during that time that he embarked on a cross-North America speaking tour with Mozambican singer Chude Mondlane and the executive director of COCAMO, Michael O’Connor. The last stop on the tour was a visit to Canada’s Parliament to meet with leaders about instituting a landmine ban and to hold a press conference on the issue. In his autobiography, Rumours of Glory, Bruce describes how he was given five sample, inert landmines to use in his presentation. He brought them into the parliament building and startled all present, including security staff, when he placed them on the table to illustrate his comments. This caused a bit of a problem when he returned later in the day and he was promptly surrounded by security agents and questioned about the mines. As he writes in the book, “I was earnestly admonished not to bring them with me again.”

Due to the efforts of Bruce and many others around the world, on December 3, 1997 the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention was signed by 122 countries in Ottawa, Ontario. It became known as the Ottawa Treaty and banned the production, stockpiling and use of landmines. Since then, 39 additional nations have joined the treaty. Unfortunately, there are still those, including the United States, who have not signed on.

Even though the treaty signified a marked reduction in new landmines, there were (and are) still millions in the ground internationally. Mine removal was still ongoing in Mozambique and in 2013 the U.N. estimated there were still more than two million in the country. Due to continued diligence and unwavering effort, however, the humanitarian and demining organization HALO Trust declared Mozambique mine free two years later. People can now safely farm, can safely walk and drive wherever they want to, and the continually rising burden on health care due to landmine injury has been stemmed.

The landmine problem is over for now in Mozambique, but continues in other parts of the world. The issue is still one of great importance to Bruce and he devoted a generous part of his autobiography to an examination of landmine issues. In 2000 he told the Tucson Weekly,

“For me, it’s all one big issue. All of these things are aspects of how we treat each other and how we relate to the nature of which we are part. Anytime I can address any of those aspects, I’m happy to do it. It’s all really about human dignity and human survival.”

Related Links:

Recording Session – Toronto – Union Sound Company

Bruce and Colin Linden were in Toronto, Ontario for the Canadian Folk Music Awards in early December. They then continued working on the new album, doing some recording at Union Sound Company, with Gary Craig and Roberto Occhipinti.

Here’s a photo from Chris Stringer’s Facebook page:

Gary Craig - Chris Stringer - Colin Linden - Bruce Cockburn - Union Sound Company - Toronto
Gary Craig – Chris Stringer – Colin Linden – Bruce Cockburn – Toronto, ON – December 2016

Roberto Occhipinti
Roberto Occhipinti

Photo by Gary Craig

For more Recording session articles start here – Prairie Sun Studio – Day 1


Recording Session – Nashville studio with Colin Linden

Yesterday, December 10, Bruce was in Nashville with Colin Linden working on his new album. During this session, Bruce’s nephew, JohnAaron Cockburn was adding in some accordian. Here are a few photos Bruce sent along, taken by Colin Linden.

Bruce Cockburn & JohnAaron Cockburn - Nashville 2016
Bruce Cockburn & JohnAaron Cockburn – Nashville 2016
Bruce Cockburn & JohnAaron Cockburn - Nashville 2016
Bruce Cockburn & JohnAaron Cockburn – Nashville 2016
Bruce Cockburn & JohnAaron Cockburn - Nashville 2016
Bruce Cockburn & JohnAaron Cockburn – Nashville 2016

Also in today’s session, Mary Gauthier put down some vocal tracks. (photo from her Instagram account)

Bruce Cockburn & Mary Gauthier - Nashville 2016
Bruce Cockburn & Mary Gauthier – Nashville 2016

For more Recording session articles start here – Prairie Sun Studio – Day 1

Bruce Cockburn to host 2017 JUNO Songwriters’ Circle at National Arts Centre in Ottawa

March 24, 2017 – The JUNO Songwriters’ Circle has been moved to Southam Hall and there are tickets available. Ticketmaster.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 22, 2016 –
Tickets to ‘Jewel of JUNO Week’ benefiting MusiCounts are ON SALE NOW!

TORONTO, ON – The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announced today that Ottawa native, 12-time JUNO Award winner, Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, and music legend Bruce Cockburn will host and perform at the 2017 JUNO Songwriters’ Circle, to be held in the NAC Theatre at the National Arts Centre on Sunday, April 2, 2017 from 12pm to 2pm EST.

Bruce Cockburn hosting 2017 JUNO SongWriters' Circle

Update March 13, 2017 – The rest of the lineup for the Juno Songwriters’ Circle has been announced.

Joining previously announced host Bruce Cockburn, the Ottawa-born songwriting icon, on stage at the National Arts Centre theatre on April 2 are six of this year’s nominees: Chantal Kreviazuk, who’s vying for the best adult contemporary album, blues nominee Colin Linden, Daniel Caesar, up for R&B/soul recording of the year, songwriter-of-the-year contender Donovan Woods, contemporary-roots hopeful Lisa LeBlanc and Wintersleep’s Paul Murphy, whose band is competing for adult alternative album of the year.

The Songwriters’ Circle has been moved to Southham Hall and you can buy tickets at – Ticketmaster. You can hear the concert on CBC radio in the coming weeks. The first set will be broadcast at 2 p.m. April 7 on CBC Radio 1 and 7 p.m. April 10 on CBC Radio 2. The second set airs at 2 p.m. April 14 on Radio 1 and at 7 p.m. April 17 on Radio 2.

Money raised goes to MusiCounts, the music education charity that supplies music students with instruments.

Credit: – Lynn

JUNO Songwriters’ Circle is an intimate and interactive concert benefiting MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity associated with CARAS that works to keep music alive in schools and communities across Canada. Co-presented by SOCAN (The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers) and Yamaha Canada Music, in association with the Canadian Music Publishers Association, this event is considered the “Jewel of JUNO Week,” and will feature some of Canada’s most talented songwriters, performing their songs and sharing the stories behind them.

Tickets to the 2017 JUNO Songwriters’ Circle go on sale on November 24 at 10am EST at, the National Art Center Box Office or by phone at 1-888-991-2787. Tickets are available for $49.50 and $59.50 (plus taxes and service fees), with proceeds supporting MusiCounts.

“I’m honoured to have been asked to host the Songwriters’ Circle during JUNO Week 2017 in Ottawa. This one-of-a-kind showcase will offer people a unique look into the raw emotions and art of storytelling that come with songwriting,” said Cockburn. “I’m also pleased to participate in an event that supports MusiCounts and the work they do for school music programs across the country. These programs have a huge impact on fostering our future artists and developing a creative youth within Canada.”

JUNO Songwriters’ Circle will be available for streaming through and will also be broadcast on CBC Radio One and CBC Radio 2. Dates to be announced in the new year.

Recording Session – Prairie Sun Studio – Day 5

We have two photos from the last day of the recording session, thanks Daniel Keebler.

Bruce Cockburn - players & staff Prairie Sun Recording Studio - 18 November 2016
Bruce Cockburn with players and staff at Prairie Sun Recording Studio
Gary Craig - studio - 18 November 2016
Gary Craig & his biggest fan 🙂 – at Prairie Sun Recording Studio with Bruce Cockburn

Recording Session Links:

Update: 25 November 2016:
In The Studio with Bruce – Daniel’s photos and commentary from the Prairie Sun Recording Sessions.


Recording Session – Prairie Sun Studio – Day 4

Two more songs were recorded on day 4.
This photo from Daniel Keebler, shows Bruce and the band Colin Linden, Gary Craig and John Dymond, and Ron Miles, giving a listen back to one of the songs they are working on.

Bruce Cockburn & band mates - Prairie Sun Recording Studio - 17 November 2016
Bruce Cockburn & band mates – Prairie Sun Recording Studio – 17 November 2016
Bruce Cockburn & band mates - Prairie Sun Recording Studio - 17 November 2016
Ron Miles – Colin Linden – John Dymond – Bruce Cockburn – Gary Craig
Bruce Cockburn & Colin Linden at Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati 17 November 2016
Bruce Cockburn & Colin Linden at Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati 17 November 2016

Recording Session Links:

Update: 25 November 2016:
In The Studio with Bruce – Daniel’s photos and commentary from the Prairie Sun Recording Sessions.


Recording Session – Prairie Sun Studio – Day 3

Day three of the new album recording has Ron Miles on trumpet joining Bruce, Colin Linden, Gary Craig and John Dymond. Three songs were recorded today.

Photos from todays session courtesy of Daniel Keebler.

Bruce Cockburn - studio - 16 November 2016
Bruce Cockburn – studio – 16 November 2016
Ron Miles - trumpet
Ron Miles – studio – 16 November 2016

Recording Session Links:

Update: 25 November 2016:
In The Studio with Bruce – Daniel’s photos and commentary from the Prairie Sun Recording Sessions.


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