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A Conversation With .. Bruce Cockburn – FYI Music News

Jun 30, 2017 – by Bill King

We lived in what was stamped a “hippie haven” in the early seventies – Gothic Avenue, which borders Quebec Avenue – in High Park, Toronto. The brown rice/alternative lifestyle sanctuary was a haven for writers, musicians – in fact the late Billy Bryans lived only a few steps away and was playing in a band called Horn. Music was big fun and discovery. You could start in the early morning after a hit of a hash/tobacco joint and walk in on neighbours. Music played day and night, in fact it was all about checking out the person next door’s album collection.

The progressives blasted Emerson, Lake and Palmer – the countrified – Pure Prairie League – and the folkies loved their Tea for the Tillerman/Cat Stevens and a newcomer rising on the Canadian scene, Bruce Cockburn.

Even if you didn’t pay much attention you learned who the artists were were through peripheral listening. I had Bruce’s voice memorized as well as his fluent guitar playing. Cockburn stuck with you like he belonged in your life. Right time, right place!

The debut – Bruce Cockburn, produced by Eugene Martynec, came with a single that seemed to follow Canadians everywhere – Going to the Country. I know the inhabitants of Gothic Avenue were served a new side each year we survived the developers wrecking ball – High Winds, White SkySunwheel Dance, Night Vision, Joy Will Find a Way and In the Falling Dark.

Come September, Cockburn is inducted into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame (CSHF)and releases his thirty-third recording, Bone to Bone. I connected with Bruce from his San Francisco home and collected his thoughts on a number of issues, episodes and events.

You have a couple of big events in September – induction into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and your 33rd recording – Bone to Bone. Your thoughts?

Any particular order? The exciting thing for me of course is the album – it’s been awhile since I’ve had an album out. I’m happy with the songs and how it came out. I’m anxious to get it out and get people to hear it. The Songwriter’s Hall of Fame thing is nice. There’s a lot of ‘halls of fame’ in the world. In one way, it’s delightful to be recognized by the scene – people who enjoy what I do and people who are close enough to it to appreciate what I do. That means a lot. I can also remember thinking, getting inducted into some kind of hall of fame means you should already be dead or about to be. I don’t feel like that now. It feels pretty good. I also remember being somewhere and there was the towing and removal hall of fame – every industry has one. This is a national one and a big deal – it’s nice and I’m very appreciative.

It’s about songwriting too – something very special.

It’s nice to be recognized by the people who understand what you do.

You have a healthy attitude about your career. It’s spanned decades and there is no reason to retire – just keep making music..

Yes – as long as I can keep doing it, that’s what I want to do. I don’t take it for granted or assume my feelings would ever change – it could, but hasn’t so far. I like what I do and I like performing the songs I write for people. It’s the way they get to hear them best and the way I get to share them in the presence of actual human feedback. As long as I’m physically able to do it, I expect I will.

Do you still enjoy your time on stage?

I’ve always been terrified on stage and that hasn’t really changed that much. Terrified would be overstating now but back in the beginning it was terrifying, now it’s just kind of stressful. When you perform your songs to actual human beings in a live situation, that’s where the song really lives and becomes meaningful. If nothing else, the experience of being there focused on the same thing with a whole bunch of people is a pleasant sensation. Then afterwards, it feels good for a few minutes and then you start thinking about all of the things you did wrong and then it takes a day or two before you start feeling good about it again. Along with the precarious situation is the idea of making a living without having a boss. Being able to travel – some people would find it as having an adventurous lifestyle. It’s a great thing – a gift and not everybody gets to do it.





5 things you missed at the 2017 Junos Songwriters’ Circle – audio

April 6, 2017 – The JUNO Songwriters’ Circle has been recorded. You can listen to the audio.

The Junos Songwriters’ Circle is always a lot of fun, with big-name and newer artists sharing the stage to tell the stories behind their songs before playing them.

At this year’s Junos, Bruce Cockburn hosted the Sunday afternoon event at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre in two sessions: first up was Colin Linden, Lisa LeBlanc and Wintersleep’s Paul Murphy; then Chantal Kreviazuk, Daniel Caesar and Donovan Woods took over.

The show was a delight, and if you couldn’t attend, fear not: you can listen to both sets here.

Below, read on for five things you missed at the songwriters’ circle — aside from the music.

1. Everyone’s love for Bruce Cockburn

“Many of the greatest times of my life have been standing two or three feet away, to Bruce Cockburn’s right,” joked Colin Linden after Cockburn kicked off the set with “Lovers in a Dangerous Time.”

By the end of the afternoon, Cockburn had made both Linden and Kreviazuk cry with his performances — “Is there a tissue?” Kreviazuk asked — and invited LeBlanc to teach his five-year-old daughter to play “You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I do Too)”.

“I’ve had nightmare dreams about Bruce Cockburn singing that [‘Wondering Where the Lions Are’], Chantal Kreviazuk singing that [‘Surrounded’], and then having to go after that, it’s like literally terrifying,” confessed Woods before his first song. The whole thing was just a big love fest.

To continue reading, visit this link.

Credit: CBCMusisc.ca

Related Links: Jewel of the Junos – Songwriters’ Circle


Songwriters' Circle - backstage view - photo Jack Ross
Songwriters’ Circle – backstage view – photo Jack Ross

‘Jewel of the Junos’ – Songwriters’ Circle

April 3, 2017 –

Bruce Cockburn takes part in Juno Songwriters' Circle - photo Patrick Doyle - The Ottawa Citizen
Bruce Cockburn takes part in the Juno Songwriters’ Circle at the NAC in Ottawa on Sunday, April 2, 2017. Patrick Doyle / The Ottawa Citizen

Every song has a story.

Singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn came home to Ottawa Sunday to host what’s dubbed the “jewel of the Junos” at the National Arts Centre, bringing together established stars and up-and-comers to explore what he called the “mystery” of the craft.

“Nice to have an excuse to be back in Ottawa,” the capital-born Cockburn, 71, told the sold-out crowd at Southam Hall, which greeted him with a standing ovation before he’d sung a note.

With him for the 2017 Juno Songwriters’ Circle were nominees including Chantal Kreviazuk, Colin Linden and Wintersleep’s Paul Murphy plus the powerful singer-songwriter Donovan Woods, Acadian newcomer Lisa LeBlanc and 21-year-old R&B phenom Daniel Caesar.

“I don’t get here often enough,” Cockburn said, adding that he’d decided to perform some “old ones.”

Cockburn reached back into his catalogue to play hits like Lovers in a Dangerous Time, inspired by the “innocent and lovely” fumblings towards romance of his then pre-teen daughter, now a mother of four, amid the Cold War, AIDS crisis and environmental degradation of the 1980s.

He launched into the beautiful, menacing first bars of If I Had a Rocket Launcher after explaining its inspiration was hearing the first-hand accounts of Guatemalan refugees who’d fled savage attacks, the song’s helpless rage amplified by Linden’s haunting slide guitar.

Bruce Cockburn takes part in the Juno Songwriters Circle-2-photo - Patrick Doyle The Ottawa Citizen
Bruce Cockburn takes part in the Juno Songwriters’ Circle at the NAC in Ottawa on Sunday, April 2, 2017. Patrick Doyle / The Ottawa Citizen

Another classic song and Cockburn hit was born in Ottawa. It was the late 1970s and Cockburn’s cousin, then a Canadian spy, told him over a dinner in Hull that amid the skirmishes of China and Russia, they could all wake up tomorrow to the end of the world.

“This is a guy who knew what he was talking about — it kind of spoiled dessert,” Cockburn said.

But the next day,”Ottawa was still here,” and as he drove along the Queensway, Cockburn began Wondering Where the Lions Are, which became a Top 40 hit in the U.S. and so familiar to his fans much of the NAC crowd sang along word for word.

Colin Linden and Bruce Cockburn take part in the Juno Songwriters Circle - photo Patrick Doyle The Ottawa Citizen
Colin Linden and Bruce Cockburn takes part in the Juno Songwriters’ Circle at the NAC in Ottawa on Sunday, April 2, 2017. Patrick Doyle / The Ottawa Citizen

Bruce introduces Buffy Sainte-Marie as the recipient of Humanitarian award – JUNO 2017

April 1, 2017 – Buffy Sainte-Marie was presented with the Alan Waters Humanitarian Award at the 2017 JUNO Awards by Bruce Cockburn.

Bruce Cockburn introduces Buffy Sainte-Marie - JUNO2017
Bruce Cockburn introduces Buffy Sainte-Marie – as Alan Waters Humanitarian Award winner – JUNO2017

Here is the video – presentation starts at 3:27:28-

Bruce Cockburn presenting Buffy Sainte-MarieHumanitarian award JUNO - photo Alan Neal
Bruce Cockburn presenting Buffy Sainte-Marie with Alan Waters Humanitarian Award – JUNO 2017- photo Alan Neal
Bruce Cockburn presenting Buffy Sainte-Marie Humanitarian award JUNO 2017 - photo Alan Neal
Bruce Cockburn presenting Buffy Sainte-Marie with Alan Waters Humanitarian Award – JUNO 2017 – photo Alan Neal
Colin Linden - Buffy Sainte-Marie - Bruce Cockburn - JUNO 2017 - photo -True North Records
Colin Linden – Buffy Sainte-Marie – Bruce Cockburn – JUNO 2017 – photo – True North Records

Bruce Cockburn Announces North American Tour

Bruce Cockburn - Bone On Bone - tour dates

Bruce Cockburn Is embarking on a tour of North America.

All of the dates from September 15, 2017 to February 17, 2018 will be “band” shows and all the dates before September will be “solo” shows.

Bruce’s band shows will consist of a quartette with drummer Gary Craig, bassist John Dymond and accordionist John Aaron Cockburn.

All 3 or them are featured on Bruce’s new True North album ‘Bone On Bone” slated for release September 15, 2017.

And for the record, John Aaron is Bruce’s nephew.

There are likely to be other dates added after February 2018.

Access the Tour Dates.




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