Bruce Cockburn - March 2019 - Firehouse SF - keebler
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A salute to Bruce Cockburn on his 75th birthday

by Paul Corby
May 27, 2020

Bruce Cockburn photo collage

Today, as Bruce Cockburn reaches his 75th year, we can rejoice that he is still a stealer of fire, dancing his sunwheel dance in the falling dark of the dragon’s jaws. Roots Music Canada joins the rest of the world in celebrating his birthday, his music, his Junos, his doctorates, his investiture into the Order of Canada, his inductions into numerous musical Halls of Fame, his redemptive presence as a cosmic troubadour in Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren & The Shack by William P. Young, his performances on Saturday Night Live and at Pete Seeger’s birthday party, and his perilous witness, from the front lines of fear, at scenes of political violence around the globe.

Examine his talents. How much faceting can one diamond sustain? Lyrical master of specifically Canadian imagery, startlingly complex guitar explorer, bold mystic with Christian / Taoist / Buddhist / Sufi sleeves proudly spread, one of the original bilingual folk singers (ses textes ont été imprimés en français depuis l’époque de Trudeau), international peace-seeker, singer of both delicacy and urgency, shy public figure, punky Gemini, outspoken political critic and beacon, muscular ecologist, memoirist (Rumours Of Glory, 2014), gentleman feminist, and member of the all-star Canadian chorus, the Northern Lights, that rose up to roar out the crucial ”Let’s show ‘em Canada still cares!” line on the African famine relief anthem “Tears Are Not Enough.”

Bruce is waiting out this current deterioration of normal at home in San Francisco, “quite a lot busier than what used to be normal,” he reported, “(fathering), listening and reading: Fernando Pessoa’s novel The Book of Disquiet, William Gibson’s Agency, and poetry by Charles Bukowski, Joan Logghe and Wislawa Szymborska. For music, it’s pretty random. Recent listens include YouTube videos of David Russell’s stunning guitar playing as well as various performances by Voces8, Charles Mingus’ Tijuana Moods (an old favorite), the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, and Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht.”

In honour of this birthday, one of Bruce’s first musical friends who celebrated his own 75th in March,, Sneezy Waters, recalled the beginning stages of his journey, saying “When I failed Grade 12 (from too much folly) my parents thought it would be a good idea to switch schools and buckle down. So at Nepean H.S. I ran into Bruce. He told me he played guitar, so I brought my Martin to school one day, and after school we went over to his house to jam. He brought out his guitar, which was a big Gibson hollow-body, just like Wes Montgomery played, and a lovely Ampeg jazz amp. He played so well but wasn’t the least [bit] boastful. He also loved Grant Green’s playing. We really had a good time and arranged many more jams.

“We eventually formed a band called The Children, along with my friends Nev Wells, Sandy Crawley and Chris Anderson. He played some keyboards for us and also played a 12-string, along with a Telecaster.

He was writing back then and encouraging the rest of us to write songs.

The rest, for both of us, is history.”

Fellow musician Ian Tamblyn, who worked with him on 2008’s Dancing Alone: The Songs of William Hawkins, remarked on Bruce’s “composure and openness” in the studio. He also had the honour, in 2014, of presenting Bruce with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at Carlton University for his work in environmental, First Nations and social causes. In his presentation, Ian noted that “Bruce has had three overriding themes in his work: his great spiritual search, his dedicated call for social justice in the world, and his articulation of the collision of human relationships in these dangerous times.” He continued, “Bruce Cockburn has been both bold and courageous, whether it be in his work with Lloyd Axworthy to end the use of land mines, his environmental work with David Suzuki and Greenpeace, his work on behalf of the Unitarian Service, or his demands for democratic and environmental rights in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mozambique or Mali.”

His outstanding personal qualities have kept him rooted in long-lasting friendships. Publicist Jane Harbury, who has been buddies with him since their days together at Toronto’s fabled Riverboat, respects him for being always “funny, smart and gracious.” She elaborated: “He doesn’t change on a personal level. He has an ability to make people want to love him. And he remembers everything.” She recalled him best, “coming in the back door of the club in a fluffy old hat with his big dog Aroo.”

Illustrator Michael Wrycraft, who has designed the last nine of Bruce’s album covers, revealed that, “although he comes across as serious, Bruce is actually very light-hearted. Once you get past his professional presence, you find out he has a great laugh.” Their creative collaboration in bringing the unique visuals that accompany every new record together is consistently stress-free (with the exception of the altered American cover of You’ve Never Seen Everything, “which the record company thought looked like speed metal, or the devil.”). Of Bruce’s part in the process, Michael confided, “He plants a germ, a tiny seed of an idea, usually drawn from the album title; and after extensive chat, I come back with the work, and he says “That’s great!” Bruce’s loyalty to Michael’s vision has now stretched over 21 years. Manager Bernie Finkelstein has guided his career for over 50 years now, based upon a handshake.

Michael Reinhart is a composer/singer-songwriter and visual artist who has released five albums, the most recent being eCHO. He lives and works in both Montréal, QC and Edmonton, AB. Recently he’s been creating several new instrumental guitar pieces. He has been a Cockburn fan since his teens. “I loved that on those seminal albums, with so many instrumentals featured, above all I could hear the rich wood tone of the guitar, moreso than the metal of the strings, an analogue sound I still aspire to myself. I’ve never been much interested in doing cover versions, but among the few that I have attempted, ‘Foxglove’ was one that, despite the initial frustrations and physical pain involved, was invaluable to my finding my own way, my own style, my own sound.”

Michael has composed a gamboling birthday air to pay tribute to his musical mentor —

On behalf of all of his friends and fans at Roots Music Canada, we would like to say “Steady on Mr. C., and well done.”

A recent release, Bruce Cockburn – True North – 50th Anniversary Box Set with five LPs became available this month.

Credit: www.rootsmusic.ca/2020/05/27/a-salute-to-bruce-cockburn-on-his-75th-birthday


Bruce Cockburn and True North Records are excited to announce Bruce Cockburn’s ‘True North- A 50th Anniversary Box Set’

4 May 2020 – TORONTO, ON, May 4, 2020 — To be active and relevant in music for 50 years is a significant achievement for any individual recording artist. The same can be said for any independent record label. To achieve this milestone together as an artist and label team without interruption, has to be one of the most extraordinarily rare events in music.

Bruce Cockburn -True North - 50th Anniversay - vinyl box set

To celebrate this milestone, Bruce Cockburn and True North Records have produced True North – A 50th Anniversary Box Set, a Limited Edition vinyl box set containing three of Bruce’s most significant recordings. The first album where it all started, the self-titled debut Bruce Cockburn along with two albums that have never before been released on vinyl; The Charity of Night and Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu. Each album has been re-mastered by Bruce’s long-time producer Colin Linden, and is pressed on coloured vinyl. The five-180 gram discs are contained in original artwork sleeves adapted from the original designs by the acclaimed graphic designer Michael Wrycraft, and housed in an individually numbered box signed personally by the artist. There will be only a limited initial pressing.

Bruce Cockburn was the first artist signed to True North Records, the tenacious independent label founded by Bruce’s manager Bernie Finkelstein and first operated from a Yorkville Avenue phone booth. Bruce’s debut self titled album was the label’s first album release on April 7, 1970, produced by Eugene Martynec, with the catalog number TN1. Fifty years on, Bruce Cockburn still records for True North Records, which released his 34th album “Crowing Ignites” in late 2019.

Bruce says, “In 1969, when I was feeling the need to record an album of the songs I’d been writing, I had no concept of what that might lead to. In some organic way it felt like it was time. The future wasn’t really an issue. It still isn’t. For each of us, there’s a future or there isn’t. “But looking back over the arc of 50 years of recording, performing, and travel, not to mention relationships and personal challenges,” he continued, “I can only shake my head and mutter a word of thanks for all of it.”

Cockburn concluded: “Even if I’d been a planner by nature, I doubt I could have predicted how things have gone… and they’re still going!”

Pre-order your copy now! Limited Edition, Numbered Albums available! A limited number of True North – A 50th Anniversary Box Sets are being produced. All orders will be shipped to arrive on September 25th, 2020 . Lowest box numbers will be assigned to the earliest orders.

Cockburn has also scheduled fall tour dates celebrating the 50th Anniversary.
Additional updates and ticket information can be found through the official Bruce Cockburn website and the complete list of tour dates is below.

Although Mr. Finkelstein sold True North Records to entrepreneurs Geoff Kulawick, Harvey Glatt and Michael Pilon in 2007, True North continues to be a vital independent label signing and releasing records by Bruce alongside many of Canada’s leading singer-songwriters and musicians including Buffy Sainte-Marie, Murray McLauchlan, Matt Andersen, Colin James, Sass Jordan, Sue Foley, Natalie MacMaster and Jimmy Rankin.

Bruce Cockburn: True North – A 50th Anniversary Box Set – TND750 – Bruce Cockburn (LP) | A Charity of Night (2LP) | Breakfast In New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu (2LP) – 5 x 180 Gram Colored Vinyl Discs original artwork sleeves.

Bruce Cockburn 2020 anniversary Tour Dates.

~from True North Records.


Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Group of Seven

24 April 2020 – Join us on May 7 at 2 pm (2 to 3:30 pm) for a virtual presentation celebrating the centenary of the Group’s founding with Ian Dejardin, Executive Director of the McMichael and curator of the exhibition “A Like Vision”: The Group of Seven at 100.

Followed by a special musical performance by Bruce Cockburn.

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

Please register below through Zoom and you will be sent a link to the event on Zoom in advance. You do not need any special equipment to participate. Simply click the link that is provided in your confirmation email from your computer, tablet or smartphone to access the presentation on the day of the event. The presentation is password protected so you will also need to enter the password found in the confirmation email.

https://mcmichael.com/event/g7virtualtalk/

Bernie Finkelstein: Bruce will be doing a song which we will keep as a surprise but its not one that you hear him do too often.

He will also be providing the gallery with an essay on Tom Thompson who actually is not a member of the Group of Seven but was their biggest influence. This essay will be part of a book the gallery is preparing but at this time I don’t know when it will be released. The book will have several essays from famous Canadians who are familiar with the Group of Seven and Tom Thompson. You might recall that Bruce played and wrote the Mount Lefroy Waltz for a display of guitars built by luthiers, *his was built by Linda Manzer, inspired by the Group. The version Bruce gave to the gallery for the show was solo but the song as you know it is on Crowing Ignites with a pretty cool little band. ~Bernie Finkelstein


Bruce Cockburn: Life during isolation and social distancing

18 April 2020 – In recent days, I have posed this question via email to a handful of creative artists and citizens of note:

“During this time of social distancing and isolation at home, what are examples of the music you are listening to, the books you are reading, and/or the television or films you are viewing?” (If you wish, please feel free to also share your thoughts on the effects this isolation is having on your creativity or on your world).

This edition features the email response of recording artist Bruce Cockburn.

You might think, in this time of isolation, that there would be an opportunity for catching up on all sorts of things: household tasks that we’ve been putting off, books waiting to be read, etc, but for me the reality is that with my wife teleworking and my 8-year-old “teleschooling” and having ZOOM play dates, and all of us together 24/7, I’m quite a lot busier than what used to be normal. That said, I have been listening and reading: Fernando Pessoa’s novel The Book of Disquiet, William Gibson’s Agency, poetry by Charles Bukowski, Joan Logghe and Wislawa Szymborska. For music, it’s pretty random. Recent listens include YouTube videos of David Russell’s stunning guitar playing as well as various performances by Voces8, Charles Mingus’ Tijuana Moods (an old favorite), the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, and Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht..I haven’t watched any TV. That’s something I mostly do in hotel rooms. My daughter and I watched the second Smurfs movie the other day, which I love!

We are lucky in that my wife is still working. I feel for the baristas and waiters and cab drivers and everyone who depends on being able to move around and congregate for work. There’s an undercurrent of worry we all feel. My daughter feels some stress that gives her trouble getting to sleep sometimes. I feel somewhat fatalistic about COVID-19 with respect to myself.

I suppose each of us has to find whatever ways we can to put our “house arrest” to good use, even if it’s only resting, which a lot of us probably need. After a month, it still feels like a novelty. The challenge of coming up with creative ideas of how to pass the time, maintain friendships and acquire toilet paper is still kind of entertaining in itself. I’m not sure that will remain true if we have to live like this for too long.

~from jerryjazzmusician.com


Tour Dates re-booked

Hello everyone,
So as most of you would have figured out by now all of the late April through May shows have been cancelled. [Due to COVID-19] — That’s the bad news but the good news is that most those same shows have been re-booked for late October and November. Take a look and you’ll see the new schedule.

Those of you that have tickets for any of the shows listed here will be able to use those tickets for the upcoming shows however if you can’t come to the new date or have any other questions, just get in touch with your local contact where you bought your ticket and you’ll get a refund or answers to your questions.

We’re sorry that we weren’t able to re-book all of the shows but will be trying very hard to get back to those places we’ll be missing as soon as possible. Often the reason that we couldn’t get back to each place was due to venue availability or routing problems. The important thing is that we all stay healthy and well and with luck we’ll see you in the fall. ~Bernie Finkelstein



Pacing The Cage documentary on Canadian TV

Bruce’s feature length doc “Pacing The Cage” debuts on Canadian TV tonight. This is the same version that is on the DVD but has never been screened on TV before as the original as seen of Vision was only around 47 minutes long and this version is around 1 hour and 6 minutes.

Pacing The Cage documentary tv screening

MAR 04 2020 7:45 PM ON HS00
MAR 05 2020 5:00 AM ON HS00
MAR 05 2020 4:00 PM ON HS00

The direct link to the film page on our site is:

Pacing The Cage


Bruce Cockburn 50th Anniversary !!

Bruce Cockburn's 50th Anniversary concertsIs it really fifty years ago that Bruce Cockburn’s first album came out ?

Indeed it is. His eponymous titled album which included “Going To The Country” and “Musical Friends” was released on April 7, 1970. Coincidentally it was also the first album released by True North records. TN 1 was it’s catalogue number.

Although mostly recorded in late 1969 the first album hit the stores and airwaves in 1970 and started the long long journey that continues to this day.

Here’s what Bruce has to say:

“In 1969, when I was feeling the need to record an album of the songs I’d been writing, I had no concept of what that might lead to. Not unusual for a young person I guess. In some organic way it felt like it was time. The future wasn’t really an issue. It still isn’t. For each of us, there’s a future or there isn’t. But looking back over the arc of fifty years of recording, performing, and travel, not to mention relationships and personal challenges, I can only shake my head and mutter a word of thanks for all of it. Even if I’d been a planner by nature, I doubt I could have predicted how things have gone. And they’re still going!”

Bruce has now released 34 albums and played thousands of concerts around the world, something that he continues to do to this day.

Bruce’s songs have been covered by many artists including Jimmy Buffet, kd Lang, Barenaked Ladies, Hawksley Workman, Jerry Garcia, Anne Murray, Elbow, Mary Balin, Judy Collins, Chet Atkins, The Rankin Family, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, and on and on.

The 50th Anniversary Shows will have Bruce doing songs from each decade that he’s made records in: 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s, 2010,s and who knows, maybe even the 2020’s!

UPDATE: All these dates have been cancelled or re-booked. Please take a look here to check your tickets.

APR 10 STANFORD CA BING CONCERT HALL
APR 30 NORTHAMPTON MA ACADEMY OF MUSIC
MAY 1 BOSTON MA WILBUR THEATRE
MAY 2 BOOTHBAY HARBOR ME FLYING MONKEY CENTRE
MAY 3 PLYMOUTH NH BAILEY THEATRE
MAY 5 BURLINGTON VT HIGHER GROUND
MAY 7 FAIRFIELD CT STAGE ONE
MAY 8 FALL RIVER MA NARROW CENTER
MAY 9 NEWTON NJ NEWTON THEATRE
MAY 11 ANNAPOLIS MD RAM’S HEAD
MAY 12 ROCKY MOUNT VA HARVESTER CENTER
MAY 14 RALEIGH NC FLETCHER OPERA HOUSE
MAY 15 CHARLOTTE NC McGLOHON THEATRE
MAY 16 CHATTANOOGA TN SONGBIRD
MAY 17 ATLANTA GA CITY WINERY
MAY 20 PONTE VEDRA FL CONCERT HALL
MAY 21 CLEARWATER FL CAPITOL THEATRE
MAY 22 FT. LAUDERDALE FL BROWARD CENTER
MAY 24 KEY WEST FL KEY WEST THEATRE
SEP 4 TORONTO ON CNE BANDSHELL
OCT 16 PETERBOROUGH ON SHOWPLACE
OCT 17 OTTAWA ON NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE
OCT 18 BELLEVILLE ON EMPIRE THEATRE
OCT 20 KINGSTON ON ISABEL BADER CENTRE

Check for Tour Dates to be posted soon.

For More Information Please Contact:

Bernie Finkelstein 416-402-9937

bernie@finkelsteinmanagement.com


Bruce Cockburn article – interview by Mark Dunn

Iconic songwriter releases a haunting, masterful second instrumental
album.

Interview with Bruce Cockburn from a recent issue of the mighty Penguin Eggs Magazine. Bruce gives his usual articulate answers to my half-baked questions, offers insight into the acoustic guitar cutaway/full bout debate, and names some guitarists who have impressed him. ~ by Mark Dunn

Interview by Mark Dunn - 14 August 2019

Bruce Cockburn: A Journey Celebrated in Music

Bruce Cockburn views time as his most precious currency. The 74-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter intends to spend well what he has left, his role models being aging musicians such as John Lee Hooker (1917-2001) and Mississippi John Hurt (1892-1966), bluesmen who played their harps until their lips trickled blood, and strummed and pined through their last shaft of sunlight.

“In the context of contemplating retirement, I admire the old blues guys who never stopped working until they dropped,” says Cockburn. “That’s what I fully expect to be doing myself.”

Most of those blue legends kept playing out of financial necessity, of course, but they also loved what they did. “Growing old gracefully, I’ve learned, is much different than simply keeping going,” explains Cockburn. “We either die or we get old – those are the choices. At this point, I’ll choose growing old, and I’ll choose getting better as a musician, and as a human being.”

Over five decades, Cockburn, whose music has been formed by political dissent, religion, romance, and spiritual awakening, has released 34 albums over his lengthy career. He stresses that his work has experienced a large resurgence, now that he himself in his 70s, a period in life when many other people his age are shutting down the store, and segueing from living to passing away.

Indeed, a conversation with Cockburn isn’t merely a chronological recap of his life; it’s a vivacious discussion about today and tomorrow and the viaduct that links the two. It’s all about his willingness to explore new fields as an artist and as a human. His interaction with his fans, he says, has matured in novel ways in recent years. Up until a few years ago, he had resisted greeting audiences, or signing autographs following shows. Now all that is something he commonly does – and something he enjoys.

“There’s an element of unreality to those encounters,” says Cockburn. “When you are on stage, by default, you are larger than life, and that’s a distortion. If you stick around long enough to converse with people, it gets better and more interesting.

“I now have a multi-generational fan base, including kids who were raised on my stuff, among other things. These are people who’ve hung in there all these years, and now they’ve brought their own kids; what kind of huge compliment is that? The alternative is watching the audience turn into skeletons attached to the walls with cobwebs.”

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