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The Cockburn Project
is a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The central focus of the Project is the ongoing archiving of Cockburn's self-commentary on his songs, albums, and issues. You will also find news, tour dates, an online store, and other current information.
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7 August 2014 -“I felt Bruce was making a special record and we wanted a special cover” says manager Bernie Finkelstein about the process of choosing the artwork for Bruce Cockburn’s 1976 album In the Falling Dark.
When all was said and done, two striking photos were chosen – both by skilled and renowned photographers. The front cover, a stark black and white portrait of Cockburn, was shot for the album by graphic designer, artist, and award winning photographer Arnaud Maggs. The back cover was an impressionistic, evocative highway sunset photo by “the father of Canadian photojournalism”, Ted Grant.
Bruce Cockburn had released six albums by this time, all notable for the care and thought put into their packaging and artwork. In most cases, such as with High Winds White Sky’s snowscape scene and Night Vision’s “Horse and Train” painting by Alex Colville, the cover art perfectly matched the mood of the music within.
Designer Bart Schoales worked on many of Cockburn’s albums and says “Each album was decided more or less intuitively with a high degree of conversation. Covers with True North would mean a number of drawings of mocked up versions of the design, proceeding to photography and then to the production layouts, type renderings, etc. This whole process seemed always to take about 35 days no matter what. Very definitely different from the current digital approach. Each step involved proofs, colour tests of the separation, and each other type of proof, and then overseeing the print run to make certain it was correct. All-in-all time consuming, but then the vinyl with packaging was expensive to produce. However, it allowed a large array of possibilities.”
Finkelstein adds “I think we all felt it was time for a close-up shot of Bruce to be on the cover as he had only been on High Winds White Sky (very small) and Sunwheel Dance (very shaded.) I remember how glad we were to have Arnaud shoot the cover for us.” Maggs was early in his career as an art photographer, but had already been very successful in the graphic design and commercial fashion photography world. A lifelong lover of jazz, he’d even designed the original cover for the famous 1953 album Jazz at Massey Hall.
At first glance, the portrait of Cockburn on In the Falling Dark doesn’t seem particularly remarkable. It’s a memorable image, though, and in the end that’s the mark of a well-executed shot. Cockburn looks at the camera with a steady gaze, conveying an honesty as well as a certain mellow intensity. He seems to be saying “I’m a casual guy, but also a serious artist.” The portrait was intended to front an album that was, in a sense, a reintroduction of Cockburn as well as a statement that said this was something new and different for the artist – a “this is me now” collection of songs. It would be his first record to be issued in the U.S. since 1972, plus True North knew they had what was perhaps the strongest album of Cockburn’s career to that point.
As the decision wasn’t made to feature a portrait on the front cover until this album, there’s a good chance the back cover photo would have been used for the front instead if it was a year or two earlier. Ted Grant’s photo is a perfect match to the album’s title, as darkness begins to fall with the sun’s descent behind the distant mountains. The photo is moody, full of late afternoon solar-soaked contrast and deep, varied shades of gray and black. It also ties in with the record’s “Silver Wheels”, a song about highway travelling. Schoales, Finkelstein, and Cockburn thought the photo was so appropriate that they also used a cropped close-up of it on the inside of the original vinyl gatefold album.
The picture was actually taken 10 years earlier when Grant was on a job. “I was on assignment for the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada’s ‘Still Photography Division’, shooting a documentary on ranching in Alberta” he recalls. “It was a sunset as I drove west from Edmonton [on Hwy. 16] and came over a rise in the highway looking west. The scene is flat prairie open to the mountains and this brought me to a quick off-highway stop and out with the cameras. Since the time of shooting this scene, I have driven the highway a couple of times. And going west I always watch for the view. However, time changes all things and I’ve never seen it look as beautiful and magnificent as it looks in the original photograph.”
It’s possible that Cockburn first saw the photo when it was part of a 1969 NFB photography/poetry exhibit called “Seeds of the Spacefields” which featured poems by his friend and occasional writing partner, Penelope Schafer.
Due to the nature of Grant’s freelance work, he wasn’t always aware of where his pictures ended up being licensed and they sometimes wound up being used years later, as in this case. He remembers how he found out about that particular shot’s use on In the Falling Dark: “I’m in a music store and ‘Hey that’s my picture on that album!’ And sure enough, ‘Hey that’s my sunset shot when I was driving toward Jasper! WOWIE, and a Bruce Cockburn album! Alright!!’” He continues, “Some years ago Bruce was doing a show in Ottawa when I and my family lived there and I introduced myself to him that I was the photographer who took that photo. He? ‘Thank you, great shot!’”
Grant, 85 years old now, has been recently receiving some much-deserved recognition for his long and varied career, as the subject of a retrospective exhibition, documentary, and an illustrated biography (Ted Grant: Sixty Years of Legendary Photojournalism) published last year.
Arnaud Maggs died in 2012, but not before a critically acclaimed documentary love story about his marriage to artist Spring Hurlbut and a large overview exhibition honored his work.
In the Falling Dark would be Cockburn’s biggest album thus far and the first to chart in the U.S. Well reviewed at the time and since, The Allmusic Guide notes the album “marked his emergence as an important artist.” At the time his most band-oriented album, it also found him about to make a musical transition when some cuts on his following studio album, Further Adventures Of, started taking things in a more rock direction. Falling Dark’s combination of Maggs’ photo – portraying Cockburn in an image addressing his audience directly, and Grant’s – which gave a visual accompaniment to the album title, have now become inseparable from the music.
(Thanks to Bernie Finkelstein, Ted Grant, and Bart Schoales for information and reminiscences)~ from Music To Eat, written by Rob Caldwell.
27 July 2014 - So by now you may have heard of David Suzuki's National Blue Dot Tour. I'm proud to say that Bruce Cockburn will be joining David in Concert in Edmonton at the Winspear Theatre on October 28. This won't be the first time Bruce has been involved in a show with David as about 10 years ago or perhaps even longer, they did a show together in Ottawa. The Blue Dot tour has an incredible number of great Canadian artists playing in different cities along the way including Neil Young, Feist, The Barenaked Ladies and Jim Cuddy. Check your local market to see who's playing in your hometown or a town near you. Also attached is a postcard that will alllow to join the Blue Dot Movement and find out more about the event. ~ Bernie Finkelstein
July 24, 2014 - VANCOUVER - Beloved environmentalist David Suzuki has announced plans to tour Canada — with support from high-profile pals including author Margaret Atwood, painter Robert Bateman and musicians Bruce Cockburn, Feist, Jim Cuddy and Neil Young.
Organizers say The Blue Dot Tour could "possibly" by Suzuki's final national speaking tour.
It's set to visit 20 communities from St. John's to Vancouver between Sept. 24 and Nov. 9.
The tour is expected to combine concerts with community events.
As the longtime host of CBC's "The Nature of Things," Suzuki has developed a rabid following, along with a knack for explaining complex scientific concepts to Canadians in plainspoken language.
Trained as a geneticist, the Vancouver-based scientists has written 52 books and holds 25 honorary degress.
"This is the most important thing I've ever done," Suzuki said of the tour. "I am so honoured that these incredible Canadians are joining me to celebrate the simple yet powerful idea that all Canadians should have the right to drink clean water, breathe fresh air and eat healthy food."
Others expected to take the stage during The Blue Dot Tour include Emily Haines from Metric, Jenn Grant, Chantal Kreviazuk, Joel Plaskett and children's performer Raffi.
"All of these incredible Canadian performers, leaders and icons are joining David Suzuki because they share his commitment to protecting the people and places we love," said Michiah Prull of the David Suzuki Foundation.
~from The Canadian Press - David Suzuki launches speaking tour..
27 July 2014 - Bruce Cockburn on The Andy Ridenour Show
Legendary Canadian folk singer Bruce Cockburn joins host Andy Ridenour for a live in-studio performance on Thursday, August 21 at noon ET.
9 July 2014 - Bruce Cockburn - After the Rain - Shank Hall, Milw. WI Jul 9, 2014
There are a lot of other videos from this show, follow the links on YouTube.
27 July 2014 - Bruce Cockburn: Canadian Music Icon, Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, Order of Canada inductee, winner of 13 Juno Awards and most recently, Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award honouree during Canadian Music Week 2014. Canadian Music Week was honoured to have Bruce Cockburn as a Celebrity Interview on Friday May 9th 2014, at the Toronto Marriot Hotel as part of the 2014 Music Summit. The interview, conducted by respected Toronto concert promoter Elliot Lefko, displays the historical significance of Bruce's career, beginning in the coffee houses of 1960's Yorkville and the forming of Bernie Finkelstein's True North Records , blossoming into the Songwriter/Activist respected internationally today.
The convivial talk between Elliot and Bruce covers such diverse topics as childhood in Ottawa, early exposure to World Music at Mariposa, and the quintessentially Canadian touring stories.direct link
13 July 2014 - Article / Interview online in http://www.bizxmagazine.com/issues/July-August-2014/#p=18.
16 July 2014 - PARRY SOUND - Bruce Cockburn is coming to the Charles W. Stockey Centre on August 18.
The veteran Canadian artist will perform from his latest record, Small Source of Comfort.
Small Source of Comfort, Cockburn’s 31st album, is his latest adventurous collection of songs of romance, protest and spiritual discovery.
The album, primarily acoustic yet rhythmically savvy, is rich in Cockburn’s characteristic blend of folk, blues, jazz and rock. As usual, many of the new compositions come from his travels and spending time in places like San Francisco and Brooklyn to the Canadian Forces base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, jotting down his typically detailed observations about the human experience.
One of Canada’s finest artists, Cockburn has enjoyed an illustrious career shaped by politics, spirituality, and musical diversity.
His remarkable journey has seen him embrace folk, jazz, rock, and world beat styles while travelling to such far-flung places as Guatemala, Mali, Mozambique, and Nepal, and writing memorable songs about his ever-expanding world of wonders.
“My job,” he explains, “is to try and trap the spirit of things in the scratches of pen on paper and the pulling of notes out of metal.”
That scratching and pulling has earned Cockburn high praise as an exceptional songwriter and a revered guitarist. His songs of romance, protest, and spiritual discovery are among the best to have emerged from Canada over the last 40 years.
His guitar playing, both acoustic and electric, has placed him in the company of the world’s top instrumentalists.
Throughout his career, Cockburn has deftly captured the joy, pain, fear, and faith of human experience in song.
Whether singing about retreating to the country or going up against chaos, tackling imperialist lies or embracing ecclesiastical truths, he has always expressed a tough yet hopeful stance: to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight. “We can’t settle for things as they are,” he once warned. “If you don’t tackle the problems, they’re going to get worse.”
But he never rests on his laurels. “I’d rather think about what I’m going to do next,” says Cockburn. “My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stop working till they drop, as I fully expect to be doing, and just getting better as musicians and as human beings.”
His commitment to growth has made Cockburn both an exemplary citizen and a legendary artist whose prized songbook will be celebrated for many years to come.
The performance is presented by Haljoe Coach Get Off the Bus Concerts, with all concerts raising money to benefit the West Parry Sound Health Centre.
~ from Bruce Cockburn performs in Parry Sound August 18, 2014.Parry Sound North Star.
16 July 2014 -
Fusion Festival -- July 19-20 | Holland Park (Surrey)
Vancouver Folk Music Festival -- July 18-20 | Jericho Beach Park (Vancouver)
There is a somewhat delicious irony in the fact that Canadian folk-rock veteran Bruce Cockburn and folk legend Joan Baez will be in the Vancouver area on the same day July 19, yet they will perform on two very different — and distant — stages.
Cockburn will be in Surrey performing a headlining set at Surrey’s Fusion Festival, while Baez will be at Jericho Beach Park serenading the Vancouver Folk Music Festival crowd.
The two could have easily been paired, especially considering Baez is also performing an afternoon workshop in honour of late folk troubadour Pete Seeger, a man both Baez and Cockburn celebrated at a huge 90th birthday bash at Madison Square Garden in 2009.
“I didn’t pay much attention to her back in the day,” Cockburn said in a recent phone interview. “She was a famous person with a good voice and she had good taste in songs, but I was more interested in the songwriter people than the performers. I wasn’t very well versed in the lore of Joan Baez when I first met her.”
Cockburn’s first encounter with Baez happened somewhere in the mid ’80s at a protest concert of some sort in Santa Barbara, California, as he recalled.
“It might have been a pro-choice rally, or something about South America,” Cockburn said.
At the time, Cockburn was making waves with his album Stealing Fire, his 1984 cornerstone that included two of his most famous songs: Lovers In A Dangerous Time, and If I Had A Rocket Launcher, Cockburn’s heavily political song which he penned after visiting Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico set up after the counter-insurgency campaign by then Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt.
In the song, which Cockburn has stated is not meant to be a violent call to arms but a cry for help, he sings, “If I had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would die.”
“The song had been around for a bit, but it was still relatively new,” Cockburn explained. “Her audience disapproved of it exceedingly because they thought it was some kind of war song. People had been with me until that point and then you could just feel — nobody booed it, but there was a real kind of tension in the audience.”
Baez’s pedigree as an antiwar protester is well-known.
A fixture of the ’60s counterculture scene, Baez was deeply involved in the American Civil Rights movement. Now 73, she helped found the U.S. chapter of Amnesty International in the 1970s. In recent years she has been involved in environmental causes, the fight for equal rights for gays and lesbians, and in protesting the war in Iraq.
A close friend of Bob Dylan, she helped bring him to fame. She covered myriad artists as an interpreter, and has been celebrated for her quivering, emotionally charged delivery.
Unfortunately, Baez was not available for an interview for this story.
“I think she’s gotten better over time,” Cockburn said, adding that she was a good person to help celebrate Pete Seeger’s life at the workshop held by the Folk Fest mid-day Saturday with Texas rocker Alejandro Escovedo and a handful of other artists.
“The 90th anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden was an incredible day,” Cockburn added. “There were 60 artists on that bill. It was a very long day. But the place was packed and the feeling was really positive.”
Cockburn has been revisiting many of the important moments in his career in recent years.
There was the documentary entitled Pacing The Cage released in 2012, documenting the recording of his 2009 live album Slice O’ Life.
More recently, Cockburn, now 69, has laid low and stayed mostly away from songwriting while collecting his memoirs (up to 2004) for a book to be titled Rumours Of Glory that will be published by Harper Collins in the fall of 2014.
Though he has little new material, Cockburn said he was looking forward to headlining Fusion Fest on Saturday.
The event regularly attracts over 100,000 people to Holland Park, where international food, art and music is on display. Other performers this year include Vancouver pop-rockers Hey Ocean!, blues rockers No Sinner, and Australia’s Ash Grunwald.
“We’ve had other offers over the years but this one came at the right time — and by ‘time’ I mean my own age,” Cockburn said. “I’m at the point in my life where writing a memoir is a meaningful thing. Even 10 years ago it would have been too soon. Hopefully, it will appear as something meaningful to people.”
The book, co-written by friend and California-based journalist Greg King, will dig deep in the life of a man who has won numerous Juno Awards, was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2001, and has been covered and celebrated by more than 400 artists including, most notably, U2’s Bono, who is one of Cockburn’s biggest fans.
It will also give a glimpse into Cockburn’s deep political and spiritual thoughts as well as illuminate the origins of some of his most well-known material.
“The easiest thing to deal with was childhood and early life,” Cockburn said. “The memories are simple. A kid’s view of the world is simple. It’s fun to write about and uncluttered. As it got into the more complex world of adulthood it got harder, and that’s when I enlisted the aid of Greg King to work on it with me because I couldn’t get back far enough from it to see how to put it together.
“There’s a lot of background material in the book. There’s a lot of explanation, of what the context was for If I Had A Rocket Launcher or the environmental stuff — there’s a lot of extraneous stuff. I think it makes it different from your standard rock ‘n’ roll memoir.”
~ from Vancouver Sun by Francois Marchand.
12 June 2014 - Carleton University today conferred a Doctor of Music, honoris causa, on Bruce Cockburn in recognition of an outstanding career in music, along with a commitment to voicing environmental, First Nations and social causes.
“Communication must become everybody’s thing,” said Cockburn. “It doesn’t matter whether you are a scientist, a journalist, a painter, a nurse, a cop or an accordion player–we have to be able to hear and see each other’s reality.”
Cockburn was honoured during Convocation for the Faculty of Engineering and Design, some of the 3,359 undergraduates and 782 graduate students receiving their degrees over four days of ceremonies.
“Being prepared has to include the notion of teamwork, of community and of mutual support,” said Cockburn. “And as valuable as this support may be in the event of a disaster, it is also vital in the day-to-day we currently move through.”
Cockburn first began playing guitar in the late 1950s as teenager, although he never studied music when he attended Ottawa’s Nepean High School. After high school, he completed three semesters at the Boston-based Berklee School of Music in the mid-1960s. He played with several bands in the ‘60s before launching his solo career in 1970 with the release of a self-titled album. More than 31 albums followed.
“Bruce Cockburn is a Ottawa native and a Canadian singing and songwriting icon whose work has become synonymous with giving voice to human rights issues and environmental causes,” said Ian Tamblyn, Carleton’s artist-in-residence.
Known for hits like Wondering Where the Lions Are, Lovers in a Dangerous Time and If I Had a Rocket Launcher, Cockburn’s fans are worldwide. As of 2013, 22 of his albums have received Canadian gold or platinum certification. He has sold nearly one million albums in Canada alone.
Cockburn has helped raise funds for food distribution programs and highlighted First Nations’ efforts to preserve the rain forests of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Cockburn’s work has been recognized with numerous awards and honours. He became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982 and was promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002. The winner of 12 Juno awards, he also received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts. He has been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
~ from Carleton University.
7 June 2014 - The intent wasn't to talk with Bruce Cockburn about Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Jean Chretien and Richard Nixon on Friday, hours before he received an honorary doctorate from Laurentian University.
The interview was to be about his 50-year career, his latest album, Small Source of Comfort, his memoir, Rumours of Glory, to be published in November, and the words of wisdom he intended to impart to graduates that afternoon.
But carefully crafted questions left at the office and an admission that encounters with heroes like Trudeau haven't always gone well prompted Cockburn, 69, to recall his own dealings with PET.
The first was in Cockburn's hometown Ottawa shortly after Trudeau was elected prime minister in 1968. The young singer-songwriter met him at a party thrown by mutual friends.
Cockburn asked Trudeau, whose Quebec lieutenant died shortly after he was elected, if the job was less exciting than he thought. Trudeau looked at him as if he were from another planet. When Cockburn's girlfriend, Kitty, whom he later married, spilled beer on Trudeau, he was gracious, though.
He next encountered Trudeau at a Winnipeg hotel where they were both staying and where the PM was being picketed by disgruntled farmers.
"I liked him. I mean he had his problems, things I disliked about his policies, but in general, I thought he was a great presence on the Canadian political scene and an interesting guy, so I sent a bottle of cognac to his room. The next thing I know, I'm in the Order of Canada."
Cockburn laughs after that anecdote, as he does frequently during a 30-minute interview in the dining room at the Holiday Inn.
Cockburn met Jean Chretien once and he said he was impressed. "He had a really great vibe in person." He liked the fact Chretien "took on that protester," referring to the incident in 1996 in which Chretien applied what became known as the "Shawinigan handshake" to a protester who got too close to him, grabbing him by the neck and shoving him down.
Cockburn admits if the protest had been about an issue he cares about deeply, such as the environment, he might feel differently.
In his speech to graduates, Cockburn intended to touch on a few issues.
"They've just spent years in a collective atmosphere and they're going to go off and ... probably are hungry to get away from that, (but) there's a lot of dark stuff looming on the horizon."
The way to respond to looming crises is with community, not with the individual, "not with every person for themselves."
He planned to make a passing reference to another theme: "The less virtual things are, the better they are ...
"You're going to get out there and get into relationships and have kids and try to have a career ... and it may not go the way you want it to and, even if it does, it's going to be tricky at times.
"We're not trained for that these days. We're trained to be doing everything with our earphones on."
It is quite a different world today's graduates are facing than when Cockburn was singing "Going to the Country" in 1970.
"It wasn't globalized, and even though there was news from everywhere and there was a war on, it didn't come home to us the way it does now."
With social media, people can say they're got a Facebook friend in Tehran, and that has a good side and bad side. While you might get to know what's going on in their part of the world, they're not really a friend.
"You're not going to be there for them when the cops come to the door, and they're not going to be there for you when you lose your job."
First, last and always, Cockburn is a singer-songwriter. He lives in San Francisco now and tours mostly in the U.S. at theatres and clubs.
He will play Northern Lights Festival Boreal this year, where he last performed in 1998.
You can't resist asking about the song "Call Me Rose" on his latest album; about Richard Nixon reincarnated as a single mother of two children living in a housing project. "I have no good answer for that ... I woke up one morning with that song in my head."
It begins: "My name was Richard Nixon only now I'm a girl. You wouldn't know it but I used to be the king of the world. Compared to last time I looked like I've hit the skids, living in the project with my two little kids. It's not what I would of chose. Now you have to call me Rose."
When he wrote it, there was an American campaign to rehabilitate Nixon's image. Cockburn recalls one pundit saying: "Richard was vastly misunderstood. In fact, he was the greatest president of the 20th century and possibly ever."
Cockburn, a Christian, says it's a song of redemption, "the idea that redemption is there, no matter who you are. You might have to pay for it ... so the price of his redemption is having to live this life of poverty and femaleness. Even then, he says at the end, 'Maybe the memoir will sell,' so he's still Tricky Dick.' "
His memoir is cowritten with journalist and friend Greg King, whom Cockburn enlisted when he got stuck around the 100-page mark when he was finding it difficult to address the complex issues of adulthood.
"It involves other people, which was a really big stumbling block for me. How do I write about other people without causing them pain, but still tell the truth?"
He admits there are people he doesn't worry about that with.
When asked if it was difficult opening up for the memoir, Cockburn says no.
"There's not very much in my life I would worry about anybody knowing. It's not like I've ever shot anybody. There's not very many secrets."
~from Sudbury Star - by firstname.lastname@example.org.
6 June 2014 - Listen here.
Live Stream from Laurentian University, ( The intro to Bruce is about 28:00 and his speech is about 34:00 )
~from CBC- Points North.
6 June 2014 - June 2nd, 2014 – Canada’s 27th Governor-General, Michaëlle Jean, and renowned singer-songwriter and activist Bruce Cockburn are among the recipients of Honourary Doctorates at Spring Convocation ceremonies at Laurentian University this year.
Bruce Cockburn, Doctorate of Letters: Winner of a Governor-General’s Performing Arts Award and 13 Juno Awards, Bruce Cockburn has released more than 30 albums over a career spanning four decades. As a folk-rock singer-songwriter, he has performed in venues around the world and continues to tour widely, while his songs have been covered by many artists, including Judy Collins, Jimmy Buffet, K. D. Lang, Chet Atkins, Maria Muldaur and Jerry Garcia. Mr. Cockburn is also renowned as a humanitarian and activist. He has served as an international representative of aid agency OXFAM and has been deeply involved with the global campaign to ban landmines, carrying out advocacy work in countries such as Mozambique and Cambodia. In 2002, Mr. Cockburn was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame for his powerful lyrics and his immense contribution to Canadian music. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Bruce being awarded his Honourary Doctorate of Letters award.
~from Laurentian University.
29 May 2014 - Bruce Cockburn has been honoured with the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award on May 7, 2014, at the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards gala in Toronto, during Canadian Music Week. Throughout his forty year-plus career, Bruce has expressed his core beliefs through his songs, philanthropy, social activism and support for humanitarian causes. This is evident in songs like "If I Had A Rocket Launcher", "Call It Democracy" and "Lovers In A Dangerous Time", his activism alongside The David Suzuki Foundation, Amnesty International, OXFAM, Friends of the Earth and others, along with his performances in aid of such groups as UNICEF, Bring Leonard Peltier Home, and Music Without Borders.
This honour, following a Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction, a Governor General's Performing Arts Award, an Order of Canada induction and 13 Juno Awards, including being named the Sustainability Ambassador for the 2013 JUNO Awards, Is an expression of the respect that Bruce has earned both nationally and internationally, as he continues to "kick at the darkness, till it bleeds daylight."
Here is the video of Bruce receiving this award and his speech .. do give it a listen.
"There's only one boat and we're all in it together."
Below is a transcription of Bruce's speech upon receiving this award. Many thanks to Joanie Jacobs for the transcription work.
BC (upon being introduced at the recipient of the Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award), Thank you very much.
*Holding up the glass trophy* , BC says : A tiny mountain or an iceberg broken off from some where. Umm.
Thank you guys for the kind words. I'm greatly honored to be the recipient of this year's Humanitarian Spirit Award. I think it's wonderful that there IS such an award, honoring the spirit of our concern for each other's well being.
That spirit is easily eclipsed by the less kindly things we humans get up to. The more we can do to nurture it the better. The honour is real. And I'm very pleased that you saw fit to think of me, to allow me the privilege of directing where the monetary part of this award should go. [Bruce gave $20,000 to USC and $10,000 to Unison]
I'm not sure I've done anything special to merit this. I think each of us has a moral responsibility to share what we can of our material and personal resources, especially those of us for whom life is less precarious than it is for many of our sisters and brothers. The world is full of pain, and anything we can do to lessen the amount of it is to the good.
When I was young, I didn't think much about it, other than to feel sorry for people going through hard times. As I traveled though, and saw up close how hard tim can be, that started to change. The human condition has a build in misery quotient, but there is often an identifiable cause and effect as well. In the developing world, I found over and over again that the economic structure that allows me to live as I do is built on the requirement that the poor live as they do.
It was a disturbing discovery. I understood that I had to make a choice between ignoring that fact and doing what I could to offset it. Ignoring it seemed just plain wrong. My parents provided me with a pretty strong moral framework.
The first time I received a sizable amount of money, it was clear that I had to share some of the bounty. I looked around for some trustworthy entity to give it to. My then mother-in-law was very close friends with a woman who a headed a charitable agency called the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada, Dr Lota Hichmonova. She was a colorful, warm and utterly committed person of great intelligence and energy. I felt I could rely on USC to put my ill-gotten gains to good use. That was in 1970. Things just kinda went on from there.
From periodic donations, my relationship with the NGO community evolved to where it included travel to some to the places where money becomes action, Central and South America, parts of Asia and Africa.
I had adventures, encounters which beget songs, which led to more travel. Now and then, I get asked what current issue I'm working on. Well, for one thing, I am not the one doing the work. I just try to say what I see. But in any case, there's really only one issue - how we treat each other and by extension, how we treat the planet that gives us life. Everything, *interrupted by applause*, Thanks, everything, all the specifics flow from that. We are under orders to love our neighbor. Can we tell ourselves we are doing that, if we stand by and watch her starve because of climate change? Or be victimized by repressive or corrupt leaders raking what they can off the system? There is only one boat and we are all in it together.
Thank you Canada Music week, thank you Slaight foundation, and thanks Canadian Radio for allowing the songs to get out to be heard. And last but not least, thanks Bernie for allowing all the extracurricular activities.
Have a good night everybody.
~ from CMW.net
13 May 2014 - The Canadian music industry gathered at Toronto’s soon-to-close Kool Haus over Canadian Music Week to honor more than 40 businesses and individuals at the 2014 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards, covering labels, agencies, management, promoters, radio, venues and retail (see full list below). Those were all announced on a screen via voiceover, while onstage time was dedicated to proper tributes for six honorees with a legacy and an impact.
Joining the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame were Attic Records founder Al Mair, musician Tom Cochrane, and Astral founder, CEO, and president Ian Greenberg, while folk music icon Bruce Cockburn received the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award and Rogers Media’s Paul Ski was given the Allan Waters Broadcast Lifetime Achievement Award. Liz Janik was selected for the Rosalie Trombley Award, celebrating women trailblazers in radio.
The evening began with a special video tribute to 81-year-old music legend Quincy Jones -- one of CMW’s celebrity interviews at the conference -- who took the stage after a rousing standing ovation to introduce his artist, 20-year-old Montrealer Nikki Yanofsky.
“The next performer is a young lady who I believe represents the next generation of female vocalists,” Jones said. “She is an accomplished singer-songwriter, performer that has shared the stage with heavyweights such as Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Celine Dion and many others, so you know that she is no joke.” He also mentioned he’s the executive producer of her just released album, "Little Secret."
Slaight Music’s Gary Slaight and artist manager Bernie Finkelstein gave out Cockburn’s humanitarian award, named after Gary’s father, Allan, who built the media empire Standard Broadcasting. The family is made up of noted philanthropists.
“I’m greatly honored to be the recipient of this year’s Humanitarian Spirit Award,” said Cockburn. “I think it’s wonderful that there is an award honoring the spirit of our concern for each other’s well being. That spirit is easily eclipsed by the last kindly thing we do and get up to. The more we nurture it the better.”
Later, he added, “I don’t know if I’ve done anything special to merit this. I think each of us has a moral responsibility to share what we can of our material and personal resources, especially those of us for whom life is less precarious than it is for many of our sisters and brothers. The world is full of pain and anything we can do to lessen the amount of it, let’s do it.”
Comedian Tom Green joined the evening in progress as the host, asking, “Is everybody drunk yet? Is everybody having fun? . . . They asked me to host this because I’ve been in the broadcast industry and the music industry. I was nominated for a Juno in 1992 [with his hip hop group Organized Rhyme]. I lost to Devon for his song ‘Keep it Slammin’.' My song was ‘Check The OR’ -- ‘You like it so far?’.”
Astral (dissolved in 2013) co-founder Ian Greenberg called his induction “a priceless honor that I accept with humility because none of my achievements over the past five decades would have been possible without the [help] of so many people. I’m proud to say that Astral was forged in the spirit of family My brothers and I started he company because we needed a way to support our family and keep our siblings together after the death of our parents. But beyond the family aspect of it, Astral became a 50-year long love affair that now goes on with Bell Media.”
Al Mair was called “one of Canada’s original tastemakers” by Six Shooter Records’ Shauna de Cartier (who inducted him), noting how he ran school dances, was a DJ, and drove a red 1964 Pontiac Acadian convertible with a 45rpm player under the dash. Mair has a career-spanning five decades in the music business, most notably as the founder in 1974 of the since-defunct Attic Records, which went on to accrue 114 gold, platinum and multi-platinum records in Canada, the U.S., Japan, the UK, and Holland.
“I wanted to thank all the staff and the artists that we worked with Attic over the 27 years of fun,” Mair said. “I also want to recognize the people who helped us get established and get rolling.” He mentioned his first partner Tom Williams, who was in attendance at the awards, and some that were not, such as Les Weinstein and the Irish Rovers, who “were shareholders from Day One” and Allan Slaight, who “put us in touch with the venture capital company that came up with the money for us to do it.”
He also took the time to thank the Music Managers Forum for naming their annual award The Brian Chater Award, after the late music executive and tireless lobbyist. “No one deserves to be honored more than Brian did for what he did for the Canadian industry,” he added.
Mair also name-checked fellow honoree Paul Ski, with whom he went to Montreal’s 1967 Expo. Ski is now CEO of radio, responsible for overseeing Rogers Media’s 55 radio stations across Canada. ? Ski had said, “It’s an incredible honour to be recognized by my industry peers. Over the past 30 years, I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the best in this business and am truly humbled to receive this prestigious award.”
Tom Cochrane -- inducted by his good friend and fellow Hall of Famer Gil Moore, of the rock trio Triumph, who called him “a celebrated musical icon” -- performed a few songs and got the industry crowd on its feet. During his acceptance speech, the singer gave special thanks to his longtime friend Deane Cameron, with whom he was in a high school band and went on to become president of EMI Music Canada and signed him; his current label president Randy Lennox of Universal Music Canada; plus Bruce Cockburn, bandmates in Red Rider, The Feldman Agency’s Vinny Cinquemani, SOCAN “for collecting,” and others. He even rattled off the old and current broadcasters, including Corus, Newcap, Rogers, CBC, Slaight Communications, Bell Media, Sirius, American broadcasters and mom & pops.
“Our passion for music is the one thing that we have in common among a lot other things, being a proud Canadians in a lot of cases. I know we have some America brothers and sisters here tonight as well . . . Without music, it would be a pretty boring world . . . No man’s an island . . . We can’t do it by ourselves as writers and singers and we all love music so much, and we want to keep it alive. We have that in common, right?’
Among the winners of the basic 2014 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards were Universal Music Canada for Major Label of the Year; Dine Alone Records for Canadian Independent Label; Eone Music Canada for Independent Distributor; Universal Music Publishing for Music Publisher; Arts & Crafts for Management Company; The Agency Group or Booking Agency; Live Nation Entertainment for Promoter.
Toronto’s Massey Hall won Performing Arts Centre (Over 1,500 Capacity), Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre was awarded Performing Arts Centre (Under 1,500 Capacity), Toronto’s Molson Canadian Amphitheatre took home Major Facility Of The Year (Over 8,000 Capacity) and there was a tie for Major Facility (Under 8,000 Capacity) between two Ontario venues, Oshawa’s GM Centre and Kingston’s K-Rock Centre.
Montreal’s Osheaga was named Festival Of The Year; Orillia’s Casino Rama Casino/Specialty Venue and Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom the Club Venue Of The Year. In the retail category, Toronto’s Rotate This won Independent Record Store Of The Year; HMV was called Mass Merchant/Retail Chain of the Year; iTunes was awarded Digital Music Retail Service and Soundcloud nabbed best Digital Music Streaming Service.
~from Billboard.com - article by Karen Bliss.
May 2014 - Canadian Music Week is pleased to announce acclaimed Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn as the 2014 recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. The award – bestowed to the singer/songwriter in recognition of his social activism and benevolent support of humanitarian interests and causes – will be presented in Toronto on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards gala held during Canadian Music Week 2014.
“My Father Allan and I have both respected Bruce Cockburn as an artist and humanist since his early coffeehouse days,” said Gary Slaight. ”His philanthropy and compassion for charitable issues is commendable and something all of us should strive to emulate – even if on a personal level. Bruce has long been deserving of such an award and recognition, and we are thrilled to see his efforts honoured this year.as the recipient of the Allan Slaight humanitarian award.”
“It seems to me that if we accept that it’s appropriate to love our neighbour, whether as people of faith or as people just trying to live well, then we all need to do whatever we can to look out for that neighbour’s welfare,” said Bruce Cockburn. ”I’m very honoured to be chosen as the recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. I hope the existence of the award will help to inspire ever greater numbers of people in the music community to throw their support behind the many ongoing efforts to make this world better.”
For more than 40 years, Bruce Cockburn has been revered as one of Canada’s most prolific singer/songwriters and advocates for human rights. His politically and socially charged lyrics have continuously brought Canada’s attention to causes around the world while his travels to such countries as Mali, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Iraq have underscored his commitment to humanitarian and environmental relief.
A social activist since the early-eighties, Cockburn has worked throughout his career alongside such groups as the USC (Unitarian Service Committee), OXFAM, Friends of the Earth, Amnesty International, The David Suzuki Foundation and numerous other advocate groups speaking out and raising awareness about landmines, famine, Third World debt, native rights, unsustainable logging, climate change and air pollution. He has been at the forefront of efforts to ban landmines, which met a resolve with the signing of a United Nations treaty banning their use in 1997, and to obtain justice for North America’s Aboriginal peoples.
Cockburn’s progressive causes and political concerns permeate his repertoire, including such tracks as “If I Had A Rocket Launcher” (inspired by a visit to Central American refugee camps on behalf of OXFAM), “Call It Democracy” (a social commentary on the devastating effects of the International Monetary Fund’s policies in Third World countries), “The Trouble With Normal” (citing labour strikes, tenant struggles and Third World subjugation), “If A Tree Falls” (calling for an end to destruction of the world’s rainforests), “Mines of Mozambique”, and “Postcards from Cambodia” (both documenting the deadly impact of anti-personnel mines). A more recent example is the powerful “Each One Lost” (stemming from a trip to war-torn Afghanistan in 2009), a mournful ode to lost soldiers that can be found on his latest album, Small Source of Comfort.
Cockburn’s activism is equally notable in his live performances, touring internationally in support of his causes. He performed at a UNICEF concert in Kosovo, the UN Summit for Climate Control in Montreal, Live 8 in Barrie, Bring Leonard Peltier Home in 2012 in New York, Child Soldiers No More in support of ending the use of child soldiers in Victoria, the 100th Anniversary of Wounded Knee in South Dakota and Music Without Borders for the United Nations Donor Alert Appeal in Toronto to name a few.
His music, along with his humanitarian work, have brought Cockburn a long list of honours, including 13 Juno Awards, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, several international awards as well as seven honourary Doctorates. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer in 2002. Last year, the Luminato festival honoured Cockburn’s extensive songbook with a tribute concert featuring such varied guests as jazz guitarist Michael Occhipinti, folk-rapper Buck 65, country rockers Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, country-folk singers Sylvia Tyson and Amelia Curran, pop artists the Barenaked Ladies and Hawksley Workman, and folk-pop trio The Wailin’ Jennys.
Earlier this year, Cockburn was named the Sustainability Ambassador for the 2013 JUNO Awards in an effort to raise public awareness about the organization’s environmental efforts in reducing their carbon footprint. An interactive exhibit dedicated to different sustainability themes featuring exhibits by Cockburn as well as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Neil Young and Sarah Harmer complemented the campaign.
Most recently, Cockburn donated a large share of his archives – including three guitars, scrapbooks, notebooks, recordings, and original song lyrics – to Hamilton’s McMaster University to be used as resource material for students and fans. Personal observations, schedules, correspondence and other meaningful memorabilia are included, offering a window into Cockburn’s imagination and creative process.
Bruce Cockburn continues to actively write and record music as well as support his humanitarian interests and causes. He will be releasing his memoir in May of 2014.
~ from CMW.net.
7 May 2014 - Cockburn is appearing in Ottawa on Saturday night as part of the Spur festival (spurfestival.ca) and on behalf of the Al Purdy A-Frame Restoration Campaign. 8 p.m., National Archives; tickets, $20. For more info on Spur click here.
These days Bruce Cockburn has settled in San Francisco. For a long-wandering troubadour, it’s a good place to land.
The climate is pretty nice and his wife and child live there too.
That doesn’t mean he’s not touring these days. In fact, the Ottawa-raised singer-songwriter is headed to his hometown in support of a poet.
There is a move afoot to restore the Ontario home of the late poet Al Purdy as a writers’ retreat. The home is in Prince Edward County.
So, Saturday night at Library and Archives Canada, Cockburn will perform in an event that is part of the Spur festival of art, culture and ideas.
“Al Purdy was a fantastic poet,” said Cockburn. “It’s just nice to be able to be part of anything that has something to do with him.”
Cockburn has a large playbook from which he can draw.
“I have more fun playing whatever is newest usually. Sometimes I have fun discovering a new way of doing an old song that’s more enjoyable. It is the case that people want to hear certain songs. They need to get some of what they want.
But you couldn’t do a show that would offer only the oldies. You have to mix it up.”
For the Purdy benefit he is just doing a few songs, he says. “I may chose wordier ones because it’s a poetry thing.”
When he thinks of the Purdy project, Cockburn is a bit envious.
“I’d love to have a retreat, but I don’t have any time to retreat anywhere.”
One reason for that is Cockburn, who turns 69 later this month, is the father of a two-year-old girl. And “she is lively.”
Cockburn remarried a few years ao and his wife is American. For a while they lived in New York, but his spouse got a job in San Francisco and the move happened. But he did spend some time commuting from the east to the west by car, no less.
“I liked the drive. I did so much driving across Canada in the ‘80s, I kind of missed it.” But eventually he made the move.
Musically Cockburn’s last album was released in 2011.
Since then he has spent most of his time touring and working on a memoir that will be released in November. He says he is doing the book now because he got an offer from a publisher that he couldn’t refuse.
“It was the right time. I’ve been approached over the years by various people who wanted to write my story and publishers who wanted me to do it but it always seemed to soon.
“Plus it seemed like my story and I didn’t want to hand it over to somebody else. It was my story to tell.”
Still it has ended up as a joint effort because he got bogged down after about 100 pages.
“I just didn’t know where to go.” So he enlisted a trusted journalist friend named Greg King.
“It was easy to write about childhood. It’s the distant past and it was simple. the memories are fewer and more concrete. But once you get into the mechanics of adulthood it gets complicated. I found it hard to sift all the information and put it in some kind of coherent fashion.
“It’s definitely my voice that you will read,” he insists.
Cockburn’s father died last year, but before that he would run things by him. “His memory was totally sharp. There are other witnesses that I can consult with. And I have my own vivid memories and this is my story.”
The memoir stops in 2004, after he returned from a trip to Baghdad.
There is a sequel, in theory, but he’s not anxious to write it.
Cockburn has been performing music but he is not writing it. The memoir has occupied that part of his creative self.
One of the things the Al Purdy folks want to do is an album of songs and Cockburn is considering taking part.
“I haven’t been writing. But I look forward to being in a position to seriously wonder if I’m going to write a song now.”
It’s not so much that his muse left, “I slammed the door. All the ideas and the space in my brain that gets those ideas is about the book.”
“My style of writing is very different from what is required for a book. You write a song, you are dealing with 30 lines. It’s finite and not very great number. The time frame it gets written in can be anything from a couple of hours to a few days. Sometimes that few days stretches over a long period. A book is concentrated over a long period.
“As it sits in my computer it is 478 pages and it’s taken time and energy to get to that.”
Memoirs prompt memories and Cockburn has been thinking about his Ottawa days.
“I dropped out of Berklee (College of Music in Boston, Mass.) at the end of 1965 and the next couple of years were with the band The Children learning to write with Bill Hawkins, which was the big benefit. I learned a lot about guitar from Sneezy Waters and Sandy Crawley and various other people but I learned about writing from Bill. That’s what got me started.”
He spends more time in the book on The Children than with the next group 3's A Crowd.
“When I joined 3's a Crowd it was not the original group with which I was acquainted. It was with David Wiffen and Richard Patterson who were left after original band broke up.
“David and Richard approached various of us to put a band together for a TV show (The band included Colleen Peterson, Sandy Crawley and Dennis Pendrith).
“I was looking for a way to go solo and this was an opportunity for a bunch of gigs that made sense to me. I took it. It lasted about six months with me in it.”
Cockburn’s family is still here, but he doesn’t get to come back and explore the changing city.
But it was that city with a smalltown feel that made him, he says.
“I think one of the things that was really notable about Ottawa when I was growing up there was how easy it was to get out of. The exposure to nature that we got as a matter of course. The family had a cottage a little west of the Gatineau on Grand Lake. And my grandfather had a farm up near Old Chelsea.”
Cockburn lived on Highland Avenue three blocks from Nepean High School, his alma mater.
“I think it was a good place to grow up for people in my situation. It was a middle-class kind of atmosphere with an emphasis on education.
The Cockburns would ski at Camp Fortune and Bruce was a competent skier, he says. After many years he picked up skiing again in the 1990s. But recently because of hs daughter, he says, he hasn’t been able to go.
His father was in the Canadian military after the Second World War and was part of the occupying force in Europe.
“I’ve always been interested in history and in military aspects of history.”
As a performer, he has been in war zones including Afghanistan, on a mission to visit the Canadian troops.
“That was the first time I’ve been in a war zone with people that I could understand, who were my people. It was great to be in an atmosphere like that from that perspective It was educational.
“Our stuff was being run well and our people were doing a good job. It wasn’t a surprise to find that was the case. It was a surprise to find how much that was the case and how professional and together and informed the Canadian soldiers I talked to were.
“They knew what they were there for, unlike the American troops that I have also met in other war zones.
“They gave you the impression that they were there because somebody made them go, they had no choice. They were cynical.
“I have had a difficult time convincing my lefty friends that this was important. This was to right a wrong … that can’t be ignored.
“I sort of agree that you can’t have a country in the world these days where people go around throwing acid in women’s faces simply because they want to learn to read. There are some cultures that don’t deserve to persist.
“There are aspects of the Afghan culture — here I am Mr. white man talking about it — the admirable traits deserve promotion and the opposite ones deserve suppression or removal.
"That’s true of us too."
"When the correction comes for us, I’m sorry I won’t be there to help my little daughter through it.”
~ from © Copyright (c) Ottawa Citizen.
22 May 2014
22 May 2014 - Junk in the Trunk: Drive’s Daily Blog for Thursday May 22
Every week, Rich Terfry looks back in our Rear-view Mirror at a great song from the good ol’ days. This week, Bruce Cockburn and "Lovers In A Dangerous Time."
Bruce Cockburn's "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" could be a song about the internet generation, but it was written twenty years before the launch of YouTube.
In the early 80s, Bruce Cockburn was living in Toronto with his young daughter, who was just starting school. One day when she was about five years old, she came home from school and explained that she was shown a pig's lung to demonstrate the dangers of smoking. Both Cockburn and his girlfriend were smokers and he says some very passionate discussion took place around the dinner table that day.
It occurred to Bruce Cockburn that kids his daughter's age were growing up a lot faster than they did when he was her age. It was the age of AIDS, environmental concerns and nuclear tensions and information was being spread faster and more graphically than ever before. The image of his daughter playing with her friends in the school yard while the world was becoming a darker place haunted Cockburn. He wanted to write a song that would send a positive, encouraging message to his daughter and her generation.
In these times - when images and stories of environmental disasters, global warming, school shootings, cyber bullying, civil wars and international conflicts circulate at light speed on the internet - "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" is more relevant and sends a message more essential now than ever.
This song was a top 30 hit in 1984 and now stands as a classic. This is "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" by Bruce Cockburn on Rear View Mirror.
~from Junk-in-the-Trunk-Drives-Daily-Blog-for-Thursday-May-22 by Rich Terfry.
21 May 2014 -
It was a hot Ottawa summer day, 1968. 23-year-old Bruce Cockburn was hanging out at the Somerset Asylum again watching a movie being filmed, co-starring his poet friend and occasional songwriting partner Penelope Schafer.
It wasn't a real asylum - merely the nickname given to the old house on historic, artsy Somerset Street where Penelope (she went by her first name only) lived with her brain research scientist husband Ted Schafer. The house received its alias due to the colorful cast of characters it attracted and the crazy things that would happen there. Being in the orbit of people like Penelope helped to create a transformative year for Cockburn that would introduce him to new experiences and further his path to becoming a solo artist.
The movie being shot that day was called The Tragic Diary of Zero the Fool and its director was a friend of the Schafers named Morley Markson. Markson was an industrial designer and photographer who had recently gotten into filmmaking. He recalls, "Penelope was a friend of Bruce's and was kind of one of the cultural centers of Ottawa. They were a very experimental couple, the Schafers, and people would come over and spend time with them and do all kinds of experimental activities."
Harvey Glatt, Bruce Cockburn's first manager and a well-loved important figure in the local music scene as a promoter, investor, and owner of the Treble Clef music store, adds "[Ted Schafer] did a lot of brain experiments at the University of Ottawa. The only time I ever did acid I was with Ted. It was most of a night and into the early morning and it was kind of treated as a research experiment. I remember we went to different parts of the city and walked around 'cause Ted would do stuff like that - he would have people take marijuana and test their brain responses. He didn't take me to the lab or anything, [but] I felt that I was safe in his hands."
In the spirit of the Somerset Asylum and of the times, Zero the Fool was an avant-garde work inspired by the Tarot and sort of a film within a film. "Bruce came over a couple of times while were filming it", Markson says. "He was always working, he was always sketching things out and thinking up things in his head every minute he sat down. He was always strumming on his guitar and working things out or writing things down. He was always, always, always busy doing something. In his own thoughts and his own music. He was quite unusually focused. It was beautiful."
Bruce had recently decided on a new direction for his music. Just a few months prior, he had dissolved his latest band, Olivus, and moved back to Ottawa from Toronto. He later told Goldmine Magazine "There was a general feeling of exhaustion in the air anyway, with the psychedelic scene and all that, which I felt, the same as a lot of other people did, and I thought, 'Betcha there's a lot of people that would like to hear songs with just voice and guitar right about now.' So, I went solo, and it took me another year or so to extricate myself from the band involvements."
One of those band involvements he needed to extricate himself from was the re-formed 3's A Crowd, who he had been drafted into upon his return to his hometown. 3's a Crowd, like Olivus, had recently fractured but re-formed in order to pay off debts and to appear as the "house band" on a new variety TV show called One More Time. It was a natural fit for Cockburn, as Glatt was managing the band and the other musicians were already friends of his. They'd even recorded a few of his songs on their recent album, Christopher's Movie Matinee. It was easy to join when the call came, and it would be some extra income. The band immediately embarked on a tour opening for The Turtles and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. 26 episodes of the TV show were filmed that summer, but reportedly only one ever aired.
Another filming opportunity also arose that summer, along with a commission to write a new song to go with it. Markson, still working on Zero The Fool, would be the director. At the previous year's Expo 67 in Montreal, he'd had a big success with the "Kaleidoscope Theatre" - a theatre with multiple screens and special effects like mirrors. Glatt knew Markson and liked what he had done. He envisioned something similar at that year's smaller scale Central Canada Exposition in Ottawa: "When I saw the Kaleidoscope Theatre I said 'Morley, there's gonna be a big section of the Ottawa exhibition aimed at youth and our Treble Clef store will have a booth in there and is it possible for you to film something [for it]?' It would be a good opportunity for Glatt to give his band some exposure as well.
As this was the groovy '60`s, the youth pavilion was dubbed the "Where It's At Pavilion" and featured clothing and music exhibits, live radio shows, a coffee shop for folk singing sessions, and was decked out in 8-foot tall abstract murals and psychedelic orange and black trash cans. The Treble Clef`s booth was actually a small room holding 20 or 30 people - a far cry from a full-size theatre, but still of ample size to create something akin to 67's full Kaleidoscope experience.Please continue reading this article
21 May 2014 -
Bruce Cockburn, certainly a hero of mine. Here is a very young Bruce playing in on campus at a small coffee house one evening. Don't recall the exact date, early 70s, as I graduated in 72. Though it might be a bit later as after U of C I went to photography school at the Banff Centre, so might be then, 73ish, and might be, have a vague memory, driving Canmore to Banff for the coffee house. ~ Keith McDougall - National Park Warden Ret.
Octopus - News and Reviews - May 25, 1970
Bruce Cockburn has got an album [ titled Bruce Cockburn ] out on True North, a new Toronto record company. It's one of the finest collections of music I've heard. You can put it on the player, sit down, and have a cup of good tea and let it's sounds drift around the room to you.
Which not, coincidentally, is how Bruce performs. At Le Hibou at week, he came on stage and took the house over completely with his music, involving us all in his expression of affirmation of life. Only the fickle were distracted by the traffic.
If you want to hear beautiful creative music, hear his album or hear him next time he is performing.
Photos Steve Finkelman - Optic Enterprises
Submitted to the CockburnProject by Rob Caldwell.
20 April 2014 - So last night (April 17) in San Francisco was the final date of the American West Coast tour. The tour started April 3, 2014 in Spokane Washington and came down the coast with three dates in Washington, 2 in Oregon, then over to Napa, CA and down to the southern California coast, then back up to Mendocino and Humboldt County.
The set lists we have, have been uploaded to the Setlist Archives. The concert reports have been nothing short of fantastic, sublime, transcendent. Raves reviews and sold out shows. Bruce was playing strong and full of heart and humor.
This photo was taken by Scott Docherty - www.redhare.com - and used with permission. Visit his Facebook Photo set for 60 more shots!
Direct Link: http://youtu.be/llUwiOsnOGc
20 April 2014 - The day was bright, sunny, warm & breezy. I was excited and happy that Bruce would be performing as close to 'in my backyard' as possible. I met him at the Mateel at load in, around 1pm and we had the opportunity to just sit and talk for awhile. I stayed for a bit of sound check. You can access the complete setlist with more photos.
I was anticipating many friends from near and far, and a party like atmosphere. I wasn't disappointed! Bruce came onstage, all in black with a beautiful black leather vest and immediately had the Mateel fans in the palm of his hand. Every song was performed with passion, blazing guitar skills, and fancy foot work. New sounds with echos and reverb, some reworking of older tunes.. it is like hearing the songs for a first time.
Bruce was quoted in an article recently, “No matter how dragged out I might be, which I occasionally am getting to a gig, once I get on the stage and it’s just between me and the people that are there, that all goes away and it’s replaced by what I perceive as a collective energy that happens with all of us in the room together. And that gives it life.” There was a lot of life in the room on Wednesday night. Thank you Bruce for coming to our little town and giving us such a wonderful show. I hope you will come back to our neck of the woods again soon.
~Written by Bobbi Wisby
18 April 2014 - The curtain rose Thursday night on yet another rebirth of the 133-year-old Napa Valley Opera House.
A Bruce Cockburn concert is two hours of lyrical and instrumental mastery. To an enthusiastic packed house, the 68-year-old Canadian folk legend graced opening night at City Winery Napa on Thursday with 20 original songs from 13 albums spanning four decades of celebrated work.
He was an ironic vision as he strolled out to begin, the outspoken pacifist dressed black-on-black, his trousers tucked into high combat boots, looking about as military as civilian clothes will allow. This may be a simple fashion choice, but his artistic interest in the play of opposites, which runs through his entire body of work, makes me wonder.
Cockburn combines lyrical imagery and complexity with stunning guitar work both as a very percussive rhythm player and as a soloist. For those unfamiliar with his repertoire, the songs can satisfy without interpretation on the sheer pleasure of the melodies and the performance. On repeated listening, he is drilling deeply into personal, political and spiritual themes.
A few lines from one of his most popular songs, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” itself a title loaded with tension, exemplify the kind of polarity that Cockburn is intrigued with:
“One day you're waiting for the sky to fall, the next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all.”
“Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight, got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight.”
Onstage, Cockburn is surrounded by instruments, some expected and some surprising. He moves between four guitars — two six-strings, a 12-string, and a steel National. To his right a standing mountain dulcimer waited almost the entire evening until he stepped up to it to close the main body of the show with the prayerful “Arrows of Light.”
Most surprising were four sets of towering vertical chimes, two on each side of him, which he ignited with foot pedals while performing the six-string instrumental, “The End of All Rivers,” and an intense solo on “Stolen Land.” In the latter, a song raging against injustice, the chimes were church bells juxtaposed with the explosive guitar work. Opposites again.
There were light moments. No Cockburn show goes without a sing-along on “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” his biggest commercial hit, with a call and response chorus likely to leave many an attendee with an earworm for a while.
Two of his three encores were distinctly unserious. The first, “The Blues Got the World,” is completed in all three choruses with “by the balls.” Several years after writing it, Cockburn said, “I remember sitting in the back of my camper, feet dangling off the tailgate, being highly amused at myself over this one.”
The second encore was “Anything Can Happen,” a hilarious meditation on all of the improbable things that could kill you at any moment, from botulism to the neutron melt to being drilled through the head by a shooting star. “Anything can happen,” he sings, “to put out the light. Is it any wonder I don't want to say goodnight.”
But those moments aside, Cockburn is a serious artist passionately addressing serious matters. His intensity during performance is palpable. Eyes typically closed, he immerses himself in the content. As he puts it, singing many of these songs “requires the necessary amount of commitment.”
In one of his most admired songs, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,“ the peacenik folk singer rages “Cry for Guatemala, with a corpse in every gate. If I had a rocket launcher, I would not hesitate.”
“Some songs, like 'Rocket Launcher,'” he said, “are hard for me to do, because I have to go emotionally where I was when I wrote them.”
Cockburn is into his art, absorbed in re-creation. He is quietly appreciative of the audience's responses, dignified without being aloof, but seemingly with a healthy detachment from approval.
My single quibble about the show was what was left out. Two fan favorites, “Pacing The Cage” and “Tie Me at The Crossroads,” didn't make the setlist.
After a bit of muddiness at the start of the opening song, the new Meyer sound system performed beautifully, putting to rest concerns that the new configuration and flooring of the hall might be an acoustic problem.
This concert was a big experience, immensely enjoyable musically, and challenging to the heart and intellect. City Winery is off and running.
~ from Napa Valley Register by David Kerns.
18 April 2014 - Bernie Finkelstein would like everyone to know about "what promises to be a great event here in Prince Edward County Ontario on May 3. We are going to be screening the 65 minute long version of Bruce's "Pacing The Cage" video through a very special soundsystem. Both the director Joel Goldberg and myself (Bernie Finkelstein) will be in attendence at the screening and will be doing a Q&A about the film, Bruce and anything else, anyone wants to talk about. All of the proceeds for the screening will be going to the Save Ostrander Point Fund.
Clicking on poster (right) will open a pdf file for better viewing.
14 April 2014 - Bruce Cockburn headlined the grand opening of City Winery Napa on April 10, 2014. Here is my extended interview with the legendary Canadian folksinger.
DK: You’ve been touring for over forty years. Can you talk about how you stay fresh?
BC: Well I like what I do, that is part of it; it’s a big part of it actually. Like any other job, it has its ups and downs, but I am basically very happy to be able to do what I do for a living. You know, certain songs come and go. That’s another thing that fluctuates. Occasionally a song will just feel too stale to be able to pull it off with the necessary amount of conviction, and I’ll just have to let it lie for awhile. Generally after a period of time, from a few months to a couple of years, things come back. Sometimes on any given tour before it starts, I’ll be looking at the repertoire in a casual kind of way, just thinking if there is something else that I haven’t done for a long time that people would get a kick out of hearing.
So there are these kinds of little changes that happen. And from there, it is really just night to night. No matter how dragged out I might be, which I occasionally am getting to a gig, once I get on the stage and it is just between me and the people that are there, that goes away and it is replaced by what I perceive as a collective energy that happens with all of us in the room together. Then that gives it life and without the audience there it would be totally boring. I mean to sit around and play the songs to myself is useful, I do it all the time because I’ve got to keep in practice, but it is not satisfying the way it is when there is someone listening.DK: Do you have any particular routine that you do to prepare to walk out and perform?
BC: Yeah. It is a pretty mundane ritual but basically it involves drinking a couple of glasses of wine and gargling with warm salt water.
I spend a lot of time sound checking which not all artists do. Some people don’t like to sound check. Some of the people that I know, for instance, will do the quickest possible sound check and get out of there, but I like doing a long sound check.
A guy who knew more than I did way back when I was first starting to play professionally—before the first time I played in a big place with a band, in a big theater, opening for Cream, and I was kind of nervous—he said, “What you do is you come in and you do your sound check, and while you are here, while you are doing your sound check, you just look around and feel the place and make it your home.” And so I started doing that and I continue to. I like to spend a lot of time doing a sound check partly because it is a good warm-up for me, and the older I get the more arthritic my hands get and the more warm-up I need. That piece of advice has been a guidepost for a long time and that is my way of making myself feel like I belong in the place I’m in.
DK: Do you have to be really intentional about taking care of yourself physically around your voice and your hands?
BC: Well yeah, the short answer is yes. The longer answer is, I pay more attention to it now than I used to. Especially the hands, I used to take that pretty much for granted. But you know in the last decade, they’ve gotten a little stiffer and it takes a little longer to get them going. I can still do what I need to do but it is different from how it was. I don’t do much about it really other than a couple of glasses of wine.
It is the voice, actually, that is the thing I spend more deliberate time before a show with. I don’t do anything for my voice in the meantime, like in between tours, but when I’m preparing for a show I do that, the gargling routine. I just try and clear it all out and get it loosened up. I don’t think my voice is the thing that people come to the shows for, but it has to be able to carry the tunes and so I work at it to make sure it can do that.
DK: I was watching your Pacing the Cage DVD. In there, Jackson Browne is sort of in a state of amazement about your guitar playing. He is a pretty exacting musician himself. I don’t think he is easily impressed. Could you talk just a little about your guitar playing, how your styling evolved, who you might identify as your influences?
BC: The original influences were—well, the very first thing was Elvis’ band, Scotty Moore who played guitar with Elvis. I didn’t know his name at the time when those records were new. I was completely captivated by that guitar playing and by rock and roll in general., the rock and roll of that era. So Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Ritchie Valens, Duane Eddy, all that stuff. That was the music that made me want to be a guitar player.
So it starts there, but then very soon after that I started taking lessons. I got introduced to a broader range of music than I had listened to before, including jazz. This is still early and before I was out of high school, I had been introduced to folk music, country blues, and ragtime, this whole world of stuff that kind of all melded together. So at the same time that I was listening to what was then considered to be the cutting edge of jazz—this was in the early 60?s—I was also listening to Mississippi John Hurt, Mance Lipscomb, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. The music, especially of the folk spectrum, that was offered was the stuff that I was most interested in, and so I absorbed a lot of guitar, a lot of right hand guitar stuff from Brownie Mcghee and Mississippi John Hurt.
Then on top of that, because I was listening to all the jazz and and eventually ended up going to music school to study that, the left hand part of the guitar playing got much more complicated than what those older guys that I mentioned were doing. The most distinct way I can describe what I do guitar-wise is an amalgam of that early acoustic blues kind of playing with a lot of elements of jazz and reggae and other music that came along, and rock and roll.
DK: There have been, obviously, themes in your song writing: politics—by that I mean politics in a broader sense, world affairs—and spirituality and relationships. Can you say anything about the content of your writing these days?
BC: The most recent songs are the songs that are on the most recent album (Small Source of Comfort, 2011). I’ve been working on a book. It is almost finished and it is going to come out in November. It’s a memoir like the rest of the world is doing. All the energy that would have gone into songwriting, all that word energy, has gone into the book, so I haven’t written any songs. I look forward to getting back to that slightly different mind modality that songwriting represents, because the book is beginning to be a pain in the ass.
The songs on that album, like the rest of the my songs, really come from various experiences and reactions to things. There is one song in particular, Each One Lost, from my visit to the Canadian troops in Afghanistan. There is an instrumental piece that is titled with an image from there. The rest of the songs on the album are kind of the usual hodgepodge of spiritual concern and observation and just kind of reactions to human stuff that I’m confronted by.
The one exception to all of that, I suppose, is Call Me Rose, in which I assume the persona of Richard Nixon having been reincarnated as a single mom living in the projects. I’ve never written a song like that before, and I probably never will again but but I woke up one morning with this song in my head, and I have no idea where it came from. Well, I do have an idea where it came from but I don’t know for sure. It came at a time that there had recently been what I perceived to be a media campaign promoted by conservative interests in the US to rehabilitate the image of Richard Nixon. It just had all the ear marks of a PR campaign that someone had a budget for and when the budget ran out and it didn’t take, they just dropped it. So that is probably what put Richard Nixon in my mind.
DK: Each One Lost is a song I actually find hard to listen to because it is so painful and it feels so true and universal. It is at the same time incredibly simple and incredibly powerful. I looked at your recent set lists, over last year or two, and I noticed that you don’t do it live very much.
BC: No. For the same reason as you don’t like to listen to it. I like the song.I’m actually pretty proud of that song but I also find it painful to sing. It is the same with If I Had a Rocket Launcher, those are hard songs for me, because I have to go where I was when I wrote them.
DK: I didn’t want you to think that I didn’t like Each One Lost. It hurts to hear it and that is because it is so effective. There are very a few songs that have that kind of power.
BC: You know I cried for days after I wrote it. Every time I sang it, I couldn’t finish because I would be in tears. The event itself was so moving. That is really where the song gets its power. It is talking about something that is deeply painful for the people involved. These are people who signed up. The Canadian Army are not conscripts, these people signed up for that shit. But it is still brutally painful.
DK: Another question about distraction from song writing, other than trying to write a book. You are a relatively new dad. To what extent does that change your musical life?
BC: Well, it changes everything. It changes the amount of time I have to practice in a really big way, which is unfortunate but that is a fact of life. It makes that end of things less comfortable because I have to struggle for my little bits of practice time to get enough, you know. Otherwise it’s good. Other than that and the lack of sleep.I mean it is kind of like no country for old men. I don’t have the energy I had for this when I was in my 30?s but I have a lot better perspective on it. The material world or whatever doesn’t matter as much as it did when I was younger. And issues in general, I mean everything, you have a different perspective on everything.
DK: Do you think that being a new father is likely to influence the content of your musical writing?
BC: I wouldn’t be surprised. The real answer to your question is I don’t know. I never really plan the content of my songs until I get an idea and start to run with it. So since all the ideas I have started to run with in the last couple of years have gone into the book, I wait with bated breath to find out what I will actually do once the book is out of the way, and I can go back to being a songwriter.
7 April 2014 - As an Environmental Defence celebrity partner, Cockburn used his worldwide success to help share Environmental Defence's "Kick Out Toxics" message to thousands of Canadians during his "Small Source Of Comfort" Tour. Specifically, he helped to raise awareness and funding for Environmental Defence's campaign to kick out chemicals with links to cancer that are found in many commonly used household products in Canada. Most recently, he was the special guest at the 2014 Environmental Defence Gala.
(direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7s_7sRvk1c )
17 February 2014 - Co-sponsored by Elgin Theatre Guild and Fanshawe College Alumni Association
Princess Ave Playhouse
40 Princess Avenue, St. Thomas
February 16, 2014
The 150-seat Princess Avenue Playhouse was packed to the rafters with fans of the Ottawa-born, folk/rock guitarist, singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn last night.
Since it is general seating at the playhouse, I lined up like everyone else outside. Chilly yes, but I was quickly warmed by the friendly Cockburn fans surrounding me. They came from Essex and Goderich and beyond.
Honestly, I couldn’t believe the Canadian Music Hall of Famer – ETG’s biggest get yet – would play ETG’s intimate theatre.
I so appreciate Canadian content laws that were created to define and identify Canadian content in pieces of music for the purposes of increasing exposure of Canadian music on Canadian radio! By the 80s the percentage was increased to 30% and that’s when and probably why I first discovered Mr. Cockburn.
And now that I’ve experienced Bruce Cockburn from a front row pew, how do I do justice to this gifted poet with a velvet voice that is so pure I couldn’t believe the guy’s been doing this for five decades?!
I can only compare it to being privy to a private recording session for, pre-show, we look upon a stage jam packed with equipment, wires, guitars, speakers and at the back a web or net of what seemed like leaves providing the perfect backdrop. (Later the lighting would enhance the leaves at just the right moments).
With no opening act, and on time, through this maze, Bruce Cockburn suddenly appeared – at first a shadow, soon making his way towards the light.
No fanfare Cockburn. It truly was amazing to behold his unassuming stance. At no time was he going, “Is this my best angle?” Often he’d sing with his eyes closed, intense, raw, in the moment. And his tone, diction, clarity were astounding. The notes melted in his throat like butter.
Before he began each song, we marveled at his precision – taking moments to adjust equipment, tune his guitar, something he called, “tuning a centipede”.
During those moments, I’d wonder things like, what does a man like this have as his rider for dressing room requests? Probably as simple as, “Do you have a place where I can catch up a couple of winks uninterrupted?” Just looking at his tour schedule, I was exhausted!
As he introduced a song with, “Here’s an oldie!” and then set about tuning his guitar, the lady beside me shouted, “Okay, let’s go!” Cockburn smiled and said, “I appreciate the cue.”
Of course, he sang the glorious hits Wonder Where the Lions Are, Rumours of Glory but I appreciated them all like Night Train, Bohemian Three Step, Stolen Land.
He said an early experience on a flight from Japan to Vancouver inspired his song Grim Travellers. He sat beside a high-ranking, successful Japan banker who discussed his chess-playing with people’s lives and at one point Cockburn asked him, “What about the people?” “We’ll just move them.”
The older I get, the more I appreciate pure talent and truth. And as if by osmosis, Cockburn’s words and music have taught me to think while I listen.
When Cockburn sang, “Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime” (Lovers in a Dangerous Time) all I could think of was Sochi.
As my companion said there was not one thing in this concert that was not perfection.
Cockburn sang, “Where you going to go for some illumination?”
Our elder statesman and truth teller did not disappoint. Bravo!
ETG’s concert presentations are seeded by a gift from the Dorothy Palmer estate. That gift is putting the charming playhouse on everyone’s radar.
For more info: http://www.elgintheatreguild.ca/
~from Donald's Dish, written by Donald D’Haene. Photos of Bruce Cockburn solo by Mark Girdauskas; Photo of Bruce Cockborn and Donald D’Haene by Richard Martin.
14 February 2014 - When Bruce Cockburn steps onto the stage at the Grand Theatre next weekend, it will be a homecoming of sorts.
When Bruce Cockburn steps onto the stage at the Grand Theatre next weekend, it will be a homecoming of sorts.
The Canadian music legend -- responsible for such classic songs as Wondering Where the Lions Are, Lovers in a Dangerous Time and If I Had A Rocket Launcher-- lived for a number of years in a house he owns just to the east of Kingston before moving south about four years ago.
"I miss the house, and I miss the whole feel of that part of the world," the 13-time Juno Award winner said over the phone from San Francisco, where he has since settled with his wife and two-year-old daughter.
"It's kind of what I grew up with. My sense of nature, my visual image of nature, involves pine trees and rocks and, you know, all the stuff that you see in that area, the Canadian Shield."
Kingston is the last stop on his Canadian tour, so he hopes to have the chance to spend at least a little bit of time in this area before heading back to California.
Cockburn -- who received an honorary doctorate in divinity from Queen's University in 2007 -- isn't touring in support of a new album, as is often the case. His last recording, Small Source of Comfort, was released in 2011.
His latest project, in a way, is the documentary titled Pacing the Cage [DVD], which was released this past summer. It follows Cockburn on the road, during which he reflects on his life as a musician, on his spirituality, and on his activism.
The "activism" segment of the documentary offers some familiar sights to Kingston residents, as it chronicles, among other things, Cockburn's involvement in a fundraising concert for Queen's University professor Bob Lovelace, who was jailed in 2008 for opposing the mining of uranium north of Kingston.
"I recall it being a pretty good night," Cockburn said of that concert at Sydenham Street United Church.
While Cockburn is often viewed as an activist, he feels it's simply an offshoot of the songs he writes.
"I find myself in a situation that produces a song about a certain issue and then I get asked about it in interviews and then suddenly I'm an activist," he said over the garbled cellphone connection.
"On top of that, there have been many occasions where I've been asked by the people who are the real activists, the people in the (non-governmental organization) community or others, who are working on something and have asked if I would stand up on their behalf, and I've done that because it was a good thing to do. But those are the real activists."
Late last month, protest singer Pete Seeger passed away at age 94, and Cockburn was among those who performed at Seeger's 90th birthday party. Cockburn and Seeger had performed together as recently as last December at a benefit for Native American activist Leonard Peltier.
"I did some notable gigs with him over the years," he noted.
While other folk artists were greatly influenced by Seeger, Cockburn wasn't one of them. Seeger was more of an "indirect influence," he said.
"I was aware of (Pete Seeger), and he certainly was a positive presence for me at an early age," Cockburn said. "The teacher I had in Grade 3, I think, told us about him. We were doing a show and tell at the beginning of class -- you bring in a newspaper clipping and read it and people talk about it -- and so someone, I don't think it was me, brought in a clipping about the McCarthy trial, the Senate investigation into communism. The teacher mentioned Pete Seeger and what a hero he was for resisting it."
While Cockburn, who became a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2001, is still putting together the set list for his short Canadian tour, one thing's for sure: he won't be playing any brand-new material.
Cockburn's time these days is occupied penning his autobiography, which is due out in the fall.
"The book is taking up all of my creative energy at the moment," the 68-year-old noted.
"I haven't even thought about writing songs for a couple of years now because of the book."
While approached many times by writers wanting to write his biography, it was always, Cockburn felt, too soon. Plus, he wanted to write it himself.
And then publishing house Harper Collins came along with an interesting proposal.
"We'd like you to write a spiritual memoir," they told him.
"Well, what's a spiritual memoir?" he asked.
"Well, we don't really know, but we'd like you to write one," was the response.
He believes the publishers were keen on the idea after reading about him in William Young's Christian-themed novel The Shack, which sold 18 million copies. In it, Cockburn is mentioned as being a favourite of God's (and definitely Young's).
The book and he brought in a friend to help him co-write it.
"I'm pretty happy with the way it's turning out, I think," he said. "We'll see. I'm actually liking it and I'm totally set up with working on it. I would really like to get back to writing songs thinking to myself to I have to do this and have more time to practice and all that stuff." ~ email@example.com
Who: Bruce Cockburn
When: Saturday, Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Grand Theatre, 218 Princess St.
Cost: $59.50 and $49.50, plus handling fees and taxes.
For more: kingstongrand.ca for tickets, brucecockburn.com for the tour dates and the like.
~ from http://www.thewhig.com/2014/02/14/cockburn-comes-home - 2014 The Kingston Whig-Standard
12 February 2014 - Bruce Cockburn may be the only person in southern Ontario happy about the weather.
The iconic Ottawa folksinger who has been living in California for the past four years and is embarking on a short “tour-ette” of the province, said he welcomes the mid-February freeze.
“It's the major beef I have about San Francisco,” Cockburn said from Toronto. “It doesn't have any winter.”
The condensed tours -- this time with eight dates, including a Saturday night performance at the Sanderson Centre -- fit into Cockburn's changed lifestyle. At age 66, he became a father for the second time to daughter Iona, who is now two. His eldest daughter, Jenny, is 36 and mother to four children.
The composer and virtuoso guitarist whose music is often rooted in his humanitarian concerns has spent the past year reflecting on his life in order to write his memoir -- tentatively titled Pacing the Cage, also the name of a documentary film released last year.
“It was both agonizing and fun,” he said of the writing process. “I have been approached a number of time since the early 1980s by people who wanted to write my biography. But I felt it was my story to tell and I didn't want someone else to do it. And, until now, I didn't feel there was enough life to write about.”
After 40 years in the music business, 31 albums, and a load of politically- and spiritually-charged hits to his credit, Cockburn said it has been an interesting ride.
He was about 14 when he found his first guitar in his grandmother's attic and used it to play along to radio hits. He attended Berklee School of Music in Boston for three semesters in the mid-1960s before joining an Ottawa band.
Cockburn's first solo appearance was at the Mariposa Folk Festival in 1967 and, in 1969, he was a headliner. The following year he released his self-titled, first solo album.
Through the 1980s, Cockburn's songwriting became first more urban, more global and then more political as he became heavily involved with progressive causes.
If I Had A Rocket Launcher, Call It Democracy, Stolen Land, and If A Tree Falls, some of Cockburn's most successful songs, are also the most politically charged.
He says it was his travels that inspired him to write lyrics that reveal his passion for human rights, political issues and Christianity.
“My personal motivation was travelling and meeting people and seeing the crap people have to deal with,” said Cockburn. “We live the way we do because other people don't live that way. It became important to mouth off about that.”
Saturday's concert at the Sanderson will support the Kindness Project of Freedom House, a non-denominational downtown church. The concept behind the project is simple: to change cities with kindness.
The first fundraising concert for the Kindness Project was held last year when Canadian rock band Lighthouse performed, raising $12,000 for the charity.
“I think it's great,” said Cockburn of the cause. “I'm glad to be able to help. A sense of community increasingly is all we've got. If we can further and foster a sense of community that's really good.”
Cockburn's music and his humanitarian work have brought him a long list of honours, including 13 Juno Awards, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and a Governor General's Performing Arts Award. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer n 2002.
Cockburn, who says he is itching to get back to songwriting after focussing on his book writing for the past year, said his love of performing has grown as he ages.
“I was afraid of it in the beginning. I hated the thought of getting up in front of people. I had to get over it. Now it's a privilege to share myself and my life with people who are interested.”~ firstname.lastname@example.org
AT A GLANCE:
What: Bruce Cockburn concert in support of the Kindness Project of Freedom House.
Where: Sanderson Centre
When: Saturday at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $45. Limited availability at the box office, 88 Dalhousie St., by calling 519-758-8090 or at www.sandersoncentre.ca.
~ from Brantford Expositor.
13 February 2014 - Here's a link to a Facebook media set of Bruce at the Humanities Theater, in Waterloo, Ontario.
At right, a photo from last night's Bruce Cockburn concert at @UWaterloo #Grebel50th pic.twitter.com/DZXpYMgIOV - Conrad Grebel.
5 February 2014 - The Two Row Times was fortunate enough to have an exclusive telephone interview with Bruce Cockburn from his home in San Francisco. Cockburn just got back from an extended tour of dates to rest up and visit with his family before heading out on the road again on a new string of dates including a stop at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts in Brantford, February 15th.
The Canadian troubadour was born May 27th, 1945, in Ottawa, Ontario. At age 14, he picked up a guitar and began his life’s journey of mastering both his instrument and his craft as one of the most important songwriters of our age.
Since those early formative years, he has amassed an astounding 32 Juno Nominations of which he has won 11. Cockburn has also earned a list of awards too long to mention and has appeared on Saturday Night Live, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration among many other high profile events.
But, Cockburn is not just a very successful singer songwriter. He is also one of the world’s more outspoken celebrity humanitarians, environmental and Native Rights activists today.
Cockburn grew up in the hippy movement of the 1960’s and cut his musical teeth, and his social and political awareness on the so-called, “protest” bands and singer/songwriters of the era, which still seems to drive his creativity today, albeit in a deeper and at times more intense way.
TRT asked him if he feels any different from those days when racial equality and the Vietnam War were the topics of the new radical youth movement known as the ‘New Left’.
“I hope I have changed some,” he said about those early days. “In some ways we are always changing. In other ways we don’t change because we carry so much baggage with us when we go into anything. We hope that with life experience, and people we meet, we manage to change our perspective on what people are dealing with. I think it certainly happens to me and happens to everybody, unless they need some help or are impaired in some way. When we start out in life we feel like we are the centre of everything and we gradually have to unlearn our centrality. To some extent, time has softened me too,” he admits. “I’m more capable in recognizing other points of view than I was.”
But his social and environmental awareness actually began some years earlier.
“My parents, especially my father – although he wasn’t inclined to be what we call an activist today – was very aware of the world around him. I guess I was encouraged by example to be aware of what’s going on around me which gave me a bent towards social justice.”
He also points to one in particular, Elsie Beachant, his Grade 3 teacher, as being important to his own political curiosity and appreciation and openness to other points of view.
“She used the classroom at least once a week to read clippings from the newspaper and talk about them,” he recalls.
“One day, somebody brought in a clipping that talked about demonstrations by student ‘radicals’ in Turkey,” he remembers. “Somebody asked, what’s a radical, and nobody knew the answer. She said a radical is someone who thinks things need to be changed and is willing to get out on the street and make a public statement about that.”
He recalls his class reading about the U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy trials during the Communist witch-hunt of the late 1950’s.
“She was talking about Pete Seeger and what a hero he was,” Cockburn recalls.
He has since had the opportunity to meet and play on the same venue as Seeger more than a few times, the latest time being the “Free Leonard Peltier” concert in New York a couple of years ago when Seeger was still performing into his 90’s.
Seeger died in New York City, January 27th, only days before we spoke with Cockburn.
“He was a powerful force for good in this world,” he says.
Cockburn says he can’t really point to anything in particular that started him singing about and speaking out on issues of concern and against the unfairness of racism and corporatism, but rather, he says all of those seeds cast throughout his life, even at a very young age, fell on fertile ground.
Cockburn has had his finger on the pulse of the world for a very long time, and that includes Aboriginal Rights and Treaty Rights for North, Central and South American Indigenous peoples.
“I started to become aware of Native issues when I started touring out west,” says Cockburn. “Growing up in Ottawa, if I knew any Native people, I didn’t know they were Natives.”
Like most non-Native kids in Canada, he grew up recognizing both the positive imagery of Native life, like campfires and an affinity for nature, as well as the negative Hollywood stereotypes.
“Out west, I started to meet some Aboriginal people and got pretty friendly with a couple of them,” he says.
They started telling the singer about things that were foreign to most Canadian’s image of a Native’s place in society.
Through these relationships, Cockburn also began to learn about the real history of Canada, which he and his generation had not heard of before.
“I was getting acquainted with individuals who had lived the experience that opened up my eyes about that,” Cockburn says. “And once you got your eyes opened, you start seeing it everywhere.”
As one might expect, Cockburn is very supportive of Neil Young’s recent “Honour the Treaties Tour,” which focused on both the ecological disaster of the Alberta tar sands, and the protection of the Native people living downstream from the site whose rights have been bulldozed away for the love of money.
“I think, good on him,” says Cockburn about Young. “It’s good that he is drawing people’s attention to that issue, and in particular, to the whole question of Aboriginal people in North American society. I think the urgent stuff is all around the treaties and around large Native urban centres. And there are issues around that too, like poverty and substance abuse.”
As far as he is concerned, “one cannot give these issues too much attention.”
“If you are a person with any kind of moral concern and you care about what happens to your fellows, then you have to take a position on that,” he challenges. “And there is only one position to take. They say that people need the jobs. That’s colonial thinking. It’s like saying, well let’s take all the ivory out of the Congo because we can. Jobs are not justification for what they are doing to the land and the Aboriginal people on it.”
In our conversation, we told Cockburn about the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee, and the wisdom found within it. He showed definite interest in finding out more and said he would look it up online and do some reading about it.
~ from http://tworowtimes.com/news/local/two-row-times-talks-with-bruce-cockburn/
In conversation with Bruce Cockburn
Famed Canadian performer, songwriter set to headline Kindness Project benefit concert
By Colleen Toms, Brant News
5 February 2014 - Bruce Cockburn will headline the second annual benefit concert in support of the Freedom House Kindness Project at the Sanderson Centre on Saturday, Feb. 15.
The last time Bruce Cockburn was in Canada, he was stranded in Toronto for three days after wind chill temperatures of -40 C caused a "ground hold" at Pearson International Airport.
“We were sitting on the tarmac for six hours waiting to take off,” Cockburn said. “As soon as they said we weren’t going anywhere, my wife got on the phone and booked us a hotel room. It was chaos, a lot of people were getting displaced from flights.”
Still, Cockburn, who was born in Ottawa and now resides in San Francisco, looks forward to returning to the ice and snow.
“I’m enjoying being here, but I still feel very much like a Canadian” he said during a telephone interview from his home. “I’m looking forward to a little hit of winter.”
Cockburn will headline the second annual benefit concert in support of the Freedom House Kindness Project at the Sanderson Centre on Saturday, Feb. 15. Funds raised from the concert will be used to develop kindness-based curriculum for area schools.
“(Bullying) seems to be more and more prevalent these days,” Cockburn said. “I went to school a long time ago and experienced some bullying, but I don’t feel it was the same as the way it is portrayed in the media these days.”
Cyber-bullying is a much more relentless and vicious form of bullying that victims are unable to escape from, he added.
“When bullies were ganging up on you physically you could avoid it by taking a different route home or by going out the other door,” Cockburn said. “With the internet, kids can’t do that, and when you get to an age where you start worrying about your reputation, it becomes a big problem. Whatever we can do to mitigate that is important.
“I have a two-year-old daughter growing up in this atmosphere that is now considered the norm and I’m concerned about the possibility of her being impacted by that.”
Becoming a father again at age 68 has made Cockburn look at life differently. He also has a 36-year-old daughter and several grandchildren.
“In some ways, it’s a different perspective than when I was in my 30s,” he said. “A lot of things mattered to me then that don’t matter now. I felt pressure to perform, to pay attention to the world and I’ve done a lot of that over the years. Now I can still pay enough attention, but I don’t have to be driven crazy by it the same way. I think I have a greater capacity to love and be loved. I think I might be a little bit nicer.”
Well-known as a staunch activist, Cockburn said he feels a lot of satisfaction in the ability to use his music as an impetus for change.
“The ability to travel and experience a lot of the world, not just touring to perform but through invitations to go to interesting places that comes with the public visibility that I have, that has made a big difference in my life,” he said. “Performing for people gives me a great sense of satisfaction, if I do it right.”
Using his music as a means to effect change is important to Cockburn, but he believes every person has a role to play when it comes to protecting the planet.
“I think it comes down to everybody to do what they can,” Cockburn said. “I heard over and over again as a kid to leave the campsite the way you found it. Because I have an audience I am able to communicate to a lot of different people. What I can do to leave the campsite better is to share what experiences I have.”
Over his 40-plus year career Cockburn has released more than 30 albums – which included hits like Lovers in a Dangerous Time, If I had a Rocket Launcher and If a Tree Falls – won 13 Juno awards, was named an officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
His most recent album, Small Source of Comfort, was released in 2011 and Cockburn recently released a documentary [video] titled Pacing the Cage. In November 2014, his first memoir will be released by Harper Collins.
“It’s the first time I felt like it was appropriate,” Cockburn said. “It always felt 'too soon.' I mean, Avril Lavigne has a biography out – what’s with that? She hasn’t had a life yet. To me, I had to wait until I had a story to tell and I felt it was my story to tell.”
Cockburn’s solo performance at the Sanderson Centre will include a collection of songs from his early days, as well as his recent works. Tickets cost $55 for orchestra seats and $45 for balcony seats and are available through the Sanderson Centre box office.
~ from Our Windsor, by Colleen Toms.
2 February 2014 - WATERLOO — When Conrad Grebel University College decided to present a concert in celebration of its 50th anniversary, the alumni committee searched for an artist who reflected the Christian liberal arts college's teaching philosophy.
They found the perfect representative in Bruce Cockburn.
Cockburn returns to the familiar digs of the Humanities Theatre to perform a solo concert Feb. 13. A small number of tickets remain unsold.
Fred Martin, the college's director of development, said acknowledged that the renowned Canadian singer/songwriter was "at the top of the list."
"His music has always been popular with students and alumni, and his humanitarian work and voice for social justice … have always struck a chord."
As it turns out, the chord resonates both ways.
In an interview from behind the wheel of a car travelling somewhere in California, Cockburn confirms he has always enjoyed performing in front of students.
"The energy and sense of imagination are palpable," Cockburn acknowledges, adding he doesn't design repertoire specifically for college or university audiences.
Cockburn maintains a number of associations with institutions of higher learning.
McMaster University conferred an honorary doctorate on Cockburn to add to his Order of Canada, multiple Junos and numerous awards and accolades. The 68-year-old artist donated his archives to the university.
With a career extending back to the mid-1960s, frequent world travels (both music and humanitarian tours), and more than 30 albums to his credit, there isn't much Cockburn hasn't done professionally.
Still, after nearly 50 years in the public eye, new insights into the man and his music continue to emerge.
In a recent DVD, Bruce Cockburn: Pacing the Cage, the singer/songwriter reflects on his life and career as a film crew follows him around while on tour.
The behind-the-scenes, up-close-and-personal documentary features appearances by Bono, longtime collaborator Colin Linden, longtime manager Bernie Finkelstein, author Michael Ondaatje and retired Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, among others.
Initially, Cockburn thought the idea was "horrible," but concedes the project "turned out pretty well."
Describing it as "a sweet, little film," he suggests "it is less colourful than it might have been" had it "been grittier."
He has a chance to provide a grittier picture of himself this fall when Harper Collins releases his memoir which, incidentally, is also called Pacing the Cage (originally a line from his song of the same title).
"It wasn't my first choice for a title, but people seem to like it," he admits. "I didn't want people getting confused. The book is quite different from the film."
Written with the assistance of a co-writer, the 500-page memoir ends in 2005.
"I didn't have any trouble writing the early stuff, but I needed perspective on the adult stuff, since a lot of people I write about are still alive."
He solicited the help of a longtime, American journalist friend to "help (me) make sense of things" and "provide a structure."
Because the memoir ends prematurely, room is left for a sequel, but Cockburn says he is "in no rush" to tackle a companion volume.
"This has been difficult enough," he asserts with a laugh.
Cockburn has been approached many times by authors who wanted to write biographies, but he always rejected the idea.
"I thought I hadn't lived long enough to develop an overview of my life."
When the proper time arrived, he decided "it was appropriate for me to tell my own story."
When Pacing the Cage hits the bookstores, one of Canada's greatest singer/songwriters will continue to be a creative pilgrim in progress.
Bruce Cockburn in Concert
U. of W. Humanities Theatre
8 p.m. Thursday (Feb 13)
Tickets available at the Humanities Theatre box office at 519-888-4908. Only a few balcony seats remain at $42.90.
~from The Record.com, by Robert Reid rreid@therecord
28 January 2014 - Sadly Pete Seeger passed away yesterday at the age of 94. I asked Bruce Cockburn to say a few words that we could post both here and on his Facebook page.
Bruce and Pete's path's kept on crossing at certain times over the past many years. Bruce address's some of those moments below but there were several more including having the opportunity to perform at Pete's Clearwater Festival as well as the celebration of Pete's 85th birthday and his work at Singout Magazine at a concert held at the Keswick Theatre in Philadelphia.
For me it was always a great thrill to be anywhere near Pete Seeger. All I can say is that he should be on Mount Rushmore.
I've also put up a wonderful performance from Pete's 90th birthday party at Madison Square Gardens. It's the McGarrigle family and Bruce doing "Dink's Song (Fare Thee Well) during that show.Dink's Song
From Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Concert (The Clearwater Concert) at Madison Square Garden, 5/3/09. Featuring Bruce Cockburn, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and Rufus and Martha Wainwright.
Here's Bruce's quote:
"The last time I saw Pete Seeger was in December of 2012, when we both performed in New York at a benefit in aid of freeing US political prisoner Leonard Peltier. Although age had affected his voice, he was a fountain of good energy, as he had been all his life. The first time I heard of Pete was when my Grade 3 teacher held him up as a heroic example of moral courage, following his refusal to testify before McCarthy's House UnAmerican Activities Committee. In between, he was an inspiring element of the folk music scene, and a model of how to be a responsible citizen of the planet we all share. I was lucky enough to share a stage with him on several occasions, including, among others, opening for him at a show in Montreal decades ago, protesting at the gates of Ft Bragg in Georgia against the continued existence of the notorious School of the Americas, and his monumental ninetieth birthday bash at Madison Square Gardens. He was a pro. He will be missed."
~ from Bernie Finkelstein's Facebook Page
17 January 2014 - Bruce Cockburn is doing what many dream of doing: quit his day job to become a writer.
But it's really only a sabbatical.
Cockburn, 68, is at work on his memoir and daydreaming about meeting his deadline and returning to songwriting. In the meantime he'll perform Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. at Belleville's Empire Theatre.
“Pretty sure I'll be able to think about music again,” he says through static on the phone.
He's walking around his neighbourhood San Francisco, where he now lives with his wife, M.J., and their two-year-old daughter, Iona.
With chronically self-deprecating humour – and apologies for the poor reception on his phone – Cockburn sounds relaxed but soon describes the pressure of writing his memoir. It shares a title, Pacing the Cage, with a Cockburn song and a new documentary film about him. It's set for a November release.
“Then I'll just have to go around justifying it,” he says, chuckling.
There are notes of optimism and relief in his voice as he talks about the possibility of writing music again and explains he simply hasn't had the headspace or time.
“The book's taken up all the creative energy and imagination for now.
“The book has turned out to be much more of a burden than I imagined it would.
“It started off easy because I started off writing about my early childhood. That far away in time, the memories are concise. They're sharp, they're clear, they're short, and they're not complicated by concerns for the feelings of people I don't know anymore.”
But the term “tell-all” isn't something that'll appear on the jacket.
“I'm not naming people if I feel it's going to compromise them somehow.”
Cockburn says he'd written 100 pages himself but then called for help as he “got bogged down” and struggled with the book's structure.
He recruited fellow Northern California resident Greg King as co-author. King's photos have appeared in Newsweek, Rolling Stone and Smithsonian magazines; he's also president of Siskiyou Land Conservancy.
King now writes a chapter in Cockburn's voice; the artist then tweaks the text, ensuring it still sounds like him.
“It sounds like it is me talking – and it is, in fact, me talking.”
Cockburn's also the focus of the documentary film – also called Pacing the Cage – covering his 2009 tour.
“The process of making it was fun.
“It's a bit of an ego stroke, having this camera follow you around.
“I think they caught they flavour of me on tour very well.”
He compared it to hearing your recorded voice for the first time.
“It doesn't have the kind of automatic humiliation factor that it did in the beginning.
“Then you realize how it's everybody sees you anyway.”
The only problem: “I think there's some bad hair in the film,” says Cockburn, laughing.
He says he's now much more comfortable in the spotlight, but it took years of work.
“Some people are lucky enough to have the show-off gene.
“I'm sure I have the inflammation as much as anyone, but the way I was raised, it wasn't appropriate behaviour.
“In the beginning I was very, very reluctant to be exposed at all.
“I wanted to people to come to the music. I wanted people to come to the shows. I didn't want to be a 'personality' in public. I wanted to be anonymous.
“Of course it doesn't really work like that.”
He says he'd never been called “sir” and found it “so embarrassing” to be recognized and treated as a celebrity.
“I felt like I was being drawn into this class hierarchy.”
Yet now, he joked, “if somebody doesn't do it, you're offended.
“There's a sort of insidious element to it in that way.”
Cockburn says he isn't keen to invite his fans into his private life and is “not a fan of social media.” Manager Bernie Finklestein, however, maintains his client's busy Facebook page.
Though some are billing his current tour as being in support of his 32nd album, 2011's Small Source of Comfort, Cockburn says the tour's setlists are “all over the place,” mixing old and new tunes.
His live act didn't have much of a band component until the 1980s and he's again performing alone.
And soon, he says, there may be more music to play.
“I'd love to write another song,” he says, “but when I think of ideas, I have to put them in the book, because the book has to get done.”
And in the meantime, he says, all the attention feels pretty good.
“Hey, man. It's my 15 minutes of fame,” he laughs. “It's great!”
~from Intelligencer - Cockburn's 15 Minutes of Fame, By Luke Hendry.Tickets: $57.82 at the theatre, 321 Front St., 613-969-0099 ext. 1 or Empire Theatre
15 January 2014 - Bruce contributed his voice to the song, Hellbender, by a band called Fire Dog. The song is a tribute to a salamander of the same name. You can listen to the track and purchase the music at the
Fire Dog website.
Christmas Card by McMaster University
made from The Bruce Cockburn Archives at McMaster University
12 December 2013 -
Here's a beautiful Christmas card that McMaster University Library has made from two pages out of one the many notebooks that Bruce has donated to the University.
It's made from Bruce's original hand written lyrics and drawings (which they neatly show on the card) for Christmas Song which he wrote on December 25, 1973. The tune later appears on his 1974 album Salt, Sun & Time.
The Mcmaster Library will be sending out this card to their various friends and associates. Their art department has done a wonderful job in my opinion. We thought you might like to take a look at this.
~ from Bernie Finkelstein
1 December 2013 -
"Dec. 30: Get Married!?"
This 1969 journal entry of Bruce Cockburn's is just one of the many idiosyncratic, illuminating, and often humorous entries found in the Bruce Cockburn Archives at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Another entry, from 1977 while on tour in Japan: "This whole town would fit nicely under one of Godzilla's feet" written just below "Newspaper headline: 'Sacred Mountain Towers Above Meadows'", which listeners will recognize as a lyric from his 1980 song "Grim Travellers".
The set of 32 journals of Cockburn's covering the years 1969-2002 is arguably the highlight of the Bruce Cockburn archival collection, which was donated to McMaster in 2012, with an official unveiling ceremony in May 2013. But it's only a portion of the available treasure trove of memorabilia and flotsam and jetsam of the veteran musician's life. Close to 1000 audio and video recordings, plus press clippings and photos, correspondence, sheet music scores written when he was an ardent jazz fan in high school, awards, posters, concert shirts, tour books, guitars, and more await discovery.
The archive department is located in the basement level of the Mills Memorial Library, a tall concrete modernesque building near the center of the McMaster campus. A small, mellow-lit reading room with wood tables is encircled by archive staff offices and storage rooms. Due to space restrictions and the often fragile nature of archival material, it's not a browsing collection. Rather, the visitor requests the boxes of artifacts they would like to view and a staff member retrieves them. For security purposes, visitor ID is held by the staff while viewing material, and laptops for playback of audio/video items are not allowed.
Reading through the journals is almost like an archaeological exploration. Among the bits and pieces and jottings of everyday life - phone numbers, schedules, doodles - well known songs appear with additional lyrics that were never used, unreleased songs and poems abound, as well as tentative track listings for albums.
For example, it appears that Sunwheel Dance was originally going to be the title of his second album, rather than his third. Looking at the track list written out in the journal, it would have combined tracks from both those albums, in addition to a few songs which have still not been released. Going further back, we get a view of Cockburn's thoughts about signing a record deal in 1969 with Columbia Records (he was on True North in Canada, but ended up being on Columbia in the U.S.) in a journal entry titled "What I Need & Want". Even this far back, he was very astute and focused. Among other items, he stipulates "complete artistic control", "promotional considerations to allow me to expose myself in order to gain acceptance as I have here (in places where does the most good)", and "any publishing deal must be proven beneficial to me."
When you finally look up from the journals, there's plenty more to explore. Some other highlights of the collection include:
For a full list of the all the material in the Bruce Cockburn archives, check out the catalogue.
According to the archivist, users of the collection thus far have been researchers as well as the occasional fan. Parts of the collection are also sometimes lent to other institutions, with some items currently on loan to The Canadian War Museum for an exhibit.
As well-known rock and folk musicians age, we're seeing more and more of them donating their memorabilia and belongings to libraries and archival institutions. McMaster also houses the archives of Canadian musicians Ian Thomas and Jackie Washington. At the University of Toronto Media Commons, the historical repositories of Blue Rodeo, The Cowboy Junkies, and Triumph sit alongside the True North Records Archive. With Cockburn being on True North's roster for the entirety of his career, he's no small part of that collection as well as McMaster's.
The Bruce Cockburn archives at McMaster University provide a snapshot of the development of a successful music career, but more importantly give an insight into the creative process of an artist through his journals, works in progress, and recordings. The collection is a valuable and integral addition to the history of Canadian music.
~ Rob Caldwell is a longtime Bruce Cockburn fan who has been on the 'Humans' Cockburn Internet fan discussion group since the mid 90's and was the original setlist editor for the Cockburn Project. He also wrote, Bruce Cockburn + Toronto - A Historical Tour. He has a music blog called Music To Eat.
31 October 2013 -
Pre-Order Pacing the Cage: A Memoir
Since 1970, with over 30 albums and numerous awards to his credit, Bruce Cockburn has earned high praise as an exceptional songwriter and pioneering guitarist, whose career has been shaped by politics, protest, romance, and spiritual discovery. His remarkable journey has seen him embrace folk, jazz, blues, rock, and worldbeat styles while travelling to such far-flung places as Guatemala, Mozambique, Afghanistan, and Nepal, and writing memorable songs about his ever-expanding world of wonders. Having been asked to write his memoir many times over the years, now is the moment when he will open up about his Christian convictions, his personal relationships, and the social and political activism that has both invigorated and enraged his fans over the years.
Born in 1945 in Ottawa, Ontario, Bruce Cockburn began his solo career with a self-titled album in 1970. Cockburn’s ever expanding repertoire of musical styles and skillfully crafted lyrics have been covered by such artists as Jerry Garcia, Chet Atkins, Barenaked Ladies, Jimmy Buffett, and K.D. Lang. His guitar playing, both acoustic and electric, has placed him in the company of the world’s top instrumentalists. Cockburn remains deeply respected for his activism on issues from native rights and land mines to the environment and Third World debt, working for organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, Friends of the Earth, and USC Canada.
~ from HarperOne
Publication: May 2014 (CBR)
Estimated length: 368 pages; 16 page 4-color photo insert plus photos throughout
Manuscript available: December 2013
30 October 2013
27 October 2013 - Bruce was in Mannheim at the Alte Seilerei, good show with humour and humanity. ~Markus Starz
More videos from this show
25 October 2013 - Bruce performing a song, [Call it Democracy from "World of Wonders". He performed a solo show in Lahti, Finland on October 25, 2013. This was from the second of his two sets.
13 October 2013 - Our goal is to create a pro-active dialogue on suicide, mental health and all the issues that lead up to suicide. I don’t believe there is a more powerful way than to have legendary Canadian recording artist and internationally recognized humanitarian Bruce Cockburn join our team.
~ from Behind the scenes with Bruce Cockburn, visit this site for more information on this subject and lots more Bruce photos.
7 October 2013 - Since the release of his first studio album in 1970, Canadian folk rock artist Bruce Cockburn has gone on to release 30 additional records, has teamed up with T-Bone Burnett, was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and is the recipient of six honorary doctorates.
He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame during the 30th annual Juno Awards ceremony in 2001, and became an inductee into the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2002.
In 2006, Cockburn became the very first recipient of the Allan Waters Humanitarian Juno Award, just one of the 11 Juno Awards he's had the honour of receiving throughout his career.
This past Saturday evening, Mr. Cockburn opened the 2013 Algoma Fall Festival season with a solo acoustic performance at the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
Included in his two-set performance were When You Give It Away, Tokyo, Night Train, Lovers in a Dangerous Time, Wondering Where the Lions Are, Pacing the Cage, Call it Democracy, Stolen Land, and All the Diamonds.
He also included the instrumental The End of All Rivers, following which a solitary audience member proclaimed, simply: "Beautiful."
"Thanks," said Cockburn in return. "I try not to suck. Sometimes without success."
It was refreshing to see that in addition to his clear and distinct voice, his dry sense of humour remains intact after 40 years in the public eye.
It was also a pleasure to observe a respectful audience engaged in the live performance experience rather than peering at the artist through a tiny cell phone or compact camera screen.
~ from SooToday.com - There are many great photos on this site, so make sure you go check them out!
3 October 2013 - Bruce Cockburn doesn't pack his bags planning to write songs about what he'll encounter on his travels.
But there are times he'll see something that spurs him to put pen to paper.
That's what happened when the veteran Canadian folksinger wrote If I Had a Rocket Launcher for his 1984 album, Stealing Fire.
The song, a minor hit in the United States, was based on Cockburn's experience visiting a refugee camp for Guatemalans in Mexico.
“I didn't go to Central America looking for material to come up with a song,” said Cockburn in a recent telephone interview from San Francisco.
“I've never gone anywhere with that intention.”
He was surprised when his record label wanted to release the five-minute track as a single.
“It shows you how much I know about audience reaction,” said Cockburn.
“The business people could see the potential in this song. Radio people were coming back to (my manager) Bernie (Finklestein) saying, 'Yeah, we'd play that.' I'm going, 'How could they possibly play that song?' But they did.”
A song from Cockburn's most recent album, Small Source of Comfort, saw a similar start.
He lobbied the federal government to travel to Afghanistan to meet with Canadian troops including his brother, a doctor. Hockey legend Guy Lafleur and rock band Finger Eleven were part of the delegation that visited Canadian troops in 2009.
During a rest stop en route to Afghanistan, Cockburn participated in a ramp ceremony for two Canadian soldiers being returned home.
"It was a very, very moving experience which is what I tried to capture in that song (Each One Lost),” he said.
“That's not an angry song. It's topical in its way because those ramp ceremonies were a feature in Canadian life for a number of years and hopefully it won't be again for awhile. It was actually a very touching thing to be part of, and an honour, to be part of it.”
Two Sault Ste. Marie natives, Master Cpl. Scott Vernelli and Sgt. John Faught, were killed in action in Afghanistan.
Cockburn took notes during his time with Canadian troops and wrote Each One Lost the day after he returned to North America.
“I just had such a vivid memory of that experience that it wanted to be a song,” he said.
“When I sing that song those feelings still come back. The scene is still very present.”
Cockburn has recorded numerous songs with a social message – from concerns about First Nations (Stolen Land, Indian Wars) to taking a jab at the International Monetary Fund (Call It Democracy).
His 1988 album, Big Circumstance, featured If a Tree Falls in the Forest about the razing of rainforests, Where the Death Squad Lives and Radium Rain.
Cockburn doesn't spend time debating if he has too many songs with a message that may weigh down listeners.
“The songs are a product of whatever I was experiencing during the time they were being written,” he said.
“Everybody's got their own idea of what they want to listen to. You can't really second guess, at least I can't anyway ... If I were trying to write something more stereotypical (as a pop song) then I would try to second guess how much they're going to like it. But that's not really my goal. I write the songs the way they seem to want to be written. I have to take my chances with how people receive them.”
Cockburn is a rare songwriter who notes the city, and year, where each of his tracks are penned on album sleeves and, now, booklets. It's record-keeping he started after noting some of his favourite poets, possibly T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas or Allen Ginsberg, making similar efforts.
“After awhile it started seeming like it mattered in some way,” said Cockburn.
“It's not critical to an understanding of the song in most cases. Once and awhile it is. I think there was some songs that come from situations that it's helpful to know that I was in that situation when I wrote that song ... It does leave a kind of trail for anybody who's interested enough to want to try to track the comings and goings of the creative force.”
Cockburn's setlists can potentially be drawn from the more than 30 albums he's released since his self-titled debut in 1970.
But his choice “automatically gets narrowed down” because he can only keep 50 to 60 songs “in a playable condition.”
“There's a lot to choose from,” said Cockburn.
“That's not such a bad thing really.”
He plans to draw largely from his last three to four albums (Small Source of Comfort, Life Short Call Now, Speechless, You've Never Seen Everything). But there'll also be material from throughout his career including God Bless the Children – the closing track from his 1973 album Night Vision.
He'll switch up one to five songs a night. If there's an encore, his song selection “can open right up.”
Cockburn still has a house near Kingston, Ont., but primarily calls San Francisco home now. He's married and has a daughter, Iona, who turns two in November.
He's eased back on touring since her birth. His appearance at Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre as part of Algoma Fall Festival is the last of a short tour of Northwestern Ontario.
“I tend to spend as much time as I can here at this point,” said Cockburn.
~ from SaultStar.com
Dryden, Ontario September 29, 2013
~from Murray Harrison
Bruce Cockburn at Prescott Park, Portsmouth NH September 1, 2013
16 August 2013 - Here are many great photos and a review of the August 16 in Golden, BC, Canada
28 August 2013 - Canadian Music Week is pleased to announce acclaimed Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn as the 2014 recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. The award - bestowed to the singer/songwriter in recognition of his social activism and benevolent support of humanitarian interests - will be presented in Toronto on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards gala held during Canadian Music Week 2014.
"My Father Allan and I have both respected Bruce Cockburn as an artist and humanist since his early coffeehouse days," said Gary Slaight. "His philanthropy and compassion for charitable issues is commendable and something all of us should strive to emulate. Bruce has long been deserving of such an award and recognition, and we're thrilled to see his efforts honoured this year.
"It seems to me that if we accept that it's appropriate to love our neighbour, whether as people of faith or as people just trying to live well, then we all need to do whatever we can to look out for that neighbour's welfare," said Bruce Cockburn. "I'm very honoured to be chosen as the recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. I hope the existence of the award will help to inspire ever greater numbers of people in the music community to throw their support behind the many ongoing efforts to make this world better."
For more than 40 years, Bruce Cockburn has been revered as one of Canada's most prolific singer/songwriters and advocates for human rights. His politically and socially charged lyrics have continuously brought Canada's attention to causes around the world.
~from Broadway World
26 August 2013 - Toronto, ON – As celebrated Canadian artist and humanitarian visits Algonquin Theatre on August 27 and 28 in Huntsville, ON, Bruce Cockburn will join Environmental Defence in its efforts to inspire change and ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
Music legend, Cockburn has a long list of honours, including 13 Juno Awards, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and several international awards. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer in 2002.
Believing that environmental action is the responsibility of all Canadians, Cockburn is using his worldwide success to help share Environmental Defence’s “Kick Out Toxics” message to thousands of Ontarians during his tour. Specifically, he is helping to raise awareness and funding for Environmental Defence’s campaign to kick out chemicals with links to cancer that are found in many commonly used household products in Canada.
“I'm very pleased to be able to assist Environmental Defence in raising awareness both of the concerns around environmental issues in general and of household toxins in particular, and of the value and possibility of meaningful action. Widespread public involvement in these issues is critically needed. I feel there are many individuals among my audience who understand this and who will welcome the chance to support the work of this very worthy organization," said Cockburn.
During each of the stops on Small Source Of Comfort tour, fans and concert-goers will have the opportunity to sign-up and become Environmental Defenders - monthly donors with Environmental Defence. Pledging to give monthly ensures Environmental Defence can respond quickly to critical environmental and health issues.
In 2011, a report by Statistics Canada revealed that cancer is now the leading cause of death in this country. A staggering more than 40 per cent of Canadians will experience cancer over the course of a lifetime. More and more there is evidence which demonstrates a link between environmental factors and breast and prostate cancer, and leukemia, drawing attention to the need for increased protection from exposure to carcinogens in our daily lives.
“We are honoured that Bruce Cockburn has chosen to support our work during his tour and to help raise awareness about an issue that touches the lives of thousands of Canadians,” said Sarah Winterton, acting executive director of Environmental Defence.
Every day, Canadians are exposed to toxic chemicals in their personal environment. Before breakfast, the average Canadian uses 15 personal care products with over 100 toxic ingredients.
Over time, all of these exposures to toxins add up, affecting our health and the health of our environment. Environmental Defence is educating the public on this issue and is calling upon increased transparency on ingredient labels and to ban toxic chemicals from household products. Environmental Defence relies on the generous support of Canadians to make this work possible.
For a complete list of tour dates and to purchase tickets for Small Source Of Comfort tour visit: http://brucecockburn.com/
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca) Environmental Defence is Canada's most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
For more information, or interview requests, please contact: Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232, email@example.com
For more information about Bruce Cockburn, please contact: Bernie Finkelstein, firstname.lastname@example.org
7 August 2013 - EDMONTON - An ideal Folk Fest headliner: Bruce Cockburn. Bruce Cockburn is one of the mainstage acts, headlining Aug. 10 at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.
Writer of a handful of the great Canadian songs, advocate and adventurer to war-torn horizons worldwide, and truly one of the most intuitive guitar players still picking, 68-year-old Cockburn was eased into the recent retrospective film Pacing the Cage with testimonies and on the-spot-covers by famous figures including Sarah Harmer, Jackson Browne and Bono. As we’ve seen here live from the slope many times, the onscreen performances of standards like Wondering Where the Lions Are, If I Had a Rocket Launcher and Lovers in a Dangerous Time tensely shine with a sort of stolen hope, ephemeral little moths of songs resounding for decades due to simple, echoing beauty.
We talked to him about the cinematic portrait earlier in the year, but with Cockburn you never stay in one place for long.
Journal: “There are a lot of fantastic quotes from the movie — ‘I think we’re f---ed’ is one that really rings.”
Cockburn: “Good headline, eh?”
Journal: “I’ll pitch that one to my editor. What do you think of it?”
Cockburn: “They did a great job of capturing as much of me as I’m willing to make public, and certainly the flavour of being on the road.”
Journal: “You looked back and considered your life. At 68, did you make more of a difference than you thought you might?”
Cockburn: “I never thought about it at all. When I dropped out of music school at the end of ’65, I had no idea what I was going to be doing, whether I would be able to survive off music or not. I dove in. I just tried to follow the same kind of urges that got me started in the first place. Over time, involvement with one thing or another, songs came out that had an effect on people, and the involvement certainly had an effect on me.”
Journal: “You have people from David Suzuki to Sylvia Tyson lauding you. Bono can rattle off your lyrics from memory. It must be gratifying.”
Cockburn: “It is. It’s particularly nice people thought about it. It’s nice to be taken seriously.”
Journal: “I love the imagery of ‘the magnetic strip’s run thin’ on Pacing the Cage. It reminds me of Bilbo Baggins saying he feels like a piece of toast thinly buttered. Is your mortality in your head a bit?”
Cockburn: “It’s always kind of been there. I was never a fan, but the best thing Jim Morrison said was no one gets out of life alive. There’s the sense of the inevitable ticking closer, but I look at my dad who’s 95 and he feels the same way.”
Journal: “Did you have a relationship with your grandparents?”
Cockburn: “My grandfather on my mom’s side had been a forester, and in the days when he was a forester there was no such thing as ‘the environment.’ He had a clear conscience about what he did and no one could argue with that. He taught me a lot about appreciating the bush out on his farm outside of Ottawa, how to tell a jack pine from a white pine. He cultivated in me a love of the forest at a very young age, the relationship between us and that. By modern standards he would be considered an exploiter of the forest, but in his era it seemed unlimited. He did have a sense of responsibility. For awhile he ran what amounted to forestry policing itself, which consisted mainly of not setting accidental forest fires. (Laughs.) But between that and doing a lot of canoe tripping in Algonquin Park, I got this love of the wilderness.”
Journal: “Pierre Trudeau wrote that every Canadian should take a canoe trip.”
Cockburn: “I really think so. When I was in Mozambique at one point, we’d flown into this camp for internally displaced people, but from the air you could see the Zambezi River and I asked, ‘Do people use the river for transportation?’ ‘No. No,’ he says, and I asked why not. ‘Hippos and crocodiles.’ This is something Canada is free of — we have bears, which you’re very unlikely to run into, and mosquitoes, which you’re extremely likely to run into. Other than that …”
Journal: “There’s a central irony in If I Had a Rocket Launcher I’ve always wanted to ask you about. You’re so angry about violence you’re brought to fantasizing about blowing someone up, which is of course where war comes from in the first place. It’s a very shocking protest song.”
Cockburn: “It came out of a sense of outrage, bigger than anger. There was no appropriateness about any of it. You’re in a war (in Guatemala), you have a counter-insurgency going — but that doesn’t mean you go and strafe the refugee camps. It was subhuman behaviour and as such, warranted being stopped by any means. The people in the helicopters seemed to have forfeited their claim to humanity. I don’t believe this is true (now), but this is what it felt like: righteous anger. Once it was written, I had to wrestle with, ‘Do I sing this for anybody or not?’ I never worried about hypocrisy, I never claimed to be a peacemaker. I just think peace is better than war.”
Journal: “Do you think there’s something about humankind that just doesn’t work when there’s too many of us? We seem to be escalating the scale of a number of economic, environmental and political problems lately.”
Cockburn: “The issue of peace isn’t only about numbers, though that’s a big factor. Tribal societies have been fighting each other since Day 1. In Mozambique I came to the sense that war is the default condition of mankind. Every now and then we get these waves of calm where we can flourish as a species, make art and do well. But inevitably we descend into this chaos again. I’m not smart enough to figure out the whys and wherefores of that. (Laughs.)
Journal: “Have you ever fired a real rocket launcher?”
Cockburn: “I narrowly missed an opportunity to do that. The closest I’ve come is a machine-gun, once with an Ontario Provincial Police group that was training, and once with Canadian troops in Kandahar — not at anyone, just at paper. I was in Cambodia and only found out afterwards you can rent stuff like that and play with it, even rocket launchers. They’ll take your money, take you out to the range and show you what to do. Which I probably would have gone along with.”PREVIEW
7 August 2013 - Bruce Cockburn isn’t the type of artist who speaks to hear the sound of his own voice. He’ll shout from a mountaintop when it involves an issue he is passionate about, or a cause he supports.
But when it comes to his own music, he is content to let things happen.
That shouldn’t suggest he is closed to the idea of press and publicity. Ask him a question, and Cockburn will always give you an answer. Almost always, it’s an incredibly thoughtful one.
At this point, longtime fans of the singer-songwriter (whose career as a recording artist got underway in 1970) likely know where he stands on most matters.
But that doesn’t make Pacing the Cage, a documentary on the singer-songwriter released in June, any less enthralling.
The film unfolds like a long-form discussion on the topic of his art and influence, touching on everything from Cockburn’s politics to his religious beliefs.
Even though it was produced by his manager, Bernie Finkelstein, with Cockburn’s participation, the film doesn’t spoon-feed viewers or attempt to pull back the curtain on the complex native of Ottawa.
It simply examines him as an artist, writer and guitar player, and lets the music do the rest.
The film unfolds somewhat languidly. There is a linear narrative, to be sure, but even when Cockburn is speaking, he seems to present information about himself as a conversation starter, as opposed to a definitive answer to a specific question.
Though he is a public person who values his privacy, Cockburn said he eventually got used to the constant cameras during filming.
He was caught off-guard after seeing the final product, however.
“I don’t think there is anything in the film that I wasn’t aware of previously. But it does give you a different perspective seeing it unfolding on a screen,” he said. “It’s a little weird, actually.”
In the documentary, Cockburn, 68, says he feels as comfortable on the road as he does at home, which makes sense.
He has been performing since the mid ’60s, in various bands at first, before going solo for good in 1969. “It’s more about having a nomadic nature than anything else, I think,” he said of his endless tours.
“It’s a chicken-and-egg thing. I do what I do because it allows me to do what I do. But I would have the same affinity for travel if I had to find some other means of getting it done.”
It has been a remarkable run for Cockburn. Among his many awards and achievements are 11 Juno Awards since 1971, including his most recent one in 2012.
He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and one of the country’s most revered humanitarians, with numerous honorary doctorates and degrees, including one from the University of Victoria.
He will be back on local soil next week for a performance at Butchart Gardens, only the second in the area since his Oct. 4, 2008, appearance at the school’s Farquhar Auditorium, during which he shared the stage with retired Gen. Romeo Dallaire.
The fundraising event was for a program, developed by UVic researchers, aimed at reintegrating child soldiers into their communities.
It is one of the many causes that Cockburn (who currently lives in San Francisco with his wife and young daughter) publicly supports.
He will forever be considered a political person, in part because of the material he performs in concert. It can be exhausting carrying such a weight all the time, so Cockburn lets as much light shine into his life as possible.
“You have to laugh. It would be hard to get through life without a dark sense of humour. The crap is out there, and the crap is genuinely crappy. There’s no getting around that. I may have paid attention to that more than some people do, and it gets to me at times how bad people can be, and how thoughtless.
“But at the same time, there’s that capacity we have for laughter and joy and beauty and love, which is also just as real. It’s important to not get hung up looking at just one side of it.”
He is known for covering tough territory in his music, but there is a side to Cockburn that the public does not often see, or chooses not to recognize.
Among the talking heads feting Cockburn in Pacing the Cage — Jackson Browne, Sylvia Tyson, Bono and Michael Ondaatje, to name a few — is his friend guitarist and producer Colin Linden, who describes Cockburn near-perfectly at one point.
“He takes the music very, very seriously, and he takes the causes that he is involved in very seriously,” Linden said. “He doesn’t take himself that seriously.”
Cockburn is front and centre throughout the film, and in his typically thoughtful way, talks playfully about things that make him tick.
Often during the film, he has a wry smile on his lips, as if to suggest he is letting viewers in on a little secret.
In the end, he feels the film gives an accurate portrayal of him as a person and artist, even though he blushes at the sight of his famous friends offering accolades.
“More disturbing in a way than what might be revealed about me was the legion of interesting people saying nice things about me,” Cockburn said with a laugh.
“These people were going on and on, and it’s like, ‘Come on, guys. This is embarrassing.’ ”
~ from The Times Colonist by Mike Delvin.
1 August 2013 - There are few Canadian songmen who have embodied the very essence of troubadour to the degree that Bruce Cockburn has.
More than a household name, his concerts find their way on the bucket lists of any given Canadian folkie.
The heavily decorated, 13-time Juno Award winning, Canadian Music Hall of Famer and international humanitarian will be opening up the 14th season for the Cochrane Valley Folk Club (CVFC) on Aug. 9 at the Alliance Church at 7:30 p.m. The show is sold out and is just one of the many North American tour dates for the folk icon this summer.
Accompanied by violinist and jazz composer, Jenny Sheinman (best known for her work with the likes of Norah Jones, Bill Frisell and Lucinda Williams) and drummer, Gary Craig, the trio will be celebrating more than four decades of Cockburn’s music at the foothills church, including famous hits such as Wondering Where the Lions Are (which earned him status south of the border in 1979) and Lovers in a Dangerous Time (which became a number one hit for The Barenaked Ladies later on).
“I imagined I would become a composer for a large ensemble – that’s what I was studying to do…but then I found Bob Dylan. And then we all got excited about the music…the Stones, Jimi Hendrix…” reminisces Cockburn on his mid-sixties stint at Berklee School of Music in Boston and the early years of trying on different hats with various bands in a time when festivals were more than an overpriced weekend spent listening to the latest YouTube nominee.
Touting his 31st album, Small Source of Comfort (2011), Cockburn is still filling rooms with his artistic, rhythmic guitar, soulful blending of folk, jazz, a hint of blues and an assortment of world music garnered from years of globetrotting and playing for humanitarian aid the world over – be it brought on by his trip to a Guatemalan refugee camp in 1984 – inspiring the anthem If I Had a Rocket Launcher”; his 1998 travels to Mali, West Africa alongside filmmaker Robert Lang; or his 2009 voyage to Afghanistan to visit his brother, Capt. John Cockburn, and play music for the troops.
This sense of humanity developed in the late seventies. Cockburn blames it on a decision to simply love thy neighbour more, following his own low point after his first marriage ended.
“I took advantage of the opportunities that were offered – spiritually and physically – doors kept opening. I ended up becoming more tuned in to people…and that ties in with the basic premise to love my neighbour,” said the Ontario native and devout Christian, adding that the era he grew up in contributed to his social conscience.
“There was a consciousness of what was happening in the world and a real sense of right and wrong (instilled during childhood).”
But it was long before the world traveller began boarding planes and playing for the less fortunate that his love for world music began injecting its way into his songs.
“(In the early days) I made a point of not listening to pop music, but to allow other cultures in…I didn’t want to sound like other singer/songwriters…I’m very critical of what comes out at this point. Even though we change as people when we get older, we’re still the same…I’ll write something down and realize I said that 20 years ago.”
Viewing himself as “sort of a guitar-playing songwriter” Cockburn, who is currently entrenched in writing his memoirs, has left the bulk of the production side of his career to be handled by long-running partner, Bernie Finkelstein; the two have worked through all stages and phases of Cockburn’s musical history since 1970.
The politically-minded songwriter recognizes the challenges modern musicians face. His advice is for aspiring musicians to aside pre-conceived notions of grandeur and to play from the heart.
“It’s so fashionable to be famous now and I think that’s a mistaken premise…if you’re not prepared to stick it out and not be successful than don’t even bother,” said Cockburn, stressing the importance of integrity in music.
While the Cockburn show is sold out, visit cochranefolkclub.com to purchase tickets to future season shows.
~ from the www.cochraneeagle.com.
Photos by Brian FitzGerald from this show are archived here.
1 August 2013 - Bruce Cockburn, the legendary Canadian singer/songwriter is busy writing his first book, with the deadline for the first draft of his long-awaited spiritual memoir due near the end of last month. Cockburn was approached by a publisher a few years ago to tell the tale of his life’s work and since spirituality is a part of his everyday life, it was a natural fit.
Being a first-time author aside, Cockburn is presently on tour in support of his latest DVD documentary release “Bruce Cockburn: Pacing the Cage,” with a live performance at the Esplanade Aug. 8 with his band.
“The record business, you know back in the day, when we first starting making records we would make an album and it would come out a month later,” said Cockburn, adding there is no release date for his forthcoming book hopefully soon to be hot off the press. Quite honestly, Cockburn noted he doesn’t know how it works, as he hasn’t published a book before, so it’s all new to the seasoned veteran performer.
“Nowadays, you make a record and it takes six months to a year before they get around to putting it out the major labels,” added Cockburn. “I would expect the publishing industry to be somewhat similar.”
With writing poetry everything’s compressed, according to Cockburn, but with a book containing decades of personal reflections and anecdotes he said one must go in the opposite direction. “It’s very filled in and it’s got a lot of detail.”
Song-wise, for more than 35 years and just about as many albums, Cockburn has been no stranger to a string of hits including Lovers in a Dangerous Time, If I Had a Rocket Launcher, If a Tree Falls and Wondering Where the Lions Are. Cockburn has been involved in numerous charitable, activist and humanitarian efforts, is a winner of 13 Juno Awards, has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Recently, Cockburn donated personal archives including notebooks, musical arrangements, gold records, letters, scrapbooks, nearly 1,000 recordings and three guitars to McMaster University, where he was the recipient of an honourary doctorate in 2009.
In 2009, Cockburn also released a live solo album entitled Slice of Life the footage from the recently released documentary is from the same tour of the live album. “Of course the film has a lot more in it than the music. There are complete performances of some songs but there’s also a lot of talking. I’m quite happy with it. I think it’s an accurate portrait of a part of me that I wanted to show,” said Cockburn.
“I’m 68. I guess it’s time for a retrospect. I’ve been approached many times over the years by people that wanted to do a book on me but it always seemed like it was premature for one thing. In your forties and even in your fifties, it’s too soon for something like that,” said Cockburn.
26 July 2013 - Thank your god for Bruce Cockburn, Canada’s singer/songwriter grounded in grace. He stands in the mid-period pantheon between the past of Mitchell, Cohen, Lightfoot and the present of Plaskett, Hayden and Collett. He pairs elegance with eloquence.
Cockburn has added fire, force and vitality to the Canadian songbook. He is alone in this wide land as all the greats are. He is singular in song and singular in statement.
Cockburn travels and on his journey through life and landscape he sees, hears, documents his thoughts, emotions, reactions into the lightest of touch and the heaviest of subject. He is corporeal, weighty, profound both as a player and as a lyricist. He paces this cage wondering where the other lions are.
Spend a night with his songs, his more than 30 full-length albums and listen carefully -- to a skilled guitarist who draws from blues, jazz, folk, country and from everyone he has ever met from his world tours -- both personally and professionally. Bruce Cockburn is human, oh so human.
Pacing The Cage is a new DVD which combines a solo tour document with insights on his crafts and appearances from fans -- ordinary and celebrated. Jackson Browne, Bono and Michael Ondaatje are among those fans of the man from the nation’s capital.
Mixing Super8 footage and video technology, filmmaker Joel Goldberg has created a work worthy of Bruce Cockburn’s long history as activist and artist. The old meets new may be a tip of the chapeau to the famous album cover for Night Vision, which uses the late Alex Colville’s painting Horse and Train.
The film presents Cockburn as a man still seeking, a man unfinished. He demands perfection from himself but is forgiving of the errors of others. He still kicks at the darkness, still curses those inflicting injustice upon the earth’s indigenous peoples, still spits vitriol in spite of his spirituality. But the music he makes creates a calm in the eye of this storm we are born into.
His guitar is more powerful than any rocket launcher. His songs are as soothing as a dark ride on a night train as shadows of places yet to be explored recede into the distance. Bruce Cockburn’s music is rooted in the poignancy of those moments.
Pacing The Cage is as much a document of where Cockburn has not been as it is a document of where he has. It, as he does, stands unfinished. Pacing The Cage is just another beginning for this man of many beginnings. It is available through True North Records.
19 July 2013 - Bruce Cockburn has never shied away from the spotlight.
An Officer of the Order of Canada, 11-time Juno Award winner, Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, singer-songwriter and master guitar player, Cockburn is not only a national icon, he’s an international activist, using his voice and celebrity to shed light on the suffering of people around the world.
Topics like politics and religion are never taboo for Cockburn, who has made it his life’s work to not only share his music, but to share the stories of people from every corner of the world from Africa to Central America.
In fact, Cockburn has put his life on the line on several occasions to travel to war zones, seeking out the story for himself, only to share the plight of the people he met through music. His hit song If I had a Rocket Launcher is just one of the many songs that came out of those trips.
“I started writing it during my first trip to Central America in ‘83 and finished it when I got back to Toronto. I visited the Guatemalan refugee camps in southern Mexico,” says Cockburn. “The government wasn’t allowing anyone to work with those refugees ... We had to sneak in. There were 100,000 refugees from some of the most brutal repression anyone’s faced anywhere. I spent a few days in two camps and, in a nutshell, the incredible dignity that they were able to maintain in the face of extreme deprivation, living on a diet of three tortillas a day per person, they managed to hold it together. That was poignant enough, but at the same time, you can hear the sounds of the Guatemalan military’s helicopters patroling the border only a couple hundred yards away and they were known to strafe the camps. The people piloting the helicopters had forfeited any claim to humanity I felt.”
Cockburn began writing If I had a Rocket Launcher when he got back to his hotel “with beds and meals. Yet, the sense of outrage was very strong. Strong enough to produce that song,” he says.
Cockburn got the chance to visit Canadian troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2009 when his brother, then a captain in the Canadian Forces was there on a six-month tour. On his way over, the plane made a stop at Camp Mirage, the Canadian Forces’ staging ground in the Middle East, and Cockburn got a front row seat to one of the most profound experiences of his life — a ramp ceremony.
“Just as we were assembling to get on the plane, a flight came in with two dead soldiers on board, so we became a circumstantial part of the ramp ceremony. It was very, very moving. The whole group was in tears. The Governor General was crying as the coffins came off, carried by the deceased’s comrades. The whole thing was so sober — completely free from hysteria or grandstanding.”
On the “Morale Mission,” Cockburn played a set for the mostly French-Canadian soldiers at the Kandahar Air Field, before going “outside the wire” for some smaller performances at Forward Operating Bases throughout the province. Instead of being afraid as most civilians would be, Cockburn was excited at the chance to get out and see more of the country and visit with troops. “We were traveling with Walter Natynczyk, so we got the best security they had” he says, referring to the former chief of defence staff. “There was a funny moment at the end of one performance,” he says. “I sang If I had a Rocket Launcher... They related to that song the best in that context and got all excited over the last line of the song. Then someone came running over ... the general was standing on my left and hands me a shoulder-fired missile launcher. So there I am holding a rocket launcher for a photo op ... but the minute I reached for the controls did he ever take it away fast.”
Two songs from Cockburn’s latest album, Small Source of Comfort, were written during that trip.[Those songs are Each One Lost and The Comets of Kandahar]
Cockburn has also travelled to Mozambique, Nepal, Cambodia, Vietman and Iraq over the years.
“Each trip has had own specific reasons, but in general it’s all about education and adventure I suppose, having grown up with the travel bug in me,” he says, crediting the writers of the Beat Generation with inspiring him to keep moving. “Ginsberg and Kerouac in particular,” he says.
Cockburn grew up in Ottawa, but left in the ‘70s and never looked back. But he still very much considers himself a proud Canadian.
Of all the accolades, awards and honours, Cockburn says it’s the Order of Canada that stands above the rest — even though he thought about sending the medal back when he heard Brian Mulroney was inducted.
“I felt like it meant something bigger than that, even though he’s a politician that I vehemently disagree with. It means a lot to me to have that recognition from the nation. It reflects my love for Canada. I don’t live there now because I have a family in San Francisco but I feel very much a Canadian. ... All the other stuff, the music business awards, they’re a nice compliment but that’s not what I do music for.”
He’s received seven honourary doctorates from Canadian universities, including UVic (Doctor of Law, 2007).
“It was funny — I got that degree at spring convocation and at the same time, my then girlfriend, who’s now my wife, was getting a law degree in New York after struggling for three long years. She found it pretty amusing.”
At 68 years old, Cockburn has found himself a father for the second time around. When he’s not touring, he’s a stay-at-home dad to 19 month-old daughter Iona.
His older daughter is now 36, and the mother of four kids of her own — four grandchildren who call his new daughter auntie.
Between practising for his upcoming tour and writing a “spiritual memoir,” due by the end of July, Cockburn has got his hands full.
“I try to practise, but with the baby it’s very difficult. I have to negotiate with God just to take a shower,” he says with a chuckle. “My wife works a regular job. I take the baby to and from day care and have a few hours to do what I can during the day — regular things like laundry, groceries and email. That will change of course. It’s a temporary condition.”
With 31 albums over four decades, Cockburn’s career as a singer-songwriter is enduring.
“If someone asks what I do, I tell them I’m a singer-songwriter, but that’s become problematic. In the beginning it seemed exactly the right term, but now people refer to Katy Perry as a singer-songwriter, so I don’t know if I can be called that or not. It’s what I do, but if I had the chance to explain further, I’d explain that the lyrics are really important and there’s a lot of guitar in what I do.”
His extensive career is the subject of Pacing the Cage, a documentary recently released by True North Records featuring appearances by songwriters Jackson Browne, Sylvia Tyson, Bono, Sarah Harmer, Colin Linden, best-selling authors Michael Ondaatje, William Young, Lt. Gen Romeo Dallaire and his manager Bernie Finkelstein.
Cockburn still spends a lot of time on the road touring and is looking forward to coming to Victoria’s Butchart Gardens Wednesday, Aug. 14 with a three-piece band.
“With a band there’s more opportunities to stretch out on some things,” he says. “There’s a lot more you can do with the jam factor.”
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and is included with general admission to the gardens. Twelve-month pass holders will get a 25 per cent discount on this special event. Capacity for the outdoor concert maxes out when the parking lot is full. Advance tickets are available online at butchartgardens.com, which essentially secures a parking spot. Those coming by bus won’t have to worry about a sell-out. There is no assigned seating. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and go early to get the best spots. Take advantage of Butchart’s gourmet picnics available by pre-order and stick around after the concert for the night illumination show — a play of light and shadow set against the backdrop of the world-renowned gardens.
~from Bruce Cockburn live Aug. 14 at Butchart Gardens
16 July 2013 - Alex Colville dies at age 92. His painting, Horse and Train, was used on the cover of Night Vision.
Here is the orginial painting:
~ from Bernie Finkelstein, "Sadly the great Canadian painter Alex Colville died on July 16, 2013. As many of you may know Alex kindly let Bruce use his painting Horse and Train for Bruce's 1973 release Night Vision. I've just dug up a picture of Bruce and Alex receiving their gold records for Night Vision in 1974. Also in the picture is yours truly Bernie Finkelstein, CBS Records president Terry Lynn and CBS marketing director Bill Bannon. This was a great day as it was Bruce's first gold record and to share it with Alex Colville was a terrific honour both both Bruce and myself."
Taken at a gold record presentation (for Night Vision) to Alex at the Windsor Arms in Toronto in 1974.
23 July 2013 - Published on Jul 23, 2013, CIRCA Feburary 26, 2013
Bruce Cockburn exists in the lofty precincts of Canadian music along with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot.
Born in Ottawa, Cockburn attended Berklee School of Music in Boston before returning to Ottawa and joining his first band The Children. Cockburn's first solo appearance came in 1967 at the Mariposa Folk Festival and three years later he released his first solo album entitled simply Bruce Cockburn.
Over the next 40 years Cockburn would release 31 albums, and with them a string of hits from Wondering Where The Lions Are to Lovers in a Dangerous Time to the politically charged If I Had a Rocket Launcher.
Described by Bono as a Zen songwriter, singer, activist and psalmist Cockburn continues to bring his political and spiritual sensibilities to his music.
Ken Rockburn caught up with Bruce Cockburn while on tour in Annapolis, Maryland.
14 July 2013 - After a 3 month hiatus from touring, Bruce has started another leg of his tour by playing an excellent show in Santa Cruz at the Rio Theatre last Friday night. He looked rested and happy to be there, and the Santa Cruz crowd welcomed him warmly.
He started the set with: 1. Grim Travelers (after which he said, "I wish some of these songs became irrelevant but this one wanted to come back. It was written in 1978 when I was flying first class to Japan (which never happens anymore) next to the Japanese representative to the World Bank and he was talking about the coming globalization and moving goods and people around as if they were nothing." (transcribed by Diana)
2. Iris of the World
3. When You Give it Away
4. Bohemian Three Step
5. Night Train
6. Understanding Nothing - "another song I haven't sung in front of Humans for a while" 7. Lovers in a Dangerous Time
8. Pacing the Cage
9. Wondering Where the Lions Are (long - 30+ minute break)
10. Stolen Land
11. Call Me Rose
While he was tuning, I asked him how the book was coming along, (he is writing a biography) he said he was two years late for a first draft deadline, which is either the middle or end of July 2013, but he was working with a writer, Greg King from Humbolt and it was going well and they should have a draft by the end of the month and if we all lived long enough we should see it.
12. Look How Far
13. Call It Democracy
14. God Bless the Children
15. Put It In Your Heart
He was getting set up at the dulcimer when some called out for All the Diamonds and he said "NO" quite emphatically, and it was actually quite funny as I have never heard that tone of voice from Bruce before.
16. Arrows of Light
17. Strange Waters
18. Tie Me at the Crossroads
19. Anything Can Happen
He has his 3 Manzers and Dulicmer on stage, no chimes, gongs or singing bowls this time, but lots of pedal work with echos and effects.
Bruce graciously did a meet and greet and signing after the show, there was a long line but it moved fairly quickly. I had a much to short a conversation with him.Iris of the World
by Bobbi Wisby
Photos by Riley Quarles and Videos
More photos, video and commentary at my blog OnMyBeat.net
July 12, 2013 - The Canadian War Museum has a display that includes this song, Mines of Mozambique and the original lyrics as written by Bruce on display in Ottawa. The display celebrates Canada's original role in banning landmines. Sadly there is still much work to be done.
Basically as far as I can see the CWM (Canadian War Museum) is trying to bring attention to the display in Ottawa which I haven't seen but we gave them permission to use the song and a copy of the original handwritten lyrics so they could do a display.
Be nice to get it re-tweeted a bit. Retweet this tweet to vote for Mines of Mozambique by Bruce Cockburn
http://ht.ly/mSI5n #UltimatePeaceSong #PeaceCWM
~from Bernie Finkelstein
May 14, 2013 - Bruce's film, Pacing the Cage, the documentary, will be opening for a short run in Toronto at the Carleton Theatre on May 24 and 25. Bernie Finkelstein and the director Joel Goldberg will be doing a Q&A after the 7 PM screening. Bernie says he will be around to answer any questions, and would love to see any Bruce fans from Toronto at the show.
May 3, 2013 - Canadian songwriter Bruce Cockburn was at McMaster University Tuesday night to take part in a celebration of his recent donation of a huge chunk of his personal archives to McMaster University.
It's hard to be humble when one of Canada's top academic institutions enshrines your life's work alongside collections representing the careers of philosopher Bertrand Russell, and authors Farley Mowat, Margaret Laurence and Pierre Berton.
But Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn managed to be just that Tuesday night at a reception to honour the donation of his personal notebooks, correspondence, recordings, photos and memorabilia to the McMaster University archives.
The Ottawa-born writer of songs such as Lovers in a Dangerous Time and If I Had a Rocket Launcher sat quietly in the front row at Convocation Hall, listening to a string quartet perform instrumental versions his music.
Cockburn, 67, then heard university provost David Wilkinson tell the 180 invited guests and dignitaries assembled there what a significant gift the collection represents to the institution.
When called to the stage to say a few words, Cockburn bashfully downplayed the importance of his gift.
"I want to thank McMaster University for graciously accepting all my crap," joked Cockburn, who is known almost as much for his social activism as for his music.
Cockburn spoke for about 10 minutes, relating anecdotes from a career that spans five decades. He told the audience about the time he brought a shoulder bag filled with unarmed landmines to an anti-mine news conference at Parliament Hill, much to the chagrin of the Centre Block security guards.
"My major regret is that I couldn't include those landmines in the donation to McMaster," Cockburn deadpanned. "But I had to give them back."
During the reception, several artists performed versions of Cockburn's songs. The rock group Of Gentlemen and Cowards, all of whom are former McMaster students, sang an acoustic version of Wondering Where the Lions Are.
Hamilton's Tom Wilson sang All the Diamonds and Colin Linden, who flew in from Nashville for the event, sang Anything Anytime Anywhere.
Wilson and Linden are members of the group Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and are longtime friends and collaborators of Cockburn.
The Cockburn collection is stored in 63 boxes of varying size in the basement of McMaster's Mills Memorial Library. It includes correspondence from notable figures such as former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, former cabinet ministers Lloyd Axworthy and John Crosbie, environmentalist David Suzuki, Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave and singer Anne Murray.
The collection also includes fan letters, photos, tour shirts, recordings, videos and guitars, all carefully catalogued in a 64-page finders' guide for researchers.
The core of the archives, however, is found in 32 personal notebooks, in which Cockburn wrote many of his songs, as well as snippets of poetry and day-to-day observations.
The notebooks, which cover the years 1969 to 2002, offer insight into how Cockburn worked his songwriting craft.
"That process is documented in the mongrel assortment of stationery that is now in the hands of McMaster," he said.
~from Cockburn thanks Mac for taking his ‘mongrel assortment by Graham Rockingham - TheSpec. Photo by Scott Gardener / The Spec
May 9, 2013 - Bruce Cockburn, one of Canada’s best loved musicians and composers, has donated his archives to McMaster, including his notebooks, musical arrangements, gold records, letters, scrapbooks, nearly 1,000 recordings, and even three guitars.
“These are my tools, my rough drafts, my mementoes and my trophies. Together, they form the roadmap of my working life,” says Cockburn. “I’m pleased they will have a safe and permanent home in a place where they may be useful to others.”
The collection includes 32 of Cockburn’s notebooks from 1969 to 2002. Through their pages, one can trace the development of individual songs, sometimes from single thoughts to finished lyrics, all set randomly among pages of sketches, observations, budgets, set lists and other notes. The notebooks offer a real window into the artist and activist’s imagination, creative process and his life as a working musician rising to international prominence.
Cockburn talks of the three guitars he has donated:
A Guild 12-string, model F212-NT, serial 51968, 1971
“That is on a couple of albums, You’ve Never Seen Everything (2003), for sure, and I think it’s on Breakfast at New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu (1999) … We had trouble amplifying that one for live shows. It didn’t come with a built-in pickup. I replaced it with a 12-string Manzer.”
A Manzer, serial 10228
“This one is a Linda Manzer guitar. I hold her in great esteem as a luthier, and I’ve been very much associated with her for decades. I thought it would be good to have something of hers in there and I had enough of them that I could spare one.”
A Martin & Co., Little Martin LX1E, serial MG 18964
“A Little Martin travel guitar that I took to Nepal with me. That guitar is in a documentary we made about that trip to Nepal (the film is also part of the collection) so I thought it would be nice to be able to see it on film and have it there.”
“Bruce Cockburn is an iconic and respected figure in Canadian and international culture,” says McMaster Provost and vice-president (academic) David Wilkinson. “For him to choose McMaster as the recipient of this collection, while he is still contributing to our culture, is a true honour. We are grateful for his gift, which will impact generations of students and other researchers across multiple disciplines, including those involved with McMaster’s highly regarded music program.”
Among the papers Cockburn has donated is correspondence from notable figures such as Adrienne Clarkson, Lloyd Axworthy, David Suzuki, Vanessa Redgrave, Anne Murray and John Crosbie. There are fan letters, photos and more in a collection that requires 64 pages just to list all the items that will be available to researchers at McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.
“We are delighted to receive such a rich resource that will benefit students, faculty members and other researchers studying not only music and poetry, but social activism, politics and the creative process itself,” says McMaster’s acting University Librarian Vivian Lewis.
Cockburn was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from McMaster in 2009.Cockburn was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982 and was promoted to Officer in 2002. In 2001, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the 30th Annual Juno Awards, in 2002 The Canadian Association of Broadcasters inducted him into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame at the 76th Annual Gold Ribbon Awards Gala, In 2007 he received three honorary doctorates, the fourth, fifth and sixth of his career. In early May he received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario,and later in the month he received an Honorary Doctor of Letters at the convocation of Memorial University of Newfoundland for his lifelong contributions to Canadian music, culture and social activism. He was then awarded an Honourary Doctorate from the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia. Cockburn previously received honorary doctorates from York University in Toronto, Berklee College of Music, and St. Thomas University in New Brunswick.
Cockburn was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from McMaster University in 2009. Cockburn received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
The University’s archives also include personal collections from such notable thinkers and artists as philosopher Bertrand Russell, authors Pierre Berton, Margaret Laurence and Farley Mowat.Cashbox Canada