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Bruce has a brand new website.. go check it out! (7 March 2016)

Take the Toronto tour - by Rob Caldwell.


30 September 2020 - Dream Concert Livestream info added to this page.

23 September 2020 - Interview Key to he Highway and article 'Don't try to give bruce a rocket launcher' added to this page.

22 September 2020 - All 50th Anniversay shows have been postponed or cancelled until October-November 2021.

21 September 2020 - Article-interview 50th Anniversay Box Set True North added to this page.

14 July 2020 - Transcription of audio interview Up North - CBC has been added. Statement from Bruce - Black Lives Matter added to this page. The 2020 Setlist Archive has been updated.

10 June 2020 - Many articles, interviews, and videos that were on this page have been backed up to the News Archive. The Albums Index has been updated.

9 June 2020 - Dear Father - City Winery streaming special info added to this page. Link added to Toronto - page 11, My Alley Becomes A Cathedral by Barry Wright. The Albums Index has been updated.

31 May 2020 - Rich Kimbal interview audio and transcription added to this page.

29 May 2020 - RidgefieldPress interview added to this page.

27 May 2020 - 75th birthday salute article added to this page.

4 May 2020 - True North releases 50th Anniversary vinyl box set article added to this page.

24 April 2020 - "A Like Vision”: The Group of Seven at 100 info added to this page.

20 April 2020 - Interview "Life during isolation & social distancing" added to this page.

9 April 2020 - All the April & May shows have been cancelled and most have been rebooked, check Tour Dates to see if your date has been rebooked in the fall.

7 April 2020 - Bruce Cockburn's 50th anniversary of first album released by True North Records, article added to this page.

3 April 2020 - Excellent video added to June 3 1988

26 March 2020 - Interview with Bernie Finkelstein by Mark Dunn added to this page. A transcription of the John Floridis interview with Bruce (December 2019) has been added.

15 March 2020 - The Tour Dates have been updated.

2 March 2020 - The 1980s Setlist Archive has been updated.

15 February 2020 - The 2017 Setlist Archive has been updated. The 2007 Setlist Archive has been updated.

3 February 2020 - The 50th Anniversay Tour Dates have been added. Bruce Cockburn tribute Hugh's Room info added to this page. Link to audio interview 15 November 2019 KGNU added to this page. Link to pdf of Mark Dunn's interview with Bruce added to this page. The setlist archives for the years of 2002 Setlist Archive, 2017 Archive, and 2019 Archive have been updated. A German guitar magazine featured Bruce.

21 December 2019 - Older articles that were on this page have been backed up to the News Archive.

20 December 2019 - The Setlist Archive has been updated.

6 December 2019 - Articles from 8 August and 5 September added to this page. Older articles that were on this page have been backed up to the News Archive.

5 December 2019 - Bruce interview by John Floridis link added to this page. Bernie Finkelstein was a guest on TorontoMike'd, link to interview added to this page.

29 November 2019 - Lee County Courier & Monterey County Weekly articles added to this page.

26 November 2019 - The 2019 Setlist Archive has been updated.

19 November 2019 - Interviews from Montana Press and Grand Junction Sentinel added to this page. The 2019 Setlist Archive has been updated.

8 November 2019 - Interviews added to this page: Durango Herald, Times Colonist, LeaderPost, Relix, GuitarPlayer.com. Album reviews added to Crowing Ignites. Link to SeedChange.org video added to this page.

16 October 2019 - Interview from DolceMag and interview link and in studio performance link from WFVU.org added to this page. The 2019 Setlist Archive has been updated.

4 October 2019 - Roots Music Canada interview added to this page. The 2019 Setlist Archive has been updated. Album reviews are being added to Crowing Ignites.

23 September 2019 - Link to q interview by Tom Power added to this page. The 2019 Setlist Archive has been updated.

20 September 2019 - Interview SouthBendTribune article added to this page. Review links are added to Crowing Ignites album page.

16 September 2019 - The 2019 Setlist Archive has been updated. Articles that were on this page have been backed up to the News Archive.

6 September 2019 - John Aaron Cockburn will be joining Bruce for the fall tour dates. Link to audio interview by CFRC radio added to this page.

27 August 2019 - Link to listen to Pibroch:The Wind In The Valley added to this page.

19 August 2019 - Link to watch the interview from CanadianMusicPodcast added to this page. The 2019 Setlist Archive has been updated.

12 August 2019 - Link to new video "April in Memphis" added to this page.

8 August 2019 - Interview from newslocker.com added to this page. The 1980s Setlist Archive and the 2019 Setlist Archive have been updated.

7 August 2019 - Link to 'Bruce Cockburn on His New Album & Accidental Career' by canadianmusicianpodcast.com.

31 July 2019 - Here's a link to the True North Record store where you can get a signed copy of the new Bruce album "Crowing Ignites" but hurry as there are only 100 available.

21 July 2019 - Acoustic Guitar Magazine - Acoustic Classic: Bruce Cockburn’s ‘If I Had a Rocket Launcher’ article added to this page.

20 July 2019 - Acoustic Guitar Magazine - Video lessons video and article added to this page.

17 July 2019 - Livestream videos from Paste & Relix added to this page. The 2019 Setlist Archive has been updated.

16 July 2019 - BayToday article / interview has been added to this page. The 2019 Setlist Archive has been updated.

7 July 2019 - Alternatives Journal article added to this page.

29 June 2019 - Interveiw from GoBe Weekly & Cranbrook Townsman added to this page.

17 June 2019 - The CBC Day 6 interview transcription and links to podcast have been added to this page.

12 June 2019 - Crowing Ignites 34th album first listen and album bio added to this page.

26 May 2019 - Interview Bruce comes to Babeville 26 April 2019 has been added to this page.

5 May 2019 - Interview Lucky Clark on music added to this page.

27 March 2019 - Recording photo added to this page. Article from Wisdom Daily 24 July 2018 added to this page. The Setlist Archives have been updated. The Songs & Music Archive has been updated.

  • 25 January 2012 - Here's a link to an interview that we cannot reprint:
    Interview by Daniel Lumpkin for Christianity Today

  • What was new? See archived announcements here.

    Want a personal review of many of the recent shows? We have fan reports archived in our News section. Look for 'After The Rain' articles, or from the 2002 Anything,Anywhere,Anytime tour, look for 'On My Beat' articles, the You've Never Seen Everything fan reports, are titled 'From The Road'. The Speechless tour report is on this page. Tour reports from the Life Short Call Now and Slice O' Life tour are backed up to the News Archive, and are in the Gigs Index. Small Source of Comfort show reports are on this page and in the 2011 Archives and 2012 Archives.
    There are also many reports with photos, audio, & video listed on the setlist pages, use the drop down Archive Index on Tourdates and Setlists section to find them.

    The Project website is very much an open forum for submissions. If you would like to contribute an article (perhaps a transcript of radio appearance or other interview, or any other idea) to this site, see the Help the Project page for more information.

    Crowing Ignites
    Bruce Cockburn's lastest allbum -
    "Crowing Ignites"
  • Buy it here!

    book cover-Rumours of Glory
    "Rumours of Glory - a memoir"
  • See Info
  • Buy it here!

  • or search for other stuff on Amazon.com here:

    In Association with Amazon.com


    links section can help.

    Bruce Cockburn's Official Facebook Page.

    And don't forget: True North Records Cockburn's recording and distribution company.
  • 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.

    Click here to add a navigation frame to the top of this page. Do give it time to load, as you'll need it to get around easily. If you have a small screen and wish to remove the frameset, click here and use the text links at the bottom of each page. Keep scrolling down, there is a lot on this page.

    All 50th Anniversary Tour Dates are cancelled

    21 September 2020 -Hi, Bruce's manager Bernie here. We're sorry to have to tell you that all of the October/November 2020 shows are in the process of being postponed and or cancelled. For those who have tickets you'll need to speak to who you bought the tickets from to get info on either holding on to them until there's a confirmed show or getting a refund. We don't know yet what shows will be rebooked but it's likely that they will not happen until either October or November of 2021. Sorry for the inconvenience this is causing you but safety is of the first concern for all of us. We greatly appreciate your support and can't wait to get back on the road. ~Bernie Finkelstein

    Dream Concert
    Verde Valley School - Native American Scholarship Fund

    30 September 2020 - Well after an absence of many years Jackson Browne has revived the Native American Scholarship Fund benefit concert for the Verde Valley School in Arizona. I can't remember how many times Bruce played those wonderful concerts but it was several and each one was very special for a great cause and always with great artists and audiences. Be great if you could join us on October 10 for what Jackson has called the Dream Concert. ~ Bernie Finkelstein

    Dream Concert Livestream - Bruce Cockburn - Jackson Brown - Michael Franti

    Dream Concert
    Verde Valley School
    Native American Scholarship Fund
    Saturday, October 10 :: 9:00PM ET

    About Dream Concert
    FANS and Verde Valley School present Dream Concert featuring Jackson Browne, Shawn Colvin, Bruce Cockburn and more to benefit the Native American Scholarship Fund

    FANS has partnered with Verde Valley School to host Dream Concert, highlighting notable musicians, advocating for the inclusion of Native American voices and bodies in high school education on Saturday October 10 at 6PM PT/9PM ET.

    The concept of Dream Concert originated over 30 years ago by Jackson Browne, where he held an outdoor music festival on the Verde Valley School campus. The festival then became an annual affair, which raised tuition assistance for the Native American students. Past performers include Neil Young, John Trudell, Bonnie Raitt, Indigo Girls, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Ben Harper, and many more.

    This year’s lineup includes heartfelt performances by Jackson Browne, Shawn Colvin, and Bruce Cockburn, along with Arizona bands Sihasin and Calexico. The livestream will also feature appearances by R. Carlos Nakai, Michael Franti, and Dene-Canadian rocker, Leelah Gilday, and more to be announced.

    In keeping with its roots, the Dream concert will raise tuition funds to support the Verde Valley School’s Native American Scholarship Fund and their student’s quest for quality education. The Verde Valley School is a top tier high school devoted to cultural exchange, hosting over 130 students from around the world to live and learn together.

    “The nation, indeed the world, needs a school that will bring together children from many nations, many cultures, all races and religions, not simply to study and tolerate on another, but to learn from and celebrate their differences.” – Hamilton Warren, Verde Valley School Founder

    Support the Native American Scholarship Fund and join FANS for an inspired night of music with Dream Concert on Saturday, October 10.

    ~from https://fans.live/livestream/20201010-dream-concert/.

    Don’t try to give Bruce Cockburn a rocket launcher. It’s been tried — three times
    By Nick Krewen - Special to the Star.com

    21 September 2020 - For a few years in the 1980s, it seems that everyone was trying to hand Bruce Cockburn his very own rocket launcher.

    Rarely has such an angry song about the atrocities of defenceless wartime human slaughter been so perfectly articulated in song as in the Ottawa-born Cockburn’s 1984 hit “If I Had A Rocket Launcher.”

    But it seems as though a few people misinterpreted the lyrics.

    “There were actually three incidents,” says a chuckling Cockburn, on the line from the San Francisco residence he occupies with his wife and daughter.

    Cockburn, who celebrates half a century as a recording artist with the Sept. 25 release of the vinyl-only, five-disc collection “True North — a 50th Anniversary Box Set,” recalls an incident in Afghanistan after he had just finished performing the song to Canadian troops stationed in Kandahar.

    “General (Jonathan) Vance” — currently Canada’s chief of defence staff — “appeared at my shoulder with the rocket launcher and handed it to me,” he recalls.

    Bruce Cockburn in Hamilton in 2017 by Scott Gardner / The Hamilton Spectator

    “It was loaded — it was one of those little single-use anti-tank rocket things, but there I am, cradling this thing in my arms and there was this picture in the paper — I’ve got this enormous grin and it looks like Christmas.

    “But that was the best of those moments.”

    Cockburn, 75, remembers a second incident, following a concert in the southern U.S. around the time of the song’s release, when a radio station sent some employees to join him for a pre-show photo opportunity.

    “They’d brought a rocket launcher that they’d rented from the National Guard — and they wanted to pose with it. They thought it was cute,” he remembers. “At this point, the song was fresh and I found it really offensive. I told them so. They didn’t get it. The song doesn’t say, ‘I wish I had a Rocket launcher. It says, ‘if!’”

    But the scariest occasion occurred after a show in Bellingham, Wash. “We were crossing over the border into Vancouver after the show and while I was in the parking lot, a guy says, ‘I have a gift for you but you have to come to my car to get it.’

    “The guy — over six feet tall, very muscular, very short hair — pops his trunk and has three rocket launchers in there. He wanted to give me one.”

    Cockburn thanked him and politely declined. “If I had said, ‘yes,’ there would have been a checkpoint somewhere. I think it was a trap. He had ‘cop’ written all over him.”

    These are just some of the adventures the noted troubadour and respected guitarist has enjoyed since 1970, when he helped launch the True North Records label with the self-titled “Bruce Cockburn.”

    Over the course of 26 studio albums, four live recordings, three compilations and the 2014 box set “Rumours of Glory,” the 13-time Juno Award winner has expounded upon the folk idiom to include blues, roots, rock, pop and — for want of a better word — Americana. Cockburn, a member of the Order of Canada and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, has also expanded his topical horizons, writing hundreds of songs that are as intellectually stimulating and thoughtful as they are emotional, informed by a Christian faith that is neither intrusive nor sermonizing.

    His songs range from mystical to introspective to philosophical to romantic to political to playful to sober, from roaming idyllic moods with “Wondering Where The Lions Are” or expressing environmental concern with “Radium Rain.” He’s tackled political effrontery in “Call it Democracy” and raised awareness of inhumane treatment by government regimes in “Nicaragua,” his observations recorded from first-hand visits to war-torn territories.

    “He’s a fearless explorer,” notes Nicholas Jennings, author and music historian who has provided liner notes for Cockburn’s entire remastered catalogue, including the new box set.

    “His curiosity is incredibly deep and he’s always looking for answers. He’s always looking for new truths. He’s a seeker in the full sense of the word … He is always trying new things. That’s what keeps him fresh and maybe that’s what’s kept him a vital, meaningful artist.”

    In terms of his role in sounding alarm bells about human rights transgressions over the years, though, Cockburn is clear.

    “I know that the songs have affected people … because I hear from the people,” he states. “They’ve had a role to play in terms of drawing people’s attention to situations that needed addressing … But in terms of affecting the whole situation, it’s a drop in the bucket. I think all of the drops in the bucket are meaningful — and mine is one of them.”

    Cockburn’s love for music occurred at an early age but wasn’t set in stone until later in life. By the time he dropped out of Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, “I knew then that my life was going to be tied up with the guitar one way or another.”

    He met Bernie Finkelstein, his manager of 50 years, when Cockburn’s band then, The Children, opened for The Paupers and The Lovin’ Spoonful at Maple Leaf Gardens. Finkelstein was managing The Paupers. Cockburn says he and his future producer Eugene Martynec were having a coffee in Yorkville, agreeing they’d like to make a record in the style of blues veteran Mississippi John Hurt, with Cockburn as artist and Martynec as producer.

    “Gene said he knew somebody who wanted to start a record company, so he goes and talks to Bernie. Bernie said, ‘this could be the first True North Records album’ — and it was. That was the first time we had actually talked to each other.”

    Cockburn became True North’s flagship artist.

    “As far as the management end of our business goes, Bruce and I never had a contract,” Finkelstein says from his Prince Edward County home. “The joke I often make with Bruce is, ‘If we had a contract, it probably would have ended and he would have left. But because we don’t have one, he doesn’t know how to leave.’”

    Although the new box set consists of only three albums — “Bruce Cockburn,” “The Charity of Night” and “Breakfast In New Orleans … Dinner In Timbuktu,” — lovingly remastered by Colin Linden and the latter two albums making their vinyl debuts — it’s important to note the set also marks the 50th anniversary of Toronto-originated True North Records as a label that helped establish folk singer Murray McLauchlan, sexually provocative rockers Rough Trade, and roots trio Blackie And The Rodeo Kings.

    “What I was always interested in was originality, the ability to perform and great songwriting,” Finkelstein says of his signings. “I think our label stood for that and I think we stood for it in a way that — at least during the early years — that no other label really did. We made our own world.”

    Cockburn says the inclusion of the double disc, coloured vinyl sets of “Charity” and “Breakfast” — limited to 750 copies and individually signed by the artist — is by design.

    “Those two albums stand out for me as among the best I’ve done,” says the artist, who has written three songs towards a potential new studio album. “I went through a lot of personal life stuff that ended up in those songs. Travelling in developing countries with a deeper sense of what I was seeing made a difference.

    “It made it more complicated because it’s easier to write passionate songs about things you don’t know very much about. Whether it’s a first love or a first encounter with a situation, the feelings are simpler and more vivid.

    “As you get to know things, it gets deeper and the motivations to say things are a bit more complicated. There’s more to say.”

    “There was a lot of love stuff and just different experiences in life that ended up shaping those songs.

    “I’m kind of grateful and glad that my songs have touched people the way they have.”

    ~from Don’t try to give Bruce Cockburn a rocket launcher. It’s been tried — three times by Nick Krewen.

    Key to the Highway: Bruce Cockburn
    by Melissa Clarke

    23 September 2020 - Americana Highways’ Key to the Highway series.

    Fans always clamor to learn more about their favorite, most beloved musicians and those who travel with them. There’s such an allure to the road, with its serendipity, inevitable surprises, and sometimes unexpected discomforts. This interview series is a set of questions we are asking some of our favorite roots rock Americana artists to get to know more about them and what they’ve learned and experienced on the road. We are sure they have key insights to share and stories to tell. Here’s one from Bruce Cockburn:

    Americana Highways: How do you like your coffee or other morning wake-up beverage?

    Bruce Cockburn: Strong and black

    AH: What’s the most interesting or strangest motel/hotel or place you have stayed (while on the road?)

    BC: Hotels…hmmm… Was it the fleabag in Skopje where the bed springs sagged to the floor? Or the “hotel” attached to a club outside of Manchester with torn curtains and a crust of forty years of rock band habitation? Or the guest house in Nepal where the cow tried to come in and get warm and the guy who was out of his mind with altitude sickness tried to convince the innkeeper’s twelve-year-old daughter to go outside with him and help him take a leak? Maybe the New York joint with the beautiful Art Deco lobby and the rundown room where the roaches and I were compelled to listen to the neighbour’s TV blasting a sports event. When I knocked on their door the sound was abruptly cut off. The guy who opened up was very tall and dark haired, wearing a tense expression and a shoulder holster. Past him I could see two other large fellows, similarly equipped, and on the couch a small older man. I pointed out that the game was pretty loud in my room and would they mind terribly turning it down. “Oh. Sure. Sorry!” he said, and as the door swung shut I could hear “It’s ok. It’s just the guy next door saying the TV is too loud.” After that the game came on again, softer, and I could make out their conversation through the paper thin wall; three plainclothes cops guarding what appeared to be a mob witness.

    AH: If one CD is stuck in the player in the van for the entire tour, what do you hope it is? And why?

    BC: Tough question. The duration of the tour might be a factor. Something soothing on the ears and the brain — Arvo Part maybe, or Pablo Casals’ rendering of the Bach cello suites. Or maybe Bo Diddley…

    AH: What’s one personal item you must have with you on your road trip?

    BC: A good knife

    AH: What is your relationship with food? How do you handle this on the road, and what’s your favorite dish on the road, (or restaurant, and what do you order there)?

    BC: Unless you’re in Italy, where it’s almost impossible to get a bad meal, food on tour is pretty much catch as catch can. There’s a lot of late night pizza and questionable Chinese. That said, once in a while there’s a great meal. That has happened in Edmonton, Venice, New York, Toronto, Grants Pass OR, somebody’s kitchen in Winnipeg…

    AH: If you could pause your life for a few weeks and spend some time living in a place you only have passed through, which would you choose, and why?

    BC: I’ve passed through a lot of places. None of them felt like home. Many of them have seemed to invite further exploration though. I’m generally drawn to the high and dry — the Rockies, the Four Corners region of the southwestern US. That said, there are some pretty great coastlines in the world — western Newfoundland, islands like Martinique, Maui, the wild coast of Cornwall. To the high and dry, add windswept. What really makes or breaks a place though are the people in it.

    AH: What quote or piece of advice have you gotten from someone on the road that has really stuck with you?

    BC: Live fast — die young! Oops! Blew that.

    ~from Key to the Highway - Bruce Cockburn.

    New Bruce Cockburn Box Set Timed To True North Records Anniversary
    by Nick Krewen - fyimusicnews.ca

    21 September 2020 - The True North 50th Anniversary Box Set has a dual purpose.

    Bruce Cockburn - True North 50th Anniversary Box Set

    As much as this vinyl-exclusive three-album collection of Bruce Cockburn, The Charity Of Night and Breakfast In New Orleans…Dinner In Timbuktu commemorates the five decades that the Ottawa-born singer, songwriter and master guitarist has been a recording artist, it also serves as a celebration of 50 years of True North Records, the label started in 1969 by Cockburn’s manager, impresario Bernie Finkelstein.

    Remastered by Colin Linden and limited to 750 multi-coloured 5LP sets personally signed by Cockburn, manufactured by Toronto-based Microforum Vinyl Record Pressing, and available exclusively via Linus Entertainment, The True North 50th Anniversary Box Set also honours the loyal professional relationship between the singer/songwriter and his manager.

    And the secret sauce to the 50-year-plus management relationship between Bernie Finkelstein and his star client?

    “First off, I’m a real admirer of his music – all 34 albums of it,” Finkelstein replied in an interview. “There are 350 to 500 songs out there and I’m probably one of the only people alive that knows them all.

    “We’ve done quite well, which helps. The fact that I know all his music wouldn’t mean anything if, you know, if we were down in the dumps all the time.

    “Bruce is also very, very easy to work with,” Finkelstein continues. “This is going to sound very simple – and perhaps very simplistic – but if I didn’t call him, I’m not sure he’d ever call me, because he’s not really a big-time careerist.

    “It can be very frustrating because Bruce could be even bigger than he is now if he wanted to be. He’s quite content to continue to do things the way that he does it.”

    From the artist’s standpoint, Bruce Cockburn says Finkelstein possesses a number of laudable traits.

    “He’s an interesting character on so many levels,” said Cockburn recently from his San Francisco haunt. “I so admire him. I admire his gift for strategizing. I admire his love of the music, which is deep and genuine.

    “He’s a business guy and he thinks like a business guy, but in contrast to other certain people that I’ve run into over the years, he has a really deep understanding of music and very good ears. Although he and I may disagree over this or that or the other thing, when it comes down to it, Bernie’s appreciation of the song is as informed and as sensitive as anybody’s could be.

    “That had a lot to do with it – and he was doing what he was doing for the money. He could have made more money doing it for someone else,’” Cockburn laughs. “So, I appreciate the fact that he’s put in all that time and loyalty – I think we’ve been loyal to each other. I’m sure that’s part of it.”

    With such a longstanding and mutually rewarding relationship, you’d think there’d be frequent backyard BBQs or frequent socializing.

    Surprisingly, Finkelstein says that’s not the case.

    “We don’t share much socially,” he explains. “We don’t hang out a lot – especially with him in San Francisco and me here, we never did. I think all of those things add up to a relationship that doesn’t get too complicated by other complex things.”

    But Finkelstein says he and Cockburn do have certain commonalities.

    "We both like getting things done and making sure that things are the best that we can do, all the time. In Bruce’s songs, he’s often referring to things like eclipses and event horizons and things like that that he just drops into songs. We both have a real interest in that kind of thing.”

    Obviously though, the relationship is important enough to both men that when Finkelstein sold True North, he and Cockburn maintained their handshake management association.

    “When I sold True North in late 2007 [to Geoff Kulawick, Harvey Glatt and Michael Pilon], I decided that I was going to mostly retire from the music business, but I thought that Bruce and myself had some unfinished business to do,” he notes.

    “So, we stayed on and it’s been another 12 or 13 years since I did that. Things keep rolling along. It’s almost taken a pandemic to make us stop.”

    Distributed physically by Cadence/Fontana North, designed by Juno award winner A Man Called Wrycraft, and featuring new liner notes from author and music historian Nicholas Jennings, The True North 50th Anniversary Box Set is available for $199.00 (CDN) through Linus and north of $200 on Amazon.

    The album flats were shipped to San Francisco for Cockburn to sign at home, then shipped back over the border for assembly. The handsome box set also features a new True North logo designed by Brooke Kulawick and all copies are individually numbered.

    As far as the True North label history is concerned, Finkelstein is happy he provided a creative home to help establish acts like Murray McLauchlan, Barney Bentall, Rough Trade and Blackie and The Rodeo Kings - and on the management side, in partnership with Bernie Fiedler – Dan Hill.

    “I miss that old label. I’m very, very proud of the work I did with Murray McLauchlan, Rough Trade and all the rest,” said Finkelstein. “We had our fair share of hits, but the one thing we never lost sight of was high quality, not to chase the commercial end of the business.”

    In terms of the inclusion of Bruce Cockburn, The Charity of Night and Breakfast in New Orleans…Dinner In Timbuktu as box set choices, Cockburn says it makes sense.

    “Of course, you’re going to put the first album on the 50th-anniversary set,” Cockburn notes. “ But the other ones were chosen consciously because they represent stuff I’ve done in a way that’s as good as it gets. Those albums are, within themselves, very complete expressions of the time and set of situations. And they work very well musically.

    “Once in a while I’ll hear a track from an older album and think,’ Wow, geez, that was pretty good!!’” he laughs. “It surprises me, not because I forget, but because the path becomes a big wash. When something pops out of that wash that is noteworthy, it catches my attention.”

    Cockburn may be contemplating a new album…or not.

    “I’m not much of a planner – I never have been, “ he admits. “This year was supposed to be filled with 50th anniversary touring, which of course, it isn’t. We’ll see what of that we’ll be able to apply to next year, but we had that instrumental album that came out a year ago that was going to be one of the things celebrated in that 50th-anniversary tour.

    “So, I hadn’t thought much about a next album, really, as I still had the intention and desire of one day doing an album of other people’s songs. I was sort of thinking, well, maybe now’s the time for that. But I’ve got three new songs and now I’m thinking, maybe it isn’t yet time for that.”

    ~from www.fyimusicnews.ca.

    Black Lives Matter
    a statement from Bruce Cockburn

    18 June 2020 -
    "Of course Black Lives Matter. And yes, all lives matter, but are all lives affected by police brutality and the fear of it? How striking is that phrase: police brutality. The fact that the joining of those 2 words has become a standard part of the language is revealing of a set of expectations that should shock us into a universal rejection of a certain facet of law enforcement. We need cops. We need to be able to offer them respect and appreciation. We need them not to be killing and otherwise abusing people of color...or anyone else. We need them not to be abusing the extraordinary legal powers we give them so they can properly carry out the tasks society requires of them."

    "Those abuses are too often manifestations of the racism virus that is endemic and systemic among us. Caucasians need to own that. We can’t change history but we need to pay attention. We must understand how we got to where we are. Not just the awful history of slavery, but the more subtle stuff too...the assumptions masquerading as smug tolerance, the lip service paid to the fiction of equal opportunity. We can’t fix what we don’t recognize. Living under, or next to, a US administration whose prime directive seems to be to promote divisiveness and fear, we should jump at this opportunity to understand each other, to do all the bridge building we can." - Bruce Cockburn

    Fathers Day poster 2020 Dear Father, Colin Hay & City Winery
    present a multi-artist broadcast to celebrate Father’s Day

    9 June 2020 - Inspired by his heartfelt song Dear Father, Colin Hay & City Winery present a multi-artist broadcast to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, June 21st beginning at 5PM Eastern Time. [ 5pm Eastern Time - 4pm Central - 3pm Eastern - 10pm UK ]

    The singer-songwriter and former Men at Work frontman has partnered with City Winery to curate a lineup of old and new friends and City Winery favorites including Billy Bragg, Bruce Cockburn, Dar Williams, Fantastic Negrito, Nikka Costa, Glen Phillips, Joan Osborne, Jorma Kaukonen and more. Hay also included two fellow Australian artists: singer-songwriter Delta Goodrem and Aboriginal guitar virtuoso Chris Tamwoy. Radio legend and WFUV host, Rita Houston will serve as the streaming event’s emcee. View complete current list below.

    Families around the world will be able to connect virtually through this shared experience, celebrating all fathers everywhere through music, providing much needed art and entertainment at home. This streaming event builds on the success of a popular Mother’s Day stream co-produced by City Winery and Billy Bragg.

    Full line up (subject to change):
    Colin Hay, Billy Bragg, Jorma Kaukonen, Dar Williams, Fantastic Negrito, Bruce Cockburn, Nikka Costa, David Bromberg, Jackie Greene, Glen Phillips, Joan Osborne, Willie Nile, Martin Sexton, James Maddock, Delta Goodrem, Chris Tamwoy, More TBA

    Tickets for the performance are available here. Proceeds will support the efforts of NIVA (National Independent Venue Association) working to preserve independent performance venues across the United States.

    Over the course of his 40-plus-year career, Colin Hay has performed at many of the NIVA venues that are fighting to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. NIVA continues to lobby Congress to provide relief to venues noting that music venues were among the first businesses to close at the onset of this crisis and they may be among the last to reopen. Hay is eager to support other artists and independent venues while providing welcomed entertainment for fathers and fans to enjoy at home.

    “City Winery came to me, and asked me to be part of a Father’s Day streaming event, the proceeds going to NIVA”, says Hay.

    “I like independent venues, they have character, they have the personalities of the people who run them, and work in and around them. I’ve played many of them, and would like to continue to. This streaming concert may help in some small measure, to keep them alive.”

    Hay continues to be inspired by his father. “I think about my father all the time, he’s gone now. He was on the stage when he was young, in theaters, in Glasgow and beyond. Whenever I play across the country, he comes with me. There’s a lot to be said for tradition.”

    City Winery Father's Day special

    Interview with Bruce Cockburn
    By Rich Kimbal - Downtown - WZON Radio

    31 May 2020 - On May 13 Rich Kimbal interviewed Bruce Cockburn, you can listen to the audio here and read the transcription below.

    Rich KimballWe get things underway, here in the [Wondering Where the Lions Are begins in background] second hour of the program, by welcoming in a singer, songwriter, and musician who's been making great music for more than five decades now. [music fades out] He has had twelve Juno Awards in his career, has recorded over thirty albums. He's the author of a wonderful memoir Rumours of Glory. We're pleased to be joined this afternoon by Bruce Cockburn. Bruce, thanks for being with us.

    Bruce Cockburn - Thanks for having me. Nice to talk to you.

    RK - How are you doing in this time of social isolation?

    BC - [laughs] Doin' okay. We're all dealing with, you know, this new and exotic situation but, you know, we're getting by alright.

    RK - Exotic. I like that.

    BC - Well yeah, I mean in the sense that . . . it's not exotic in the pleasurable sense, but it is certainly in the sense of being something that's very different from how we've all expected our days to go in the past. So it's, you know, we're basically in the same boat as everybody else. And there are three of us, my wife and daughter in our apartment in San Francisco, 24/7 [laughs]. So whereas there used to be, uh, space . . . My daughter would go to school, my wife goes to work, I do my thing through the day, and then it . . . you know . . . we all . . . we convene kind of at dinner time. But now it's, it's all the time, so . . . That's a pretty big change, and we're lucky enough to have a pretty decent sized apartment and, you know, that's in a neighborhood that's comfortable, and we do go out. But, uh . . . but, uh . . . it's still vastly more limited in scope than it . . than we're used to, so . . . You know, although I have, as I hear myself saying that, I realize that we're also getting used to this, now, after this much time. But I'm not that happy about that, to be honest [RK - No.] I'd rather not be getting used to it.

    RK - In the midst of all this, a celebration of your work, a boxed set. 50th Anniversary boxed set. Bruce, well how amazing is it for an artist to be with the same label for fifty years? That's an incredible record of consistency.

    BC - Y'know . . . I mean it is, actually. I . . . I . . . I think it's relatively unusual. Maybe . . . not quite unique perhaps? It might be unique. But certainly rare in the music world that a relationship like that persists for so long. But, it just worked, y'know. So there's never been any real reason to wanna change it. It started because Bernie Finkelstein, who for most of those years was the owner of True North Records. Wanted to start a record label, and I wanted to make an album, and our mutual friend Gene Martynec wanted to produce . . . wanted to become a producer. We were all coming out of the, sort of the band era of the sixties. Bernie had been a manager and Gene had been a guitar player in a couple of bands, and I had also. But I had these songs that worked when I performed them solo better than any of the band stuff that I had done. And I kind of wanted to move forward with that. So, the three of us got together and True North Records started, and my first album was the first album on the label. Coming out in 1970, and it, it . . . soon after, within the year even after it came out, it was clear that I needed a manager. Bernie volunteered his services. Well, he didn't exactly volunteer. He suggested that I pay him to do that. And . . . . it seemed like a good arrangement, and we still have that arrangement. So aside from the oddness [laugh] of having been with the same label all those years, I've had the same manager all those years also. And so, that's kind of anomalous, let's say, in the music scene. But it's, it's just . . . there's been like I said, there's never really been any reason to change it.

    RK - When did you start playing the guitar, Bruce?

    BC - I was fourteen. So that would have been 1959, and I was into rock and roll in a big way and I really wanted to play guitar. I hadn't really formed the conscious intention but I just had it as 'Oh that'd be so great to be able to do that'. And then while a house we were, my dad, was having built was, as things are generally and haven't changed, I mean in this respect. The contractor was late on the thing, so the house wasn't ready when school started, and the old . . . we'd moved out of the other place, and blah, blah. So we were staying at my grandmother's house for a couple of months waiting for the new house to be finished. And I discovered in the attic, in a closet in the attic, this old beat up Hawaiian guitar that . . . and it was like Oh, this is meant to be. There's a guitar that nobody cares about and I get to have it. Y'know. So I painted gold stars on the top, and y'know posed in the mirror with it, and tried to play rock and roll riffs without much success. And then . . but my parents could kind of see where this was going, and it's like Okay look, if you want to take guitar lessons, we'll . . or if you want to play the guitar we will support that, but you have to promise to take lessons and learn to do it properly. And you have to promise you won't grow sideburns and get a leather jacket. [all laugh] I thought that was a fairly light burden, so I said Yeah okay, let's do it. And, so that's where it went.

    Bruce - Y'know Bruce - this is Bruce - If you have fifty years for the record label, but you have established fifty years with a fan base that are very, very loyal. I'm one of those people who goes back, liked your music from the start. You've done something that I think maybe only Norman Blake and a few other guitar players have done, and that is for that long be both consistent as a songwriter and consistent as a writer of instrumentals. How do you . . . how do you approach the fact that you've been able to keep, you've been able to change, do different things, but you've kept this solid fan base. I think I know why, but I'm wondering what you think.

    BC - [laughs] I think, I think it's a blessing. I don't look at it too hard. But . . . and I'm very, I'm grateful for it and I'm very kind of proud of that element of my audience, that people have been willing to hang in for that long. And through a bunch of changes too! I've tried to be the best I can be in musical terms, in lyrical terms, over those years, but in the course of that there have been changes from, y'know . . . in, in terms of musical style, in terms of the kind of direction the lyrics have gone, or the kind of the content of songs have gone. And, and most of those people have stuck with me all that time. So it's . . . I'm . . . like I say, I'm very grateful for that. [indistinguishable under next comment]

    Bruce - Well, very few people have virtuosity on the fingerboard, and that kind of a thoughtful, introspective way of making the lyrics fit the music and the playing. I learned from my friend Garnett Rogers, that you also are a very good marksman [BC laughs and makes an unintelligble comment in the background]. And I was wondering if those two things, in your mind, somehow work together. I, I . . .as a guitar player myself, I could start to see that when Garnett mentioned it the other day when we were chatting.

    BC - Y'know I don't . . . I mean it's interesting that he would say that. But to me, I didn't get involved in competitive shooting until the end of, well, 'til the very late 80s, and so it wasn't a part of anything that happened before that. But I did discover . . . I actually, sometime in the 80s, I can't remember exactly when, I lost most of the sight in my left eye because of a fungus infection I picked up somewhere. And . . . so I discovered that rather, because . . . and I'm left handed, right? So I . . . anytime I had tried to do anything involving aim - throwing a ball, shooting a bow, shooting a gun, whatever it was, I could never hit anything [laughs with RK] Never get anything to go where - it's plain dark - whatever, I could never get anything to go where I wanted it to. But when I lost the sight in the left eye, because I was assuming that because I was left handed that I'd be aiming with that eye, I suddenly discovered that I'd been right-eyed all along. And that can happen, you can be left handed and right eyed, and whatever. But . . . So all of the sudden I found that I could aim at things and hit them. And it sorta went from there. I discovered that a friend of mine who owned a guitar shop that I had frequented for years was into competitive pistol shooting. And, y'know, he said Why don't you come to the range one day and see what it's like. That appealed to me for various reasons, and so I went with him and sure enough it was fun and I just got further into it from there, so . . . And I spent maybe over a decade, twelve years-ish, quite deeply involved in competitive shooting. And then, I haven't done it for years now, but that took me through from the late eighties into the two thousands doing that, and I've . . . I got a lot out of it actually I think. And I don't . . . But I don't know how much of a relationship between that and the creative side of what I do. I think it was exciting for me to discover a) that I could hit something [RK laughs] that I was aiming at, and b) that I actually liked competing when I felt like I could actually pull it off. I've never seen myself as a competitive person, and I've always avoided any kind of whiff of competitiveness that comes into the music scene, which it does. And not so much among the musicians, although it can be there, but more from the business side. It's like Well, you have to sell more records than so-and-so. Well, surely that person who started like ten years after you shouldn't be getting more of an audience than you [RK laughs] after all this time. And you hear this stuff from people. And I've always kind of resisted that way of thinking because it seems counterproductive and inappropriate to. . . to what I think music's all about. But I discovered there was actually fun to be had, on the level of a game, like the shooting stuff, in a competitive way. And so, y'know, there was discoveries involved.

    RK - We're talking with Bruce Cockburn here on Downtown. Now you've been an outspoken activist for your entire career. I heard somebody recently say what we're experiencing now with this COVID-19 pandemic could be a preview of coming attractions, because we've failed, certainly here in the United States, we've failed to properly address the issue of climate change.

    BC - Well, that failure, pretty much, is a worldwide one. Some countries have made more meaningful gestures than others in that . . . in the direction of addressing that. But most of us haven't. And basically we live in a world that is at the service of transnational corporations, global corporations. I mean it's not quite a feudal system, we're much better off than if it were that. But it's kind of, in a gentle way, kind of like that, so y'know, the aristocracy are these CEOs and their . . . and the faceless stockholders, which is a lot of people. I mean this is the difference between us and a real feudal system is that a lot of average quote-unquote people own stock in these corporations and want to get paid on that, but . . . and expect to. But the fact is that that is, I think, the biggest single factor in keeping everybody from addressing environmental issues or even from acknowledging that there are such things. 'Cause they . . . all that money plays a very strong propaganda game. For one thing, they can buy scientists, and they do, and they can buy politicians, and they do, and . . . et cetera. Y'know, I mean whether it's overt or kind of a systemic relationship that exists between money and politics, et cetera. That's . . . it works like that, so . . . So, basically, nobody's doing enough, and we probably won't because I don't see that system changing, although it's taking a little bit of a hit right now with the virus going around and everything. But, but I don't think the hit is going to be big enough to actually change the system. I'm not sure what the system should be. I don't have . . . I don't have a . . . an agenda that way or I'm not promoting any particular set of ideas. I just think that it's pretty obvious that the way things . . . that keeping on running things the way we have been is going to result in much bigger disasters than what we're currently looking at.

    RK - Well, Bruce, we've enjoyed your music for many, many years, and appreciate all you do by using your platform to try to make the world a better place. We really appreciate you making time for us this afternoon, and wish you continued good health and success.

    BC - Well thank you very much for that, and it's, it's, yeah, nice to spend the time with you.

    RK - Thank you again. Bruce Cockburn with us here on Downtown.

    ~Transcribed by John Peregrim.

    Bruce Cockburn discusses new music and his inspirations
    By Mike Horyczun - theridgefieldpress.com

    28 May 2020 - Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist Bruce Cockburn released his first album 50 years ago, in April 1970. Thirty-four albums after the self-titled “Bruce Cockburn” disc, the celebrated musician has released an all-instrumental recording this year, “Crowing Ignites,” on the label he’s been with from the start, True North. Cockburn’s accolades include 13 Juno Awards (Canada’s equivalent to the Grammys), and induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. He’s received eight honorary doctorates, and his memoirs “Rumours of Glory” was published in 2014. Cockburn’s interest in activist issues and causes has taken him around the world, and he’s been involved in such organizations as Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and Friends of the Earth. His performance at the Fairfield Theater Company was originally planned for May, but was rescheduled for Nov. 4, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Cockburn recently took time out to talk about his musical career.

    Mike Horyczun: When you’re on tour, how do you choose what songs to perform from this enormous body of work you’ve accumulated over five decades? Do you ever go back and listen to your early material?

    Bruce Cockburn: Nobody wants to hear a show of nothing but new songs. There are the obvious ones that people have become attached to, but around that, I’ll go back and listen to the old material. Every now and then, I’ll stumble across a song that I’d forgotten about that might be worth learning and doing.

    MH: How do you know when it’s time for a new album? Your latest, for example, is an all-instrumental recording.

    BC: I generally just wait until I have enough material. The instrumental albums are a little different. The ideas for the pieces come out of jamming, basically, stumbling on something that feels like it could be developed into a bigger entity.

    MH: Who are some of the guitar players that you admire?

    BC: For a while I thought I wanted to be a jazz player, but I never really developed the chops or the ability to play two-five chords. But the influence remained and was strong. So from that quarter, there was Wes Montgomery and Gabor Zsabo, they’d be the two biggest ones, but legions of others, too. From the folk side of things, the biggest single influence was probably Mississippi John Hurt, and Mance Lipscomb, those kinds of country folk blues people. I listened to Ralph Towner. Pat Metheny is really good. I mean, there’s so many beautiful players.

    MH: Who were some of the songwriters who influenced you?

    BC: I was more influenced by writers, by printed word writers, than by songwriters. But certainly in the beginning, Bob Dylan was a huge influence. Dylan, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, lyricists who selected things that made songwriting come alive instead of just ‘Moon in June’ rhymes over standard tune changes. When I heard Dylan and that kind of generation of songwriter, I thought, yeah, maybe I want to do that too.

    MH: How important is it for you to write about things that you’ve experienced?

    BC: The writing process is always triggered by accident. I want to write about what’s around me, because that’s what I can think of to write about. I’m not good at coming up with teen love songs. Hopefully, the intention is to go around with a mental state that’s receptive to noticing what’s around, visual images, little bits of this and that, a snippet of conversation or whatever. Sometimes it’s really just noticing what’s around, and I try to put that in my songs.

    MH: You live in San Francisco now, but when you’re in Canada, are you recognized for your music?

    BC: It never was like tabloid material. But it was more of an issue when there were lots of videos out in the ’80s and through into the ’90s, big time. But even then, it wasn’t that bad. Once I was riding my bike down the street in Toronto, and somebody yelled out from the sidewalk, ‘I hate your music.’ Which I thought was kind of funny.

    MH: Are there any goals you want to achieve at this point in your career?

    BC: I’d like to survive long enough to make another album, which is about the only goal I’ve ever had. I’m not a goal person. I want to be good at what I do. That’s a goal. But it’s ephemeral. There’s no set of goalposts for that. It’s an everyday thing, right? You just try to not screw it up.

    ~from www.ridgefieldpress.com

    Bruce Cockburn A salute to Bruce Cockburn on his 75th birthday
    by Paul Corby - rootsmusic.ca

    27 May 2020 - Today, as Bruce Cockburn reaches his 75th year, we can rejoice that he is still a stealer of fire, dancing his sunwheel dance in the falling dark of the dragon’s jaws. Roots Music Canada joins the rest of the world in celebrating his birthday, his music, his Junos, his doctorates, his investiture into the Order of Canada, his inductions into numerous musical Halls of Fame, his redemptive presence as a cosmic troubadour in Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren & The Shack by William P. Young, his performances on Saturday Night Live and at Pete Seeger’s birthday party, and his perilous witness, from the front lines of fear, at scenes of political violence around the globe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    [ direct link ] - https://youtu.be/S_QZwnNQUVs

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

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

    from www.rootsmusic.ca

    Bruce Cockburn & True North release 50th Anniversary box set Bruce Cockburn and True North Records are excited to announce Bruce Cockburn's 'True North- A 50th Anniversary Box Set'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Bruce Cockburn 2020 anniversary Tour Dates.

    ~from True North Records.

    Bruce Cockburn & Linda Manzer - Mt Lefroy - Group of 7 Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Group of Seven

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

    Followed by a special musical performance by Bruce Cockburn.

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

    You can now register online for our free virtual celebration of the centenary of the first Group of Seven exhibition on May 7, hosted by Executive Director Ian Dejardin and followed by a special musical performance from Bruce Cockburn.


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

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

    Bruce Cockburn: Life during isolation and social distancing

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ~from jerryjazzmusician.com

    Bruce Cockburn self-titled album 50 years ago today, Bruce Cockburn released his first album on True North Records
    by Brad Wheeler Bruce Cockburn 1970

    7 April 2020 - The turn of the sixties into the seventies was a time of thoughtfulness and patchouli-scented spirituality, reflected by charting hits that included, in the spring of 1970, Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and the Beatles’ Let it Be. “Speaking words of wisdom,” then, was something of a genre unto itself. It was in this era that on April 7, 1970, the young Ottawan Bruce Cockburn released a spare, acoustic and introspective self-titled debut album that was at turns gentle and jaunty, marked by flowery lyricism and the lucid, seeking outlook of a self-aware artist on the cusp of something yet unclear. “It’s my turn, but where’s the guide?” the nascent troubadour wondered on Man of a Thousand Faces. The political activism of 1984's If I Had a Rocket Launcher would come later, as would 13 Juno Awards. In 1970, though, with songs such as Thoughts on a Rainy Afternoon, the gifted musician sought connections behind the things he observed. As for what lay ahead, he was characteristically clear-eyed, singing “Jesus, don’t let tomorrow take my love away.” Cockburn would win that fight. – Brad Wheeler

    26 March 2020 - Bruce sent along this photo last week (March 20) & would like to let everyone know he and his family are doing OK in San Francisco.

    Bruce Cockburn

    Interview with Bernie Finkelstein
    by Mark Dunn

    26 March 2020 - Mark Dunn Interview with Bernie Finkelstein - September 2019

    Mark: Alright. When you are working with an artist, do you do you prefer that they are somewhat involved in the business side or that they stay out of it altogether?

    Bernie: I don't think it's possible for any artist to stay out of it altogether, so that's not a possibility. However, I think your question is, "is it okay for them to be a little involved…or do I like it when they are a little involved?" and I think that depends on the person, the artist. You know, I've managed many different artists in my career. I currently only manage Bruce Cockburn but that's because I'm semi-retired. For instance, Dan Hill was quite involved in the business and I enjoyed that. I enjoyed discussing all of the daily activities and reaching out, you know, from record sales to so-and-so, why so-and-so didn't like a record. On the other hand, somebody like Bruce is quite aware of the business but he doesn't get involved on a daily basis at all but on the other hand, you know, for tour dates and things like that that you want to know about before we confirm anything like that. So there's a wide degree and I don't really have a preference as long as the person I'm dealing with shows an aptitude for what they are talking about.

    Mark: Great. If you were working with a new act in this current media landscape, how would you go about it? Would it be different than what…

    Bernie: Every once in a while I do think about it, more in a conceptual manner as opposed to a realistic manner. And I say, "what would I do today?" And I think it would be a great challenge but it would be a great market to work in in many ways. However, until you really do something, you don't really know. I don't really have a magic bullet that I'm going to be able to give to you an idea of what you should do. I don't really know but I don't know that I have any particular to say that people haven't heard over and over again. Obviously, I would be super, super aware of the social media aspect of everything and how to use that and what's the right way. But, you know, in the end it always comes down to a great song and then it comes down to intelligent and smart marketing. And then, finally to throw in the mix, a little bit of luck. Without luck, you are going nowhere. So I don't have anything to say today. I look at people out there who are doing what I used to do and some of them are doing very well and some of them aren't. That's the way it always has been.v

    Mark: Yes, for sure. Congratulations, by the way, too. This is the release date of "Crowing Ignites", right?

    Bernie: It's a funny thing that you used to release a record and you had to wait a week or two to know exactly what was happening although you would get some daily reports like oh, the record is selling well at A&A's or it's not selling very well at Sunrise. Those are the kinds of things you would get. Cues from around the rest of the world would be very slow to come in but now you get it instantly. So Bruce's record has been #1 in the US and Canada on the singer/songwriter charts on Apple and #1 on the singer/songwriter charts on Amazon on both sides of the border, and actually I have been a little lazy or I could look-not really, I've been really busy-and see what's going on in the UK or Germany. But I can just see it. I can see it right now as you and I talk that it's still #1 on the singer/songwriter charts.

    Mark: Does it seem strange to you now that there are colleges that focus on promotion and managing and manager training?

    Bernie: It's a good thing. It's a really good thing. I don't think it seems strange. I'm not unhappy that I came up when I did in the 60s. None of that was available. I don't know how that might have changed my life. I hadn't really thought about it but I think it's a good thing. I admire people like John Harris of Harris School and others that have done similar things. I don't know how you teach luck but, on the other hand, the business is very complicated so when I started off I had the advantage of even though I didn't know much, no one else knew much so it was okay. Today, people know a lot so I think that when starting out, some education could be seen as an advantage.

    Mark: A couple of Bruce questions if you don't mind. So, from an outsider's viewpoint, Bruce's first album is a classic album and it's wonderful but it doesn't really hint at what comes later if you look at his whole work without knowing. When you started, did you recognize Bruce as a genius when you first met him? Did you suspect what he would be capable of?

    Bernie: No, well, you know, it depends how you put it. I think he is but I don't go running around screaming at the top of my lungs. If you do go back to the first album…first of all I don't mind saying when I first signed Bruce it was because I thought "Going to the Country" and "Musical Friends" had the real possibility of being hits until he recorded them and then I realized that when we were recording them, Bruce didn't really want to commercialize the songs any more than they already were and then I went, "Well, that's going to make it a bit more difficult." But, with that being said, I signed him because those songs stood out to me. However, while we were making the album, and I'm not sure you are familiar with this, it was songs like "Spring Song" and "Man of a Thousand Faces" that sprung out at me and I went, "wow, this person has some serious ideas on his mind." But I didn't really realize that when I signed him-the day I signed him-I didn't realize it until I heard the whole album being played back. I mean I was in the studio everyday while it was being recorded. I think to some degree there is an indication on the first album of where he might go but it's profoundly there as it was afterwards. It was the first album. The next artist I signed was Murray MacLauchlan, although that wasn't the second record. The second one was by a synthesizer and continuum. You know, Murray became a bigger star than Bruce in the early days well before Bruce did very, very well. Bruce was a very slow grower.

    Mark: He's a long distance guy for sure.

    Bernie: Yeah, he's very brilliant, a very unique artist.

    Mark: I was surprised to learn that your business relationship was just spoken. You didn't really sign a contract or anything like that.

    Bernie: Yeah, that's right. As far as managers go, we didn't sign a contract and we still don't have a contract. We did have to sign record contracts because we had to produce record contracts so that we could make deals with other countries and other companies in other countries. So we never had a management agreement. We still don't. And I think it's a good thing because if we would have had a management contract, it would have been for five or seven years and then Bruce would have left. But now he doesn't know how to leave.

    Mark: This is the last Bruce question for you. There is this passage in "Rumors of Glory" where he writes about coming out as a Christian and then this really funny description of you-something like his image of you then becomes two arms like exclamation marks pointing to the heavens. What I'm getting at is: has Bruce's activism caused you problems in managing?

    Bernie: Well, yeah, in many ways. That's two questions, though, because you started off with his Christianity and then about his activism. I suppose in some ways, they are somewhat similar but they are different. They are very different streams. Yeah, it sort of looks good when you look at it backwards. I was thinking about that actually this morning because of a question somebody else asked me-not that I was doing another interview, they just asked me a question about "If a Tree Falls." I was thinking to myself that although that song on one hand was well accepted and did actually get a lot of radio airplay, it also was not particularly…you know, I mean, Bruce has never been a critic's favourite in a funny kind of way because his material is difficult for them sometimes. When people are singing about apartheid, Bruce was signing about the environment because he had already covered apartheid ten years before that. So he's so far ahead of the curve and when you are that far ahead of the curve, you are either taken for granted or missed. And I think the same thing is going to happen now. I've noticed that just in the last week now that the reviews are starting to come out on the instrumental album and some of the stories and even the way Bruce talks about it himself because Bruce doesn't really consider how to lead the media down the road in any particular way whatsoever.

    People want Bruce to be talking about Trump but Bruce isn't going to talk about Trump because he's got nothing to add to it. So there's a certain kind of select disappointment that Bruce isn't writing a political album and, of course, it's even exasperated by the fact it doesn't have lyrics at all. I was thinking about that today even if you go back to "Rocket Launcher" or "If a Tree Falls" or any number of Bruce's well-known (and I don't think he would like this word) political songs, they are often ahead of the curve. A lot of people didn't know what he was thinking about in "If a Tree Falls." It's much more understandable today. People didn't necessarily understand that cattle were a bad thing for the Amazon. They didn't get it all. And I'm just using that as an example. So his activism often meant that we would get a certain kind of "oh no, it's him again" thing or "oh boy, here they come again." However, that's fine, and, of course, Christianity is not very high on the check marks for being hip. It's actually pretty low. So that's what Bruce brings to the table. It's an incredibly thick mix of things and out of it comes these incredible songs.

    Mark: It's interesting now that it seems, it's almost a prerequisite that an artist needs a social cause or a political cause.

    Bernie: I guess so. I don't follow it that much. I don't hear a lot but I know that a lot of artists do have causes and that's good. The other unique thing about Bruce is that he actually wasn't writing about them and it's a simple thing to say but it's a really hard thing to do. It's easy to write a bad song about war.

    Mark: Looking at your work with Video Facts, you anticipated the importance of video to artists in the early 80s.

    Bernie: Yeah, and it's still really, really important. I'm very proud of that new video that Bruce made, the one with Kurt Swinghammer. I'm sure you've seen it.

    Mark: You mean "April in Memphis." That's wonderful.

    Bernie: It's a beauty. I would like to get more on television and not just on the internet. But, on the other hand, video is still really important. It just doesn't get played much on TV anymore because it's all available on the internet.

    Bruce Cockburn 50th Anniversary Bio
    by Bernie Finkelstein & True North Bruce Cockburn's 50th Anniversary Tour Dates banner

    3 February 2020 - Is it really fifty years ago that Bruce Cockburn's first album came out?

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

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

    Here's what Bruce has to say:

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

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

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

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

    Check out the upcoming Tour Dates !

    Interview with Bruce Cockburn
    Iconic songwriter releases a haunting, masterful second instrumental album
    by Mark Dunn

    27 January 2020 - Here is an article about and interview with Bruce Cockburn (link will open in a pdf viewer) from a recent issue of the mighty Penguin Eggs Magazine. Bruce gives his usual articulate answers to my half-baked questions, offers insight into the acoustic guitar cutaway/full bout debate, and names some guitarists who have impressed him. #brucecockburn #boucherguitars #crowingignites

    The interview was held on August 14, 2019 on da teleo-phone.

    Bruce Cockburn: Fifty Years Of Spreading Light Through Music
    By John Floridis - Montana Public Radio

    3 December 2019 - The audience at a Bruce Cockburn concert gets boisterous over “If I Had A Rocket Launcher” and reflective with the opening chords of “One Day I Walk” and “Wondering Where the Lions Are.” More than five decades into his career, Cockburn’s guitar craftsmanship and gravelly-to-smooth voice convey wide-eyed wonder, full-on fury and everything in between, delivering the mixture of opinion, observation and quietly stinging humor that characterizes his songs.

    Listen to an hour long audio interview with Bruce

    Update: You can read the transcription of this interview. Many thanks to John Peregrim for transcribing it!

    KGNU DJ, Doug Gertner interviews jazz influenced acoustic guitarist, Bruce Cockburn
    Faith in your Music

    15 November 2019 - 10 minute interview

    Originally recorded 11/15/2019

    Bruce Cockburn: A Journey Celebrated in Music
    By Brian D’Ambrosio - Montana Press

    10 November 2019 - Bruce Cockburn views time as his most precious currency. The 74-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter intends to spend well what he has left, his role models being aging musicians such as John Lee Hooker (1917-2001) and Mississippi John Hurt (1892-1966), bluesmen who played their harps until their lips trickled blood, and strummed and pined through their last shaft of sunlight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Prolific and multi-dimensional, Cockburn’s stage life has been guided by ingenuity. He decided to go wordless on his recently-released Crowing Ignites album (his second instrumental album, following Speechless in 2005), and he shows no signs of calling off the hunt for the muse.

    “I feel like I’ll get on to something – whether guitar-tuning, or a certain way of going at words, like the spoken word stuff of the ‘80s and ‘90s, when what I was doing was exploratory, and expanding the song form. The challenge is to find different ways to put all of that stuff together and still call it a song.”

    Cockburn admits that now it’s harder than ever to find untrammeled paths, and confesses that occasionally he finds himself hovering in his own footprints. His job description, however, remains the same: trap the spirit in the scrawling of pen on paper, and then pull bright notes out of six-string, 12-string, and baritone acoustics.

    “It’s easy to make mistakes (as a singer-songwriter), and now I mostly worry more about repeating myself than I do copying stuff from other people. In the early days, I went out of my way to avoid being influenced by other singer-songwriters. From the late 1960s to early 1970s, I made it a point not to listen to anything remotely close to what it was I was doing.

    “So I didn’t listen to pop music, or singer-songwriters or anything else that was similar to what I was playing. Later on, it was easier because I had established a road for myself that wasn’t like anyone else’s. Now, if I have an idea, and if it seems like a good one, I need to make sure it’s not one that I wrote 20 years ago, and yes, that does happen.

    “A lot of songs are stillborn because of that. You are never going to find new thematic material for songs, because life is life. But it’s a little harder as time goes on to find fresh ways of going at things, or not saying what you’ve said before.”

    To stay prepared he has embraced everything from folk, reggae, jazz, rock, Latin, and Delta blues, an internationalist slant he has nurtured while travelling to such places as Guatemala, Iraq, Venezuela, Mali, Mozambique, and Nepal.

    One of his trips inspired a memorable song that made its way on to “Small Source of Comfort.” Cockburn followed his younger brother, John, a doctor in the Canadian army, to Afghanistan in 2009 for one week. John joined the army at age 55 and worked for the Canadian Forces at Kandahar Airfield. In “Each One Lost,” he recounts witnessing a plane arrive that was carrying the bodies of two Canadians who’d been killed that day.

    “I had been in war zones before, but never with an actual military and with people whose language I spoke. I made a song out of it, and I’m grateful when that happens.

    “While I was there, two girls were being treated who had been too close to a roadside bomb. Most of us don’t need to be reminded that war is horrible and fucked up. There are a few important people who need to be reminded of that concept.”

    It’s interesting to consider Bruce Cockburn’s theme of spiritual growth as an individual path of self-reflection and accountability, rather than one that follows socially-sanctioned rules. At their core, his songs are stepping stones to self-realization and maturity.

    “One’s condition is fluid throughout one’s life as an artist,” said Cockburn. “The work evolves because of that inner quest and you are shaped by all of your experiences in life… The closer you get to the inevitable horizon, the less inclined you are to put up with stuff you don’t need.”

    Even after forty years in music, it’s evident there are few subjects Cockburn deems unworthy or off-limits. That bold range is manifest in a catalogue of songs touching on topics from the International Monetary Fund to the plight of refugees to dealing with land mines. He’s disciplined about writing on political opinions; something about the messy truth inspires his most bighearted, beautifully rendered music.

    Indeed, Cockburn’s most endearing tunes include one of his political tracks, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” about the slaughter of innocent civilians from the air in Latin America, and the radio-friendly “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” which peaked at Number 21 on the U.S. Billboard “Hot 100” in 1980.

    Bruce Cockburn’s music has often been noted for its empathetic qualities, qualities that reflect the artist’s desire to expand his and others’ capacity for empathy and compassion and thinking outside the tribe, so to speak.

    “For each of us I think that there is always a kind of inner struggle between having empathy with others and selfishness. So, for me, expanded empathy is a good thing. You need enough ego to survive – it is a kind of survival tool.

    “I think we all feel it in different degrees. But beyond that, it’s the fairly obvious sense that we are all in this boat together, and we need to approach each other from that perspective. I’m on a constant campaign to suspend judgment of others. It shouldn’t be the attitude where you only look out for yourself, and to hell with everyone else. People are tribal with the group they feel closest to: their neighbors, their church groups, whatever, and their sense of self expands to include that group, and not anyone else.”

    Striving to be both a tribe of one and the head of a family of tens of thousands, Cockburn’s sense of purpose always pulsates through both his close at-hand live performances and reverberations far afield.

    “I believe that all living things are made up of music,” said Cockburn. “I see music as my diary, my anchor through anguish and pleasure, a channel for my heart.”

    Montana Press

    Bruce Cockburn back on tour, plenty of books in tow
    By ANN WRIGHT - Grand Junction Sentinel

    14 November 2019 - Bruce Cockburn has been on tour one day, and he's already been given two bags of books.

    Cockburn is an avid reader, and he has authored a book himself: "Rumours of Glory," a memoir released in 2014.

    "People give me books all the time," said Cockburn in a phone interview just hours before performing in Vancouver, Canada, on a tour for "Crowing Ignites," an all-instrumental CD that came out in September.

    Cockburn, 74, is joined for this tour by his nephew, John Aaron Cockburn, who is adding accordion and harmonies to Cockburn's music and will be with Bruce.

    Touring with his nephew "has been real fun," Cockburn said. "It's been working quite well."

    And as a bonus for people who previously have been to a Cockburn show, "they won't have seen this particular presentation before," he said.

    "We're doing a few pieces from the new instrumental album, but there is a cross section of songs from through the decades," he said.

    Those decades, which start about 1970 with the Canadian musician's debut release, include more than 30 albums and hundreds of songs with Cockburn's genre-crossing guitar playing, dynamic lyrics and songwriting that has run the topical gamut from relationships to political and environmental activism.

    His discography reflects a man constantly on the move, both professionally and mentally. While Cockburn isn't slowing musically, he has made changes in recent years to his touring schedule.

    "I've got a young daughter at home and I want to be home sometimes. My touring is structured so I can do that," he said.

    Instead of six weeks or more on the road, "now we go for a couple weeks and take time off," he said.

    Any longer than that and Cockburn might need a trailer for all the books he has been given.

    Right now he's struggling to focus on books with "serious stuff," he said.

    "I read way too much news and magazine stuff," Cockburn said. It's interesting, informative and mind-widening, "but a lot of it is an invitation to wallow in the worst of humanity."

    But he still can put a James Lee Burke novel away in a couple of days. He was given "Collected Stories" by Raymond Chandler for Christmas last year and "that was fun reading through those and it took very little effort," he said of the noir mysteries. "They're just fantastic."

    He did bring his own reading material for this tour, before the two bags of "wonderful" book gifts.

    The first was "Laphman's Quarterly." It looks like a trade paperback, but it's a magazine, he said.

    "Climate" is the fall theme for the quarterly, with all kinds of juxtaposing articles, one by an ancient Greek writer, another by a current writer and so on.

    It's interesting reading and works well with being on tour because you can read a bit at a time, Cockburn said.

    The other book he brought is the biography "Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth and Neo-Nazism" by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke.

    It was sent to him by a friend, who looked over the book and wrote, "It talks about God and war and it sounds like it's right up your alley," recalled Cockburn with a chuckle.

    "It's an interesting and disturbing book," he said.

    But books aside and on to Grand Junction, where he last performed about 10 years ago. "I'm looking forward to coming and playing," Cockburn said.

    Grand Junction Sentinel

    Durango to host iconic singer-songwriter, guitarist Bruce Cockburn
    By Katie Chicklinski-Cahill - Durango Herald

    7 November 2019 - When iconic Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist Bruce Cockburn takes the stage at Henry Strater Theatre on Nov. 16, he’ll be joined by his nephew, John Aaron Cockburn, a whole bunch of guitars – and an accordion.

    The two are currently on tour in support of Bruce Cockburn’s latest release – his 34th – “Crowing Ignites,” an instrumental album, a first for Cockburn, who since the release of his self-titled debut album in 1970, has continued to put out albums every couple of years.

    “That’s something I haven’t done before,” he said. “We did an instrumental album a few years ago, but it was a compilation of previously released tracks with a few new ones added. And this one is all new, so that’s the thing that’s most different about it.”

    The album’s title is a literal translation of the Latin motto “Accendit Cantu” featured on the Cockburn family crest. Although a little puzzling, Cockburn liked the feeling it conveyed: “Energetic, blunt, Scottish as can be,” he said in new release. It explores an array of genres, including folk. blues and jazz – with a few surprises, including the appearance of Tibetan singing bowls.

    And while the majority of the album was written out of the studio, two pieces – “Bells of Gethsemane” and “Seven Daggers” – were built in house, he said.

    “I went in knowing that I wanted to do that because they were layered with different sounds of instruments I can’t play all at once, and singing bowls and chimes and stuff like that,” Cockburn said. “That was the exception. But otherwise, everything on the album I had under my hands before I went in. Those pieces were a lot of fun to put together.”

    So what could possibly be left to do for a musician who has won tons of awards and has released 34 albums – is there anything he still has on his list of things to do and people to work with?

    The only thing Cockburn knows for sure is that he’s not slowing down anytime soon.

    “That changes all the time. It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, that’d be great to have such and such on an album or so and so doing this.’ A lot of my old heroes are kind of dead, so they’re not really available – people from the jazz world who were models for me when I was starting out,” he said. “At this point, I would like to just keep going. I don’t have a specific thing in mind. In a perfect world, I would get to do an album of covers someday, songs that mean something to me. But I’d also like to keep doing my own stuff until I can’t.”

    While Cockburn’s show in Durango will include some of the pieces from “Crowing Ignites,” it’s not an instrumental show, he said, adding that he hopes listeners will enjoy the new album.

    “I’d like them to take the album away with them (laughs), that’s the main thing. But failing that, it’s just music; there’s no message,” he said. “I hope people find a place for it in their lives and that it suits whatever moods they find compatible with it that they experience. That’s kind of what you hope for with an instrumental thing.”

    ~from Durango Herald - Katie Chicklinski-Cahill

    No words required for Bruce Cockburn to say something
    by Mike Devlin / Times Colonist

    7 November 2019 - Bruce Cockburn is no different than other writers who make their living through music. Some new compositions sit around for years, such as Gifts, which was written in 1968 but didn’t appear on an album by Cockburn until 2011’s Small Source of Comfort. Others spend considerably less time on the shelf.

    Making music is an interesting process for the 13-time Juno Award winner, who always seems to be flipping between the past and present, deeply adverse to the idea of stasis. He could have taken an easy route when making his latest recording, Crowing Ignites. He could have settled into an easy groove for his 26th studio album. But he chose to push forward into another phase of his career, one of the most illustrious in Canadian music. What emerged were 11 new instrumental compositions that find Cockburn still exploring the outer acres of his very capable, very esteemed guitar talents.

    “Our original plan for this album was to make Speechless 2, because there’s a whole album left over from pieces we didn’t use,” Cockburn said of Crowing Ignites, the second instrumental album of his career after 2005’s Speechless. “We could have made a pretty nice album out of that, but I ended up with so much new stuff it took on its own life.”

    The songs on Crowing Ignites say plenty, even though they don’t have words.

    The new song Sweetness and Light was written on a particularly positive day, Cockburn said; the title simply reflected what he was feeling at the time. Easter was written on the holiday of the same name, while April in Memphis was written, on Martin Luther King Day, in reference to the anniversary of King’s death. Naming songs is never difficult, especially when lyrics are involved. But with an instrumental album, the task is more of an abstract exercise, he said with a laugh.

    “There is an element of pointing at ideas or notions in the title-giving stage, but the music is just the music. The issue of ‘saying something’ comes into it not so much in the inventing of the music, because what I want to say is the music itself. But you have to give these pieces titles, otherwise you’re stuck with Opus Such and Such. I don’t care for that approach.”

    Cockburn, 74, is ending a brief break from the road (spent at home in San Francisco, with his wife and daughter) with a string of dates to support Crowing Ignites. He’ll be joined for his nearly sold-out show at the Royal Theatre on Friday by his nephew, John Aaron Cockburn, on accordion and guitar. Cockburn enlists his full band when the shows call for sonic sophistication, but he’s enjoying the understated approach the duo set-up provides. “For this time period and the nature of the album — it’s basically just a bunch of solo guitar — it didn’t seem appropriate to celebrate that album with a band, particularly.”

    Shows on his Canadian run won’t be heavily focused on the new album, and the new songs he is committed to doing will be presented in a redesigned manner, Cockburn said. “A piece called Blind Willie, for instance, where Colin Linden plays a great slide guitar part on the album, will be done by John Aaron on the accordion. They will have a different feel, but they give you the same kind of rootsy energy that the recorded version has.”

    That Cockburn chose to make an album with no lyrics at a time when he could have said something powerful was a curious decision. Long outspoken, on topics ranging from Christianity and environmental disaster to war, many expected him to offer his eloquence on climates both political and personal. He never felt pressure to add his voice to chorus, however, which at this point in his career should go without saying. Of the songwriters working today, Cockburn — who recently offered his thoughts about the environment on False River, a song from 2017’s Bone on Bone — is as credentialled as anyone, and has nothing to prove in 2019.

    “I haven’t felt motivated to add to the clamour,” he said. “Everybody who listens to me, or takes me seriously, knows what we’re dealing with here, and would agree with me on what I’d say about Donald Trump, et cetera. Donald Trump gets more attention than he deserves as it is, he doesn’t need help from me in that regard.

    “It’s not like I’ve been silent on that stuff. People are wondering: ‘Why an instrumental album now?’ But I don’t think it’s a meaningful issue, that I did an instrumental album now. I could have done it at any time. It wasn’t a case of: ‘Jeez, I don’t want to talk about this now or talk about that now.’ There’s lots to talk about, but there’s also lots of talking going on, and nobody is really paying attention to what is being said.”


    What: Bruce Cockburn
    Where: Royal Theatre
    When: Friday, Nov. 8, 8 p.m.
    Tickets: $57.50-$89.75 from the Royal McPherson box office (250-386-6121) or rmts.bc.ca

    TimesColonist.com / Mike Devlin

    Bruce Cockburn on Garcia Confusion, Echo Chambers and Singing Bowls
    by Dean Budnick - Relix.com

    6 November 2019 - “The original was to do Speechless Two,” Bruce Cockburn explains, while describing the origins of his new record, Crowing Ignites. On 2005’s Speechless, he recorded some of his prior instrumental compositions, placing a particular focus on his stellar acoustic-guitar work. (Speechless earned him a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Instrumentalist.) But, while Crowing Ignites once again finds Cockburn on an acoustic, this time the 11 compositions are all new. He explains, “We had a lot of unreleased material, including recordings that didn’t make it on Speechless. But, once I started coming up with a few new pieces, they just didn’t stop coming.”

    I wasn’t there but, apparently, when you performed in the Relix office, some of our younger staffers were unaware that your song “Waiting for a Miracle” was not a Jerry Garcia original.

    Yes, the kids recognized the song because they are paying attention to the Dead and Jerry’s music. That association is entirely complimentary—it’d be nicer if everyone went, “Oh, yeah, great song,” but that’s the way it goes. I was at the home of someone I know in Oakland, playing some songs to help cheer up his son, and this woman from next door sat down for a while. She was a big Dead fan and, when I played that song, she had no idea it wasn’t a Jerry Garcia song. She was quite skeptical of me claiming that I wrote it. I said, “Yeah, it’s my song,” and she looked at me like, “He’s bullshitting me.” [Laughs.]

    These things happen. They don’t happen to me very often because, compared to other songwriters, not a huge number of famous people have recorded my songs. Some have tried, but I don’t know if I’ve ever met a Jimmy Buffett fan, for instance, who has made the connection that he’s recorded some of my songs.

    As a young person, it didn’t really matter to me who wrote the song. “Ivory Joe Hunter, who the hell was that?” Now, it’s a bit more fashionable to pay attention to those things, but it’s not that big a deal.

    I imagine that some people have been surprised that you released an all-instrumental record during this politically charged era?

    Yes, apparently everybody’s expecting me to say something bad about Donald Trump. But everybody else is doing that already; I don’t need to do that, too. He gets enough attention.

    Plus, when I look around, everyone’s nattering away: Liberals are bad. Liberals are weird. Liberals are gonna do something bad to my kid. And then, on the liberal side of it, all the conservatives are gonna do these bad things. It’s ridiculous. But who’s listening? We’re all only listening inside our little echo chamber.

    What we need is something that promotes unity, something to pull us together and to allow to look at each other and go, “Hey, we all appreciate the same thing here.” That happened in a different kind of way in the 1980s, with Stealing Fire. In the Reagan era, I’d play these shows, and I’d look out at the audience. In response to songs like “Nicaragua” or “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” people were looking at each other going, “I’m not alone here” because there was no media coverage at that time with a dissenting view. But when all these people were in a concert hall and listening to this music, they were looking at each other and going, “Oh, yeah, all these people feel the way I do about it.” It’s empowering, and a great feeling for me, to witness something like that.

    What we need now is something that will come out and do the same thing in a much more difficult context, where you’re dealing with people that just don’t agree with each other. Many of us are coming to recognize that it’s not sustainable to continue like this. There are people interested in exploiting this intentional fragmentation. We’ve got to fix it. I don’t think a song can fix it, but I think a body of popular sentiments expressed in song might.

    The song “Bells of Gethsemane,” on Crowing Ignites , features a number of singing bowls. How did that came about?

    I went into the studio with all the pieces composed, except for that one and “Seven Daggers.” Over the years, I’ve accumulated a number of singing bowls. They sound so beautiful, and I’ve just always wanted to use them for something. But, the application of them to my normal music is kind of limited because I can’t play the guitar and play those bowls at the same time. Also, they’re not tuned to A440; they’re tuned to whatever they’re tuned to and they’re suggestive of notes, but they are not very clear that way. You have to establish a context. I just thought, “I want to make a piece out of singing bowls. I want to build something using those.” I have all these other things—orchestral chimes, and various other ring-y things that I’ve accumulated. The intention was to build a piece out of all that stuff. So, I put down a couple layers of singing bowls, chimes and various other things, and added the baritone guitar over the top. I was very pleased with how it came out. It’s exciting for me to get that rich sound into a recording.

    Your songs often have overt political messages. How do you respond when people receive them in a way that doesn’t entirely align with your intent?

    I have to let go of my intentions for a song once it’s out there. I’d go crazy trying to understand where everybody could possibly take my ideas, or how they want to interpret them, unless it’s something really flagrant or they’ve completely got it backward. If someone came up, for instance, and said, “Oh, I really like that ‘Rocket Launcher’ song. I really want to go down and kill Guatemalan soldiers; it gave me all kinds of energy to do that,” then I’d have to take them up on it. I’d have to say, “Oh, no, that’s not the idea.”

    Think of an abstract painting. If someone were to have a conversation about Salvador Dalí and his melting clocks, I’m sure he would have something to say, but it would be foolish if he thought that what he understood those things to represent was universally grasped by everyone. It’s true no matter how simple an idea seems to be. Something like motherhood means different things to different people. We can talk about motherhood and apple pie, but there are some people who didn’t have a very good time with motherhood or don’t enjoy apple pie. You have to have a lighter grasp of your intentions, once the piece is out there. Once it’s out, it’s up for grabs.

    ~from Relix.com

    Bruce Cockburn Talks 'Crowing Ignites,' His Deep New Album of Acoustic Instrumentals
    by Jimmy Leslie - Guitarplayer.com

    7 November 2019 - Cockburn's new album is a full batch of recently written glory showcasing his fingerpicking prowess, knack for texture and masterful sense of melody.

    "Once the lucky accident of finding an interesting riff happens, then I’ll get down to the more deliberate work of figuring out what’s going to happen next,” Bruce Cockburn explains. The national treasure from the Great White North won the 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards Solo Artist of the Year honor for his 33rd album, Bone on Bone, and now the outrageously prolific fingerpicker has a deep new album of acoustic instrumentals on his hands called Crowing Ignites (True North).

    Cockburn, who relocated to San Francisco five years ago, is a consummate singer-songwriter, as renowned for his lyrical poignancy as for his exceptional electric and acoustic guitar skills. His albums usually contain an instrumental gem or three, and his last all-instrumental affair, 2005’s Speechless, was a compilation of mostly previously recorded material. Crowing Ignites, on the other hand, is a full batch of recently written glory showcasing Cockburn’s fingerpicking prowess, knack for texture and masterful sense of melody.

    The album’s enigmatic title is a nod to Cockburn’s Scottish heritage and a literal translation of the Latin motto, Accendit Cantu, which appears on his family crest. The guitarist says he appreciates the qualities it conveys, calling it “energetic, blunt, Scottish as can be.”

    “Bardo Rush,” the album’s kickoff cut, exemplifies Cockburn’s ability to maintain a driving rhythm while wheeling through melodic double-stops. “April in Memphis” reveals another side of his fingerstyle technique, consisting of cascading arpeggio rolls and free-time linear licks that ebb and flow. Throughout the proceedings, long-time producer and multi-instrumentalist Colin Linden adds welcome layers to Cockburn’s canvas, such as the bluesy Dobro on “Blind Willie.” The duo cut the record over a week in March of this year, at a converted condo that formerly housed a firehouse in San Francisco.

    What inspired you to reconnect so heavily with the guitar?

    The original concept was to do Speechless II, because people had responded well to the first one. But once I started actively looking for instrumental ideas, I ended up with so much new stuff that it became its own thing.

    Do you tend to write tunes on the instrument that you ultimately use to record them?

    A song often ends up being attached to the instrument, unless it’s an acoustic six-string, because I have several and they are interchangeable from a compositional point of view. But it makes a big difference if a song is written on an electric guitar, the 12-string acoustic, or something as unique as the dulcimer or the charango, because then the instrument’s characteristics become part of the song.

    For instance, “Seven Daggers” starts with a layer of charango providing a rhythmic ostinato that runs through the entire piece. It’s kind of the South American equivalent of a mandolin, but instead of eight strings in four unison pairs, it’s got 10 that are tuned in a peculiar way, with the lowest-pitched string in the middle. The charango was the first instrument I had Linda Manzer make for me back in the ’80s. I’d gotten to know her from a distance when she was apprenticing for John Larrivée in the ’70s, which was when I got my first handmade guitar. Subsequently, she made me a couple of electrics and a couple of acoustics.

    I layered a Manzer 12-string part on “Seven Daggers.” “Bells of Gethsemane” started out with a track of Tibetan singing bowls, and then the jangly parts were layered, including a track I played on a baritone guitar made for me by Tony Karol. All of the other songs on Crowing Ignites were written from practicing and exploring on an acoustic six-string.

    Was there a particular workhorse for the recording?

    Actually, I recorded all of the six-string parts using a little guitar from Boucher, which is a small company in Quebec. When I was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in the fall of 2017 at an event in Toronto, a guy from Boucher gave a guitar to each of the guitar players, including Neil Young, Michel Rivard from Beau Dommage and myself. I didn’t expect much of it, because promotional giveaway items aren’t usually the best, but this Boucher guitar turned out to be fantastic.

    I had a Martin 00-18 a long time ago, and this guitar reminds me of that one. It’s proportioned in a way that my aging, arthritic hands can get around the neck a little more easily. I’m having so much fun playing it. [Boucher says Cockburn received a custom shop version of its SG-161-U, featuring unique inlays and special appointments. The guitar is based on an OM Hybrid from Boucher’s Studio Goose series and personalized with the company’s Ultimate Pack, which includes a master grade Adirondack red spruce top and AAAAA-grade Canadian flamed maple back and sides.]

    How did you develop the opening track, “Bardo Rush”?

    I started out fooling around on my 12-string, which I normally keep tuned to double-drop D, but a whole step lower, so I guess that’s double-drop C. But when I tried it on the six-string, I felt it had a better vibe and more fluidity, so “Bardo Rush” ultimately wound up on the Boucher tuned to double-drop D. The main melody section is made up of double-stops. It’s a harmonized riff that starts off in the fifth position and moves down from there. Underneath all the melodic stuff, I’m hitting quarter notes with my thumb on the sixth string in a Big Bill Broonzy or Mance Lipscomb kind of way, to keep a low drone going.

    It’s interesting how you anchor your plucking hand with your pinkie underneath the soundhole while you hit bass notes with your thumb and the middle strings with your middle fingers.

    It’s terrible technique from a classical perspective to have your pinkie anchored like that. But to be able to dig in to the groove the way I want to, I need that anchor. It helps me keep the thumb rhythm intact.

    What’s the story behind “April in Memphis”?

    On Martin Luther King Day of this year, I was at home and exploring on the guitar, and I simply tuned the second string down from B to A while leaving the rest in standard. A large part of using alternate tunings is to get open strings ringing out and notes running against each other that you don’t have access to in standard tuning. In this case, with an A on the second string, I found that if I played an E minor–style chord, I got this interesting effect of the 4th coming up all the time, especially when using a rolling, arpeggiated picking pattern.

    Once again, I use double-stops to play the melody. Different picking approaches deliver different emotional effects, and this piece came out a bit wistful and mournful, in a way that seemed to reflect the poignancy of how Martin Luther King’s life ended so unfortunately, with his assassination, during the month of April, in Memphis.

    “Sweetness and Light” has the opposite feeling. It’s simply beautiful.

    Yeah, and that came from fooling around with using opposing motion in DADGAD. I’ve got fingers on the first and third strings, two frets apart. It makes something that resembles a chord. When you move it over a string, you’ve got another thing like that. But then I thought, What happens if I reverse them?

    I had the first finger on the third string and the fourth finger on the first string, and then I switched them. So that top moves down a whole tone while the bottom note moves up a whole tone. And then I move it over a string and I do the same thing. The melody builds from that series of moves. It happened really fast, and I didn’t have to give any thought at all to the title. The song popped out and wanted to be called “Sweetness and Light” right away.

    “Blind Willie” is a fun bluesy number named after Blind Willie Johnson. Care to share some insights?

    It’s in the same tuning as “April in Memphis,” with only the second string dropped a whole step from standard. The tune is in the key of A minor. The idea was to arrange something like a gospel tune in structure, which would have the equivalent of a repeating chorus with all sorts of melodic improvisation in between. Once again, I’m thumping quarter notes in the bass. Other than the main riff, the tune was essentially improvised with Colin Linden playing slide on my Dobro.

    He’s produced many of your albums and plays lots of different instruments. What do you do on tour when you don’t have him on hand to act as your Swiss army knife?

    Good question. The solo pieces obviously are not much of a problem. The only problem they present is how to put them into a band show like I’m doing right now without losing the momentum. I can pull off a piece like “Blind Willie” on my own, but it is better to play it along with someone else. The fall tour starting in September when Crowing Ignites comes out will be a duo with my nephew John Aaron Cockburn, who plays guitar and accordion.

    What’s your amplification strategy?

    I play Manzer acoustics equipped with Fishman electronics. It’s one of their older systems that incorporates an internal mic as well as an onboard pickup. I had those signals split into two output jacks. I run an XLR from the microphone straight to the house. The pickup signal runs through a few effects including a Moog tremolo, TC Electronic chorus and reverb pedals, and a couple of Boss echo units that feed into a passive stereo D.I. That stereo signal blends with the microphone signal to give the full sound to the P.A. system. I use in-ear monitors so I don’t have to worry about feedback.

    Are you in full instrumental mode?

    I’ve got this instrumental album coming out, so it will be the focus, but it’s not like the whole show is going to be instrumental. People want to hear songs they’ve heard before, and I want to sing them, so the material will be a mix of new and old.

    ~from GuitarPlayer.com - Jimmy Leslie

    Editor note: This interview most likely took place summer of 2019

    Bruce Cockburn wants you to change the food system

    17 October 2019 - The way food is grown and distributed today means exploitation, displacement and hunger for nearly 1 billion family farmers.

    Longtime SeedChange (formerly USC Canada) champion, Bruce Cockburn wants that to change. Listen to his message below and let’s remember who grows our food. Let’s work toward justice for small-scale farmers.


    Besides being a legendary Canadian musician, Bruce Cockburn has been a donor and champion of our work for nearly 50 years. He became the voice of our public service announcements when SeedChange founder, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova, retired. He also travelled to our programs in Nepal and Mali, witnessing first-hand the impact of donors’ support.

    ~from https://weseedchange.org/ (was USC Canada)

    Iconic folk-rocker Bruce Cockburn talks about new work, touring and living in the U.S.
    by Tom Murray - LeaderPost.com

    17 October 2019 - There was a very brief period a few years back where Bruce Cockburn wondered whether he was still a songwriter.

    There was a very brief period a few years back where Bruce Cockburn wondered whether he was still a songwriter.

    “It was just after I released my memoir,” said the singer-songwriter who plays Centennial Hall Sunday.

    “I had invested all of the energy normally used in songwriting into my book (2014’s Rumours of Glory), and when I was done I looked around and wondered if I was still able to do it.”

    That question was laid to rest with Bone on Bone, which went on to win Contemporary Roots Album of the Year at the 2018 Juno Awards.

    Now the iconic folk-rocker (and guitar wizard), known for an eclectic range of hits like the incendiary If I Had a Rocket Launcher, the lilting Wondering Where the Lions Are, and the heart opening Lovers in a Dangerous Time, is preparing to follow up with an all-instrumental album called Crowing Ignites.

    Q: What was the genesis of Crowing Ignites?

    A. My manager Bernie (Finkelstein) and I had come up with an idea to do what was going to be called Speechless 2. Speechless (which came out in 2005) was a compilation of previously recorded songs, with a few new tracks added on. We thought, OK, let’s do the same again, but I ended up writing so much that it became its own album. I had a lot of fun with it, and brought in these loosely structured songs with some improvisation, while others are less improvised. In the case of Seven Daggers I just played a charango (an Andean stringed instrument) pattern and then started putting stuff on top of that.

    Q: Will you be devoting your tour to just instrumentals?

    A. Not the whole show. I think people would be unhappy with me if I did that, and I know I’d be unhappy. There are a few that have made their way into the set list, though. There’s a piece that was constructed in the studio with me playing all the parts; the band I’m touring with can play those parts, while I get to do all of the show-off moves.

    Q: Because of your propensity for releasing instrumental albums, as well as your similar interests in mysticism, I tend to put you in the same category as Richard Thompson.

    A. We’ve been on the same bill a number of times, and Richard is a great guitar player. We have different skill sets, and I’m definitely an admirer. I guess that’s my way of saying that I don’t mind being lumped in with him.

    Q: You’ve been living in the U.S. for a decade now, which must be very eye-opening for you.

    A. I actually lived in the States the first time in the ’60s, during the Vietnam War, and that was similar in some regards. When I first started hanging out there again with my then-girlfriend and now wife it was a very different scene. It was Obama’s America, and it had a very different feel. In spite of what I felt were many flaws in that administration there was a generally positive atmosphere, and a kind of sense of hope in the air. That’s not so evident right now.

    Q: It’s strange how the current government hasn’t quite galvanized the music scene in the same way Johnson and then Nixon did.

    A. Well, when someone like Kanye West is a big Trump supporter … it’s definitely weird. People are very polarized, though it’s hard to find Trump supporters in San Francisco. It can feel like an echo chamber at times, because of the degree of polarization. You can’t really have a conversation with anyone about this stuff unless it’s partisan.

    Q: You’ve been around long enough to have seen the way the political pendulum swings. Is it that worrying to you?

    A. I think of someone like Ronald Reagan, who had a very public smoothness. I once spoke with (then-Sandinista leader, now Nicaraguan President) Daniel Ortega’s wife Rosario about a trip they took to Washington to meet the Reagans. They were invited to this party where everyone was very hospitable and nice, but at this point Reagan was saying things like he supported the (U.S.-backed right wing rebel) Contras and saying “I am a Contra.” In a diplomatic context he was nice, but from a global perspective he was awful.

    Q: You can’t really call the current U.S. President a very smooth politician.

    A. I think his cosmic function is to create chaos and disorder. It’s one of his two talents; the other is getting attention.

    ~from Leaderpost.com - Tom Murray

    Bruce Cockburn: In Studio A - Interview & performance
    by Paul Cavalconte - WFUV.org

    16 October 2019 - Canadian singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Bruce Cockburn has given us a lifetime of deep songs and engaging performances. His newest effort is an all-instrumental album called Crowing Ignites. The odd phrase is a literal translation of the Latin expression that is on the Cockburn family coat of arms.

    Bruce Cockburn - WFUV.org 2019 - photo Nora Doyle

    Click through for an audio interview : WFUV.org

    That anchor in tradition and Cockburn's identity drives the new music, which he says invites participation. As a songwriter who skips the words on this go-around, the listener is challenged to use their imagination to fill in the blanks.

    In Studio A, Cockburn performed the flamenco-tinged "Angels In The Half Light," and he also sang "States I'm In," from the 2017 release, Bone On Bone.
    (click through for the videos of the instudio performance)

    As he also told me in our conversation, life and his music is a journey that finds it's own path. Fifty years after his debut album, Cockburn recalls his own 50th birthday, and how life magically got easier and more rewarding because so much of the heavy lifting was already done.

    Recorded: 7/18/19; Engineer: Sam Lazarev; Producer: Sarah Wardrop; Photo: Nora Doyle/WFUV

    ~ from WFUV.org

    Bruce Cockburn: From A Yorkville Hippie To An Officer Of The Order Of Canada
    Dolce Magazine - dolcemag.com

    11 October 2019 - Musician Bruce Cockburn has been a singer and songwriter of poetic lyrics and bon mots for more than five decades.

    Click through for video interview

    There are times when being a part of history, albeit a tumultuously famous (some might even say infamous) one, becomes a badge of honour, the tipping point from which many other seismic life events are launched. Toronto’s Yorkville scene in the mid-to-late 1960s and early 1970s was such a place. Although today’s well-heeled visitors to the area might not be able to fathom it, Yorkville in those earlier days was comparable, on a smaller scale, to New York’s bumping Greenwich Village. The hub of a creative, nonconformist, bohemian, longhaired subculture, Yorkville’s hippie scene was entrenched in a tie-dye plethora of folk, rock and jazz music, suede and leather-fringed jackets, a surfeit of free love and, oh yes, a lot of marijuana smoking, which five decades later would become legal — a fact that no one would have imagined at the time.

    Bruce Cockburn - Dolce Magazine 2019 - photo Carlos A. Pinto

    One of Yorkville’s greatest contributions to music aficionados was the exceptional quality of musicians who got their start in the 40-plus coffee houses and bars that dotted the streets of the Yorkville scene, which encompassed Hazelton Avenue, Cumberland Street, Avenue Road and Bay Street. The famed Penny Farthing coffee house attracted big-name talent such as James Taylor, and Simon & Garfunkel. And the renowned Riverboat Coffee House, where stars such as Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young played, is also where Ottawa native Bruce Cockburn — folk singer, songwriter, author and multiple Juno awardee — often played. On the big stage, the singer shared a concert bill with a who’s-who of musical proficiency, including The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream. With his ever-present round-rimmed spectacles, and his long, dark hair curling out from underneath a fedora trimmed with leather strips, Cockburn’s gentle, commanding voice and poetic lyrics captivated audiences. They knew all the words to his wildly popular, songs-for-the-decades hits, such as “Wondering Where the Lions Are” (1979), “Rumours of Glory” (1980), “The Trouble with Normal” (1983), “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” (1984), “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” (1984) and “Call It Democracy” (1986), to name just a few.

    A man whose words shone like beacons in his lyrics, Cockburn’s ability to interact with others throughout his younger years was one that was fraught with angst and rage. “I was wrapped up in myself — not in a narcissistic way, but in terms of mistrust of the world. I was not open to other people,” Cockburn says. “A lot of my adult life has been a big learning curve in terms of empathizing and loving people. In the process of navigating through life, I have learned things — sometimes quickly, and sometimes as an uneven trickle. Every time there has been a discovery, there has likely been a song. We all have a lot in common throughout our lives, including scars. None of us gets out of our childhood/youth without some damage. The scars unite us; if we find those scars in a person and are open to the energy they offer from that place, then it is a binding agent. We are all in this together.”

    After spending some time in Paris performing as a street musician, Cockburn attended Boston’s esteemed Berklee College of Music, where he spent a few semesters before quitting. “I was learning things at Berklee, but I had this strong feeling, a prompting that I needed to be elsewhere, do something else, which I’m still doing. Whatever predisposed me to listen to those promptings, it all worked out pretty well.”

    Ironically, many decades later, Cockburn was awarded an honorary doctorate of music from Berklee. (One of many he has been awarded.) “I didn’t have to do the work and I got my degree,” he laughs. Cockburn’s awards are many: he is an inductee into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (2001); recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award (2014); an inductee into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2017); and the 2017 recipient of the Folk Alliance International People’s Voice Award. All of these awards are certainly balms that boosted the confidence of Cockburn, who, throughout his 20s and 30s, felt like a stranger in a strange land. “It certainly softens the effect of feeling like a loner,” he says. “But the feeling of affection and embrace that comes from the audience is really what fills me.”

    For an extensive part of his career, Cockburn was known as much for his sense of rage as he was for his mastery of music. He credits acquiring a sense of perspective on that rage as a part of growing up. “A lot of what I have written comes from that place [of rage],” he says. “When I wrote ‘If I Had a Rocket Launcher,’ I didn’t feel like I was venting. I know the song was the cause of head scratching for some people, but for me it was an expression of pain and outrage at what I felt — what I empathized with — which was the plight of the Guatemalan refugees. I was trying to paint an emotional picture of what I felt — it came from a deep place. How it was perceived by people who weren’t familiar with the situation was really an expression of their rage. The radio success of that song was a big surprise to me.”

    “Every Time I Hear That Music I Am Transported To Some Windswept Headland, Sipping Whisky Out Of A Seashell”

    Like many of his activist peers in the ’70s and ’80s, Cockburn used his music as a commentary on political events that were concerning to him. He does not consider himself an activist per se (he considers himself more in the domain of reactivism than activism), but his political voice and opinions have definitely resonated in an impactful way on a wide range of issues over the years, including native rights — particularly the Haida peoples’ struggles around land claims in British Columbia — as well as human rights atrocities in third-world countries, third-world debt and the ecological decline of the environment. His politicking has taken him to Guatemala, Mali, Mozambique, Cambodia, Vietnam and Nepal, to name a few. And while some of his politically active counterparts, such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, felt that their careers were impacted by their activism (Sainte-Marie discovered that the FBI had a file on her in the 1980s), Cockburn feels his outspokenness did not affect him. “I was inducted into the Order of Canada (1983), and then promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada (2003), so I don’t think that suggests any kind of repression,” he says. “I have allowed my mouthing off to be used for people who are truly activists, and I feel good about being allowed to be used that way, if the cause is good.”

    The most active cause Cockburn is currently involved in is the raising of his daughter, Iona, who is seven. “I have limited time to be in her life and I want to make the most of it,” the singer says. Cockburn, 74, married his current wife, Mary Josephine (M.J.), an attorney, in 2014. “A lot of the kids think I am Iona’s grandfather,” Cockburn says, with not a twinge of awkwardness in his voice. A proud father, Cockburn describes Iona, who is bilingual, as sharp, independent and a constant source of amazing stuff. “She learns songs really fast and knows all of the lyrics to my songs; her favourite is ‘Call It Democracy,’ although I am not sure why.”

    Jenny, now 43, is Cockburn’s daughter with his first wife, Kitty Macaulay. “When I was a parent in my 30s, I don’t think I was good at it. I was self-involved and focused on my art. But it all came out OK. Jenny has her PhD and teaches at a college in Montreal.”

    Crowing Ignites, which is to be released in September, is Cockburn’s newest album. It was produced by Cockburn’s long-time friend and collaborator, guitarist and songwriter Colin Linden, whom the singer has known since he was 14. A fully instrumental album, Crowing Ignites (a literal translation of the Latin motto Accendit Cantu) embraces Cockburn’s Scottish heritage, one with which he feels a deep kinship. “As a Scottish Canadian, I feel like I am part of a continuous line, one that runs through from earlier times, and will hopefully continue. Somewhere, I am a little bead on that chain,” Cockburn says.

    This newest album of Cockburn’s embodies a journey of musical experiences, including Tibetan cymbals, chimes and singing bowls — and, of course, the classical bagpipe music of Scotland, featuring a style of bagpipe musical effects called pibroch. “Every time I hear that music I am transported to some windswept headland, sipping whisky out of a seashell,” Cockburn says with a smile. “The effect is hypnotic and meditative — I get a rush when I hear it.”

    Cockburn’s philosophy on life centres on taking what understandings and glimpses of life he experiences and sharing them through his songs. “I am the person I am because of all the stuff that I have been exposed to, which has resulted from the choices I have made, and the choices that I have been handed. I have always tried to be available to the next thing,” he says.

    The anger and sense of rage that have been a lifelong and intrinsic part of Cockburn’s personality — the undercurrent that drove many of his lyrics, as well as his outspoken championship of many causes — seem to have been pinpricked, dissipating the pent-up helium of wrath. In its stead, there is an increased aura of thoughtful insight, a wry sense of humour and a relaxed sense of openness. In fact, I noticed in Cockburn a significant change from the 2016 interview I did with him (albeit over the phone). He feels warmer, more loquacious and willing to share an easy laugh.

    “Behind the pain-fear etched on the faces, something is shining, like gold but better.” Certainly, these celebrated lyrics to “Rumours of Glory,” which Cockburn penned and sang with such elegance in 1980, seem to have come full circle, becoming a prescient way of life for the singer — whom author Nicholas Jennings called “a troubadour for the common man.” But says Cockburn with a laugh: “I really don’t know what that means.”


    ~ Dolce Magazine - Bruce Cockburn. Photos Carlos A. Pinto.

    Bruce Cockburn: The Roots Music Canada interview
    by Ted Ferris

    2 October 2019 - Bruce Cockburn’s 34th studio album, Crowing Ignites, was released on Friday, Sept. 20 on True North Records. The instrumental album contains 11 original songs and was produced, recorded and mixed by Bruce’s long-time confidant, Colin Linden. The album was recorded in a former fire hall located just a few blocks from Bruce’s home in San Francisco.

    I recently had the privilege of speaking with Bruce about his latest album, the upcoming North American tour, and what comes next for a guitar legend.

    Ted: The liner notes explain that the title, Crowing Ignites, was translated from Accendit Cantu, a Latin phrase that appears on the Cockburn family crest. I’m curious to know whether you’ve always been aware of this part of your family history or was this a more recent discovery?

    Bruce: Not exactly recent, but it doesn’t go all the way back either. I’ve always been aware of, and always felt kind of connected to, my Scottish ancestry, but I had not ever particularly researched the family history. My Dad did that in the ’70s and ’80s … but I think it was actually my brother who came up with the family coat of arms with that motto on it. It was initially translated as music excites, which I thought was very exciting, and so does he, because what more appropriate (laughs) family motto could I have? But later on I came across other versions of it that weren’t – it was clear that none of these were actually translations. So I actually just went back and translated the Latin, and it came up “crowing ignites,” which I thought had a much better ring to it than the other versions in English. [It’s] just a strong poetic phrase. As far as the ancestry side goes, my Dad actually put it together in a kind of self-published book. He’s the one that did that work; not me. But the connection to Scotland has always been there and remains. It was in the ’90s when we discovered that motto, but the translation was only this year … I was looking at that Latin phrase and thinking … “It doesn’t say ‘music excites,’ and it doesn’t say ‘he arouses by crowing,’ and it doesn’t say a couple other things that people claimed it said. So I got excited and went after it and translated it. And then when I discovered what it really said, I got much more excited … Then my wife said, “You gotta use that for your album title.” So I did.

    Ted: Was the concept for Crowing Ignites being an instrumental album in place before the selection of the album title?

    Bruce: Oh yeah. It’s not a concept album other than the fact that it’s all instrumental, and that was the intention to do that. Instrumental music, for me at least, isn’t really about anything in particular. It’s about itself … It exists, and it has the capacity to touch you in whatever way it does, and that’s it. … Pieces get titles because you have to call them something, and sometimes you get lucky and think of a title that really fits the piece. Sometimes the titles are obvious right away, and other times you have to struggle with it for a while. But in terms of the album as a whole, the plan was to initially to make a Speechless Two. We were going to collect the various previously released instrumental pieces that weren’t on Speechless and then add some new pieces to that and basically do the same thing we’d previously done ’cause there seemed to be some interest on people’s part on having that, and it appealed to me. But then I started writing pieces, and they just kept coming. So it became Crowing Ignites instead of Speechless Two.

    Ted: You recorded the album in a former fire hall in San Francisco. Did you encounter any challenges converting the space into a functioning recording studio? From the photos that I’ve seen online, it looked like there were several hard surfaces you may have had to contend with.

    Bruce: No, actually, far from it. It was the easiest thing. Kind of the most hassle-free recording I think I’ve ever done. … The room sounds great as it is. It’s true when you look at pictures you see a cement wall, but the cement wall is very heavily textured so it doesn’t reflect the sound … at all. And there’s a lot of wood in the room, so it really sounded nice. I had heard music in there before, and so I knew that it sounded like it did, and it just seemed like the combination of that and its proximity to where I live and my daughter’s school and so on it made it very convenient. My friend, who owned the place, was very happy to let us use it. Colin … went out and rounded up the gear and brought it in and set it up. It didn’t take much. It came in suitcases and it set up on a table, and there it was. I brought in all my stuff that you can see in the pictures: chimes and Tibetan singing bowls and all sorts of things with strings on them, and then we just – we spent a great week making a record.

    Ted: While it sounds like the studio came together quite well, did any particular song present any unique challenges? I understand that “Seven Daggers” and “Bells Of Gethsemane” were constructed in the studio, and you used a vast assortment of unique instruments on each song. Did you have any difficulty putting them together, micing and recording them?

    Bruce: Well, … not beyond what you’d expect. Let’s put it that way. I mean, everything’s a challenge. You’ve got to get it right, but there [were] no real difficulties at all. The most complicated one is “Seven Daggers.” We constructed that one and “Bells of Gethsemane,” as you pointed out … in the studio. All the other pieces, I knew what I was going to do when I went into the studio. But with those pieces, all I knew was that I had an idea for certain kinds of layering that I wanted to do. In the case of “Seven Daggers,” I wanted to use little kalimba things that I have, and the charango. … The charango can be tuned so it will play in A minor with the kalimbas. So we created loops out of those and made a layer out of that and then just started adding things to it. [Then] Colin put on the baritone guitar part, and I played the 12-string over top. That was the most elaborate of the constructions. “Bells of Gethsemane,” I just put down a layer of singing bowls and then another layer of singing bowls and then a layer of chimes and some other stuff and just played over top, playing the baritone myself on that one. So I wouldn’t call them challenging. There’s a process, but the only real challenging part, which is always there, is to get past the conditions of the day … How tired are you? Or how imaginative do you feel at this moment? … Those kinds of things. But that’s always there.

    Ted: I recognized a few of the musicians that perform on Crowing Ignites. However, one name that I didn’t recognize was Bo Carper’s. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about him.

    Bruce: Bo Carper is a guitar player that I’m acquainted with here in San Francisco – a very good guitar player actually. We met at a social gathering, and we ended up jamming together, so that’s how I found out what kind of guitar player he is. Because I don’t really know many people in the music scene here, I [contacted] him and asked him if he knew any percussionists, because I was interested in having somebody play percussion on some of the pieces. He gave me a couple of names. … One I didn’t get a hold of, and the other one … was already booked for the time period that we needed him for. So that didn’t pan out … I let Bo know that, and he said, “Well you know I’m a really great shaker player.” I had never heard anyone say that about themselves before, so I immediately perked up. And so he came in and played shaker. I thought this will be fun to try, or whatever. It’s not what I was exactly looking for, but it might work really well. And I think it does, and I think he did a fantastic job. A couple of the pieces we played live together, and then a couple of them he did as overdubs. Colin was involved in every aspect of the album, and he plays on the aforementioned “Seven Daggers” and also on “Blind Willie,” putting a great slide guitar part on that. And then Janice Powers, Colin’s wife, plays keyboards, as she’s done a lot of times before for me on other albums. She’s really great at coming up with these atmospheric keyboard kind of landscapy parts that I think contributed greatly to the overall effect of things.

    Ted: Another person listed on one of the tracks is your daughter, Iona. What was it like including her in the recording of the album?

    Bruce: It was fun. She got to clap along, and she was excited to be able to go in studio and clap her hands. I don’t know if it’ll mean too much to her in the long run, but it was fun at the time.

    Ted: Let’s talk about a few of the songs from Crowing Ignites. The press release states that “Bardo Rush” came after a dream. Would you like to discuss the contents of the dream that inspired this particular song?

    Bruce: The title was inspired by a dream. The piece is a piece. The piece wasn’t inspired by anything except I’m playing the guitar, I think … “This could be a piece [and it] sounds like a good idea.” All the pieces really are independent from other influences in that way. Sometimes I feel a connection … I’ll just sidestep here for a moment. A piece like “April In Memphis” was written on Martin Luther King day this year. “Easter” was written on Easter Sunday last year, and the fact that those pieces came on days that were sort of special days and had a certain mood that seemed to go with those days suggested that the titles should reflect that. In other cases, it was a matter of finding … a verbal phrase that somehow caught the feeling of the piece or that seemed appropriate to something in some way, some mysterious way. [Returning to] “Bardo Rush,” I do dream work. It’s sort of Jungian based dream analysis, you could say, and the Bardo plane is something that’s referred to in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, quite apart from Jung and everything. Jung used that, and other psychology uses that, as a metaphor in a way. The Bardo plane is where you end up when you die and don’t go to Nirvana, and it’s kind of analogous to being in limbo in Catholic terminology. It’s like kind of waiting, wandering in this dead place, and you can be drawn back into the Buddhist frame of reference, of course. You can be drawn back into other lives, new lives. What you want to do is try to get out of that, if you can, so that you can just not have to go through it all. So for the purpose of the Book of the Dead, it’s recited in the presence of the newly dead, assuming that they’re still hanging around and can hear this, and it’s intended as a kind of a … travel guide in a way to navigate the Bardo. … I liked “rush” because it’s a fast piece, and it seemed to fit … Wandering into Bardo is not necessarily associated with rushing, but because the piece was fast, it made a good phrase … “Angels In The Half Light” – that title did come from a dream. [It was] a specific dream, in which I was being girded for battle, basically by angels. The angels were in battle dress … They weren’t glowing figures with wings, but they were clearly angels, and they were getting me dressed up in some sort of bunker to go out and face some sort of adversary. I don’t remember what I thought was out there … It was a dark and spooky dream, but I had the clear support of this contiguous of angels, which made it feel pretty good. So there’s a case where a title actually was lifted from dream imagery directly.

    Ted: The song “The Mt. Lefroy Waltz” was written for the Lawren Harris-inspired guitar that luthier Linda Manzer created as part of The Group of Seven Guitar Project. Did you play that guitar on this recording?

    Bruce: No. I played my guitar, but I did play that guitar, Linda’s guitar, at the event that opened that show at the McMichael Gallery. All of the luthiers had somebody come in and play their instrument as part of the event. So I kind of wrote the piece for that event and then played it on her guitar then. But no, in the studio it … was an electric guitar. It was my big fat Gibson electric that I used on that.

    Ted: The press release states that “The Mt. Lefroy Waltz” was originally slated to be included on the Bone On Bone album but wasn’t released.

    Bruce: It was recorded and mixed then [and] with the band that appears on the rest of that album (Bone On Bone). It was a bit of an anomaly, but it seemed to fit well, and I wanted to put it out because I just loved Ron Miles cornet playing on it. It’s so beautiful, and I regretted having left it off Bone On Bone – not because it weakened Bone On Bone, because I think we did the right thing, but it was just too bad not to have it out there. So to get another chance to let people hear it was a good thing.

    Ted: The song “The Groan” was originally composed for a Canadian documentary entitled La Loche. I recently watched the film about the aftermath of the shootings that took place in the northern Saskatchewan community in 2016. What lead you to the producer Les Stroud and this particular project?

    Bruce: I had met him before …We were at some awards event together, and he performed in Toronto some years back … He got in touch and asked if I was interested in doing a score, and I was. But that piece, “The Groan,” as you would’ve seen, is not in the movie, but it was the first thing I thought of when we first started talking about it. He had used what he considered to be sort of stock stuff of his TV show that he had put in there as his kind of sample score, so we had a model to work to … It was a little bit bluesy and stuff, and I thought that was a good way to go, and that piece, “The Groan,” just kind of came to mind. But when I played it for Les he wasn’t sure about it in the film, and when I started really putting music together with film it was clear it wasn’t the right kind of thing for the context. But I had this piece … which I liked … The handclaps and the drums and stuff like that – it was just a guitar piece, but I did want Colin to play mandolin, old bluesy mandolin, and I kind of knew that going in. So I kind of had that in mind. But the handclaps and the drum thing were an add on.

    Ted: Speaking of instruments, you used several instruments from quite varied origins on Crowing Ignites. As you previously stated, the concept for the album came before the title, but as a listener, I found it intriguing that an album titled after the motto of a Scottish clan would feature instruments from such places as Africa, South America, Nepal, France and the Appalachians.

    Bruce: It is a bit weird because it’s everything but bagpipes (laughs). There’s no actual Scottish instruments there anywhere. But this is what I have. I have a room full of this stuff, and I wanted to use it all, or as much of it as made sense. So we just brought it all into the studio and set up. But the singing bowls and Tibetan element … there was [a] concept going in that I wanted to build a piece using those, because I love the sound … I had the same idea with the kalimbas and the charango. But Appalachian dulcimer … I don’t use it in the traditional way exactly. I’m playing it as if it’s a hammer dulcimer, but I don’t know how to play hammer dulcimer. So it just does a drone thing in “Pibroch.” … I’ve been interested in music from everywhere for as long as I can remember really seriously thinking about music … Over the years I’ve acquired these various instruments, and it’s nice to be able to put them to use.

    Ted: Bernie Finkelstein (Bruce’s manager) mentioned that you’ve been rehearsing with a new sideman for the upcoming tour. I understand that you’ll be performing with your nephew, multi-instrumentalist John Aaron Cockburn.

    Bruce: Yes. He was in the band on the Bone On Bone tour. But doing a duo thing is kind of a new thing for me. I did it once before … I’ve done isolated gigs like that here and there. Colin Linden and I have done a couple things where we played together … But the only other time that we really set it up as a tour that I can recall was Salt, Sun and Time. I toured with Gene Martynec, who plays on that album, and the album is … just guitar. There’s a few other little bits and pieces, but mostly it’s just the guitars playing on the songs, and we toured like that … You know, that’s like 40 years ago. It’s been a while. I’m looking forward to it quite a bit.

    Ted: What can fans expect to see at any of the forty-plus dates on the upcoming North American tour?

    Bruce: Well, we’re still working out exactly what we’re going to do, but it’s not going to be very different in terms of the content or the song list … from a regular show of mine. There’ll be some old stuff and some new stuff. There’ll certainly be some pieces from Crowing Ignites. But it’s not going to be a night of instrumentals. I think that people would be disappointed if they paid money for a ticket and that’s what they got. Most of the people that pay attention to me would want to hear lyrics, I think. And I do like singing songs. So it’ll be a mixture of things.

    Ted: Looking to the future, any plans that fans should be looking forward to following the Crowing Ignites tour?

    Bruce: I’ve never been very good at making plans, and I haven’t given it any thought at all other than the fact that this tour is going to run, and then we haven’t booked anything for the first part of next year at all. So I’ll be taking some time off. But what I’ll do in the time off, and any plans for future recording and all that sort of stuff remain unknown. I expect that, unless I’m incapacitated in some way, I’m going to keep on doing what I do … Eventually, there’ll be something else, but right now I’m just thinking about the stuff at hand.

    Ted: Once again, congratulations on Crowing Ignites. I’ve listened to it several times while preparing for the interview, and I think it’s beautiful. It truly highlights your passion for the guitar. I wish you all the best on the upcoming tour, and I appreciate your chatting with me today.

    Bruce: Well, thank you. I appreciate your interest, and thanks for the kind words. Nice to talk to you.

    See Bruce live - Tour Dates

    ~from Roots Music Canada.

    Bruce Cockburn on q with Tom Power Bruce Cockburn on his lyric-less new album, Crowing Ignites
    CBC - q - Tom Power

    23 September 2019 - One of Canada's finest lyricists has decided to lose the words — at least for the moment.

    Bruce Cockburn's new album, Crowing Ignites, is his second foray into instrumental music. Instead of lyrics, Cockburn's deft and soulful guitar playing takes centre stage. He dropped by the q studio to perform songs from the new album, including a duet with our own Tom Power.

    Bruce Cockburn wordless on instrumental 'Crowing Ignites'
    By Andrew S. Hughes South Bend Tribune

    20 September 2019 - Bruce Cockburn’s 34th album, “Crowing Ignites,” comes out Friday, a few days before he performs Tuesday at Goshen College.

    His longtime fans may be surprised, however, to learn that it’s his second instrumental album, following 2005’s “Speechless,” because now would seem to be the perfect moment for a Cockburn album with lyrics.

    The Canadian guitarist and singer-songwriter, after all, has written some of the most searing, poetic and incisive topical songs of the last five decades.

    That includes three of his most popular songs: “Call It Democracy,” about the International Monetary Fund and how it creates insupportable debt in the Third World; “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” about military attacks on Guatemalan refugees; and “If a Tree Falls,” about the destruction of the Amazon.

    But Cockburn has chosen, for now, not to use his music to address Donald Trump’s presidency or the general, global rightward shift away from democratic ideals.

    “There’s so much blather out there that I’m not sure more words are the point,” he says by phone from San Francisco, where he has lived for the last several years. “What we need to find from a societal point of view is some bonding agent, whether it’s more words or something else. I could get up there and say all the bad things I feel about Donald Trump, but what’s the point?”

    Cockburn (pronounced Co-burn) makes it clear, however, that he’s taken that position for himself, not everyone.

    “That’s not to say people shouldn’t write great songs about whatever gets their attention,” he says. “It’s just not me right now.”

    But he isn’t entirely “speechless” on the subject of current events when asked.

    With the Amazon being ravaged by fires this summer, Cockburn acknowledges that “If a Tree Falls” is relevant again 32 years after its release, and that time is running out to protect the environment.

    “I feel like we’re getting pretty close to that wall, not Trump’s wall, the real wall,” he says. “I’ve got a young daughter and grandkids. I’ve got a vested interested in this. … I’ll probably be gone when the (excrement) really hits the fan, but my daughter and grandkids will be here. It’s a daunting prospect.”

    And Cockburn, who became a Christian in the early 1970s, says evangelical Christians who support Trump are “extremely misguided,” while the people who call the shots in the evangelical community “feed off power.”

    “The world doesn’t need a theocracy,” he says. “It didn’t need one before, and it doesn’t now. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put God at the center of our lives; we should, but that’s personal. … I think any one-issue campaign is dangerous, no matter what the issue is, because it ignores a lot of other things.”

    Cockburn has ignored little around him in his music career, and because of that, he’s never been easy to categorize.

    A finger-picker, he has moved seamlessly through a number of genres, including folk, blues, world music, reggae, jazz, rock and pop.

    His lyrics have been just as restless in their subject matter, including — but not limited to — love and romance, pastoral descriptions of nature, war and war zones, the environment, poetry and music, Native people’s rights, refugees, land mines, and general slices of life. Sometimes, he delivers them in French, rather than English.

    After Cockburn became a Christian soon after the 1970 release of his eponymous debut album, Christian themes and imagery then became a hallmark of his lyrics — never in a dogmatic, preachy or proselytizing way but as an interrogation of faith and ethics.

    As a result, he hasn’t enjoyed much commercial success in the United States — just one single, 1979’s “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” has made it into the Top 40, peaking at No. 21. “Call It Democracy” reached No. 88. That’s it for “hits” here.

    But his concerts tend to sell out, because his fan base is devoted.

    “I love them,” he says about his audiences. “I don’t have any problem. There’s no artifice. I’m grateful they’re there. I love the interchange of energy.”

    Cockburn turned 74 in May, and he says playing guitar has gotten more difficult.

    “I’m getting away with it so far,” he says. “But sooner or later, that’s another wall. It’s not here yet, but I have to play a lot. I used to be able to not pick up a guitar for four or five days and be just the same as the last time I held one. It takes hours of playing to get back to where I was if I take time off.”

    And yet “Crowing Ignites” shows no diminution of his beguiling skills or his musical curiosity across its 12 songs.

    Although primarily an acoustic guitar album, “Crowing Ignites” includes such other instruments as chimes, dulcimer, singing bowls and kalimba.

    The music ranges from the jaunty, upbeat “Sweetness and Light” to the traditional Scottish-inflected style of “Pibroch: the Wind in the Valley,” from the electric jazz combo of “The Mt. Lefroy Waltz” with its yearning cornet solo by Ron Miles to the blues of “Blind Willie,” named for and in the style of Blind Willie Johnson, one of Cockburn’s main influences on guitar.

    When he decided to make the new album, he thought it would be “Speechless 2” — an album of instrumental versions of previous songs with lyrics and a few new compositions.

    Instead, it’s entirely new.

    “There was lots left over from ‘Speechless,’ and lots of instrumental stuff had been recorded since ‘Speechless,’” he says. “Then I would write some new stuff, but I wound up with so much new stuff, that it just became its own album.”

    For the “Crowing Ignites” tour, Cockburn has his nephew, John Aaron Cockburn, with him on accordion and guitar — he also had played in Cockburn’s band for the 2017-18 “Bone on Bone” tour. Together, they’ll play songs from the new album, as well lyric songs from throughout Cockburn’s career.

    “I love the band, but I’m quite happy to be doing this scaled-down thing, because it’s different,” he says. “The relationship with the audience is different.”

    The duo arrangement also is different for him.

    “I’m not sure how this will feel,” Cockburn says. “But, generally, the less flashy the show is, the more the people get into the music and there’s more focus on the songs. I don’t know if this will be true with the duo, but there’s a feeling of more of one-on-one with the audience in a solo show.”

    The album takes its title from the Latin motto on the Cockburn family’s Scottish crest: “Accendit Cantu.”

    “I think the person who came up with it probably intended it to mean something like ‘Music excites,’” he says. “This is conjecture, but I think what they meant was the rush of martial blood that bagpipes have on people of Scottish descent. The pipes have a visceral effect on me. People who aren’t horrified by them find them to be quite beautiful.”

    Of course, Cockburn says, there may be another, simpler interpretation: “Maybe the guy just liked to dance, swill that whiskey and cavort.”

    ~from South Bend Tribune

    Bruce Cockburn avoids impulse to get political with lyric-less new album
    by David Friend - The Canadian Press

    18 September 2019 - TORONTO — If anyone is looking for activist folk singer Bruce Cockburn to deliver a passionate lyrical rebuke for our tumultuous times, they’re not going to find it on his newest album.

    Bruce Cockburn - photo - Nathan Denette
    Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn poses for a photograph in Toronto on Monday, July 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

    The 74-year-old musician has a respected history in the craft of protest songs, but he’s not taking the bait anymore. He doesn’t find inspiration in the anger that’s spewed by the U.S. president, he says, nor does he feel the necessity to acknowledge the latest outrage.

    Half a century into his career, the songwriter behind “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” and “If a Tree Falls” might seem a little jaded — but he sees it differently.

    “I’m more frustrated than fired up,” he explains while sitting in the lobby of a Toronto hotel.

    "I’ve gotten angry so many times over so many things. Really the stuff that would make me angry now is all the same.”

    Cockburn acknowledges that might be him showing his age. The energy that once fuelled his inner fire is being redirected, mostly to raising his young daughter. The Ottawa-born musician, who resides in San Francisco with his wife, also walks with a cane due to hip and foot problems.

    Cockburn says he doesn’t want to recycle the agita that established him in the Canadian cultural canon. It seems he would rather seek solace from today’s political discord in the strings of his acoustic guitar.

    On his 34th album “Crowing Ignites,” due for release on Sept. 20, Cockburn lets the music do the talking. The all-instrumental project is his first since “Speechless,” a wordless collection of mostly covers of his own songs released 15 years ago that firmly established Cockburn as a formidable picker. His latest further entrenches his skills beyond the written word.

    But “Crowing Ignites” isn’t an island of work. The collection of 11 original tracks plays like a meditation on our careless existence, though it leaves most of its interpretation up to the listener.

    Cockburn offers some direction in the song’s titles: “April in Memphis,” evokes the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and “Blind Willie” is an homage to pre-Depression era American gospel singer Blind Willie Johnson, whose troubled life led to an early death at 48.

    “Seven Daggers,” named in reference to Roman Catholic imagery of the Virgin Mary, is a dreamy journey where Cockburn’s guitar lingers among the sounds of kalimbas. And the hypnotic “Bells of Gethsemane,” takes his instrument drifting along a sea of Tibetan cymbals, chimes and singing bowls.

    “To me, the nature of instrumental music is that it exists on its own terms,” Cockburn explains.

    “It may suggest things to you, or conjure up feelings, but you can’t really control how it does that.”

    Yet it’s difficult to separate “Crowing Ignites” from the social fabric it’s built from, which makes Cockburn’s insistence on ambiguity all the more bewildering.

    When asked about politics, he offers a clearer sense of what might’ve led him to return to instrumentals. He expresses dismay over how “polarization” and “fragmentation” have split people along political party lines and isolated both sides from each other.

    “The whole idea that liberal and conservative have become pejorative — they’re not descriptive terms anymore, they’re labels to refer to people you hate. How can you have dialogue when the language can’t accommodate a different point of view?” Cockburn says.

    “Maybe that was in the background somewhere in the choice of doing an instrumental album. It wasn’t conscious. But we have to do our best to promote community and dialogue.”

    It’s one of the reasons he hasn’t released a song about Donald Trump, who he believes promotes “chaos.” He refuses to give the U.S. president any more oxygen.

    “The world is talking about Donald Trump by his invitation — he doesn’t need any more attention,” he says.

    Cockburn hopes for the sake of his eight-year-old daughter the world digs itself out of its troubled state.

    “In a way, I feel guilty for having had a kid, not from the point of view of population, but for inflicting the future on that child,” he says.

    “I worry about that. But I probably won’t even be here when she’s hitting the worst of that, so it’s kind of hard to think of it in concrete terms.”

    David Friend, The Canadian Press - Follow @dfriend on Twitter.


    Interview: Bruce Cockburn on “Crowing Ignites,” Meeting Jerry Garcia, and ‘Little Ass’ Bells
    AmericanaHighways.org - Melissa Clarke

    17 September 2019 - Americana Highways recently spoke with Bruce Cockburn about his new instrumental album, Crowing Ignites, due to be released September 20th. Here is what transpired.

    AH: The title of the album is Crowing Ignites. Tell us the story behind this title!

    BC: My brother discovered that the Cockburn family motto as part of the coat of arms is “Accendit Cantu” which is a Latin phrase. We were all excited because it was translated for us as “Music Excites” which seemed like a really fortuituous circumstance, especially for somebody like me. But awhile later I was looking up information on the family and it was translated differenty; it was translated as “He Arouses Us By Crowing” and there were some other variations, so finally I looked it up myself, and translated it myself and it came out “Crowing Ignites”! And it was such a punchy phrase it was exciting. My wife suggested I use it for my album title and I thought “yes I should”!

    AH: This album is instrumental, as was your earlier album Speechless. In the absence of spoken human language, what does music, on its own, convey?

    BC: It’s unusual for music without a lyrical content attached to it to convey a specific idea. But it certainly carries feelings. And it contains the capacity, depending on how the listener approaches it, to transport the listener to a place of their choosing. If I listen to mournful sounding Baroque pieces, for instance, I get a tremendously wistful peacefulness from that music. And there’s music that gets you all fired up and other music that makes you uncomfortable and so on. So it has that capacity as well.

    In making music, basically what you hope for is that a listener will get out of it what you put into it, but there are of course no guarantees there. Fundamentally everyone experiences any kind of art through their own filter, and they are going to bring their own understanding of how it fits into their lives to the picture.

    You can steer them by your title. But even there, does “Sweetness and Light” mean the same thing to me as it does to everybody out there? Probably not. So you’re always at the mercy of that subjectivity. But that’s both a strength and a weakness. On the one hand you can be specific about what you want to say but on the other hand there is still a universality to the absence of words because nobody has to get stuck on language, which can be another source of various interpretation. And then half the time people don’t understand the words anyway either.

    AH: The song “Seven Daggers” has these wonderful layers, and different world instruments. I wasn’t even sure what one of the was when I saw the instrument list. How did you come to choose them?

    BC: It was constructed in the studio. As is the pattern for me, I generally don’t go into the studio to make an album until I know what’s going to be on the album. For this album this was the case, but there were two songs, and this was one of them, that existed in my mind as a concept and had to be developed in the studio, because it was all about the layers.

    I had this charango. A charango is a stringed instrument that is a little bit like a mandolin but is native to the Andes region of South America. You’ll hear Bolivian street bands in Europe playing it. I came across this in Chile in the early ‘80s, and I had one and I got another one, and now I have a solid body electric charango which I got in the late 80s that was made by Linda Manzer whose guitars I also play a lot. It’s traditionally tuned to an open A minor 7 chord. And so I thought I also have this sansula, which is kind of like an African thumb piano, and this is a particularly nice version of that with a skin head and it plays so nicely. And its tuned to A minor.

    So I had these two instruments that are built to play in A minor, and I thought I can make a pattern here, there’s a piece here. So that’s how it started. And there’s another African instrument in there too, the kalimba.

    AH: What about the “little ass bells” you credit in the liner notes? How little are they?

    BC: They are quite small! (laughs) Those are a variation of the Indian cowbells you see around in yuppie gift stores sometimes. There was a store in Vermont where I spent a lot of time. This particular store had an incredible array of these bells. The buyer for the store had gone out of her way to get really nice sounding ones, they weren’t clunky at all. These are not tuned in a Western way but they have a really pretty sound to them. So I bought all of them! One of each of the different pitches. Some of them were actually quite large, they were practically a foot long and a few inches around and others that were tiny. I bought a whole selection. And I strung the tiny ones on a metal rod, and you can shake them that way, and that’s what you hear on the record. There are ten of them strung on this thing and they work in a way like sleigh bells, except they don’t sound anything like sleigh bells. They are much prettier.

    AH: About the song “Pibroch: the Wind in the Valley,” you say in the liner notes that the bagpipes there remind you of sipping whiskey from a scallop shell, which is really just poetic and an intriguing statement.

    BC: Pibroch is the name for the classical bagpipe music of Scotland. It’s a very hypnotic ancient sounding music, you know Scottish bagpipes aren’t capable of playing very much of a melody. They can, but everything is in that 5 note scale and it’s limited. But the Pibroch music uses that limitation to create a hypnotic landscape where the pieces might last 20 minutes or more and there are these tiny variations and by end of the piece it’ll be quite complicated and ornamented but at the beginning it starts out this simple motif. So I was describing that sensation of being on some ancient Scottish coastline which is what I was experiencing for this song.

    AH: You have a mix of religious themes in the album also, you have Tibetan Buddhism in some place, with “Bardo Rush” which is the lead track.

    BC: The Bardo is from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which I read back in the 60s. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is designed to be read to the newly deceased so that their spirit will go where it needs to go and not be caught up in various demonic distractions. And the Bardo is the plane in which that spirit is wandering. This song is a reference to that. I think there’s a lot about Buddhist teachings that are very valuable but I don’t think of myself as a Buddhist. But that wanted to be the title of that piece.

    AH: It’s very lively, it’s like a dance, which turns the Bardo into an uplifting idea.

    BC: Yes, I think the low rumbling keyboard gives it a sinister quality but yes, it is a pretty peppy little piece. You could think of is as the Bardo meets the Day of the Dead. (laughs)

    AH: You also have Judeo-Christian themes. We already mentioned “Seven Daggers,” which was named for a near a chapel.

    BC: It’s named for a little chapel that’s in a convent next door to my daughter’s school.

    AH: And then you have “Easter,” and “Bells of Gethsemane.” What inspired “Easter”?

    BC: It’s called “Easter” because I wrote it on Easter. The slow part was written on Easter. That tempo seems to me to be in keeping with the idea of resurrection. When I’m writing these pieces I have a feeling in mind, and I think very mechanically about the music, about what note is going to be nice after that note that was just played. The concepts kind of come in after the fact. But because this song was written on that day, it just wanted to be called that.

    It goes from a kind of a mournful little waltz into a more uptempo happier thing, and that seemed appropriate.

    AH: You’ve been playing since the early 1970s. You weren’t really involved with the Haight-Asbury San Francisco scene, but then Jerry Garcia covered your song “Waiting for a Miracle.” And not just a little – that song is very widely associated with him, he played it a lot. Did you meet him?

    BC: I did meet him, after he recorded the song. I was in New York doing PR for something and the Dead were about to start several shows at Madison Square Garden. And I got taken to meet Jerry. And he was doing what was described as meditating onstage. He had a tent set up onstage behind the backline of the amps and stuff. I had to wait until he came out of his tent. (laughs)

    He did, in due course. And he was very friendly, we didn’t talk very long because he was getting ready to play. And apparently he was very nervous, he would get very nervous before those big gigs. He was trying to calm himself down so it was a short encounter. But he said “oh man, beautiful song, I hope I didn’t screw the lyrics up too much.” I said “actually I was going to wait until the second time I met you before I brought that up.”

    When I first heard his version of the song I was kind of dismayed at that but then I realized he did that with everybody and that I was in good company. (laughs) I’m glad he did it.

    In New York a couple weeks ago we did a thing for Relix magazine, it was in their office, and there were several young people in the office working on computers, nobody was paying much attention. But I sang that song because it seemed appropriate to the occasion. And all of a sudden they all stopped and they were all listening! And the guy who was recording said to my tour manager: “Why’s he doing a cover?” (laughs). None of them knew!

    It’s an honor that the song found a favorite place with him. But that was so ironic!

    AH: Your music does get very improvisational in style and a lot of fans of jambands like your music too. On this album, “The Mt Lefroy Waltz” is an example. Are you improvising? Or are those paths you’ve already worn.

    BC: My influence and background is a 50/50 mix between the kind of folk music which is now Americana, and jazz. I’ve never considered myself a jazz player, I don’t think I have the chops or the knowledge to be an effective jazz player per se. But improvisation has always been a part of what I like to do.

    “The Mt Lefroy Waltz” has a composed part, of course that’s the part where you hear the guitar and the trumpet playing together the same melody. That was written. But once the melody was stated, there is some improvising and then it returns to the melody again. A lot of the songs are like that, “Bardo Rush” is like that. It’s something that I can do better in an instrumental context than with a song. When there’s a song with lyrics, the lyrics want to be obeyed. They demand their rightful place in the song.

    To return to a comparison with the Grateful Dead again, my approach is a little more rigid than I think they were. When there’s a song there’s a structure that must be obeyed, and sometimes that stucture allows for some improvising but in the instrumental pieces there is a lot more freedom.

    AH: The songs sometimes have a tone of darkness or foreboding. What is your sense of the direction society is moving in? Because when you did “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” there was a specific message. Are there political messages to your songs on this album?

    BC: Well that song in particular had a very specific trigger. Had I not been in the Guatamalan refugee camps in Mexico that inspired that song, I would have never written it. It wasn’t written as social commentary. It was written as a shocked emotional response to a situation. And most of my stuff is like that. “If a Tree Falls” was more commentary and a lament for the state of things.

    I look around and I see a lot of beauty in the world but there’s also a precariousness to it that’s very worrisome. And I think of my young daughter, and my grandkids – my older daughter’s kids, and I think what a f—ed up world we are handing them.

    And the world has never been a safe place, we know that. History is full of terrible events and terrible effects on people of those events. But that doesn’t change the desire to have it work better than it does, or to not have it get worse than it is. And so, a lot of the songs are coming from that place of concern.

    AH: Are you a cyclist?

    BC: I did a lot, yes, but I am not doing it so much anymore. Getting older is better than being dead I think (laughs) but it has its price.

    AH: Are you reading a good book at the moment?

    BC: I am reading a book my friend Greg King sent me called Hitler’s Priestess. I have not delved into this subject matter before but it’s basically the biography of a woman who was born of Greek-French-Indian parents, and she became kind of a spiritual figure for the Neo Nazi movement in the United States. She was a big Hitler fan in the 30s and moved to India and was all tied up with the Aryan mythology that she felt that Hinduism had preserved whereas she thought that it had been lost in Europe. There is a thread that runs into the modern Neo Nazi movement.

    AH: What’s on the horizon for you?

    BC: With the imminent release of Crowing Ignites there are a lot of tour dates. My nephew John Aaron Cockburn is coming with me, it’s a duo. He plays accordion and guitar. We’ll be rehearsing and then going on tour. I’m starting to feel an itch to write more songs too.

    The album, Cockburn’s 34th, comes out on September 20th. Find more about it, here: http://brucecockburn.com

    ~from AmericanaHighways.org

    Bruce Cockburn CROWING IGNITES
    A Guitar Masterclass That Defies Description
    The Rocking Magpie

    9 September 2019 - Release date: September 20, 2019 - True North Records

    Bruce Cockburn - Crowing Ignites

    There are quite a few ‘instrumental albums’ in my collection; predominantly of the Jazz persuasion, but one or two Delta Blues ones for good measure (one has 17 harmonica tracks on it!) plus a couple of ‘Experimental’ type things from Mahavishnu Orchestra among others; but nothing in the Folk idiom.

    I say ‘Folk’; but that moniker doesn’t do justice to what Legendary Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn has created here alongside a handful of friends.

    The quality throughout Bruce Cockburn’s 35th album CROWING IGNITES (and second one of instrumentals!!) is of such a high standard I don’t want to just call them ‘tracks’ …… how about opuses?

    The first of these ‘opuses’ is Bardo Rush and I was left spellbound the first time I played it; and again tonight Cockburn’s dazzling fretwork is almost peerless in the musical world I inhabit.

    Okay; this was all recorded in a studio; with plenty of time for Take 2’s; but the playing on each and every track is absolutely flawless and, it has to be said exemplary too.

    There are flourishes in Easter and The Groan* that will send a shiver down your spine as your lips break into a stupendous grin; such is the way Cockburn delivers a Masterclass in Acoustic Guitar playing.

    Perhaps what has impressed me most here is that Bruce Cockburn manages to create music that could and should be in very different genres; but somehow manages to make the intriguing Jazz opuses Angels in the Half Light and The Mt. Lefroy Waltz sit comfortably alongside the delightful Ragtime ditty Sweetness & Light; a raw Blues tune like Blind Willie and the transcendental (?) Seven Daggers and make them all sound cohesive. What a rare talent this man really is.

    Selecting a single Favourite Track (or should that be opus?) is almost futile; but then again two tunes really do manage to stand out here. April in Memphis is quite staggering in its very own rite; with Cockburn playing his guitar in an almost Classical fashion; and then I read that it was written on MLK Day 2019 and is dedicated to Dr. King; my heart skipped a beat.

    The other is also a tad on the Classical side; but with a dramatic Celtic spine too, which combines to make Pibroch, The Wind In The Valley quite remarkable in many ways; which is why it’s probably taking the accolade.

    For an album as beautiful as this, there were very few people involved in the making; all of whom; including Iona Cockburn; 7 year old daughter of Bruce who helped supply handclaps on The Groan; deserve a huge round of applause for creating such a magical and majestic body of work; that will certainly stand the test of time.

    Released September 20th 2019

    ~from Rocking Magpie



    Bruce Cockburn's 34th album
    Crowing Ignites
    True North Records

    12 June 2019 - Release date: September 20, 2019

    Listen to / share “Blind Willie” from Crowing Ignites and pre-order here.

    In 2005, Bruce Cockburn released Speechless, a collection of instrumental tracks that shone the spotlight on the singer-songwriter’s exceptional acoustic guitar playing. The album earned Cockburn a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Instrumentalist and underscored his stature as one of the world’s premier pickers.

    Bruce Cockburn - Crowing Ignites album cover

    Already, The New York Times had credited Cockburn with having “the hardest-working right thumb in show business,” adding that he “materializes chords and modal filigrees while his thumb provides the music’s pulse and its foundation—at once a deep Celtic drone and the throb of a vigilant conscience.” Acoustic Guitar magazine was similarly laudatory in citing Cockburn’s guitar prowess, placing him in the prestigious company of legends like Andrés Segovia. Bill Frisell, Django Reinhardt and Mississippi John Hurt.

    Now, with the intriguingly titled Crowing Ignites, Cockburn has released another dazzling instrumental album that will further cement his reputation as both an exceptional composer and a picker with few peers. Unlike Speechless, which included mostly previously recorded tracks, the latest album—Cockburn’s 34th—features 11 brand new compositions. Although there’s not a single word spoken or sung, it’s as eloquent and expressive as any of the Canadian Hall of Famer’s lyric-laden albums. As his long-time producer, Colin Linden, puts it: “It’s amazing how much Bruce can say without saying anything.”

    The album’s title is a literal translation of the Latin motto “Accendit Cantu” featured on the Cockburn family crest. Although a little puzzling, Cockburn liked the feeling it conveyed: “Energetic, blunt, Scottish as can be.” The album’s other nod to Cockburn’s Scottish heritage is heard on “Pibroch: The Wind in the Valley,” in which his guitar’s droning bass strings and melodic grace notes sound eerily like a Highland bagpipe. “I’ve always loved pibroch, or classic bagpipe music,” says Cockburn. “It seems to be in my blood. Makes me want to sip whisky out of a sea shell on some rocky headland!”

    While Cockburn reconnecting with his Gaelic roots is one of Crowing Ignites’ more surprising elements, there’s plenty else that will delight followers of his adventurous pursuits. Says Linden, who’s been a fan of Cockburn’s for 49 years, has produced 10 of his albums and played on the two before that: “Bruce is always trying new things, and I continue to be fascinated by where he goes musically.”

    The album is rich in styles from folk and blues to jazz, all genres Cockburn has previously explored. But there are also deepening excursions into what might be called free-form world music. The hypnotic, kalimba-laden “Seven Daggers” and the trance-inducing “Bells of Gethsemane,” full of Tibetan cymbals, chimes and singing bowls, are highly atmospheric dreamscapes that showcase Cockburn’s world of wonders—and his improvisational gifts on both 12-string and baritone guitars. Each track was wholly created in the makeshift studio he and Linden put together in a converted fire station in Cockburn’s San Francisco neighbourhood.

    Singing bowls, Cockburn explains, are an endless source of fascination to him, dating back to a trip he took to Kathmandu, as seen in the documentary Return to Nepal. There, Cockburn stumbled on a man selling the small inverted bells sometimes used in Buddhist religious practices and became instantly captivated by their vibrational power. “I had no particular attraction to them as meditation tools or anything,” says Cockburn. “I just thought they had a beautiful sound.” After buying half a dozen in Kathmandu and more since, he now has a sizeable collection. Bruce Cockburn - photo Daniel Keebler

    Two tracks on Crowing Ignites had their origins elsewhere. “The Groan,” a bluesy piece with guitar, mandolin and some collective handclapping from a group that includes Cockburn’s seven-year-old daughter, Iona, was something Cockburn composed for a Les Stroud documentary about the aftermath of a school shooting and the healing power of nature. And Cockburn wrote the jazz-tinged “The Mt. Lefroy Waltz” for the Group of Seven Guitar Project on an instrument inspired by artist Lawren Harris and custom-made by luthier Linda Manzer. It was originally recorded, with cornet player Ron Miles, bassist Roberto Occhipinti and drummer Gary Craig, for Cockburn’s 2017 album Bone on Bone, but not released until now.

    Cockburn doesn’t set out with any particular agenda when composing an instrumental. “It’s more about coming up with an interesting piece,” he says. “Who knows what triggers it—the mood of the day or a dream from the night before. Often the pieces are the result of sitting practicing or fooling around on the guitar. When I find something I like, I work it into a full piece.”

    “Bardo Rush,” with its urgent, driving rhythm, came after one such dream, while the contemplative “Easter” and the mournful “April in Memphis” were composed on Easter Sunday and Martin Luther Day respectively. “Blind Willie,” named for one of Cockburn’s blues heroes, Blind Willie Johnson, features a fiery guitar and dobro exchange with Linden (Cockburn has previously recorded Johnson’s “Soul of a Man” on Nothing But a Burning Light). And the idea for the sprightly “Sweetness and Light,” featuring some of Cockburn’s best fingerpicking, developed quickly and its title, he says, became immediately obvious.

    Meanwhile, “Angels in the Half Light” is steeped in dark and light colors and conveys ominous shades as well as feelings of hopefulness, seemingly touching on both spiritual and political concerns—hallmarks of Cockburn from day one. “It’s hard for me to imagine what people’s response is going to be to these pieces,” he says. “It’s different from songs with lyrics, where you hope listeners will understand, intellectually and emotionally, what you’re trying to convey. With instrumental stuff, that specificity isn’t there and the meaning is up for grabs. But I’m glad if people find a message in the music.”

    More than 40 years since he embarked on his singer-songwriter career, Cockburn continues pushing himself to create—and winning accolades in the process. Most recently, the Order of Canada recipient earned a 2018 Juno Award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, for Bone on Bone, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from SOCAN, the Peoples’ Voice Award from Folk Alliance International and was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017. Cockburn, who released his memoir, Rumours of Glory, and its similarly titled companion box set the same year, shows no sign of stopping. As his producer-friend Linden says: “Like the great blues players he admires, Bruce just gets better with age.”

    ~ True North Records. Photo Daniel Keebler. Cover art Michael Wrycraft.

    Bardo Rush
    April In Memphis
    Blind Willie
    Seven Daggers
    The Mt. Lefroy Waltz
    Sweetness And Light
    Angels In The Half Light
    The Groan
    Pibroch: The Wind In The Valley
    Bells Of Gethsemane

    Bruce Cockburn headlines 23rd Sisters Folk Festival
    Canadian songwriter among new artists at long-running event - BendBulletin

    5 September 2019 - The Amazon rainforest is burning. Children are being held in makeshift camps at the southern U.S. border. And Bruce Cockburn is getting ready to release his second all-instrumental album.

    Given the circumstances, some fans might expect something more topical from an artist who has made his career singing about social, political and environmental issues — often through the lens of his Christian beliefs, which he adopted in the ’70s. And the Canadian singer-songwriter has fielded that question more than once from fans and journalists about said instrumental album, “Crowing Ignites,” due out Sept. 20.

    “The choice to do an instrumental album really wasn’t dependent on what’s going on around (the world),” Cockburn said recently from his home in San Francisco, a little more than a week ahead of his headlining performance at the 23rd Sisters Folk Festival on Saturday. “It was just a choice that seemed like a timely (thing) in terms of my own arc, you could say I guess. It just seemed like a good time to make an instrumental album.”

    Not that Cockburn isn’t concerned with what’s going on — he brought up the Amazon fires specifically. But as he pointed out, he’s already written that song: “If a Tree Falls,” from his 1988 solo album “Big Circumstance.”

    “For a while, it was not newsworthy because it looked like people were kind of getting it together,” he said. “But now, it’s a highly visible disaster for us. But I don’t really feel like I have to write another ‘If a Tree Falls’ because it’s already there, and it talks about the same things and the same issues. Actually for a while, it was not so appropriate because the rainforest destruction was about planting soybeans and stuff, but then, they’ve gone back to putting in cattle now.”

    As far as the current political situation in the U.S., another topic he gets asked about often, Cockburn would rather not go there.

    “I don’t want to talk about Donald Trump; he gets enough attention; he doesn’t need mine,” he said. “We all know what we feel about it. I doubt there’s very many Trump supporters coming to my shows — it’s possible there’s some. People who’ve heard my music know where I stand on these kinds of things, and I’m singing the songs. I mean, I’m not ruling out anything either in saying this; it’s not like a policy of mine not to talk about these things. It’s just that there’s so much blather going on and so much of that kind of echo chamber thing.”

    He’s more interested in presenting a unifying message (“What needs to be found is a bridge, or a bunch of bridges, really,” he said), which should be a key part of his set at his first Sisters Folk Festival.

    Unusually for the festival, which runs Friday through Sunday at 11 venues in Sisters, Cockburn will only play once, outside the Sisters Art Works building. The festival organization recently purchased the building through an ongoing capital campaign, creative director Brad Tisdel said.

    “In the fall, we’ll start offering some programming, whether it’s workshops or after-school programming,” Tisdel said. “We’re really trying to serve an adult population, as well as underserved youth.”

    In July, the organization welcomed new executive director Crista Munro, who will help oversee this year’s festival. The organization announced it would seek an executive director earlier this year after eliminating Managing Director Ann Richardson’s position.

    The rest of the festival’s 52 performers this year have multiple sets or workshops throughout the weekend, including Peter Rowan and tejano rock band Los Texmaniacs, who perform together Friday as well as separate sets Saturday; folk/world duo Rising Appalachia, which performs Friday and Saturday; and Québécois group Le Vent Du Nord with four sets Friday and Saturday. (See the full schedule at sistersfolkfestival.org.)

    “The experience of seeing great artists in small venues is one of the things that I think sets us apart as far as the festival goes,” Tisdel said. “Those venues are such beautiful environments as well, that I think it really lends an opportunity to see some really remarkable performances in a beautiful setting.”

    Cockburn’s set could include some of his new instrumentals alongside well-known hits in the U.S. such as “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” “Wondering Where the Lions Are” and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time.” Touring in earnest behind “Crowing Ignites” will begin in Nashville the day it releases.

    “I don’t know exactly what it’s gonna be yet,” Cockburn said.

    While many of “Crowing Ignite’s” songs were inspired by specific things, they are open to interpretation as instrumental pieces, Cockburn said.

    “The inspiration’s a tricky thing to assign to instrumental music, because it’s not really about anything,” Cockburn said. “It’s about what I discover on the guitar and feelings. It’s a little bit hard to say.”

    The album was initially conceived as a direct sequel to 2005’s “Speechless,” a collection of instrumental songs pulling from Cockburn’s many solo releases since his self-titled, 1970 debut, supplemented with some new material. In the time since the record’s release, Cockburn recorded three more solo albums, including 2017’s “Bone on Bone,” which netted the songwriter his 13th Juno Award, for Top Contemporary Folk Album of the Year.

    “There’s a whole bunch more pieces that hadn’t been collected together from other albums now, and then, I thought, OK, I’ll come up with two or three new pieces and then we’ll have ‘Speechless 2,’” Cockburn said. “But I ended up with so much new material that it wasn’t that anymore; it became its own thing.”

    That title holds a personal connection to Cockburn’s family. It’s a literal translation of the Latin motto found on the Cockburn family crest: “Accendit Cantu.” Cockburn said his father and brother uncovered the crest while researching family history in the ’90s.

    “Initially, ‘Accendit Cantu,’ the English version of that that we read, was ‘music excites,’ which just seemed like, that’s so cool,” Cockburn said. “Here I am doing music, and that’s the family motto. But then, I came across another English version of it that was, ‘he arouses us by crowing,’ or a phrase like that. It became obvious that neither of those things was an actual translation of the words, so I translated it myself using my translate app. What it literally says is ‘crowing ignites.’ And you can interpret that in a bunch of different ways.”

    Cockburn wrote the album’s 11 pieces over a span of about a year. “April in Memphis” was written on Martin Luther King Day this year (the title references the date King was assassinated), while “Easter” was appropriately written on Easter Sunday last year. Meanwhile, “Pibroch: The Wind in the Valley” finds Cockburn inspired by Scottish bagpipe music.

    Two pieces, “Seven Daggers” and “Bells of Gethesmane,” were constructed in the studio. The former builds up mournful acoustic guitar, baritone guitar played by Cockburn’s longtime producer Colin Linden and haunting bells, while the latter incorporates Tibetan chimes, cymbals and singing bowls.

    “It was fun to do both those pieces really because the sense of discovery was mixed right into it all,” Cockburn said. “That happens if I’m sitting by myself coming up with a piece in a room. There’s a bit of this bloodhound-on-the-trail feeling that comes with getting an idea and chasing it down.”

    ~ from BendBulletin

    Bruce Cockburn Nods to Scottish Heritage With 'Pibroch: The Wind In the Valley': Premiere
    Billboard.com - by Gary Graff

    26 August 2019 - A funny thing happened to Bruce Cockburn as he started making his new album Crowing Ignites -- whose track "Pibroch: The Wind in the Valley" is premiering exclusively here.

    The all-instrumental acoustic album was designed to be a Speechless II, a sequel to his 2005 instrumental set Speechless, again compiling instrumental tracks from his albums with a few new compositions. "I set about looking for ideas for new material and ended up with so much of it that (Crowing Ignites) became its own album," Cockburn tells Billboard. "I wasn't expecting to come up with so much (new) stuff. The ideas just kept coming. So it’s not Speechless II. It's its own thing entirely."

    The new 11-track set, recorded in San Francisco, where the Canadian-born Cockburn now resides, and produced by Colin Linden, is titled after the translation of the Latin motto 'Accendit Cantu' that appears on the Cockburn family crest. It is, of course, markedly different than Cockburn's more traditional song-oriented releases, but he says the process is "equally enjoyable." "The big difference is the obvious one -- there are no lyrics," Cockburn explains. "The way I write songs, the lyrics generally come first, and then it becomes a question of finding the right music to carry those lyrics. With instrumental pieces it's more like, 'Here's an interesting riff on the guitar' and that suggests something else and it grows from there. It's a bit like scoring a film; You've got images, ideas, characters that need to be supported by the music but not overpowered by it. It's considerably freer."

    Cockburn's playing on Crowing Ignites draws from in international array of influences, ranging from Mississippi Delta blues ("Blind Willie," a nod to Blind Willie Johnson) to Django Reinhardt's gypsy jazz to kalimba on the track "Seven Daggers" and Tibetan singing bowls, cymbals and chimes on "Bels of Gethsemane." The jazz-flavored "Mt. Lefroy Waltz" was originally recorded (in a different format, but not used) for Cockburn's Juno Award-winning 2017 album Bone on Bone.

    "Pibroch," meanwhile, nods to Cockburn's Scottish heritage; the title refers to classic Highland bagpipe music, as do his droning guitar patterns. "It's music I find really hypnotic in a stirring kind of way," Cockburn says. "It gets in the blood. It's a very simple melodic motif, a four- or five-note swirl that repeats over the droning part of the bagpipe, and then add a grace note, one or two, over it. It’s quite busy sounding but it develops slowly. It's very meditative, nothing at all like the martial pipe and drum music we're more familiar with from Scotland."

    Crowning Ignites is the 10th album Linden has produced for Cockburn, who found a converted firehouse which they turned into a studio for the sessions. "It was a challenge for me to make the record without leaving home," says Cockburn, whose seven-year-old daughter Iona is part of the hand-clapping chorus on "The Groan," which he composed for a Les Stroud documentary about the aftermath of a school shooting. "Colin was enthusiastic about it from the beginning, and we had a fantastic time."

    With Crowing Ignites out Sept. 20, Cockburn kicks off a North American tour that night at the City Winery in Nashville, with dates booked into November. As for what's next, Cockburn has not idea -- but says that he's "starting to get the feeling that maybe there will be more writing of some kind coming up. There a point where there's kind of an energy buildup and I start getting antsy because I haven’t written a song for a while. When I feel that, it usually means there's something coming, sooner or later. I haven't thought about it, really, but we'll see."

    ~from Billboard.com

    Click through for upcoming Tour dates

    Video Premiere: Bruce Cockburn’s Slideshow "Sweetness and Light"
    AmericanaHighways.org - Melissa Clarke

    20 August 2019 - Americana Highways brings you this exclusive premiere watch of Bruce Cockburn’s slideshow video with his new song “Sweetness and Light.” This song is from his forthcoming instrumental album Crowing Ignites, which was produced by Colin Linden and is due out September 20 on True North Records.

    So often people focus on “lyrics first,” but this album focuses on music and musicianship, and accompanied by Cockburn’s exquisite acoustic fingerwork, it demonstrates the depth at which music, alone, can touch the human heart. Crowing Ignites exhibits Cockburn’s adept acoustic fingerpicking acumen, on a collection of songs that are introspective complements to his Celtic and world music inspirations. “Sweetness and Light” is loyal to its title, and will bring you exactly what you need in your day.

    "There I am at home, practicing, exploring, with the guitar in DADGAD, a tuning I’ve been playing around with for a while now, and I think, ‘What if I move my left-hand fingers this way? And then that way?’ Suddenly there’s the beginning of a new piece. It more or less wrote itself over the next hour. It wanted to be called ‘Sweetness and Light,’ and so it was." –Bruce Cockburn

    Order the album here: https://smarturl.it/crowing-ignites

    Video by True North Records, Photography by Daniel Keebler

    ~from AmericanaHighways.org

    Watch Moving Animated Video for Bruce Cockburn’s MLK-Inspired “April in Memphis"
    Relix.com - Kurt Swinghammer

    12 August 2019 - Back in 2005, Bruce Cockburn released Speechless, an album of all-instrumentals that focused on his acoustic guitar playing. That record not only gained him further renown for his picking but earned him a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Instrumentalist. On September 20 True North Records will issue Crowing Ignites, which presents Cockburn in a similar setting once again. Unlike Speechless, which drew on previously-recorded compositions, Crowing Ignites presents 11 new songs.

    Watch April in Memphis.

    This is Cockburn’s 34th record and once again, he deftly blends folk, blues, jazz and world sounds. Today we premiere a new animated video for “April in Memphis,” which Cockburn explains he wrote in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated outside The Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Cockburn tells Relix, “The piece came into being on MLK Day 2019. It pretty much formed itself in the course of a practice session. It took the shape of a lament, more than a celebration, which set me to thinking of King’s murder, and the loss of a voice of wisdom, compassion and respect that we could really use about now. Hence, the title. I think the video conveys the right sense of the poignant beauty, of the dignity, of the man and the spirituality that fueled him.”

    Cockburn will support Crowing Ignites, which is now available for pre-order, on a U.S. tour, with these dates. You can also click here for our conversation with him, following the release of his autobiography, Rumours of Glory.

    Video by Kurt Swinghammer, who comments - "Creating an animation for Bruce’s moving instrumental was an inspired opportunity to reflect on the loss of the most important spiritual leader of the last century. 50 years after MLK’s assassination, we clearly still need to hear his message."

    ~from Relix.com - April in Memphis - video by Kurt Swinghammer

    Bruce Cockburn New Instrumental Album Crowing Ignites
    by Cashbox Canada

    8 August 2019 True North Records announces a September 20 world-wide release date for Crowing Ignites, the new all-instrumental CD from legendary Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn. Cockburn also announced his North American tour (dates below) with more shows to be confirmed.

    Crowing Ignites was produced, recorded and mixed by Colin Linden, and recorded at the Firehouse in San Francisco. It showcases 11 all-original compositions by Cockburn, who plays acoustic guitar throughout, backed by a stellar cast of sympathetic musicians. Cockburn will support the new disc’s release with a summer/fall tour schedule throughout the United States and Canada.

    In 2005, Bruce Cockburn released Speechless, a collection of instrumental tracks that shone the spotlight on the singer-songwriter’s exceptional acoustic guitar playing. The album earned Cockburn a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Instrumentalist and underscored his stature as one of the world’s premier pickers.

    Already, The New York Times had credited Cockburn with having “the hardest-working right thumb in show business,” adding that he “materializes chords and modal filigrees while his thumb provides the music’s pulse and its foundation—at once a deep Celtic drone and the throb of a vigilant conscience.” Acoustic Guitar magazine was similarly laudatory in citing Cockburn’s guitar prowess, placing him in the prestigious company of legends like Andrés Segovia, Bill Frisell, Django Reinhardt and Mississippi John Hurt.

    Now, with the intriguingly titled Crowing Ignites, Cockburn has released another dazzling instrumental album that will further cement his reputation as both an exceptional composer and a picker with few peers. Unlike Speechless, which included mostly previously recorded tracks, the latest album—Cockburn’s 34th—features 11 brand new compositions. Although there’s not a single word spoken or sung, it’s as eloquent and expressive as any of the Canadian Hall of Famer’s lyric-laden albums. As his long-time producer, Colin Linden puts it, “It’s amazing how much Bruce can say without saying anything.”

    The album’s title is a literal translation of the Latin motto, “Accendit Cantu,” featured on the Cockburn family crest. Although a little puzzling, Cockburn liked the feeling it conveyed: “Energetic, blunt, Scottish as can be.” The album’s other nod to Cockburn’s Scottish heritage is heard on “Pibroch: The Wind in the Valley,” in which his guitar’s droning bass strings and melodic grace notes sound eerily like a Highland bagpipe. “I’ve always loved pibroch, or classic bagpipe music,” says Cockburn. “It seems to be in my blood. Makes me want to sip whiskey out of a seashell on some rocky headland!”

    While Cockburn reconnecting with his Gaelic roots is one of Crowing Ignites’ more surprising elements, there’s plenty else that will delight followers of his adventurous pursuits. Says Linden, who’s been a fan of Cockburn’s for 49 years, has produced 10 of his albums and played on the two before that: “Bruce is always trying new things, and I continue to be fascinated by where he goes musically.”

    The album is rich in styles from folk and blues to jazz, all genres Cockburn has previously explored. But there are also deepening excursions into what might be called free-form world music. The hypnotic, kalimba-laden “Seven Daggers” and the trance-inducing “Bells of Gethsemane,” full of Tibetan cymbals, chimes and singing bowls, are highly atmospheric dreamscapes that showcase Cockburn’s world of wonders—and his improvisational gifts on both 12-string and baritone guitars. Each track was wholly created in the makeshift studio he and Linden put together in a converted fire station in Cockburn’s San Francisco neighbourhood.

    Singing bowls, Cockburn explains, are an endless source of fascination to him, dating back to a trip he took to Kathmandu, as seen in the documentary Return to Nepal. There, Cockburn stumbled on a man selling the small inverted bells sometimes used in Buddhist religious practices and became instantly captivated by their vibrational power. “I had no particular attraction to them as meditation tools or anything,” says Cockburn. “I just thought they had a beautiful sound. After buying half a dozen in Kathmandu and more since he now has a sizeable collection.

    Two tracks on Crowing Ignites had their origins elsewhere. “The Groan,” a bluesy piece with guitar, mandolin and some collective handclapping from a group that includes Cockburn’s seven-year-old daughter, Iona, was something Cockburn composed for a Les Stroud documentary about the aftermath of a school shooting and the healing power of nature. And Cockburn wrote the jazz-tinged “Mt. Lefroy Waltz” for the Group of Seven Guitar Project on an instrument inspired by artist Lawren Harris and custom-made by luthier Linda Manzer. It was originally recorded, with cornet player Ron Miles, bassist Roberto Occhipinti and drummer Gary Craig, for Cockburn’s 2017 album Bone on Bone, but not released until now.

    Cockburn doesn’t set out with any particular agenda when composing an instrumental. “It’s more about coming up with an interesting piece,” he says. “Who knows what triggers it—the mood of the day or a dream from the night before. Often the pieces are the result of sitting practicing or fooling around on the guitar. When I find something I like, I work it into a full piece.”

    “Bardo Rush,” with its urgent, driving rhythm, came after one such dream, while the contemplative “Easter” and the mournful “April in Memphis” were composed on Easter Sunday and Martin Luther Day respectively. “Blind Willie,” named for one of Cockburn’s blues heroes, Blind Willie Johnson, features a fiery guitar and dobro exchange with Linden (Cockburn has previously recorded Johnson’s “Soul of a Man” on Nothing But a Burning Light). And the idea for the sprightly “Sweetness and Light,” featuring some of Cockburn’s best fingerpicking, developed quickly and its title, he says, became immediately obvious.

    Meanwhile, “Angels in the Half Light” is steeped in dark and light colours and conveys ominous shades as well as feelings of hopefulness, seemingly touching on both spiritual and political concerns—hallmarks of Cockburn from day one. “It’s hard for me to imagine what people’s response is going to be to these pieces,” he says. “It’s different from songs with lyrics, where you hope listeners will understand, intellectually and emotionally, what you’re trying to convey. With instrumental stuff, that specificity isn’t there and the meaning is up for grabs. But I’m glad if people find a message in the music.”

    More than 40 years since he embarked on his singer-songwriter career, Cockburn continues pushing himself to create—and winning accolades in the process. Most recently, the Order of Canada recipient earned a 2018 Juno Award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, for Bone on Bone, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from SOCAN, the Peoples’ Voice Award from Folk Alliance International and was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017. Cockburn, who released his memoir, Rumours of Glory, and its similarly titled companion box set the same year, shows no sign of stopping. As his producer-friend Linden says: “Like the great blues players he admires, Bruce just gets better with age.”

    ~ from CashboxCanada.ca

    Bruce Cockburn on Richard Thompson, Ronald Reagan in advance of Saturday Folk Fest set
    by Tom Murray - newslocker.com

    8 August 2019 - Bruce Cockburn at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival on Saturday.

    “It was just after I released my memoir,” the singer-songwriter recalls over the phone from Trail, B.C., where he and his band are preparing for a theatre show. “I had invested all of the energy normally used in songwriting into my book (2014’s Rumours of Glory), and when I was done I looked around and wondered if I was still able to do it.”

    That question, if anyone ever took it seriously, was laid to rest with Bone on Bone, which went on to win Contemporary Roots Album of the Year at the 2018 Juno Awards. Now the iconic folk-rocker (and guitar wizard), known for an eclectic range of hits like the incendiary If I Had a Rocket Launcher, the lilting Wondering Where the Lions Are, and the heart opening Lovers in a Dangerous Time, is preparing to follow up with an all-instrumental album called Crowing Ignites. We spoke with Cockburn about his new album, fellow guitar deity Richard Thompson, and Ronald Reagan.

    Q: What was the genesis of Crowing Ignites?

    A: My manager Bernie (Finkelstein) and I had come up with an idea to do what was going to be called Speechless 2. Speechless (which came out in 2005) was a compilation of previously recorded songs, with a few new tracks added on. We thought, okay, let’s do the same again, but I ended up writing so much that it became its own album. I had a lot of fun with it, and brought in these loosely structured songs with some improvisation, while others are less improvised. In the case of Seven Daggers I just played a charango (an Andean stringed instrument) pattern and then started putting stuff on top of that.

    Q: It comes out in September; will you be devoting your fall tour to just instrumentals?

    A: Not the whole show. I think people would be unhappy with me if I did that, and I know I’d be unhappy. There are a few that have made their way into the setlist, though. There’s a piece that was constructed in the studio with me playing all the parts; the band I’m touring with can play those parts, while I get to do all of the showoff moves.

    Q: Because of your propensity for occasionally releasing instrumental albums, as well as your similar interests in mysticism, I tend to put you in the same category as Richard Thompson.

    A: We’ve been on the same bill a number of times, and Richard is a great guitar player. We have different skill sets, and I’m definitely an admirer. I guess that’s my way of saying that I don’t mind being lumped in with him.

    Q: You’ve been living in the States for a decade now, which must be very eye-opening for you.

    A: I actually lived in the States the first time in the ’60s, during the Vietnam War, and that was similar in some regards. When I first started hanging out there again with my then-girIfriend and now wife it was a very different scene. It was Obama’s America, and it had a very different feel. In spite of what I felt were many flaws in that administration there was a generally positive atmosphere, and a kind of sense of hope in the air. That’s not so evident right now.

    Q: It’s strange how the current government hasn’t quite galvanized the music scene in the same way that Johnson and then Nixon did.

    A: Well, when someone like Kanye West is a big Trump supporter…it’s definitely weird. People are very polarized, though it’s hard to find Trump supporters in San Francisco. It can feel like an echo chamber at times, because of the degree of polarization. You can’t really have a conversation with anyone about this stuff unless it’s partisan.

    Q: You’ve been around long enough to have seen the way the political pendulum swings through the decades. Is it that worrying to you?

    A: I think of someone like Ronald Reagan, who had a very public smoothness. I once spoke with (then-Sandinista leader, now Nicaraguan President) Daniel Ortega’s wife Rosario about a trip they took to Washington to meet the Reagans. They were invited to this party where everyone was very hospitable and nice, but at this point Reagan was saying things like he supported the (U.S.-backed right wing rebel) Contras and saying “I am a Contra.” In a diplomatic context he was nice, but from a global perspective he was awful.

    Q: You can’t really call the current U.S. President a very smooth politician.

    A: I think his cosmic function is to create chaos and disorder. It’s one of his two talents; the other is getting attention. I mean, we have to give him that. Here we are talking about him, just as in every conversation I have, even of the most superficial kind, we always end up discussing him. That’s a skill!

    ~ from www.newslocker.com

    Bruce Cockburn on His New Album & Accidental Career
    Mike Raine - In conversation with the Canadian music icon - canadianmusicianpodcast.com

    31 July 2019 - "I’ve never thought in terms of a ‘career.’ I’m uncomfortable with the word. I don’t use it because I’ve never approached what I do that way."

    Podcast - candaianmusicianpodcast.com - episode 326. You can also watch this interview here.

    One of the greatest Canadian songwriters of the last five decades, Bruce Cockburn, joins us on this week's podcast. An inductee into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and member of the Order of Canada, Bruce is about to release his 34th (!) album, which is an all-instrumental collection entitled Crowing Ignites. In this wide-ranging conversation, Mike and Bruce chat about his earliest years as a songwriter and performer in Massachusetts and Ottawa, the first song he wrote that he knew was good, the generational crossover in his audience, his friendships and partnerships with his long-time producer Colin Linden and manager Bernie Finkelstein, songwriting (of course), and a bunch more.

    ~from www.candaianmusicianpodcast.com

    Video Lesson: Bruce Cockburn Teaches His Sophisticated Guitar Style

    19 July 2019 - Over a career spanning five decades, Bruce Cockburn has traversed an extraordinarily wide landscape on the guitar, from fingerstyle folk, country blues, and gospel to edgy rock and exploratory jazz—all in the service of his songwriting muse. What’s even more remarkable is that he’s done all this not just as a bandleader but also as a solo acoustic performer. In Cockburn’s hands, the guitar becomes a true band in a box, delivering powerful grooves, riffs, melodies, harmonized lines, and improvised solos in real time.


    And at 74, Cockburn is certainly not done exploring the instrument, as is obvious from a spin of Crowing Ignites, his 34th album and first-ever collection of all new instrumentals (2005’s Speechless compiled previously released instrumentals along with a few new tracks). The title Crowing Ignites is a rough translation of “Accendit Cantu,” which adorns the old Cockburn family crest. As does so much of his music, the album ranges across folk, blues, jazz, and shades in between, with virtuosic playing primarily on six-string, 12-string, and baritone acoustics.

    Getting a handle on Cockburn’s multilayered guitar style isn’t easy, even for Cockburn himself. “I don’t think about how I do it—I just do it,” he says on the phone from his home in San Francisco. “But it’s actually quite interesting to try and make it into something communicable.” That is exactly what Cockburn accomplishes in this lesson: He breaks down the key components of his style and demonstrates them through a series of examples drawn from his songs.

    Below, you can learn the core guitar parts from some of Cockburn’s best-known songs, such as “Wondering Where the Lions Are” and “Pacing the Cage,” as well as other gems from across his career. At acousticguitar.com, you can not only check out the video of Cockburn sharing excerpts from these songs, but you can see him perform a complete version of “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” (transcribed on page 60 of the print/digital issue) as well as two instrumentals from Crowing Ignites. The result is perhaps the closest and clearest view ever of this guitar master at work.

    Bruce Cockburn cover Acoustic Guitar Magazine 20July2019

    The Alternating Bass

    In Cockburn’s view, the logical way to break down his approach to guitar is not by style or genre—he’s always been dedicated to crossing stylistic boundaries anyway—but by picking-hand technique. Though the details and feel vary, most of his songs can be boiled down to a few right-hand fingerstyle techniques—one of which is the classic alternating bass style, as he learned especially from his early woodshedding with the music of Mississippi John Hurt. He began his video session, in fact, with a verse of Hurt’s “My Creole Belle,” in which the fingers double the vocal melody over the alternating bass—an idea that Cockburn has employed in many songs over the years.

    In a similar vein, Example 1 comes from literally the beginning of Cockburn’s recording career: “Going to the Country,” track one on his self-titled 1970 debut. He plays in standard tuning out of G shapes, with his thumb holding down the sixth string at the third fret (more below on his extensive use of the thumb for fretting). The example shows the intro, where he picks a melodic line on the top two strings that harmonizes with the vocal. During the verses, his guitar doubles the vocal melody.

    Before taping this session, Cockburn hadn’t played this song in many years and pointed out that he can’t fully reproduce the original recording, on which he used fingerpicks—an approach he soon abandoned. “When I first started using picks I liked the tone,” he recalls. “But I soon discovered that with fingerpicks on, you can’t really do downstrokes with your fingers, because the fingerpicks go flying into the audience’s drink.”

    Playing with bare fingers, as Cockburn has done ever since those earliest days, gives the flexibility to combine upstrokes and downstrokes, picking, and strumming. Bare fingers also help create the kind of warm, round tone that was characteristic of Hurt’s music.

    Perhaps even more in the Mississippi John Hurt style is “Pacing the Cage,” a luminous ballad from Cockburn’s 1996 album The Charity of Night. In Example 2, capo at the fourth fret and use C shapes—as Hurt himself often did. In the song’s main pattern, alternate the bass between the fifth and fourth strings as the chords move from C to G/B to Fsus2/A. On the treble side, pick double-stops on the first and second strings for the C and G/B, and then add in the third string on the Fsus2/A. In measure 2, Cockburn uses a fourth-finger barre on top of the G/B chord, but you may find it easier (as I do) to use the third and fourth fingers together on those top strings instead.

    The alternating bass is also at the root of “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” from his 1979 breakthrough album Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws. With its infectious reggae-like groove (delivered in the studio with the help of a Jamaican rhythm section), “Lions” became a Top 40 hit in the US. Drop your sixth string to D, capo at the second fret, and try the main rhythm pattern in Example 3. For much of the song, your fretting hand stays five frets above the capo.

    Again, you need your thumb for fretting the G shape. “When I was first taking lessons eons ago, I was taught that it was a terrible thing to fret with your thumb,” Cockburn says. “But then I saw some great old blues guys doing it, and I thought, that doesn’t sound so terrible to me. So it just became part of my toolkit, and it eventually became an indispensable part.”

    The Drone Bass

    The other main picking-hand technique in Cockburn’s music is the monotone or drone bass, as heard particularly in blues—in which the thumb plays a rhythmic pulse on a single string, often with palm muting for a more percussive effect.

    At times Cockburn does use the drone bass in a straight-up blues context. Crowing Ignites has two great examples. In “The Groan,” he plays a steady bass on the fifth string, with a 12/8 blues shuffle feel, using what he refers to as Gsus tuning (D G D G C D). And in “Blind Willie,” a blues in A (for which he tunes the second string down to A), he plays a quarter-note pulse on the open fifth string for the entire song. Example 4, from “Blind Willie,” shows a sample of the kind of riffing that you can do up and down the neck over the open-string bass.

    The basic idea of playing over a drone bass, though, can apply far beyond blues, Cockburn notes. “Way back in the day when I was ‘studying’ jazz at Berklee—I’m putting the studying in quotes because I wasn’t a very good student—I discovered that I really didn’t like chords that much,” he says. “I don’t feel exactly like this now, but I was much more drawn to Asian music of various kinds that doesn’t use Western harmonies, where the intervals that you might think of in a harmonic way are measured against a droning bass rather than against each other as they move around. So a lot of what I do is informed by a desire to make use of that phenomenon.”

    The new song “Bardo Rush” runs with this idea. Tuned to D modal or double dropped D (first and sixth strings to D), Cockburn plays a monotone bass on the sixth string for the entire song, adding all sorts of chord melody and jazzy riffs on top. Try an excerpt in Example 5. Play the harmonized melody with your fingers over the driving bass drone.

    In learning any of Cockburn’s songs, whether with an alternating bass or a drone bass, the bass line is the best place to start. Practice the thumb until its movement is automatic, then work on adding the treble side.

    Drone Bass With Chords

    Cockburn also uses the drone bass technique in songs that do change chords. A famous example is “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” written in response to Cockburn’s visit to a Guatemalan refugee camp in Mexico in the early ’80s. As you can see in the full transcription of his AG studio performance on page 60, Cockburn keeps a steady bass going throughout. In the instrumental section, he employs his thumb to fret the bass note under the C so he can continue to solo with his other fingers.

    In the videos you’ll notice that Cockburn often anchors his right-hand pinky on the pickguard—either keeping it planted or dropping onto the top when he digs in a little harder. This support, he finds, is essential for creating the kind of rhythmic momentum he’s looking for. “When you want to bear down on a bass rhythm, you kind of need [the anchor], whether it’s an alternating bass or a single-note bass,” he says. “I need that anchor to really crunch into it.”

    Another song that uses a drone bass under changing chords is “Last Night of the World,” originally released in 1999 on Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu. That track featured full band backing, but as you can hear in the solo version on Slice O Life, or in Cockburn’s AG demo, the guitar part sounds complete on its own. In Example 6, drop your third string a half step to F#, and leave all the others at their standard pitches, for the signature tuning Cockburn calls drop F# (see “A Cockburn Tuning Sampler” below). Capo at the third fret. Thump out a rock rhythm with your thumb, staying on the open sixth string until the last phrase of each verse. The example shows the riff that serves as the intro and continues under much of the verse. As in so many of Cockburn’s songs, your fingers create a little melodic motif on top of the bass.

    Mixing It Up

    The last two songs in this lesson use a mixture of picking approaches. “After the Rain,” also played in drop-F# tuning, comes from Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws, and is a great example of Cockburn’s fusion of acoustic folk and jazz. Much of Example 7 uses a drone bass, with single-note melodies and jazz-flavored chords on top. There’s also a popping fingerstyle rhythm that Cockburn often uses, where you play quick, staccato bass notes and chords with a percussive slap on the backbeats, as in measures 7–8. At the end the chorus, there’s a bit of strumming—a rarity in Cockburn’s music. He is much more apt to pick multiple strings simultaneously than strum across them.

    As an interesting aside, the inspiration for “After the Rain” came from an unexpected source: the Bee Gees. The song, says Cockburn, is “a very loose acoustic translation of the groove of ‘Stayin’ Alive.’”

    The final examples come from “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” which kicked off the 1984 album Stealing Fire—a period in which Cockburn’s songwriting became more politically charged and, not coincidentally, more electric and band-oriented, too. Cockburn played electric guitar on the original track with a full band, strumming power chord shapes. That sound works with a band but would be boring in a solo context, Cockburn feels. So instead, he uses the rolling picking pattern in Example 8,which bears some similarities to his part in “After the Rain.” In the instrumental section, as shown in Example 9, pick pairs of strings with your thumb as you play fretted notes up the neck alongside open treble strings.

    These examples are, of course, a tiny sampling of the music that Cockburn has created over the last 50 years. But the fingerstyle techniques at work here can be heard across his vast catalog, applied to various types of grooves, chord progressions, and melodies. As Cockburn puts it at the close of the video, “Other songs have different details, but the basic styles tend to rotate around that axis.”

    Beyond covering Cockburn’s work, you can also apply aspects of his style to your own songs and arrangements. Rather than using thick chords, try reducing your guitar parts—start by establishing a bass line, and then add single notes and partial chords on top. Focus on the groove, which really starts with the bass. Use tunings and capo positions that give you open-string bass notes, and therefore freedom to travel around the neck. And try doubling or harmonizing with the vocal melody on the guitar. The key is to think of the guitar as a multi-voiced instrument—rhythm section, backup singer, and soloist all at once.

    Please follow this link for the article with all the chords.

    Bruce Cockburn guitar chords - Acoustic Guitar Magazine
    Please follow this link for the article with all the chords.

    This article originally appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

    ~ from Video Lesson: Bruce Cockburn Teaches His Sophisticated Guitar Style - BY JEFFREY PEPPER RODGERS - the September/October 2019 issue of Acoustic Guitar

    Acoustic Classic: Bruce Cockburn’s ‘If I Had a Rocket Launcher’
    From the September/October 2019 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY ADAM PERLMUTTER

    19 July 2019 - Acoustic Classic: Bruce Cockburn’s ‘If I Had a Rocket Launcher’

    In 1984, Bruce Cockburn scored an unlikely pop hit with “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” which describes the Canadian singer-songwriter’s fantasies of violent retribution following a visit to a Guatemalan refugee camp that was regularly shelled by government helicopters. Cockburn originally recorded the song in a rock-band setting, flush with electric guitars and synths, but when he stopped by AG’s studios to film a private lesson last spring (see “Band in a Box” on page 20 of the print/digital edition), he stripped the song down to just guitar and voice.

    The transcription on the following pages captures that performance note for note. At a glance, the notation might appear dense and complex, but you can make things easier on yourself if you break the song down and approach it systematically. You could play the first ten bars of the intro exactly as written, but it would be equally effective to improvise the natural harmonics. What’s most important here is the continuous eighth-note stream of open E notes—play them as firmly and evenly as possible, using palm muting if you’d like.

    Bruce Cockburn cover Acoustic Guitar Magazine Sept-Oct edition

    The heart of the song appears in bars 11–14. Riff A is the harmonic sequence for the subsequent verses and guitar solo, so be sure to spend plenty of time learning to play it with precision. In bars 11 and 13, maintain a barre across strings 3–5 at the seventh fret; grab the ninth-fret B and E with your third and fourth finger, respectively, or barre them both with either of those fingers. For the C6/9 chord in measures 12 and 14, keep your second finger stationed on the eighth-fret C and your first finger barred at the seventh fret, while stopping the tenth-fret G with your fourth finger.

    In his off-the-cuff-feeling solo, starting at bar 45, Cockburn continues the eighth-note bass action established in the intro, above which he adds lines based mostly on 16th notes. Key to playing an effective solo here isn’t necessarily playing exactly what’s on the printed page but understanding how it works. The solo might sound intricate, but Cockburn is simply playing notes from the E natural minor scale (E F# G A B C D) entirely in seventh position—notes within easy reach of the chord shapes in the main riff. (For the lowdown on soloing with chord shapes, see Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers’ Weekly Workouts in the June 2017 and March 2018 issues of AG.) Be sure to put in the time studying this approach, as it will pay dividends for you in solo-guitar settings in general.

    ~from Acoustic Guitar.

    Find this article and lots more in the September-October Editon of Acoustic Guitar Magazine

    Due to copyright restrictions, we are unable to post notation or tablature for this musical work. If you have a digital or physical copy of the September/October 2019 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine, you will find the music on page 60.

    Livestream videos
    from Paste Magazine & Relix

    17 July 2019 - Bruce was in New York City today performing livestreams from Paste Magazine & Relix.
    Here are the videos.

    Paste Magazine - direct link

    Relix - direct link (start at 5:17)

    Music icon Bruce Cockburn in North Bay this Friday
    By Bob Pipe - BayToday.ca

    11 July 2019 - Legendary Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn shows no signs of slowing down after close to 50 years of exceptional music. He and his band hit the Capitol Centre in North Bay on Friday July 12.

    An icon of Canadian music brings his incredible songwriting and unparalleled guitar-playing to North Bay this Friday. Bruce Cockburn, the man with ‘the hardest working right thumb in show business’ according to the New York Times, brings his band to the Capitol Centre, touring in support of his latest album, the Juno Award-winning Bone on Bone.

    “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” laughs Cockburn over the phone while getting ready for a day of rehearsals with his band in preparation for the upcoming gig. “We’re going to be playing a selection of some older and some newer songs. It’s always a mix of songs that I think people want to hear, and songs that I want them to hear.”

    There is certainly a long list of excellent songs to choose from. Bone On Bone represents Cockburn’s 33rd album. His career stretches back to his self-titled debut album in 1970 and he’s steadily released acclaimed albums ever since. As Exclaim! Magazine wrote in their review of Bone on Bone: “There must have been a "no bad albums" clause in Bruce Cockburn's contract with True North Records. Nearly 50 years and 33 albums later, Cockburn has yet to release even a less-than-great album.”

    Over his career, Cockburn has been honoured with 12 Juno Awards, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, and has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada, not to mention numerous honorary degrees and humanitarian awards.

    He’s also recognized as one of the finest, and most unique guitar players on the planet.

    Throughout his illustrious career, Cockburn has also been an outspoken activist on issues such as the environment, treatment of refugees, and Indigenous rights. He’s always been one to “kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight”, to borrow from one of his hit songs.

    Politics have frequently played a role in Cockburn’s songwriting. When asked about the current political climate, Cockburn is clear.

    “I worry about divisive politics. No one can really talk to each other anymore, everything is knee-jerk,” he said. “Pulling people together is more important right now than it has been in my entire lifetime. It’s important to find ways to bridge that gap.”

    Cockburn isn’t about to change his messages for greater appeal, however.

    “I’m not self-censoring,” he states.

    As a 74-year-old icon, Cockburn shows no signs of slowing down. While keenly aware of his mortality and the realities of aging (the title of Bone on Bone is a sly reference to arthritis), Cockburn is not in the least bit consumed by it.

    “I don’t give a shit about my legacy,” he laughs. “It’s kind of neat to think that in 100 years someone might listen to my music and say ‘wow’ or ‘genius’ or something, but I have no control over that and neither does anyone else, no matter what they might think.”

    “I’ve always felt like every album I make could be my last. That was true of the first album and it’s still true.”

    The only legacy Cockburn really concerns himself with is his young daughter. A committed father, he changed his touring structure to be able to spend more time with his family.

    “Children don’t understand things like an adult. If I’m away for months at a time my child will have an unbalanced view. Plus, I love my family and genuinely want to be with them.”

    With a new instrumental album, Crowing Ignites, set for release in the fall, Cockburn will hit the road for intermittent touring again this fall.

    For now, he’s looking forward to returning to North Bay, and recalls that the Gateway city played a role in inspiring one of his songs, Isn’t That What Friends Are For, off his 1999 album Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu.

    “I recall sitting on the shore of Lake Nipissing watching the waves roll in. The imagery of North Bay helped shape that song,” he recalls.

    For any young musicians and artists looking for advice, Cockburn is modest, much more modest than his illustrious career requires.

    “I don’t have very good advice because I don’t know what they are going through now,” he says. Then offers two pearls: “Give the art your all and if you are a songwriter, don’t sell your publishing, it isn’t worth it in the end.”

    Bruce Cockburn plays the Capitol Centre in North Bay on Friday, June 12, 2019, with his band featuring drummer Gary Craig, bassist John Dymond and accordionist John Aaron Cockburn. For more information, and for tickets, click here.

    ~ BayToday.ca

    A Conversation with Bruce Cockburn: Headlining Jackson-Triggs Amphitheatre
    By David DeRocco - GoBeWeekly

    29 June 2019 - If you were asked to name a Canadian artist who has, in the course of his or her career, released 34 albums to great international critical acclaim, the name Bruce Cockburn might not jump immediately to mind. That may be due in part to the fact he’s not an ever-present face in the media, has not been associated with salacious headlines nor has he ever been a guest judge on any number of cheesy talent shows. No, Bruce Cockburn is more like Canadian weather – sometimes heavenly, sometimes harsh and demanding, always changing and something all Canadians appreciate for its inherent unpredictable nature.

    Since releasing his self-titled debut in 1970, Cockburn the singer-songwriter has delivered an incredible cache of songs, including “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” “Tokyo,” “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” “Lovers In a Dangerous Time,” “If A Tree Falls,” “Call It Democracy” and many more. Cockburn the musician, however, has also earned acclaim for his exceptional acoustic guitar playing, wonderfully showcased in his award-winning 2005 instrumental collection, Speechless. This September, Cockburn will be releasing a follow-up, Crowing Ignites, featuring 11 original acoustic compositions that deftly illustrate why he was acknowledged by the Canadian Folk Music Awards as Best Instrumentalist.

    To promote his upcoming July 13th appearance at the Jackson-Triggs Amphitheatre, Cockburn took the time to chat with GoBeWeekly about going instrumental, winning awards and surviving earthquakes in his current home of San Francisco.

    GoBe: An instrumental album at this time seems like a lost opportunity, because the world needs more words of wisdom from Bruce Cockburn. But on the flip side, it’s perhaps a perfect fit for the times given the way people are finding words so divisive and polarizing these days. What was your primary motivation for recording CROWING IGNITES and did the great response to Speechless play any factor?

    Bruce: Our intention started out to be to make a sequel to Speechless. It was going to be a collection of previously released tracks that weren’t on Speechless and a couple of other old things that weren’t on that collection and some new material. But I wound up with so much new material that it became its own album, Crowing Ignites. Once we started doing it it took on a momentum of its own. With respect to the absence of lyrics, there’s lots to comment on in the world right now, but there’s also a lot of people commenting. I’m not sure that adding more clamour to the clamour is really that helpful. That’s not to say we shouldn’t all say what’s in our hearts to say, but I don’t think the world needs to hear more from anyone about Donald Trump for instance. Everybody knows what they think of him whether for or against.

    GoBe: There’s 11 new original tracks on this release. Where does one start composing for an instrumental album. You have a blank slate – is that daunting not having lyrics to build around?

    Bruce: It’s a different process. Your question kind of implies that you know this, that I generally kind of start writing songs with the lyrics and music kind of becomes the vehicle for the transmission of those. In the case of instrumental pieces, the ideas come from the guitar itself or from out of the air in a kind of way. There’s two pieces on the new album that were constructed in the studio. One of them started with Tibetan singing bowls and the other one started with a little riff on the triangle and started from there. With those exceptions the pieces were composed beforehand. They just came from practising and just tooling around basically.

    GoBe: So is there anything you had to learn or that you would up learning as a musician in order to produce this album?

    Bruce: Well, I always write a little harder than I can actually play. I’ve tended to do that over the years, not always but often I do. It’s part and partial to the process. I discover something on the guitar that I didn’t know how to do before, or is a way of using something I know how to do but it’s a different application of it. So then there’s a learning curve involved that’s built right into the composition of the piece. In that sense, there’s definitely things I had to learn. I wouldn’t say a radical departure, I didn’t turn into Pat Martino or a classical player.

    Bruce: When you pour your heart into a lyric there’s obviously an emotional connection to the song. Is there as much of that put into a song without the lyrical attachment, or is it strictly physical – or maybe metaphysical?

    Bruce: I think there is as much. It’s not as specific obviously, because there’s nothing to attach to your ideas. Having that emotional content is one of the things that makes an instrumental performance effective. The capacity to contain that emotion is one of the things that makes a piece workable or a successful composition.

    GoBe: The press materials around the new release mentions a makeshift studio that you and producer Colin Linden pieced together in a fire station in San Francisco to record in. What was involved in that process and what impact did the limitations or nuances of the studio have on the final results?

    Bruce: You know it came out of a kind of self-interested intuitive flash on my part. Where I live in San Francisco is about four blocks from where my young daughter goes to school. I would walk her to school every day. In the process I became acquainted with and got friendly with a woman who owned this former firehouse that was half way between my house and the school. It was converted into a nice three-bedroom condo with mostly open space. I had been to a house concert there, they run concerts there and other kinds of special events. At one point I ran into my friend Anne who owns the place at a café. She didn’t use the place day to day on a regular basis. I asked her what she thought about using it as a studio and she took about half a second to say ‘that’s a great idea.” I checked with Colin to see if he could assemble the necessary recording gear and that’s how we proceeded. We spent a week in the place just setting up all the instruments and just started playing.

    GoBe: Tell me you got to fulfill every young boy’s fantasy by sliding down the fire pole.

    Bruce: (laughing) No, there’s no fire pole. I don’t know that there ever was. It a great space to work in.

    GoBe: It’s been nearly five decades since your debut in 1970. You’ve seen the industry change dramatically through those decades, with your music welcome on almost all formats at one time or another. Did you ever consciously feel you needed to change to suit the industry, or have you always simply created what you needed to create such as your upcoming release?

    Bruce: I can remember a couple occasions, for instance in the 80s, where we thought ‘everybody is putting out a single, maybe we should put out a single.’ As it turns out, we recorded “Coldest Night of the Year” with that in mind. By the time the record got finished and came out it was springtime and no one wanted to play it. It’s become kind of a seasonal thing on radio in Canada, but it was not a success as a single at the time. I don’t think about it much. Of course I’m as affected as everybody else by the trends that sweep through. If a thing is exciting for everybody it’s probably exciting for me too and I might want to do something like it. Really, I don’t feel like I’m in the business. I’m in the business of making music basically and I suppose I have a certain role as a commenter on things. That’s just how it’s developed over the years, but that wasn’t really intentional. The intentional part of what I do is to try and make music that I’m interested in, and write songs that say something I’m interested in saying.

    GoBe: You say you’re in the business of making music. In doing my research and reacquainting myself with your catalogue, you had 10 albums released in the 70s, another 10 in the 80s. Does that enormous output seem ludicrous to you now – especially knowing that it takes artists today a year to produce a song?

    Bruce: Well, it’s the other way around. I think taking a year to produce a song is ludicrous. There’s no point in pining for the old days, but in the 70s and 80s we recorded an album and we could put it out a month later. You could spend a couple weeks recording the record and it takes a couple of weeks to put stuff together and it’s out. So you could predict what the climate will be when you put it out. Now, because of the corporateness of everything, it takes forever. It takes a year to get an album out. In our case we’re doing it kind of fast, because we recorded the album in February and it’s coming out in September. We’re being speed demons with this one.

    GoBe: And that included building a studio too!

    Bruce: (laughs) Yes, including building a studio.

    GoBe: You scored the 2018 Juno Award in the Roots category for your Bone on Bone album. What do such awards mean to you 34 albums deep into your career?

    Bruce: You know, it’s an honour to be thought of highly by my peers and everyone else. It’s not something I take for granted. I like to get that kind of attention, but it’s not a measure of anything really meaningful. I don’t want to denigrate the process. If people want to celebrate what we all do, that’s great. More power to them. It’s an honour to be included, but it’s certainly not what I live for.

    Gobe: There’s a couple awards that may hold more significant meaning – your Order of Canada and your induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Which of those two accolades holds more significant meaning to you?

    Bruce: The Order of Canada is in some ways is the only significant accolade of that sort. Being made an Officer of the Order of Canada, a cynic might say what’s the difference, it’s just more PR. But I’d rather be associated with PR for the nation. I just feel that it’s something, because of the nature of how the Order was set up, it transcends politics, individual governments and it’s a reflection some way of the degree to which some aspect of Canada includes me. To be included and sort of embraced by that Canadian persona is very rewarding and meaningful to me. I have felt for decades that my life and the life of the country are connected some way. I was born there and spent most of my life living there. There’s some kind of way that I’m a part of Canada and Canada’s a part of me. To have that encapsulated in the medal that’s a symbol of the Order of Canada is very meaningful.

    GoBe: From where do you derive the greatest pleasure these days; in the writing and creating, or the performing of the music you make?

    Bruce: It has always been two different things. It’s kind of schizoid. The writing on one hand, the process, whether it’s lyrical or instrumental, is like a treasure hunt and it’s fun. Once it gets rolling it can be exasperating at times too. But it’s like being on the trail of something and chasing it down and that’s fun. Performing, when it works well and all the conditions are right, is a whole different kind of fun. It’s more immediate, right then and there. If it works well it’s very enjoyable.

    GoBe: It worked well the last time I saw you perform at Jackson-Triggs. For this show, will it be an entirely acoustic show in support of the album or will we be treated to a mix of songs and instrumental music?

    Bruce: The album’s not even out yet, so we’re not really thinking about Crowing Ignites with respect to these shows coming up. There will be something from the album, but it’s not the emphasis. It’s a band show, the same band I was touring with for Bone on Bone, but this time a strictly acoustic format.

    GoBe: Final question then. As a current resident of San Francisco, have you experienced an earthquake yet?

    Bruce: I’ve only noticed one. There have others since I’ve been here but for some reason I don’t seem to notice them. I don’t know if it’s my own shakiness or the fact I happen to be in a car at the time. There have been no big ones. I do recall my wife and I were lying in bed one morning and there was a kind of cracking noise, not particularly loud. The whole building made a cracking noise and there was a ripple that ran across the ceiling. My wife said ‘that was an earthquake.’ It was a four on the scale, epicentre was down near San Jose. That was my only conscious knowledge of one so far.

    For more information, visit: https://www.greatestatesniagara.com/Store/Amphitheatre-Tickets

    ~from gobeweekly.com.

  • Previous news items featured on this page have been backed up in the News Archive section.

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    This page is part of The Cockburn Project, a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The Project archives self-commentary by Cockburn on his songs and music, and supplements this core part of the website with news, tour dates, and other current information.