Newspaper review of show:
Certain afternoon mainstage shows can be akin to opening one of those sampler albums artists or labels put together every so often, and Bruce Cockburn's Saturday show certainly fell into that category.
It's not a bad thing and the album-sampler versions usually go something like this. You get a few of the artist's best-known tunes, a handful of brand-new pieces that are currently front-racked in the stores, a couple of alternate-takes album tracks and some gem that has been pulled out of mothballs.
That's pretty much the route our man Bruce took as he kicked off a glorious, blue-sky day with Wondering Where The Lions Are, which drew most of us in with its inviting reggae beat and hummable chorus that kept the tune on the charts for quite a spell about 15 years ago.
From there it was straight into a couple of new ones from his latest release, Breakfast In New Orleans, Dinner In Timbuktu.
The guitarist/singer/songwriter went with Let The Bad Air Out, which contains the biting lines, "Traitors in high places take my money, tell me lies; Take a walk past Parliament, it smells like something died." But those lines didn't seem to find a target with the fellow sitting in front of this observer, who was drawn into the Money and Markets section of The Globe and Mail. Talk about the new age of folk festivals (at least his cellphone didn't go off).
Working with a killer rhythm section, Ben Riley on drums and Steve Lucas on bass, Cockburn kept with the new on a brooding and winding instrumental titled Down To The Delta that saw Lucas take over the lead role on his six-string bass. His long sojourn earned him a enthusiastic round of applause.
From there, Cockburn turned back the pages to 1980 and dusted off Tokyo, which remains one of his best-known tunes in a huge volume of recorded work.
Then it was into another new piece, End of All Rivers. Before kicking it off, Cockburn introduced it with, "Here's some more folk music," and a sly grin.
This piece also found him exploring his fretboard and some of his passages that had a sinewy-like tone, sounded as though they were an extension of the instrumental voice of the late Jerry Garcia. Once again, Riley and Lucas laid down a solid foundation.
Before it was all over, Cockburn repainted an old warhorse, Feast of Fools, with a grunge-toned coat; once more slid into a tropical groove on Mango, from his latest release, and even worked a double-shuffle kind of rhythm to the max on Night Train from the early '90s.
It was an all-too-quick overview of Cockburn's music and we've probably all got faves we wanted to hear that he didn't get to, but it certainly was a strong reminder of what a truly great artist this man is.
Another Newspaper review:
Dressed in floppy hats, swishy skirts and baggy shorts, more than 80,000 visitors descended on Gallagher Park in the heart of Edmonton's lush river valley over the weekend for the 21st staging of the Edmonton Folk Festival. The 65 performers on the bill included 87-year-old bluesman Jimmy "T-99" Nelson, American folk songstress Shawn Colvin, wicked R&B veteran Wilson Pickett and Canadian social activist and picker Bruce Cockburn. The festival was "really great, it's beautiful," said Colvin, who, during a late-night performance Saturday was surprised by an onstage visit from country-rocker Steve Earle. One of the highlights of the Saturday afternoon "workshops" was a performance by Colvin, Coburn, Stephen Fearing and Blue Rodeo's urban cowboy Greg Keelor. Cockburn (right) excluded the media from his performance area, "for the benefit of the fans," and later refused to do interviews (except for one with Much More Music, the Canadian adult-contemporary video channel.) Cockburn, a favourite of Edmonton folkies, turned in a remarkable musical performance Saturday, picking his way through old hits such as Tokyo and Wondering Where the Lions Are, and a few new songs from his latest release, Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu. But all was not peace and love. One female visitor protecting her staked-out spot in front of the main stage suffered a leg fracture when she was run over by a mob of volunteers rushing to secure similarly groovy vantage points. Indeed, by 8 p.m. Saturday, more than 62 visitors had made their way to the festival's first-aid tent, including one man who had a broken glass bottle protruding from his leg and at least one other who was suspected of suffering the effects of alcohol poisoning. Nevertheless, the festivities continued Sunday with afternoon performances -- in the rain -- by Ian Tyson, Madagascar Slim, Scrüj MacDhuk and Irish traditionalists Dervish. Hot American rockers Wilco were expected to play last night, as were Steve Earle and New Orleans-based gospel group Church Street.