9 December 2000 -- Since the 14 September 1999 release of Bruce Cockburn's last album, Breakfast In New Orleans, Dinner In Timbuktu, Bruce has been continually touring.
Over the last 15 months, Cockburn has played 128 concerts in 11 countries, including 79 dates in the US, 18 in Canada, 10 in Italy, 9 in Germany, 4 in England, 2 in France, and a single date in each of five other European countries -- Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Sweden.
On 7 December 2000, at Jimmy D's in Somerville, MA, Cockburn concluded the tour with the last of six anti-landmine benefit concerts, sharing the stage with Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. John Prine also joined the artists for three earlier dates, all in support of the Campaign for a Landmine Free World, a project of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF).
Cockburn traveled to Mozambique in September 1995 to investigate the post-war problem of landmines and to see whether the situation had improved since an earlier VVAF fact-finding mission in 1988. Cockburn's The Mines of Mozambique, written on 11 September 1995, during his visit.
In June 1999, he visited VVAF's clinics in Vietnam and Cambodia as part of a delegation organised by a 12-member consortium of Canadian NGOs, and in December 1999, Cockburn was one of 12 musicians who participated in the first Concerts for a Landmine Free World tour.
Speaking to the Ottawa Sun's Ian Nathanson in December 2000, Cockburn said, of the landmine problem:
"It's a huge problem and of course, the people who bear the brunt of the problem are those who encounter mines and have to live with the disfigurement and maiming that's inflicted upon them. It's easy for us to say we don't want to deal with it because those people are not among us. When you go to Mozambique or Cambodia, where farming is the basis of their whole system, you see people who've had mine accidents all over the place. In almost all cases, they're begging because they've been injured in a way that they can't do physical work."
The sold-out 3 December show at the National Arts Centre had particular significance, as it was the third anniversary of the signing of the Ottawa Treaty to ban anti-personnel mines.
Of 190 countries that support the ban to date -- the treaty went into effect in March 1999 -- 94 have signed and ratified the treaty, while 43 have signed but not yet ratified it. Though American musicians are rallying in support of the issue, the United States is not among the nations which have signed, one of the reasons for the preponderance of concerts in the US.
Following the 7 December concert, the Boston Globe reported that US President Bill Clinton had phoned one of the organizers of the concert to request a tape of the evening's concert, which raised more than $100,000 from tickets priced from $250 to $2,500, and from the sale of scarves handmade by Cambodian women victims of land mines.
US president Bill Clinton told the Ottawa Citizen in an article published on 1 Decemberm, that, "It is one of the bitterest regrets of the last eight years that [the US] didn't sign [the landmine treaty]."
The Boston Globe reported that some of the audience at the 7 December concert were in tears at several points, during Cockburn's performance of The Mines Of Mozambique:
There's a wealth of amputation
Waiting in the ground
But no one can remember
Where they put it down
If you're the child that finds it there
You will rise upon the sound
Of the mines of Mozambique...
Rusted husks of blown up trucks
Line the roadway north of town
Like passing through a sculpture gallery
War is the artist
But he's sleeping now...
And in the bare workshop they'll be molding plastic into little prosthetic limbs
For the children of this artist
And for those who farm the soil that received
His bitter seed...
According to a 28th July interview by Brian Elie from KMUD Radio in Garberville, California, Cockburn's plans after the 1999-2000 tour involve "a collaboration with a young jazz pianist by the name of Andy Milne, who's made a couple of CDs and who has asked me about collaborating on some songs for his next album... We've got one song so far that we're pretty happy with and may get a couple others. So, that's something that'll be recorded early in the new year probably, under his name, Andy Milne."
"As far as my own recording plans," Cockburn added, "I'm trying to not make any because I'm going to take as much time off after all this is over, as I can. It's been going full-tilt now for a few years straight, so time for a break."