Bambi and the Deer Hunters
aka Bruce Cockburn, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing, Tom Wilson), Richard Bell, Gary Craig and John Dymond

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Does Bruce have a new band? No, not really. A couple times a year, you may be lucky enough to see and hear Bruce play with some musician friends in a band called Bambi and the Deer Hunters. This past December 28, 2002 was one such night. Thanks to Rob Caldwell, Nancy Bouwma and Leanne Davis for the setlist and Nancy Bouwma for her review of the show.

1 January 2003 -- December 28, 2002, was the date of the annual Bambi and the Deer Hunters show, this year billed as Bambi Meets Blackie, at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, Ontario. This year the players were: Bruce Cockburn - guitar, vocals; Gary Craig - drums, vocals; John Dymond - bass, with
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings - photo True North Records
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings aka
Colin Linden - guitar, vocals and host
Stephen Fearing - guitar, vocals
Tom Wilson - guitar, vocals

Richard Bell
Richard Bell -
keyboards, vocals, comic relief

Baz Donovan of Blue Rodeo guested along with Jimmy Bowskill.

The following review was sent to us by Nancy Bouwma. See the setlist below, sent to us by Rob Caldwell, with updates from Nancy Bouwma and Leanne Davis, to fill in the blanks.

Liam Titcomb opened the show. He's a 15-year-old singer/songwriter who's father is Brent Titcomb, one of the members of the 60's group 3's A Crowd with Bruce Cockburn.

This was our third Bambi show at the fabled Horseshoe Tavern on Queen St. in downtown Toronto. We awaited the night's event with as much anticipation as our first. We always get there early enough to catch the sound check. At first the dusty old black curtain that separates the front bar from the main stage was wide open for us to witness the guys carry on like a garage band, deciding which songs to play and who would do what, that in itself is worth the trip to see the show. As the line-up increases and the peering eyes (the crowd looks like a bunch of little kids lining up to see Santa Claus for the first time) get to be too much, the curtain is drawn and we are left with the sounds being made ready for our eager little ears.

Finally, at nine o'clock we are granted access to the mystical stage area. Everyone jockeys for position to soak in a night they will never forget. My husband and I knew where each of the guys would be standing and chose our slot in front of Colin Linden. We also had an excellent view of the back-stage area as well. Several times we could see Bernie Finklestein glowing back there.

The list started with an old blues number led by Colin and accompanied by Bruce, "Milk Cow". Then Bruce took the lead with an old Elvis Presley tune (sorry can't remember the name now). Bruce also played a song that will be on the new album, I think it was called "Tribal Dance" [Rob reports that this is "Tried and Tested"], kind of a rap type song with an excellent dance rhythm. Colin Linden was playing on this one as well, I predict he will be playing on the CD for this one because he knew it so well.

There were numerous Blackie and the Rodeo Kings tunes played that will be appearing on their new CD coming out this Spring. The boys are in the studio in Louisiana as of Jan. 1 to put the CD together. Bruce played along on every one of those songs too.

Jimmy Bowskill and Collin Linden at the Ottawa Blues Festival
Jimmy Bowskill and Collin Linden
at the Ottawa Blues Festival
A few of the highlights for us was when Colin Linden sang "Waiting for a Miracle" with Bruce singing and playing back-up, smiling the entire time. Something else we will never forget is the young (and I mean young - 12 years old) blues guitarist [Jimmy Bowskill] that Colin Linden introduced to the stage. If you closed your eyes, you would swear there was a 70 year old Mississippi blues man on stage. Bruce had the same astonished look on his face as everyone else in the place. His name was Jim and he would play his heart out and then with a casual nod, pass it off to Bruce to take over. The smile on Bruce's face couldn't have been any huger [sic], Bruce took off on a riff (the song was "Kind Hearted Woman") and the kid accompanied him perfectly. We were close enough to hear Bruce repeating over and over..."beautiful, just beautiful".

Near the end, Bruce led the group with his rendition of the Stone's "I'm Just Waitin' On A Friend" complete with the Mick Jagger opening. "Crossroads", led by Colin, was the last official song on the set-list, everyone sang along at the top of their lungs. This of course led to another huge smile from Bruce. The last song was in memory of Joe Strummer, (The Clash). I didn't catch the title,["I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones] but the whole group, including Bruce ripped through that one and had the crowd jumping straight in the air for the entire song. Another one for the memory banks for sure. To see Bruce in this environment surrounded by some of his best buddies is a sight to behold. You can see the sheer enjoyment on his face and it comes through with every song he plays. ~~Nancy Bouwma

Set 1:
  1. Milk Cow Blues (Linden lead vocal)
  2. Ya Ya (Linden lead vocal)
  3. Waiting For A Miracle (Linden lead vocal(!))
  4. Tried And Tested (Cockburn lead vocal - first public performance of new song)
  5. I'll Be Around (Linden lead vocal)
  6. God Bless The Child (Cockburn lead vocal - Billie Holiday cover)
  7. Swinging From The Chains Of Love (All lead vocals)
  8. Lean On Your Peers (Wilson lead vocal)
  9. If I Catch You Crying (Fearing lead vocal - new song written by Fearing and Andy White)
  10. One Night With You (Cockburn lead vocal - Elvis Presley cover)
  11. Jackie (Linden lead vocal)
  12. Summer Side Of Life (Wilson/Linden/Fearing lead vocals - Gordon Lightfoot cover)
  13. Stoned (Wilson lead vocal)
  14. Chest Fever (Linden lead vocal - The Band cover)
Set 2: (incomplete setlist, songs may not be in exact order):
  1. Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand (Linden lead vocal)
  2. Kind Hearted Woman Blues (Bowskill lead vocal - Robert Johnson cover)
  3. ? (Bowskill lead vocal)
  4. Walk On By (Cockburn lead vocal - Leroy Van Dyke cover, not the Bacharach song)
  5. Folsom Prison Blues
  6. Born To Be A Traveller (Fearing lead vocal)
  7. Water Or Gasoline
  8. Calling On The Angels
  9. Brand New Cadillac
  10. Waiting On A Friend (Cockburn lead vocal - Rolling Stones cover)
  11. Tie Me At The Crossroads
  12. Crossroads (Robert Johnson cover)
  13. I Wanna Be Sedated (Cockburn lead vocal - Ramones cover)

Related links

  • Blackie and the Rodeo Kings
  • Richard Bell
  • Jimmy Bowskill
  • Setlist
  • True North Notes:
    True North has stated that Bruce "previewed some of the material" on the new album, which is called, You've Never Seen Everything, at this show. And that the new album includes contributions from Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Sam Phillips, Sarah Harmer, Hugh Marsh, Jonell Mosser, Larry Taylor and Steven Hodges, the final two known for their work with Tom Waits.

    Bobbi Wisby