Cockburn the Bruce, Calgary-Bound

Brucie has aged well. It must be the music.
Courtesy www.brucecockburn.com

by Carey Rutherford

There’s something weird about this. Is it the global state of economic collapse, or our Canadian indirect neglect that we traditionally show for our artistic craftsmen, or is it just an unnoticed glitch in the space/time continuum? Bruce Cockburn is playing in Calgary on March 30th, at the Jubilee, and the tickets are $54.90. The Jubilee?! I have nothing against the Jubilee, per se: I know it’s been revamped and all, but Bruce has won some of Canada’s highest creative and social awards (the Order of Canada, Junos, etc.), and the quality of his performance is not in decline, but in fact appears to be possibly going up, and he’s appearing in the Jubilee in the same tour in which he’ll appear at the legendary Massey Hall and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

And, . . . at the Jubilee for 50 bucks?

On brucecockburn.com his management enthuses that, in the last 35 years “the Ottawa-born musician has recorded almost as many albums while earning respect for his charitable and activist work. “My job is to try and trap the spirit of things in the scratches of pen on paper, in the pulling of notes out of metal,” Cockburn said when he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2001. He was also made an Officer of the Order of Canada and has been the recipient of honorary degrees in Letters and Music from several North American universities, including Berklee and Toronto’s York University. His many other awards have included the Tenco Award for Lifetime Achievement in Italy and 20 gold and platinum awards in Canada.” Oh, and 9 Juno awards.

This tour is to support his next album, so far called “Small Source of Comfort”, which will be released in March of 2011. And we get to see him within the first week of his tour throughout Canada and the US. Bruce’s website only takes the tour a couple of months into the future, but perhaps the ‘small’ adjective refers not only to the size of the venues, but also to the size of the tour.

Touring with only a percussionist Gary Craig and fiddler Jenny Scheinman, presumably the Jubilee is a good match for someone wanting greater intimacy in his performance, without excluding too many listeners.. Whatever the case, Cockburn’s prodigious guitar talent has matched well with rhythm and violin in the past (remember his work with the Toronto-based ambient-jazz fiddler Hugh Marsh).

I think this is an amazing opportunity to see one of Canada’s current musical legends at the peak of his ability. I’m not funnin’ ya!!

In an interview this spring on CBC radio, Cockburn mentioned that the songs of one of his albums were written with the awareness that most of his music was too difficult for his listeners to play, so he tried some simpler things on their behalf. Given his overall reputation for social awareness and action, this doesn’t surprise me at all. It sounds, however, like he has abandoned the ‘lower-key’ approach for his acoustic tours, so expect some fireworks, and tons of Cockburn poetry.

Oh yeah. And Have A Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday, will ya? B-)