December 18, 2007
True North Records announces strategic investment by Canadian group led by Linus Entertainment.
TORONTO, Dec. 18 /CNW/ - Bernie Finkelstein, founder and President of True North Records, a division of High Romance Music Ltd, Canada's oldest independent record label that owns many of Canada's most historic recordings including the catalog of Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, Rough Trade as well as emerging artists Golden Dogs, Hunter Valentine and Catherine MacLellan, today announced the completion of a strategic investment by Linus Entertainment, entrepreneurs Harvey Glatt, and Mike Pilon.
Linus Entertainment is home to prominent Canadian recordings by Gordon Lightfoot, Sophie Milman, Ron Sexsmith, Alannah Myles, Quartetto Gelato, Downchild, and Ashley MacIsaac. Both companies are distributed in Canada by Universal Music.
Finkelstein, a recipient of the Order of Canada and inductee into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, will remain with True North as Chairman and as a long term consultant, while Linus Entertainment CEO Geoff Kulawick becomes CEO of both companies, and will be responsible for day-to-day management.
Finkelstein Management and the publishing interests of Bruce Cockburn are not a part of the deal and both will continue to be operated by Mr. Finkelstein.
Said Mr. Finkelstein of the deal, "It's been a long, interesting and fulfilling road starting and building True North these past 38 years but all things must change. It's been a thrill to work with all the wonderful musicians and on all of the great records we've done together over the years but it's time for True North to have new direction and energy. I think Geoff Kulawick and his partners will bring those qualities to True North and I'm looking forward to continuing my commitment to True North as Chairman."
Said Mr. Kulawick, "The True North label, and Bernie in particular have been an inspiration to me. It is my goal to see True North continue to grow, and its great roster of artists reach even more people. The most powerful form of communication is music, and through the incredible talent of artists like Bruce Cockburn, music can influence, and change people."
Posted: December 15, 2007
Annabelle Chvostek, formerly of the Wailin Jennys, has co-written a song with Bruce for her upcoming album. I received the following email from her:
The record will be out in Spring 2008 and we're still mixing and mastering.
Bruce sings and plays acoustic guitar with me on the album. It kind of captures the feel of the songwriting process... two guitars, two voices, plus we've got some additional bells and whistles (Julie Wolf for example.)
It'll be called Resilience, I think, and the song is called Driving Away.
December 2, 2007
The Ottawa Citizen
Ontario, Quebec sweep folk awards
Cockburn shut out as Anne Lindsay, Creaking Tree string quartet lead prize list
by Patrick Langston
Central Canada-based musicians ganged up on the rest of the country at the third annual Canadian Folk Music Awards last night, sweeping 15 of 18 prizes during a celebration of all things folk at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Toronto led the charge.
That city's fiddler Anne Lindsay won Best Solo Instrumentalist and shared Producer of the Year with her co-producer Oliver Schroer for her sophomore album, News From Up the Street. The Creaking Tree String Quartet, also from Toronto, won the Best Group Instrumentalist and Pushing the Boundaries awards for their third album, The Soundtrack.
With Toronto-to-Quebec-City-corridor musicians like Tanglefoot, Elphin, Ont.-based David Francey and Hugo Fleury, of the recently disbanded group Polemil Bazar, toting up wins, westerners -- including Winnipeg's Grammy-nominated the Duhks -- took home a scant three trophies. Maritimers, despite a clutch of names among the 90 nominees, went winless.
Last night, though, was about harmony, not regionalism. Toronto's Rita Chiarelli showed that by gamely stumbling through a few lines of French while accepting the Solo World Artist award for her album Cuore: The Italian Sessions.
CBC Radio's Shelagh Rogers and Quebec musician Benoit Bourque hosted the evening, which opened with the sweet, jaunty sounds of guitar and fiddle greeting 500 folk fans as they entered the museum's towering Grand Hall. Other musicians, including Vishten, T. Nile and Ottawa-based Galitcha, performed during the evening, their tunes a Canada-worthy mosaic of everything from Northern Indian to Celtic influences.
"We had the best sound check we've ever had today," producer Bill Garrett said before the show. Garrett added that over the past three years, the event has become an integral part of the Canadian folk scene. "At first, it was, 'Oh God, not another awards show.' But it's been really well accepted."
There were, as befits any awards show, some surprises. Veteran Bruce Cockburn was bumped four times from the winners' circle. Upstart Sarah Noni Metzner, who took Best Solo Artist for Daybreak Mourning, was among Cockburn's bouncers.
"I'm not often rendered speechless, but I was then," said Metzner later. "Bruce is a huge hero of mine."
Last night also saw legendary record producer and music impresario Samuel Gesser winning the Canadian Museum of Civilization's first-ever Resonance Award for outstanding lifetime contributions to Canada's musical heritage. Gesser was instrumental in presenting the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, violinist Jean Carignan and Glenn Gould to the Canadian public and the world.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2007
Posted: October 22, 2007
Bruce has been nominated for four Canadian Folk Music Awards for his 2006 release, Life Short Call Now.
-Best Songwriter- English
-Best Singer- Contemporary
-Best Solo Artist
-Producer of the Year- Jonathan Goldsmith for Life Short Call Now
The awards are to be given out on December 1, 2007, at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec.
Posted: August 30, 2007
The following is from an email I received from Bernie Finkelstein on August 28, 2007:
Bruce will be doing two shows in Utah at the Moab Folk Festival on November 2 and 3rd. Other than those two shows the rest of the year will be spent traveling and writing.
He will be in Buenos Aires until mid October (he's on his way there now). It's a personal trip with the only agenda being to learn to speak some Spanish.
After the Moab Folk Festival he will be going to Nepal. This will be on the 20th anniversary of his first trip to Nepal. This trip is being done with the USC (Unitarian Service Committee) who he has worked extensively in the past as you no doubt are aware of. He will be in Nepal for around 3 weeks and will be reporting back on what he sees there via the USC.
The only shows we have confirmed for 2008 are both in Alaska:
May 9 Anchorage
May 10 Fairbanks
More details will be available on both of these dates later but they are both Bruce solo concerts.
Beyond that we aren't certain of what else may be happening in 2008 at this moment.
Two recent covers of Bruce's songs that I've been enjoying lately are:
Paper Rival doing Pacing The Cage
Donavan Frankenreiter doing Wondering Where The Lions Are
Bruce is in great spirits and had a very enjoyable and productive tour and is now looking forward to some down time.
August 2, 2007
Prairie Dog News
My thanks to Alex Roslin for permission to reprint this article, found on his blog here.
Christian soldier finds hope in a fallen world
by Alex Roslin
“I was never a pacifist. I think peace is better than war and that non-violent solutions are much better if you have the option of finding those… But I think sometimes it comes down to you have no choice.”
We all know Bruce Cockburn is a deep guy. Hey, he’s the dude who sang about rocket-launchering “some son of a bitch” after a visit with Guatemalan refugees in Mexico during the U.S.-sponsored death-squad wars in Central America in the ’80s.
“How many kids they’ve murdered only God can say,” he sang. “If I had a rocket launcher, I’d make somebody pay.”
Heavy stuff for sure, but I bet you weren’t aware just how deep Cockburn really is.
Did you know, for example, that Cockburn has six honorary doctorates — the latest one in divinity from Queen’s University? Or that Cockburn became a devout Christian in the early 1970s and still is today? Or that his politics and love ballads alike are rooted in a deep spirituality that also draws on Sufism, Buddhism and C.S. Lewis?
Mind you, Cockburn isn’t the same kind of Christian as George W. and his buddies. He’s, well, you know, the deep kind — a hippy Christian, one might say.
“Other Christians might not call me a Christian,” Cockburn tells me from England, where he is on tour before he comes here for the Regina Folk Festival on Aug. 11.
“Now I don’t really know what I am,” says Cockburn. “But I am someone who feels that God is important and that spirituality is something around which life centres. What bears paying attention to is the force around which the cosmos turns. I want to know what that force is and how it bears on my life.”
And if you’re wondering if Cockburn has mellowed out or something silly like that, fear not. He hasn’t. Twenty-four years after his 1983 hit “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”, the 62-year-old Cockburn may have 29 albums under his belt and be an officer of the Order of Canada. But he says he still believes in the same principles.
“I was never a pacifist,” he says. “I think peace is better than war and that non-violent solutions are much better if you have the option of finding those… But I think sometimes it comes down to you have no choice.
“I can say for myself, ‘You go ahead and shoot me; I don’t care. I’m not going to raise a hand against you. The guilt’s on you.’ But I can’t say that on behalf of my granddaughter … If I’m in a position to try to defend her, I have to exercise that choice. This is where the notion of pacifism breaks down for me… Sometimes you just don’t have the choice.”
Does Cockburn see anywhere today where he feels a rocket launcher is warranted?
“I don’t know of a situation I can think of readily where it’s clear cut,” he says. “[But] what happens if the equivalent of the Taliban becomes ascendant in North America? What do we do about it?”
By Taliban, Cockburn is talking about some of the Christian fundamentalist types who support George W. Bush. As you can see, he doesn’t like some of his co-religionists much.
“[Their] desire to inflict on the world this rigid, narrow view of things can’t be tolerated,” Cockburn says.
“I could see that somewhere way down the road that might turn into a situation that involved violence,” he adds. “I think we’re a long way from that actually, but I could imagine a scenario where that might become viable. I see it as something I would resist if it came my way or, more specifically, if it came in the direction of my female loved ones… I’m not going to put up with a lack of intellectual freedom, and I’m not going to put up with a whole bunch of other things. So sooner or later, that attitude might get me into a violent confrontation with someone.”
Apparently, despite views like that, Cockburn isn’t on the no-fly list. At least not that he knows.
“So far, no one’s told me,” he says, laughing. “I got here on a plane.” How is that possible, you ask? What kind of dumb-asses are they hiring at the CIA these days?
Cockburn says he’s never even noticed anyone following him in dark glasses. “The only time I felt I was followed around was in Pinochet’s Chile.”
Cockburn’s latest album, Life Short Call Now — his first studio album in three years — bares his thoughts on life, love, the environment, and Iraq, which he visited in 2004, and includes a duet with fellow guitar virtuoso and politically minded songwriter Ani DiFranco (who, incidentally, headlined last year’s folk festival).
He chose the title because it highlighted the loneliness he felt at the time (he was between relationships) and the “precariousness we live with at the moment,” he says.
“[But] if you bother to think about things, life is always precarious, and it’s a reflection of that too... Partly, it’s to do with age. The further you get from zero, the closer you get to the other zero.”
As for Iraq, Cockburn thinks Bush is going to hell. “It was a horrible thing to set in motion. Bush and company have a lot to answer for. They had problems [in Iraq under Saddam Hussein]. But they had a level of security that they sure don’t have now. We should be protesting. We should be voting against it and trying to mitigate it however we can,” he says.
But Cockburn is heartened that today’s anti-war movement stacks up well against the peace movements of the ’60s and ’80s. He says he saw few protests during his tours of the U.S. when the war was first launched, but that’s now changed.
“For a while it looked discouraging. All the people with official voices couldn’t wait to fall in line behind the war. Touring the States in that period, you felt fear everywhere,” he said.
“That’s changed. Now, while there is fear, people are speaking out much more.”
At the same time, Cockburn believes we get the kind of society we deserve and that, moreover, we all have the seed of evil within us. Cockburn included. “I do have it within me for sure,” he says. “I’ve been lucky. I never had a situation where that was fostered. I’m certainly capable of fits of unthinking anger. [But] I’ve had good teachers and good role models.”
After his shows in Western Canada — his tour includes stops in Alberta and B.C. —Cockburn’s busy schedule includes heading to Argentina for a six-week Spanish course and a trip to Nepal with a Canadian humanitarian-aid group.
During his convocation speech at Queen’s University in May, Cockburn talked about an earlier trip to Nepal. He said he was hiking in the foothills around Mount Everest when he came across an elderly American former seminary teacher who had come to Nepal 25 years earlier to preach the Gospel and was returning to the U.S. “He was bitter and seemed diminished,” Cockburn said. “He said that in 25 years he had not made a single convert. His words were, ‘These people don’t want to know about God.’
“I felt terrible for him, as he appeared so oblivious to the spiritual surroundings. He’d spent a quarter of a century not learning what he might have about God!”
Cockburn tells me he’s felt the “magic” of God — or some “bigger reality,” as he puts it — many times in his life, and that’s what gives him hope.
“There is a lot of magic out there in the world. There is incredible stuff that happens. In worldly terms, I’m not very hopeful. But where there is hope is in those moments of magic."
Posted: June 19, 2007
The Edmonton Journal
Blues-rock mainstay Richard Bell dies at 61
Keyboard wizard played with Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, The Band and many others
by Peter North
Richard Bell, one of the great instrumentalists of his generation and a pillar in the Canadian roots music scene, died Friday in Toronto at the age of 61 after a year-long battle with multiple myeloma.
Like so many of his peers, Bell broke onto the national scene in the '60s, as a member of The Hawks, Ronnie Hawkins' backup group. By the late '60s, he had been lured by artist manager Albert Grossman to take the piano chair in Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band and for the next two decades, spent most of his time in the U.S., playing with the biggest names in blues and roots music.
Following Joplin's death, Bell quickly became a first-call player, landing tours and sessions with Bonnie Raitt, John Sebastian, Bob Dylan, Valerie Carter, Bobby Charles, Rick Danko, Paul Butterfield and many other respected and critically acclaimed acts of the day.
By the early '90s, Bell once again began to play a more prominent role on the Toronto scene, working on many projects in which Colin Linden was involved.
Bell split his time commuting to Woodstock, New York, as he had been drafted into a new edition of The Band with founding members Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Garth Hudson.
Bell co-wrote the title track for The Band's comeback recording, Jericho, and his multifaceted keyboard playing was also featured on two subsequent Band albums, High On The Hog and Jubilation.
Over the past decade, Bell's talents were also captured on recordings by The Cowboy Junkies, Rita Chiarelli, David Wilcox, Burrito Deluxe and Pork Belly Futures.
For the first time in years, Canadians were given ample opportunity to hear Bell in concert settings as he toured the country numerous times with Bruce Cockburn, Linden, and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.
"I grew up playing the blues, it's my thing," said Bell in an interview a few years ago.
In May, Bell was told his myeloma had returned and he was hospitalized as his health rapidly deteriorated.
A celebration of Bell's life will be held in Toronto tomorrow.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2007
June 14, 2007
The Coffee House Concerts Series
From the depths of the mojo-slathered Memphis music scene comes this account as tasty as southern barbeque. Photo and words from Mark Loft, dweller in the aforementioned environment.
It had been a tense week leading up to the show, as it really began to sink in just how big Bruce Cockburn is. We had filled ticket mail-orders from as far away as Nevada, Maryland, even Winnipeg. Bruce Cockburn doesn't have just fans, he has FANS, and we knew we had high expectations to meet. At about 8:10 pm, raucous clapping spread across the room as the crowd rose for an extended and very vocal standing ovation. You might have thought the Stones had just finished a show, but no, it was Bruce Cockburn entering the room. He had the biggest grin on his face as he bounded up the left side of the audience to the stage, clearly delighted with the reception. From that moment on, I knew the evening would take care of itself, and indeed it did.
I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise when I picked him up at the airport and found that he didn't look exactly like his publicity photos. He'd shaved his beard (his girlfriend's request), and with the old clothes, the old hat pulled down low on his head, he wasn't wearing anything close to that black leather jacket that makes him look so cool in the photos... his attempt at traveling incognito, I suppose. Very polite, very direct, as soon as we were in the car he was on his cell phone finalizing dinner plans for that night, the next night in Birmingham, and two nights later in New York. He struck me as one of those people who has friends everywhere, no matter where he is. Sound check before the show and he's in complete control. He knows what he wants, and again is as polite, professional, and direct as anyone. Thank goodness my sound guys can give him what he's looking for! Once he was on stage, I was completely mesmerized. "He's bad-ass, ain't he?" someone whispered to me early in the first set. The guy can play, boy, can he play. He sings his heart out. He's funny, sincere, and talented. His performance left me with the thought that he gives his all, and doesn't hide behind a name, a reputation, or anything else. He was there to play and sing, and he did it like no one else. Regarding future performers for the Coffee House Concerts Series, I don't know if I'll ever top this show. Ever.
June 8, 2007
Special to The Commercial Appeal
Singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn pours a message into politically charged albums
by Mark Jordan
Bruce Cockburn is driving around Toronto as he squeezes in our interview.
"This high school kid is walking across the crosswalk in front of me," he complains of one straggler at a stoplight. "He's staring off into space and totally ignoring the fact that there's a car pointed at him. I'm glad I'm not an adolescent still."
Cockburn is more than 40 years and 29 albums removed from his adolescence. And no one can accuse the Canadian singer-songwriter, whose politically charged albums often reveal a deep streak of humanism, of staring off into space.
Cockburn (pronounced Co-burn) is on the move a lot these days. On Thursday he performs here at the Church of the Holy Communion as part of the Coffee House Concert Series, kicking off a rambling two-month tour that will take him into the Deep South, the Northeast, across Canada, and even to England. When he gets back, he and his girlfriend head to Buenos Aires for a six-week Spanish immersion course and then to Nepal for a month on behalf of a Canadian humanitarian aide organization.
But first he has to head to St. John's to receive an honorary doctor of letters from the Memorial University of Newfoundland.
"Yeah, another one of those; it's been a busy season for that stuff," says Cockburn, who has already received two other honorary doctorates this year, bringing his career total to six.
"I've had this kind of honor before, but never three in one year. It's been a bit stressful, actually, coming up with the various commencement addresses that have to accompany these things. It's not like you just get to go and get feted; you have to make a speech. And the speech part is not something that comes natural to me. I'm a lot more comfortable standing up in front of a crowd with a guitar than without."
Indeed, the recent accolades are not a result of Cockburn's academic accomplishments, which ended in the mid-'60s when he dropped out of the Berklee College of Music in Boston. But rather the honorifics are for his 40 years of "standing up in front of a crowd with a guitar," and they denote the regard in which Cockburn is held, especially in his homeland. Though he has a small, loyal following in the States, up north he has a reputation that can only be described as Dylan-esque. A holder of the prestigious Order of Canada, Cockburn is the recipient of numerous Juno Awards, a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and, perhaps most impressively, is held in near adoration by other musicians -- Jimmy Buffet, Jackson Browne, Ani DiFranco, and Jerry Garcia among them -- who have covered his songs over the years.
Born in Ottawa, Cockburn played in numerous bands in the '60s and made a memorable solo debut in 1969, as a last-minute replacement for Neil Young as the headliner of Mariposa Folk Festival, before recording his eponymous first album in 1970. For the next decade, Cockburn worked to hone his sound, a unique combination of folk, rock and jazz. The songwriter also distinguished himself with his lyrics, which increasingly reflected his blossoming faith in Christianity. This phase of his career probably reached its zenith with 1979's Dancing In the Dragon's Jaws, a typically mystical outing that featured his first U.S. Top 40 hit, "Wondering Where the Lions Are."
On the next year's Humans -- largely regarded as one of his best -- personal setbacks, including a divorce, inspired Cockburn to look more at the world around him. This resulted in a more world-beat influenced sound and lyrics that took on a much darker, activist tone. In 1984, this social consciousness got him noticed in the States again, when the angry "If I Had A Rocket Launcher," inspired by Cockburn's own experiences in Central America in the early '80s, became his second U.S. hit.
"The first time I was in a war zone was in Nicaragua," Cockburn says. "I lucked into being asked by Oxfam, the aide agency, to go and be a witness on their behalf to the work they were doing and the need for that work. I didn't go there looking for that. I went because I was curious."
Besides a hit song, Cockburn's experiences led to a habit of international aide work that has included previous trips to Nepal and, in 2004, to Iraq.
"The war had been over almost a year according to Bush," Cockburn says of his trip as part of a delegation put together by the nonprofit American Friends Service Committee to assess the humanitarian need in Iraq. "And the week we were there, there was one big car bomb that went off at the entrance to the Green Zone."
The experience became the centerpiece of Cockburn's new album, released last fall, Life Short Call Now. "This Is Baghdad" combines a full string section and a repetitive, Arabic-style guitar figure with Cockburn's pointed critique of the occupation: "Car-bombed and carjacked and kidnapped and shot/ How do you like it, this freedom we brought/ We packed all the ordnance but the thing we forgot/ Was a plan in case it didn't turn out quite like we thought."
"It took quite a while to figure out how to make a song out of all that, all those bits and pieces, but in the end I think I got away with it," Cockburn says. "When I wrote it, I had this vision of music. It always starts with the lyrics. Because the lyrics establish a kind of geographical plane, the music has to enhance and accompany. And I just envisioned very cinematic music to go with those lyrics."
The sweeping sound also complements "Beautiful Creatures," a less- concrete, brooding lament that ties the decay of the human condition to the very landscape. But on the Van Morrison-like "Mystery" the strings and a horn section lend an ecclesiastical majesty to Cockburn's acceptance of God's mysterious motives. Elsewhere the orchestral treatment gives a Gil Evans-feel to the album closer "Nude Descending A Staircase," one of the record's three instrumentals -- a trademark of Cockburn albums since the '70s and a curious one coming from a musician who admits putting words at the center of the songwriting process.
But don't expect any of that grandeur at Cockburn's Memphis show, he warns.
"It's kind of the antithesis of that," Cockburn says as he winds through the streets of Toronto. "It's just me."
8 p.m. Thursday at the Church of the Holy Communion, 4645 Walnut Grove Road.
Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Advance tickets are available at High Point Coffee (4610 Poplar at Perkins Extended), Fiddler's Green Music Shop (5101 Sanderlin, No. 104B), and at Cat's Music Midtown (1569 Union).
Doors open at 7 p.m. Call 767-6987 for more information.
Copyright 2007, www.commercialappeal.com - Memphis, TN. All Rights Reserved.
June 7, 2007
The Times Colonist
Devoted fan convinced the University of Victoria to honour Bruce Cockburn
by Matthew Gauk
Catholic chaplains can rock out with the best of them.
Kate Fagan Taylor is a prime example. The Bruce Cockburn super-fan and former University of Victoria chaplain arranged for the folk-rock star to receive an honorary doctorate in laws from UVic yesterday afternoon.
"You know, he was a big inspiration to me when I was a student, in terms of really engaging the connection between spirituality and social justice," said Fagan Taylor of the 11-time Juno Award winner known for his international humanitarian work.
Fagan Taylor spent eight years at UVic as chaplain before she had a child and made a career change. She recalls chatting with other chaplains who were Cockburn fans during her time at the UVic Interfaith Chapel, and conspiring with them to get the musician recognized by the university. In November of last year she submitted a nomination package and it was accepted.
"I think he's got a terrific and very unique ability to communicate a lot of meaning in his music that university students can identify with," said Fagan Taylor, who works now for the Ministry of Advanced Education.
She missed the convocation but was happy that a new generation of students was exposed to what Cockburn has to say. Besides urging the students to social activism, Cockburn stressed the fact that they'll "never get to stand there and say 'OK, I made it'" when it comes to self-discovery.
Backstage at UVic's Farquhar Auditorium after the convocation, 62-year-old Cockburn was enthusiastic about his reception. The response was particularly warm, according to the man who has racked up six honorary degrees from universities across the country.
"I like the energy I feel when I'm around young people, I'm a bit of a vampire that way," said Cockburn, who added that while most of his musical audience is in the 30 to 50 age range, his shows are known to attract young people as well. These teens and 20-somethings often have memories of their parents listening to his records, Cockburn said.
When told about the influence his music has had on the likes of Fagan Taylor, Cockburn responded that he's happy his songs have a place in people's lives.
"You do what you do and you hope it affects people," he said. "I'd be doing this even if no one was listening."
Fagan Taylor, who has never met Cockburn, did manage to write him a letter. He was saving the thick note in his coat pocket and said he was looking forward to reading it.
Cockburn's honorary degree was one of the five handed out this week by the university. Others went to Lt.-Gov. Iona Campagnolo; Miria Matembe, a government minister of Uganda; Mary Okumu, an author and human rights advocate who works in east Africa; and Bill Turner, conservationist and co-founder of The Land Conservancy.
Past recipients have included Mount Everest-topper Sir Edmund Hillary, former Canadian general Senator Romeo Dallaire, and the late author Carol Shields.
UVic has awarded hundreds of honorary degrees since its first convocation in 1964. Any university students, faculty members or employees can put together a nomination package. The final decisions are made by a committee of the university senate.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007, Photo: Debra Brash
May 25, 2007
Rosie Gillingham, a reporter for The Telegram, interviewed Bruce two days before he received an Honorary Doctorate from Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland, on May 25, 2007. Her interview is republished here with her kind permission. Photo credits to The Telegram. -DK
Bruce Cockburn Receives Honourary Doctorate From Memorial University
The man who has become known as much for speaking out against social injustices as for his music was nervous about stepping on stage at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre last week.
“It would be totally different if I had my guitar and was performing,” Bruce Cockburn said Wednesday, two days before he was to be presented with an honourary degree from Memorial University.
“But I have to make a speech, and that’s nerve-wracking.”
But Cockburn has had no qualms over the years letting his voice be heard on certain issues affecting the world. With his strong views on war and human suffering to animal protection and the environment, Cockburn has been pegged as both a political prophet and gallant humanitarian.
But to his fans, he is simply known as a brilliant songwriter, talented guitarist and musical icon who is as entertaining today as he was the first time he stepped on stage in the late 1960s.
Cockburn admitted, however, he originally found performing in front of crowds frightening.
“I didn’t enjoy it in the beginning. I was terrified. I did it because I had to. It felt more like a duty than fun,” he said. “But over the years, I’ve come to enjoy it.”
So have his millions of fans he’s picked up along the way. An inductee into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame who has won numerous national and international music awards, Cockburn has had a music career for more than 40 years. He has 29 albums to his credit, and his latest — “Life Short Call Now” — was released last year.
According to the Bruce Cockburn Newsletter Online — created by longtime fan Daniel Keebler — Cockburn released his first solo album in 1970.
The Ottawa native quickly built up a following with his unique style of folk rock with songs that contained powerful and eloquent lyrics.
He broke into the United States market during the ’70s after the release of his critically acclaimed album, “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws.”
Some of his best-known songs include “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” made famous in recent years by the Barenaked Ladies.
Cockburn said his intent when he began writing songs was to write for other artists.
“But with the kinds of songs I was writing,” he said, “it became clear to me that if anybody was going to hear these songs, I had to get out and sing them myself.” His songs reflect his feelings on his experiences from his travels around the world, especially to poverty-stricken, war-torn countries.
“In the beginning, one of my assumptions was that art and politics should not mix … that the political would taint the art in some way and render it less meaningful, but I got over that, largely from going to Latin America (in the early 1980s),” said Cockburn, who was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982 and was promoted to Officer in 2002.
“Politics is part of life, and the job of an artist is to write about life and all its manifestations and that includes the political.
“But it has to be art, it has to be personal, too. You can’t start with a political notion to sell people. Otherwise you’re writing a commercial for your idea. So, it has to come from the same place where love comes from, and then it’s real feelings based on experience.”
Cockburn believes we aren’t doing a good job preserving our environment and he believes Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are no different.
When asked his views on such topics as the seal hunt, he replied, “I think it should stop. I understand … it’s a lot harder for Newfoundlanders to feel the way I feel.”
He said the notion that seals are a big reason why there’s a reduction in cod stocks is “bullshit,” but thinks it is OK for natives to hunt seals, since they hunt for food.
“The cod stocks are down because John Crosbie sold you guys out. He’s just one of many, but I have particular memory of him,” he said.
“The bottom line is, nobody protected the fishery and that’s why cod stocks are dying. It’s the same all over the world. “(People) want everything and want it now. We don’t seem to be willing to focus on sustaining it for the future so we can have it next year, never mind our kids having it,” said Cockburn, whose song “Beautiful Creatures” on his new album is about ecological issues.
“It’s all about human vanity. My granddaughter is going to grow up thinking sea slugs are seafood … and stuff we scrape off the bottom of the ocean we currently don’t eat. I don’t want to see that.”
Cockburn doesn’t know whether or not he changes minds, but said he will continue to perform and sing his songs as long as his audience continues to be touched by them. “As long as I’m able, I’ll keep doing what I do,” said Cockburn, who credits much of his success to his manager Bernie Finkelstein.
“Luckily, I built up an audience in the first decade I’ve been doing this and many of them are still with me and I picked up some new ones along the way.”
Cockburn was one of seven people who received honourary degrees during MUN’s annual spring convocation. Others were soldier and humanitarian Lt-Gen. Romeo Dallaire, writer Wayne Johnston, mental-illness advocate Moyra Buchan, C-CORE director Dr. Jack Clark, founding Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador president Barbara Hopkins, Telegram publisher Miller Ayre and national team hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser.
THE 20 QUESTIONS
What is your full name?
Bruce Douglas Cockburn.
Where and when were you born?
In Ottawa in May 1945. I won’t be in St. John’s for my birthday, but it would be a great place to celebrate, from what I hear.
Where is home today?
What is your greatest indulgence?
Booze, I guess.
What was one act of rebellion you committed as a youth?
I went through a phase in my early teens when I shoplifted. It only lasted one school year. We would go to the big department stores at the mall and steal ammunition to sell at school because there were kids whose dads used to shoot crows. That’s a measure of how things have changed. That’s the only thing guns were used for.
What do you like to cook?
I cook stews a lot — made out of whatever. The health food store near where I live sells bison meat. It’s locally grown and is a very healthy meat — low fat and low cholesterol.
What is your greatest regret?
Over the years, there have been many things to regret, but they all have to do with relationships.
What are five CDs in your music collection?
I listen to all kinds of different stuff. I like jazz a lot, like Brad Melhdau, and edgy stuff, like Albert Ayler, who influenced me from time to time, and Franco, too. I like rock, like Feist, Cowboy Junkies … and I love Sarah Harmer’s stuff. I listen to some electronica, too. I don’t know why, but I tend to listen to more female singers than male. I have a pretty big record collection, but I don’t listen to it very often when I’m home because my ears are tired from listening to my own music on the road, so I usually like peace and quiet.
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Brad Pitt — no hesitation there — because he’s handsome and cool.
What was the most vivid dream you’ve ever had?
I have a lot of dreams. I write down my dreams, so actually there have been a lot — too many to mention.
Where is your favourite vacation spot?
I don’t have vacations. I like to get into nature if I can, but I really am a creature of the highways. When I do get free time, I like to be at home. But if there’s enough time, I start getting itchy for the road, but not to work — to travel and feel the illusion of freedom you get when you’re travelling with no obligation to be anywhere. I’ve been touring from July (2006) to the end of March (2007) and we’re starting up again in the summer, but at the end of the summer, my girlfriend and I are going to Buenos Aires to study Spanish for six weeks. That could be considered a vacation. Then we have to go to Nepal for a few weeks in connection with the Unitarian Services of Canada. I travel places, but there is usually a purpose.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading the autobiography of (American novelist) Kurt Vonnegut, who died last month. It’s called “Fates Worse than Death.” It’s from the 1990s. I don’t get as much time to read as I’d like to. I’m too much of a sucker for TV. I don’t watch any TV, but when I get to the hotel, the first thing I do is turn on the TV. It’s pathetic, really.
What is your personal motto?
Seek truth and understanding.
What do you like to do to relax?
I like to ride my bicycle. I drink scotch, too, and for several years, I was rigorously into yoga, but I’ve fallen away from that. But bicycling is probably my thing now. It’s great because you get the sense of movement that goes on the road, but you’re doing the motivating.
What are your best and worst qualities?
My best is loyalty to my friends. My worst is selfishness.
Who inspires you?
What is your most treasured possession?
My guitar, I guess. I have a lot of guitars, but the one I use the most is my Linda Manzer.
Who would you least (or most) like to be stuck in an elevator with?
Stephen Harper. I don’t like that corporate approach to politics and anything that goes with it. It’s utterly wrong to run a country the way you would run a business. I guess we would find other things to talk about if we were stuck in an elevator, but I don’t trust those guys. I don’t think they have the best interest of humanity or Canadians at heart. They are self-interested. But you know, I usually manage to get along with everybody because I respect everybody. Sometimes you have to work at that, but I have this premise that everyone deserves respect until they prove otherwise. And often times, people often look different up close than they do farther away.
Who is one person, living or deceased, you’d love to have lunch with?
Atilla. I think he would teach something I don’t already know.
What is your favourite song that you've written?
They’re all like my babies.
If you were prime minister, what’s one thing you’d try to do?
I would take back the post office. We’ve privatized it and it sucks. The services are terrible. Not the individuals who work there, but what kind of country doesn’t have its own post office? People have this idea that privatizing things offer better service and the evidence is to the contrary. You can have just as much inefficiency and poor-quality teaching in private schools that you would get in public schools, lousy medical service from the private sector just as you can the public sector. The difference is it’s not as readily available to people, and availability is a big deal. I would also continue to strengthen our armed forces because I think a country needs a functional military … if we’re going to play a role in the world in any meaningful way.
What are your thoughts on war?
The war in Afghanistan, I don’t know how necessary that is. Although I do think we can’t gracefully pull out. Maybe we should. I don’t know the answer. I’d like to go there and see it up close. But the war in Iraq is an atrocity. It’s senseless with respect to the state of the goals of the war — to further the interests of George Bush and his cronies. It’s been a major disaster for everyone involved in it. To me, I don’t consider myself a pacifist because there are times when a violent response is the only one possible. I came to the conclusion in the 1980s — previously I thought war was bad, and it is bad, but there are times and places for it. That’s why it is appropriate to have a strong military. But we should make every effort to avoid war because it doesn’t do anybody any good.
Posted: May 24, 2007
Memorial University press release
St. John's, Newfoundland
Bruce Cockburn to Receive Honorary Doctorate from Memorial University
Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Cockburn will be honoured for his music and his commitment to the betterment of the world with an honorary doctor of letters degree during spring convocation. Born in Ottawa, his career has spanned four decades and includes more than 25 albums with music ranging from folk to jazz-influenced rock. He has received numerous international awards and 20 gold and platinum records in Canada. Mr. Cockburn released his first solo work in 1970; his exceptional guitar work and songwriting skills quickly garnered an enthusiastic following. His 1979 song Wondering Where the Lions Are was a national hit in Canada and reached the top 25 on the Billboard charts in the United States. In the 1980s, he travelled extensively throughout the world and his trips included several fact-finding visits to developing countries in areas such as Central America. Those journeys in turn helped inspired such hit songs like If I Had a Rocket Launcher. He was one of the first Canadian artists to foster an international career while remaining in Canada. A vocal supporter of well-known organizations such as Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth and OXFAM, Mr. Cockburn has spent much of his career as a political activist and humanitarian and has been a spokesperson for the movement to ban land mines. He was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada in the early 1980s and promoted within the order to the level of officer in 2002. His music has earned him a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and nine Juno awards. He has received honorary degrees from York University in Toronto, Berklee College of Music in Boston, and from St. Thomas University in New Brunswick. He will receive his degree at the 3 p.m. session of convocation on May 25, 2007.
Posted: May 21, 2007
UV Press Release
University of Victoria to Award Five Honorary Degrees at Spring Convocation
Leaders in public service, the arts, human rights and the environment will receive honorary degrees from the University of Victoria when spring convocation ceremonies take place June 5–8 in the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium.
The honorands are: the Hon. Iona Campagnolo (Doctor of Laws); Bruce Cockburn (Doctor of Laws); the Hon. Miria Matembe (Doctor of Laws); Mary Okumu (Doctor of Laws); and Bill Turner (Doctor of Laws). Here are their brief biographies:
The Hon. Iona Campagnolo became B.C.’s 27th lieutenant governor in 2001 after careers in broadcasting and public service that were distinguished by her dedication to human rights and social justice. Born on Galiano Island and raised in northern BC, the Queen’s representative has reached out to all British Columbians, particularly young people and Aboriginal communities. First elected in 1974 as the federal Liberal candidate for Skeena, she would later serve as the first minister of state for fitness and amateur sport in the government of Pierre Trudeau. In 1982 she became the first woman to be president of the Liberal Party of Canada. She is a member of the Order of Canada, among other honours. Honorary degree presentation: 2:30 p.m., June 5.
Musician and social activist Bruce Cockburn has inspired a generation of listeners with his poetic, political song craft. In a 35-year career, the Canadian singer-songwriter has recorded 20 gold and platinum albums and earned 11 Juno awards. Cockburn is also widely regarded for his concern and work for the welfare of the less fortunate, expressed through decades of activism around the world. He was named officer of the Order of Canada in 2002. Presentation: 2:30 p.m., June 6.
As member of the Pan-African Parliament, the Hon. Miria Matembe has spearheaded significant social and political changes in Ugandan society. In her role as minister of state for ethics and integrity, she confronted widespread corruption in Ugandan society, especially in government and civil service. In parliament, she urged her culture to come to terms with human sexuality and disease in light of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Presentation: 2:30 p.m., June 8.
Author and human rights advocate Mary Okumu is a relentless defender of the poor and disadvantaged of east Africa. Okumu has stood up for health service improvements, conflict resolution training, peace negotiations, protection and advocacy for human rights and community empowerment. She is acclaimed for her work with Women Waging Peace, a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating conflict in Africa. In 2000 she was awarded the Peace Award by the U.S. National Peace Foundation. Presentation: 10 a.m., June 8.
Conservationist Bill Turner revolutionized the preservation and restoration of the natural and cultural heritage of BC when he co-founded The Land Conservancy (TLC) in 1997. The non-profit land trust fosters broad-based community support for the protection of ecologically and historically important areas. Turner’s leadership has seen the TLC become a powerful proponent of ecological and cultural values and integrated approaches to conservation. In 2005 he was named a member of the Order of Canada. Presentation: 10 a.m., June 7.
May 11, 2007
Bruce Cockburn’s Convocation Speech
Isn’t ceremony a wonderful thing!
Ladies & Gentlemen,
It’s a great, and I have to say, unexpected honour to be here today to receive this degree. Unexpected because in all the thinking I’ve done about God, I never imagined any sort of public acknowledgement of it. Nor did I feel particularly qualified to carry the title, but that’s Grace, isn’t it? Comes at you out of nowhere and spins your life in new ways!
Grace: A couple of months ago I was doing a phone interview with a guy at a radio station in Madison, Wisconsin, and he asked me about a particular song on my most recent CD. The song is called Mystery. He quoted these lines: “Infinity always gives me vertigo, and fills me up with Grace.” Then he asked me “How can you have vertigo and grace at the same time? Isn’t that a contradiction?” It took me a minute to realize that, for him, grace was about being a good dancer, or being able to do tricks on the balance beam. Never having been good at any of that sort of stuff, I have not had to be confused about what Grace means. I’m alive because of it. I’ve made a lot of music and had some great adventures because of it.
Grace is what we all need, whether we know it or not. We can, by virtue of great effort, expand our understanding of things, sometimes even expand our ability to do good in the world – but it doesn’t take much looking around to see the limits of even the best-intentioned human behaviour. Without that element of alignment with the flow of creation, the New Jerusalem remains out of reach. I mean, the people who founded Montreal believed they were building the New Jerusalem!
Some years ago I spent 5 weeks in Nepal, mostly visiting development projects supported by the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada. At the end of the trip we traveled to the region of Mt. Everest and spent days walking the steep trails through a magical landscape of flowering rhododendron trees, rivers rushing down deep canyons, frightening heights and beautiful sights. At every crossroads was a stone cairn built by pilgrims over centuries, each rock carved with prayers and carried to the spot from wherever they came from. By every building colourful prayer flags fluttered, the passing wind carrying their message to the ends of the earth. A landscape of devotion – charged with the energy of the Spirit.
As we ascended the path one morning, we met a small party of travelers coming down. An elderly couple who turned out to be American and some Sherpas. We stopped to chat. The old man told me he had left his teaching job at a seminary in the Midwest to come to Nepal 25 years earlier to bring the Gospel to its people. He was about to leave to return to the U.S. and was taking one last opportunity to appreciate the spectacular surroundings.
He proudly told me he had taught Robert Schuller, of Crystal Cathedral fame, but he was bitter and seemed diminished. He said that in 25 years he had not made a single convert. His words were, “These people don’t want to know about God.”
I felt terrible for him, as he appeared so oblivious to the spiritual surroundings. He’d spent ¼ of a century not learning what he might have about God!
Because we are who and what we are, it’s almost impossible for us not to think tribally, to be judgmental of our neighbours, to feel that our approach to the things that matter, because it suits us, must also be appropriate for those around us.
I don’t think God is about that. It it’s true that love is the attribute of God that is supposed to have the greatest affect on us, how can it flower in a soil of divisiveness, false pride…fear of the other?
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I can play guitar better than some people. Somebody else can run circles around me when it comes to math. Someone over there can wrestle, or grasp the patterns in the movement of subatomic particles. Some of us “get” our bodies really well. Others are more open to the Spirit. We all have our insights, and together we add up to a healthy organism.
That is, if we only look at the good things. We still carry the seeds of our destruction. In fact, it seems to me that this internal contradiction is also evident in the way we interface with the world. We, as a species, are in a race between our collective urge to self-destruct and our longing to feel that alignment with the cosmic flow I mentioned a minute ago. If we make life choices based on fear, or greed, or extreme self-interest, we are on the side of chaos and death. If we can grasp how inter-connected with each other and the rest of creation we are (and I’m not only thinking of the physical systems that give us life, but the spiritual spaces in and around us too) and make our choices based on that understanding, which I think we can call Love, then we serve the greater good without resorting to badges, and team uniforms, and hopefully, weapons.
We are heading into a time of tribulation. I’m not saying it’s the Tribulation, as some of our fundamentalist friends think. It’s not our job to second guess God. But tribulation none the less.
Massive change is upon the world. Massive and rapid.
In your lifetime you’ll experience the price of the industrial revolution. Changing climate, global epidemics, economies shattered by planetary warming and wars and pollution. A lot of people will be on the move in coming years, even more than at present. Those who are lucky enough to be able to stay where they are will feel the movement in the form of pressure on all systems, surrounded by the pain of other people’s upheaval.
You, who care enough about our relationship to the Divine to have committed to spending years studying it, will be given a special burden to bear.
That relationship, at least the traditional concept of it, doesn’t have much currency in the Western world, the popularity of Evangelical churches not withstanding. Between the dogmatism of fear-based fundamentalism and the Battlestar Galactica New-Aginess of Hollywood, down there in the cracks, there is room for the sharing of real understanding – of personal, experiential knowledge of God – of LOVE.
And that’s your mission, should you choose to accept it – to get that experience – to be fueled by that love, and to go forth and share the insights and the inspiration you have gained therefrom.
Don’t worry about making converts. If you go out there shining with the light of God and brimming with love it will be noticed. A door will be opened for the Spirit to walk through. Whether that Spirit gets discussed in Christian terms or not is not really material. It’s being awake to its presence that counts.
That is the beginning of a remedy for the pain of being alive in dark times, just is it’s the beginning of the healing of our not-so-well-carried-out stewardship of our Earth.
And look – we’re back to talking about Grace!
At the risk of taking too long here, I’d like to leave you with the lyrics of a song I wrote awhile back. It’s called The Light Goes On Forever.
Shaman clambers up the world-dream tree
looking for clues about what is to be.
Chants and trances give his spirit wings for flight.
Wings still shackled to history –
the chain of events ain’t broken so easily –
let me rest in the place of light.
Skull drum, skin stretched tight
sends out ripples in the gathering night.
The deepest darkness breeds the brightest light.
Music rising from the bones of saints,
from the pungent smell of sad sweet poems and paintings –
let me rest in the place light!
God waves a thought like you’d wave your hand
and the light goes on forever –
through the seasons and through the seas,
the light goes on forever –
through the burning and the seeding,
through the joining and the parting
the light goes on
Gypsy searches through the cards for truth.
Alchemist searches for eternal youth.
Human reaching almost makes it – but not quite –
and so strikes out at what the wind blows by.
You live and it hurts you, you give up you die –
let me rest in the place of light.
Fugitives in the time before the dawn,
backed up to the wall with weapons drawn,
like mounted nomads, always ready for a fight –
this creature that thinks and so can fake its own being –
lightless mind’s eye not much good for seeing
let me rest in the place of light!
God wave a thought like you’d wave your hand
And the light goes on forever.
Through the people and through the walls
the light goes on forever.
Through who obeys and who does not,
through who gets rich and who gets caught
the light goes on
Uptight lawyer on Damascus road
becomes a nexus where the light explodes…
concentrated – overpowering sight.
2-way whirlpool churning up all the time-
infinity stoops to touch the human mind.
Let me rest, in the place of light.
God waves a thought like you’d wave your hand
and the light goes on forever.
Through the buildings and through the hills
the light goes on forever.
Through the struggles and the games,
through the night’s empty door frame,
the light goes on
That’s it. Go with God.
Trust your dreams.
May 11, 2007
Music icon Cockburn receives doctorate from Queen's
by Rob Tripp
Bruce Cockburn, the Canadian music icon who once penned a song about retaliatory killing with a rocket launcher, has received an honorary doctor of divinity from Queen's University.
The 61-year-old Ottawa native, whose 29 full-length albums are infused with religious and spiritual imagery, was bestowed the doctorate at the convocation ceremony for Queen's Theological College Wednesday night [May 11, 2007].
"In all the time I've spent thinking about God in my life, I never thought I'd be recognized for it," Cockburn said at the ceremony.
Cockburn charged the graduates, many of whom will become ordained ministers in the United Church, to look past New-Age spirituality and fundamental evangelism and focus on God.
"In between those cracks there is a place for sharing real experiences about God," Cockburn said.
Cockburn's recording career has spanned more than 40 years after releasing his self-titled debut album in 1970. His early work attested to his strong Christian beliefs, with lyrics like "Christ is born for you and me" in the song A Life Story.
Later in his career, Cockburn began devoting his music to more progressive and political issues, evidenced by the song If I Had A Rocket Launcher on the 1984 album Stealing Fire. He wrote the song after witnessing Guatemalan helicopter attacks on refugee camps in Mexico.
Cockburn has also taken up the crusade against U.S. President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq on his latest disc, Life Short Call Now, with songs entitled This is Baghdad and Tell the Universe.
He has also worked with Friends of The Earth, the David Suzuki Foundation, War Child Canada and Mines Action of Canada.
In his convocation address to the 15 graduates, Cockburn spoke somewhat prophetically, warning them that they would be leading the church in a time of "tribulation."
"In your lifetime, you will experience the consequences of the Industrial Revolution and you will see climate change," he said. "You will be given a special burden to bear."
Cockburn was given the doctorate in recognition of his artistic, humanitarian and theological contributions to society, principal Jean Stairs said.
Queen's vice-principal Patrick Deane attended the ceremony on behalf of the university. He said the world is a better place because of Cockburn's music.
"Your music has provided the soundtrack for the last several decades for many of us," he said.
The Queen's doctorate is the fourth such honour for Cockburn. He has also received doctorates from York University in Toronto, Berklee College of Music, and St. Thomas University in New Brunswick. Later this month, he will receive his fifth, a doctorate of letters from Memorial University in Newfoundland.
April 20, 2007
Bruce Cockburn's Breakfast In New Orleans Dinner In Timbuktu CD Artwork Is Part Of The Fifty Years Of Helvetica Art Exhibit at The Museum Of Modern Art (MOMA) In New York City.
TORONTO – The colourful cover design of Bruce Cockburn’s Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu is now on display as a part of the 50th Anniversary of the Helvetica typeface at New York City’s MOMA. It was chosen as a shining example of the use of the Helvetica typeface.
Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu was released worldwide in 1999 and featured the songs `Last Night Of the World’ and `When You Give it Away.’ The album jacket was designed in Toronto by leading Canadian graphic artist and designer, Michael Wrycraft. The exhibit runs at MOMA until April 2008.
Posted: April 13, 2007
In an email to me this date, Bernie Finkelstein shared this insight on the coming trio of releases from Rounder Records.
Regarding the re-releases coming soon from Rounder: Breakfast In New Orleans, The Charity Of Night and You Pay Your Money And You Take Your Chance.
These are not strictly speaking re-issues with new mastering, bonus tracks etc. Ryko’s rights have run out and we want to keep those records available, so Rounder are now going to be putting them out. Some stores might still have the Ryko copies and that could continue for some time but for stores that need new copies they will now be able to buy them through Rounder, otherwise these very fine recordings just wouldn’t be available to new buyers. There is no reason for people who already have these records to buy them again nor are we trying to get them to buy them again.
There will be no changes made to these recordings, including the mastering, which was first class to begin with in my opinion.
Posted: April 4, 2007
Rounder Records informs me that the next three reissues will be: Breakfast In New Orleans, The Charity Of Night and You Pay Your Money And You Take Your Chance. Unlike previous reissue, these will not contain bonus tracks. The release date is currently scheduled for July 10, 2007.
Read The Wittenburg Door interview with Bruce here. It is from the March/April 2007 issue. Reprinted here in pdf format with permission. You will need Acrobat Reader to view it.
Posted: February 15, 2007
Soul Shine Magazine
Kingfest 2007 Rocks Seneca College, Benefits Habitat For Humanity
A new outdoor music festival is on the list for this year in the greater Toronto area. Kingfest 2007 will take place on June 23 and 24th and feature the best in country, folk, roots, blues, and jazz providing a diverse line up for music lovers on multiple stages. The festival will be held at the pristine Seneca College, King City Campus situated over 100 acres of fresh green property.
Bruce Cockburn, Prairie Oyster and many other well known performers are getting ready to perform this year, and the festival is still accepting applications for performers, crafters, artisans and food vendors until April 30.
Habitat for Humanity is an independent, not-for-profit organization that builds simple, decent, and affordable houses and provides interest-free mortgages to families who would otherwise not be able to purchase their own home. $2 off each ticket sold at Kingfest will go to Habitat for Humanity – York Region to help families in need with affordable housing.
Posted: February 14, 2007
Bernie Finkelstein Receives the Order Of Canada
Congratulations and kudos also go out this month to True North Records and founder president Bernie Finkelstein who was awarded Canada’s highest civilian honour, the Order Of Canada, for his years of tireless work on behalf of the Canadian Music Industry and for all his work in supporting and developing Canadian culture.
Mr. Finkelstein received the award Friday February 9, 2007 at a formal ceremony in the nation’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario.
Posted: February 8, 2007
Bruce Cockburn - Three Shows in Three Days
Reviewed by Richard Hoare
In 2006 Bruce toured North America and Canada backed by Julie Wolf and Gary Craig. For his 2007 European tour Cockburn has adapted his set for solo guitar. He had played Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin before I caught up with the tour.
The Stables, Milton Keynes, England 24th January 2007
Support act Angela Desveaux
This auditorium has a capacity of 350 and the shallow gradient seating surrounds the stage on three sides. The venue wasn’t full but it is an intimate room. The stage was set up with Cockburn’s three acoustic instruments; a six string Manzer guitar, a polished steel Dobro resonator guitar and a twelve-string Guild guitar all fitted with pickups to be played with the effects pedal set.
Bruce came out on stage dressed in black, clean shaven and looking fitter than some recent photographs have suggested. He launched into the first three tracks: Last Night Of The World, Open and Tokyo with hypnotic bass string intensity before slowing for the guitar solo virtuosity of Jerusalem Poker.
Cockburn continued with Life Short Call Now, prefaced by the billboard story that led him to write the song. Bruce then recounted that his friend Celia thought the former track was the most depressing song she had heard until she listened to the next one, Beautiful Creatures! Cockburn acquitted himself well without the studio technology to assist the swooping vocal that was recorded on the album.
Bruce changed to the Dobro for the insistent rhythm of Wait No More followed by the road song from the Inter American Highway in Nicaragua from March 1983, Dust And Diesel.
During the next sequence of political songs I marvelled at what Cockburn can play on his twelve string Guild for This Is Baghdad, Tell The Universe and the high energy Put It In Your Heart.
Bruce changed back to his six string guitar for a wonderful If A Tree Falls and concluded the set with the Zen like Mystery. The crowd brought him back for Wondering Where The Lions Are and they sang the song’s chorus. Following cries from the audience for a variety of songs we were treated to Indian Wars and Bruce concluded the evening with a rare rendition of All The Diamonds In The World.
The Borderline, London, England 25th January 2007
Support act Angela Desveaux
When this date was first advertised it was the only London show of the tour and the smallest London venue I have known Cockburn to play. Tonight and the following night formed part of The Borderline’s Seventh Annual Singer Songwriter Festival 2007. This basement venue was full and charged with anticipation by the time Bruce took to the stage to a rapturous reception.
Cockburn played a relatively similar set to the previous night with some notable substitutes. Two of the three opening numbers were changed to the radio and download single Different When It Comes To You and Lovers In A Dangerous Time. By the time Bruce was brought back for some encores the joint was jumping and the crowd sang every word of Wondering Where The Lions Are, Pacing The Cage and Peggy’s Kitchen Wall.
The Borderline, London, England 26th January 2007
Support act Alana Levandoski
This date was added due to extra demand. There were, however, fewer people in the audience and this created a completely different atmosphere to last night. Again the set list largely followed the previous two nights but with some more notable substitutes. Bruce started the night with Rouler Sa Bosse, an instrumental from the 1974 album Salt Sun & Time. Open followed and then we were treated to the slow jazz and surprising story that is Twilight On The Champlain Sea (only available as a digital download). Cockburn also played the exquisite Elegy from the 2005 instrumental compilation Speechless. “And now the calling of titles” murmured Bruce under his breath as he readied himself for two cracking encores, See You Tomorrow and a rollicking Night Train.
Bruce played 47 pieces of music over these three days, 25 of which were different titles. I also heard eight out of the twelve compositions on the 2006 CD Life Short Call Now. It was the first time for some years that the tour itinerary had enabled me to see three Cockburn shows in three days and it was fascinating to see how the dynamics of performance change each night. At the age of 61 Bruce still has the guitar dexterity and song writing innovation to be ahead of the pack. There are very few musicians with skills of his calibre in the world today.
The support act for the first two shows above was Angela Desveaux backed by Mike Feuerstack on guitar and vocals, both from Montreal. Their set put me in mind of the works of Gillian Welch and Sam Phillips. The duo performed songs from Angela’s CD, Wandering Eyes, released on Thrill Jockey (2006), including Bury Me Deeper, Feel Alright and Good Intentions. They also acquitted themselves on covers of Neil Young’s Birds from After The Goldrush and Richard & Linda Thompson’s I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight from their album of the same name. Mike (who also plays on Angela’s album) is the Montreal music collective, Snailhouse, and mid set he played his own Tone Deaf Bird’s. Angela has a wonderful voice which sets up an ambience to accompany her melodious songs embellished by Mike’s tasteful and understated picking and vocals. This was the best support act I have seen perform for a UK Cockburn gig for a long while. Check out Angela Desveaux's website at www.angeladesveaux.com.
Posted: January 2, 2007
from Bernie Finkelstein
Bruce to Receive Fourth Honorary Doctorate
Bruce will be receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity for Queens University in Kingston, Ontario on May 9, 2007. Queens University is a very prestigious University in Canada. This will be Bruce’s 4th Honorary Doctorate. He also has a Honorary Fellowship with the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.