Bruce Cockburn (pronounced CO-BURN), headliner 7:30 - 9:00 pm Eastern
Few recording artists are as creative and prolific as Bruce Cockburn (pronounced CO-BURN). Graham Nash calls Cockburn “the consummate troubadour, a musical hero to many who are trying to make the world a better place." To Bonnie Raitt, he is “a huge inspiration”. Jackson Browne praises his "amazing guitar playing" and tells Rolling Stone that “few songwriters have been able to express as coherently the impulse for justice and the quest for moral equilibrium.”
Since his self-titled debut in 1970, the Canadian singer-songwriter has issued a steady stream of acclaimed records—33 studio albums and over 300 songs—capturing the essence of human experience, while fiercely striving to make it better. Twenty-two of his albums have earned a Canadian gold or platinum level, and he has sold over one million albums in Canada alone. He has performed on the David Letterman and Jay Leno shows, as well as Saturday Night Live, Austin City Limits, and stages around the world. In early bands, he opened for Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and the Lovin’ Spoonful.
Cockburn has enjoyed an illustrious career shaped by global awareness, spiritual evolution, and musical diversity. His remarkable journey has seen him embrace folk, jazz, rock, and worldbeat styles while traveling to such places as Guatemala, Mali, Mozambique, and Nepal, and writing memorable songs about his ever-expanding world of wonders. “My job,” he explains, “is to try and trap the spirit of things in the scratches of pen on paper and the pulling of notes out of metal.”
That scratching and pulling has earned Cockburn high praise as an exceptional songwriter and a revered guitarist. His songs of romance, protest, and spiritual discovery are among the best to have emerged from Canada and the US. His guitar playing, both acoustic and electric, has placed him in the company of the world’s top instrumentalists. He remains deeply respected for his activism on issues from native rights and land mines to the environment and Third World debt, working for organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and Friends of the Earth.
Throughout his career, Cockburn has deftly captured the joy, pain, fear, and faith of human experience in song. Whether singing about retreating to the country or going up against chaos, tackling imperialist lies, or embracing ecclesiastical truths, he has always expressed a tough yet hopeful stance. “We can’t settle for things as they are,” he once warned. “If you don’t tackle the problems, they’re going to get worse.” His commitment to growth has made Bruce Cockburn both an exemplary citizen and a legendary artist whose prized songbook will be celebrated for many years to come. In 2014 he published his memoir Rumours of Glory.
For his many achievements, the Ottawa-born artist has been honored with 12 Juno Awards, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award. An Officer of the Order of Canada, Cockburn won the inaugural People’s Voice Award at the Folk Alliance International conference and was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Never resting on his laurels, “I’d rather think about what I’m going to do next,” says Cockburn. “My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stop working till they drop, as I fully expect to be doing, and just getting better as musicians and as human beings.”
He continues to find inspiration in the world around him and channel those ideas into songs. “Forty Years in the Wilderness” ranks alongside “Pacing the Cage” or “All the Diamonds” as one of Cockburn’s most starkly beautiful folk songs. Other famous songs include "Lovers in a Dangerous Time", "Wondering Where the Lions Are", "If a Tree Falls", "If I had a Rocket Launcher", "Call It Democracy", "Rumors of Glory", "Lord of the Starfields", and "Last Night of the World".
2014 Rolling Stones article: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/bruce-cockburn-rumours-of-glory-20141209
Guitar reputation: http://guitarsformusicians.com/my-beat-documentary-excerpt-bruce-cockburn-playing-guitar/
Collection of interviews: http://cockburnproject.net/issues/songwriting/infmusical.html, http://cockburnproject.net/issues/career/earlyyears.html, and many others online
Photo Credit: Daniel Keebler Text in part by Nicholas Jennings