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      Bruce Cockburn in Sacramento


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      July 25, 2018

      Wednesday   7:30 PM

      1013 K Street
      Sacramento, California 95814

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      Bruce Cockburn


      Bruce Cockburn Bone on BoneFew recording artists are as creative and prolific as Bruce Cockburn. Sincehis self-titled debut in 1970, the Canadian singer-songwriter has issued asteady stream of acclaimed albums every couple of years. But that outputsuddenly ran dry in 2011 following the release of Small Source of Comfort.There were good reasons for the drought. For one thing, Cockburn becamea father again with the birth of his daughter Iona. Then there was thepublication of his 2014 memoir Rumours of Glory.I didnt write any songs until after the book was published because all mycreative energy had gone into three years of writing it, Cockburn explains,from his home in San Francisco. There was simply nothing left to writesongs with. As soon as the book was put to bed, I started asking myselfwhether I was ever going to be a songwriter again.Such doubt was new to the man whos rarely been at a loss for words ashes distilled political views, spiritual revelations and personal experiencesinto some of popular musics most compelling songs. What spurredCockburn back into songwriting was an invitation to contribute a song to adocumentary film about the late, seminal Canadian poet Al Purdy and hewas off to the races.Bone On Bone, Cockburns 33rd album, arrives with 11 new songs,including 3 Al Purdys, a brilliant, six-minute epic that pays tribute toPurdys poetry. Cockburn explains its genesis: I went out and got Purdyscollected works, which is an incredible book. Then I had this vision of ahomeless guy who is obsessed with Purdys poetry, and hes ranting it onthe street. The song is written in the voice of that character. The chorusgoes, I'll give you three Al Purdys for a twenty dollar bill. Heres thisgrey-haired dude, coat tails flapping in the wind, being mistaken for the sortof addled ranters you run into on the streetexcept hes not really ranting,hes reciting Al Purdy. The spoken word parts of the track are excerpts fromPurdys poems. After that, once the ice was broken, the songs just startedcoming.Cockburns rugged fingerpicking style on the Dobro perfectly matchesPurdys plainspoken words and the grizzled voice of his street character. Asimilar guitar style can be heard on two of the next songs Cockburn wrote,the gospel-like Jesus Train, and Caf Society, a bluesy number aboutpeople who gather at his local coffee shop to sip their java and talk aboutthe state of the world.Theres a prevalent urgency and anxious tone to much of the album, whichCockburn attributes to living in America during the Trump era. But, morethan anything, Bone on Bone amounts to the deepest expression ofCockburns spiritual concerns to date. The 12-time Juno winner andCanadian Music Hall of Fame inductee turned away from traditionalChristianity in the mid-1970s toward a quest for the more all-inclusivemysticism he documents in his memoir. And its that kind of spirituality thatfigures prominently in Jesus Train and Twelve Gates to the City. InLooking and Waiting, Cockburn sings of scanning the skies for a beaconfrom the divine.Its a song of faith and frustration, says Cockburn of the latter. "...Tired oflooking in from the outside. My MO has always been to be aware of thedivine...that dimension...always dealing with being stuck in a kind ofobservers position with respect to all that. I know its there. I don't reallysee as faith so much as knowledge. Others may have different ideas aboutthose things, but for me, I dont have to struggle to believe in God, or thenotion that God cares what happens to me. But I do have to struggle withbeing in a conscious, intentional relationship. That underlies a lot of thesesongs.Forty Years in the Wilderness ranks alongside Pacing the Cage or Allthe Diamonds as one of Cockburns most starkly beautiful folk songs.There have been so many times in my life when an invitation has comefrom somewhere...the cosmos...the divine...to step out of the familiar intosomething new. Ive found its best to listen for, and follow thesepromptings. The song is really about that. You can stay with what you knowor you can pack your bag and go where youre called, even if it seemsweird...even if you cant see why or where youll end up.Forty Years in the Wilderness is one of several songs that feature anumber of singers from the church Cockburn frequents, for the sake ofconvenience referred to in the album credits as the San FranciscoLighthouse Chorus. The music was one of the enticements that drew meto SF Lighthouse. As I found myself becoming one of the regulars there,and got to know the people, I felt that I really wanted all these greatsingers, who were now becoming friends, to be on the album. They werekind enough to say yes! Among other songs, they contributecall-and-response vocals to the stirring Stab at Matter. Other guests onthe album include singer-songwriters Ruby Amanfu, Mary Gauthier, andBrandon Robert Young, along with bassist Roberto Occhipinti, and JulieWolf, who plays accordion on 3 Al Purdys and sings with the folks fromLighthouse, together with LA songwriter Tamara Silvera.Produced by Colin Linden, Cockburns longtime collaborator, the album isbuilt around the musicianship of Cockburn on guitar and the coreaccompaniment of bassist John Dymond and drummer Gary Craig. Alsovery much part of the sound is the accordion playing of Cockburns nephewJohn Aaron Cockburn and the solos of noted fluegelhorn player Ron Miles(check out his stunning work on the cascading Mon Chemin, forexample).Two other songs should be noted. The environmental warning False Rivercame about at the invitation of Yvonne Bloomer, the poet laureate ofVictoria, British Columbia. Bloomer was seeking a poem about thecontroversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. Pipelines have theirown perils that were all aware of, says Cockburn, so I started writing whatwas meant to be a spoken-word piece with a rhythm to it. But it evolvedvery quickly into a song.States Im In, which opens the album, conjures up feelings of mystery anddread. Its literally a dark night of the soul kind of song, Cockburnexplains, as it starts with sunset and ends with dawn. It passes through thenight. The song is about illusion and self-delusion, looking at the tricks youplay on yourself. He adds: Maybe its also a play on words about me livingin the States.Cockburn, who won the inaugural Peoples Voice Award at the FolkAlliance International conference in February and will be inducted into theCanadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in September, continues to findinspiration in the world around him and channel those ideas into songs. Myjob is to try and trap the spirits of things in the scratches of pen on paperand the pulling of notes out of metal, he once noted. More than forty yearsafter embarking on his singer-songwriting career, Cockburn keeps kickingat the darkness so that it might bleed daylight.

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