photos by Darren McChristie
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Last night, Bruce Cockburn brought his North American tour to a small but appreciative audience at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium. Cockburn was accompanied by Gary Craig on percussion and Jenny Scheinman on violin, mandolin and bouzouki. Scheinman, a native of northern California, opened the show with a combination of traditional folk songs and her own compositions. Her lyric â€œsupposedly the rednecks hate the hippies, but, after 40 years, itâ€™s hard to tell whoâ€™s whoâ€ is perhaps indicative of the rural area in which she was raised. After a few songs, Gary Craig joined her, adding an upbeat tempo to her tunes. It was a great opening act but the break between sets felt like an eternity.
Finally, Bruce Cockburn took to the stage with Scheinman and Craig – they started with â€œLast Night of the Worldâ€ and followed-up with â€œMango,â€ both from Cockburnâ€™s 1999 album Breakfast in New Orelans, Dinner in Timbuktu. In a string of hits, they played â€œLovers in a Dangerous Timeâ€ and â€œTokyoâ€ – the audience was happy. It seemed most people wanted to hear Cockburnâ€™s archival material, which is typical for an artist that has been cranking out records for over 40 years (his recent release, Small Source of Comfort, is his 31st).
Cockburn introduced the audience to this album with a humble, almost apologetic tone, indicating that, in terms of new songs, â€œseveral will be inflicted on you during the coarse of the evening.â€ But the new songs were as much of a treat as the old ones and included the upbeat and witty â€œCalled Me Backâ€ and the more somber â€œEach One Lostâ€ – a song that was inspired by Cockburnâ€™s 2009 trip to Afganistan (Cockburnâ€™s brother is a doctor with the Canadian Forces). Because he played â€œEach One Lostâ€ immediately after â€œIf I had a Rocket Launcher,â€ I wondered how Cockburn feels that songs rooted in social activism and protest are always relevant. Timeless. As Cockburn sings, â€œWe screw the rule of law, we want the rule of love.â€
During his performance, Cockburn was strictly business, rarely looking up to make eye contact with his bandmates. But, this did not detract from the performance and the audience was brought to their feet after the last song in the set, â€œIf a Tree Falls in the Forest.â€
Cockburn, Scheinman and Craig returned for a surprisingly long encore that kicked off with the Cockburnâ€™s only electric song of the night – â€œLois on the Autobahnâ€ from the new album. He concluded with â€œGiftsâ€ – a song he wrote in 1968 that also appears on Small Source of Comfort.