"The whole point of writing songs is to share experiences with people," says Canadian
guitarist and singer-songwriter Cockburn, looking back on a career that spans over 40
years and includes awards such as the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Tenco Award
for Lifetime Achievement in Italy, 20 gold and platinum records in Canada, and countless
Since 1970, with over 30 albums and many awards to his credit, Cockburn has earned high
praise as an exceptional songwriter and pioneering guitarist, whose career has been shaped
by politics, protest, romance, and spiritual discovery. His remarkable journey has seen him
embrace folk, jazz, blues, rock, and world beat styles while travelling to such far-flung
places as Guatemala, Mozambique, Afghanistan, and Nepal.
Born in 1945 in Ottawa, Ontario, Cockburn began his solo career with a self-titled album
in 1970. Cockburn's ever expanding repertoire of musical styles and skillfully crafted
lyrics have been covered by such artists as Jerry Garcia, Chet Atkins, Barenaked Ladies,
Jimmy Buffett, and K.D. Lang. His guitar playing, both acoustic and electric, has placed
him in the company of the world's top instrumentalists. Cockburn 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, Friends of the Earth, and USC Canada.
Cockburn has always been a restless spirit. Over the course of four decades, the celebrated
Canadian artist has traveled to the corners of the earth out of humanitarian concerns-often
to trouble spots experiencing events that have led to some of his most memorable songs. Going
up against chaos, even if it involves grave risks, can be necessary to get closer to the
truth, he says.
Cockburn's first decade of work (1970-1979) is largely literate, singer-songwriter folk-rock,
often with a strong Christian tone and mystical, devotional lyrics. In 1979, Cockburn had his
major U.S. single, Wondering Where the Lions Are, which peaked at number 21. The
accompanying album, Dancing in the Dragon's Jaw, saw him augmenting his music with
world beat rhythms, an approach he would continue over his next few albums. Cockburn toned
down his Christian viewpoint for much of the 1980s, partially as a way of disconnecting
himself from the American religious right, which he found antithetical to his own spiritual
beliefs, and partially to concentrate on more humanitarian, political subject matter. In
1984, Cockburn produced an AOR hit, If I Had a Rocket Launcher, whose accompanying
video depicted conditions in war-torn Central America and gained a fair amount of MTV play.
Cockburn's later 1980s work took on a more streamlined rock sound, and his political agenda
was weighted toward environmental concerns, as well as oppression. In the 1990s, Cockburn
returned to a more introspective feel recalling his earlier work, but moved toward a more
global and political perspective with the issue of the angry and polemical You've Never
Seen Everything in 2003. Speechless from 2005 was an all-instrumental affair, showing
off the artist's skill on guitar, while the next year's Life Short Call Now showed
an artist at the prime of his musical maturity. A live set, Slice O Life: Bruce Cockburn
Live Solo, arrived in 2009. After a brief tour, Cockburn returned to the studio in 2010,
where he finished work on a new collection entitled Small Source of Comfort, which
was released in early 2011; the set is an intimate set of songs and guitar-based
instrumentals (including the live but never recorded Cockburn standard The Gift).
Never content to rest on his laurels, Cockburn keeps looking ahead. "I'd rather think about
what I'm going to do next," he once said. "My models for graceful aging are guys like John
Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stopped working till they dropped, as I
fully expect to be doing, and just getting better as musicians and as human beings."
For more about Cockburn visit www.brucecockburn.com
The Arena Theater bar and snack stand will be open.
Tuesday April 15
Show Starts: 7:00 PM
Doors Open: 6:00 PM
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