Bruce 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.
“My mother once said that I must have a death wish, always going to what she called ‘those awful places,’” laughs Cockburn. “I don’t think of it that way. I make these trips partly because I want to see things for myself and partly out of my own sense of adventure.”
Released in April 2011, Small Source of Comfort, Cockburn’s 31st album, is his latest adventurous collection of songs of romance, protest and spiritual discovery. Winning this year’s Juno Award for Best Roots and Traditional Album, and his 12th Juno Award to date, the album, primarily acoustic yet rhythmically savvy, is rich in Cockburn’s characteristic blend of folk, blues, jazz and rock. As usual, many of the new compositions come from his travels and spending time in places like San Francisco and Brooklyn to the Canadian Forces base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, jotting down his typically detailed observations about the human experience.
Bruce Cockburn’s songs, along with his humanitarian work, have brought him a long list of honours, including an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and several international awards. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer in 2002. Last year, the Luminato festival honoured Cockburn’s extensive songbook with a tribute concert featuring such varied guests as jazz guitarist Michael Occhipinti, folk-rapper Buck 65, country rockers Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, country-folk singers Sylvia Tyson and Amelia Curran, pop artists the Barenaked Ladies and Hawksley Workman, and folk-pop trio The Wailin’ Jennys.
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.” Small Source of Comfort, a reflection of Cockburn’s ever-expanding world of wonders, is the latest step in his creative evolution.
With a career spanning more than four decades, producing an acclaimed body of work that has sold over 2 million copies worldwide, Bruce Cockburn continues to be revered by fans and fellow musicians alike as one of the most important songwriters of his generation.
Small Source of Comfort is Cockburn’s first studio album since 2006 – a rhythmic and highly evocative collection of 14 new tracks inspired by his renowned unusual and diverse muse – recent trips to Afghanistan and ponderings on the re-incarnation of Richard Nixon, to road trips and unreturned phone calls. The album boasts some of the best musicians recording today, including violinist Jenny Scheinman, former Wailin’ Jenny Annabelle Chvostek, and long time collaborators Gary Craig, Jon Dymond and producer Colin Linden.
As both a songwriter and a guitarist, Bruce Cockburn is considered among the world’s best. The New York Times called him a “virtuoso on guitar”, while Acoustic Guitar magazine placed him in the esteemed company of Andrés Segovia, Bill Frisell and Django Reinhardt.
Cockburn’s songs have been covered by such diverse and talented artists as Elbow, Jimmy Buffett, Judy Collins, Anne Murray, Chet Atkins, K.D. Lang, Barenaked Ladies, and the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia.
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Artist web link: www.brucecockburn.com