May 31, 2007

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In a dangerous time
Bruce Cockburn plays the Palace
By Erica Febre efebre@hippopress.com

Legendary singer and songwriter Bruce Cockburn and Grammy award-winning artist Rosanne Cash will each perform shows in New Hampshire as part of the 22nd anniversary season of Concerts for the Cause.

Concerts for the Cause is the premier fundraising event benefiting Child and Family Services of New Hampshire.

Cash, the daughter of Johnny Cash, is known for her alternative rock and folk genre and has collaborated with many artists, including Lyle Lovett, Carly Simon, Bob Dylan, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Elvis Costello.

Cockburn, an inductee to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and a Canadian native, is just getting back on the road, after taking a brief vacation from a long stint of performances.

Cockburn, who said heís never been much of a public speaker, shares a few of his thoughts.

Youíve released 29 albums to date. Do you ever go back and listen to some of your earlier material?
Thatís the official count alright, 29 releases. It takes up quite a lot of space on a CD shelf. I do go back and listen if I need to relearn a song. I donít retain all those songs in my head. A concert of mine is usually a mix of the old and the new. So I like to go back and refresh some of those older favorites, to give it a new appeal. But, otherwise, I donít think about whatís already been done, already been released. Iím already thinking about what Iím going to be doing next.

How would you define your music?
I think of it as kind of folk-based. Thereís many different elements to it, though. Itís very eclectic. Thereís a lot of jazz ... The way I write my songs has a lot to do with how they end up being defined. I donít just sit down and write something. I sit around and wait for the inspiritaion to come. Then the words come first and the music is written to go with the words.

Have you ever thought of doing some collaborations?
Iíve done few a collaborations over the years. Thereís this Canadian singer-songwriter Annabelle Chvostek, who used to perform with The Wailiní Jennyís ó sheís extremely good and asked me to collaborate with a song. Itís kind of this dark and faintly folk, faintly pop song. But no one has heard it besides the two of us.

Have other artists used your material?
Actually lots of people have recorded my material. Jerry Garcia did a song called ďWaiting for A Miracle.Ē Jimmy Buffet has recorded five of my songs, all on different albums of his, which Iím very glad about actually ícause it presents my material in a different way, coming from a different artist. But there are songwriters that have been covered a lot more than me. My songs normally end up on a first-timerís album, like someone who is just getting started.

Iíve been told that youíre a very spiritual person. How has that affected your message in your music?
Thatís actually more of a historical thing to me. For many years I explored spirituality through a Christian framework but my version of Christianity wouldnít be accepted by those that follow the standard. ... Regardless of what religion you study, they all tell you that thereís a certain way to become a spiritual person. I think spirituality is something that you continue to learn and the journey may not end until life ends. There are a few ways people can go with the experience: they either continue to learn, stop because theyíve reached the point where they can understand, or they just give up on it all together.

Iíve also heard that you have some strong political opinions...
I donít think that weíre at a good place at all right now. I donít think that weíre going to survive it and I think thereís a lot of things that we need to be doing if we do want to survive. One of these years the worldís going to have to pick up after George Bush, which is a pretty big task because heís made a big mess of things ó and heís not even done yet. I have many environmental concerns.

Concerts for the Cause 2007
Who: Bruce Cockburn and Rosanne Cash
When: Cockburn, Friday, June 1, 8 p.m., at Palace Theatre, Saturday, June 2, 7:30 p.m., Lebanon Opera House; Cash, Friday, June 8, 8 p.m., Capitol Center for the Arts
Where: Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester; Lebanon Opera House, 51 N. Park St., Lebanon; Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord.
For more information: Go to brucecockburn.com (Bruce Cockburn) or rosannecash.com (Rosanne Cash).