When iconic Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist Bruce Cockburn takes the stage at Henry Strater Theatre on Nov. 16, he’ll be joined by his nephew, John Aaron Cockburn, a whole bunch of guitars – and an accordion.
The two are currently on tour in support of Bruce Cockburn’s latest release – his 34th – “Crowing Ignites,” an instrumental album, a first for Cockburn, who since the release of his self-titled debut album in 1970, has continued to put out albums every couple of years.
“That’s something I haven’t done before,” he said. “We did an instrumental album a few years ago, but it was a compilation of previously released tracks with a few new ones added. And this one is all new, so that’s the thing that’s most different about it.”
The album’s title is a literal translation of the Latin motto “Accendit Cantu” featured on the Cockburn family crest. Although a little puzzling, Cockburn liked the feeling it conveyed: “Energetic, blunt, Scottish as can be,” he said in new release. It explores an array of genres, including folk. blues and jazz – with a few surprises, including the appearance of Tibetan singing bowls.
And while the majority of the album was written out of the studio, two pieces – “Bells of Gethsemane” and “Seven Daggers” – were built in house, he said.
“I went in knowing that I wanted to do that because they were layered with different sounds of instruments I can’t play all at once, and singing bowls and chimes and stuff like that,” Cockburn said. “That was the exception. But otherwise, everything on the album I had under my hands before I went in. Those pieces were a lot of fun to put together.”
So what could possibly be left to do for a musician who has won tons of awards and has released 34 albums – is there anything he still has on his list of things to do and people to work with?
The only thing Cockburn knows for sure is that he’s not slowing down anytime soon.
“That changes all the time. It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, that’d be great to have such and such on an album or so and so doing this.’ A lot of my old heroes are kind of dead, so they’re not really available – people from the jazz world who were models for me when I was starting out,” he said. “At this point, I would like to just keep going. I don’t have a specific thing in mind. In a perfect world, I would get to do an album of covers someday, songs that mean something to me. But I’d also like to keep doing my own stuff until I can’t.”
While Cockburn’s show in Durango will include some of the pieces from “Crowing Ignites,” it’s not an instrumental show, he said, adding that he hopes listeners will enjoy the new album.
“I’d like them to take the album away with them (laughs), that’s the main thing. But failing that, it’s just music; there’s no message,” he said. “I hope people find a place for it in their lives and that it suits whatever moods they find compatible with it that they experience. That’s kind of what you hope for with an instrumental thing.”