An artist of epic proportions, Bruce Cockburn performs at Eugene’s “WOW” Hall.

Canadian folk/rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn (pronounced “Co-Burn”) performed before a full house of fans and music lovers at Eugene’s WOW Hall Tuesday night, chatting briefly between songs and playing a wide variety of selections from his 40-year career and substantial catalogue of work.

He opened the show with “Grim Travelers,” from his 1980 “Humans.” With 24 studio albums to his credit, his most recent release is the 2011 “Small Source of Comfort” from which he played several songs including “Call Me Rose,” “Bohemian 3-Step” and the deep and colorful “Iris of the World.” Tuesday night’s performance was filled with superb guitar prowess, fine storytelling and friendly audience interactions – including one fan who jokingly asked, “Do you give guitar lessons?”

Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn on stage at Eugene’s WOW Hall. Photo credit: Cynthia Orlando

About Bruce Cockburn: Musical Awards and Highlights

Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Cockburn took up guitar at the age of 14. His first solo appearance was in 1967 at the Mariposa Folk Festival. Though his music had been popular in Canada for many years, his career finally kickstarted in the U.S. with the release of his 1979 “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws,” which featured his stellar, popular, oft-requested “Wondering Where the Lions Are.”

Cockburn has toured the world and travelled extensively in both the U.S. and Canada. In 1998, he received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada’s highest honor in the performing arts. Cockburn is the recipient of 15 Juno awards, and on March 5, 2001, during the 30th Annual Juno Awards ceremony, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

A social activist, Cockburn has a passion for human rights, political causes and spirituality. His personal travels have taken him to such diverse and distant destinations as Nepal, Vietnam, and Baghdad. He’s campaigned about banning land mines and supported a multitude of worthy causes, including Amnesty International and Oxfam.

His fingerpicking and left-hand work are fast and smooth. Have a listen to “Train in the Rain,” or “Sunrise on the Mississippi,” both from “Speechless.”

Memorable Takeaway Moments

Cockburn’s concert Tuesday night lasted more than two hours without an empty seat in the house. Adoring fans sat in rapt attention giving hearty applause after each selection and only calling out requests at the end of the show.

Peak moments? A stunning performance of “The End of All Rivers,” and his heart-wrenching “Stolen Land,”from the 1987 “Waiting for a Miracle.”

End of All Rivers

A warm and wonderful audience sing-a-long during “Lions,” with no prompting required, was another musical keepsake, as was a passionate performance of “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” following the show’s intermission. In 2009 Cockburn performed the anti-war anthem in Afghanistan while visiting his brother, Capt. John Cockburn, and playing a concert for Canadian troops. It stands the test of time.

As could only be expected from a show of this caliber, a standing ovation ensued at evening’s end. Cockburn returned to the stage to perform both his reflective “Pacing the Cage” and his rollicking “Tie Me at the Crossroads.”

His upcoming tour stops include Napa, CA, San Juan Capistrano, Los Angeles and San Francisco. If he comes to your town, don’t miss him.

Cynthia Orlando
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