By Michael Barclay - Friday, November 9, 2012 - 0 Comments
The veteran band celebrates 25 years with box set and staging their own tribute night
Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo laughs and says, “When I think of the mistakes that we have made over the years and that we’ve survived, it’s ridiculous.”
It’s also miraculous. To be any kind of band for longer than five years is a major victory. To be a band for 25 years is a formidable feat, especially in this country. But to be a successful Canadian band for over 25 years putting out new albums that routinely go gold and platinum is—well, now we’re really only talking about two bands: The Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo.
Blue Rodeo played their first gig in Toronto in February 1985, after Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor returned from New York City. They released their first album, Outskirts, in 1987. Unlike The Tragically Hip, who are exactly the same age and have maintained the same lineup since day one, Blue Rodeo has a large extended family of ex-members and star collaborators who have bolstered the core trio of Cuddy, Keelor and bassist Bazil Donovan. Some of those showed up at an intimate show at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio for some live karaoke, performing the band’s greatest hits, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Outskirts and a new box set compiling the group’s first five albums.
By John Intini - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
What an alt-country troubadour discovered when collaborating with the famous novelist
Michael Ondaatje didn’t waste any time, recalls singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge, who turned to the famous novelist last summer for some guidance on a few songs before recording his new album. “I brought some lyric sheets to his place and played him the songs,” says Rutledge. “He acted almost like an arranger, an editor. He saw the words on the page and would say ‘What about moving this there?’ or ‘What about trading these lines?’ ” Ninety minutes and a couple of cups of homemade cocoa later, Ondaatje had made suggestions on five songs, and co-written another, On The Russian River, 1849, from scratch.
Rutledge describes that tune as a lullaby, set during the San Francisco gold rush, “about a poor boy diving for gold and burying timber to impress a stately lady.” Rutledge, who admits that he usually hates co-writing, says working with Ondaatje (who declined to be interviewed for this story) was the best experience he’s had yet. And though Rutledge is confident their song will find a spot on one of his next albums, On The Russian River, 1849, didn’t make the final cut of The Early Widows, which is out on May 4. The English Patient author does, however, get 100 per cent of the credit for the second line—I am a pause in a storm on a dark stair whenever your name is spoken—of Be A Man, the first single. It’s classic Ondaatje, and fits in perfectly on Rutledge’s fourth album. That’s because while Rutledge lacks Ondaatje’s household-name status, the 31-year-old alt-country musician from Toronto is considered one of Canada’s most thoughtful young songwriters.