The Junos. Canada’s Grammy’s. Canada’s Brit Awards.
This year, the Junos happened in Calgary – a city currently caught in an economic slow. A city that knows its past, enjoys the present moment inside the Junos and sees a bright future.
It felt that way this weekend with the Junos – a sense of past, present and future. It was a weekend that honoured Canadian musician icon Burton Cummings with an induction to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
The first album I ever owned – I won it in fact – was the Guess Who record “American Woman”. I played it and played it. Alot of people did. That album was a big deal for me growing up in St. Catharines, Ontario. I would drive to the Guess Who concerts at the Canadian National Exposition in Toronto every August through the five years of high school. Burton Cummings lead the way with the vocals in that band. Once, I left my two Guess Who tickets back in St. Catharines, remembered the seat numbers and I was still able to claim my seats when the opening song kicked in. Crazy!
And through my university years, the years after the Guess Who “Flavours” and “Power in the Music” albums, Burton Cummings changed musical direction. He became a single artist with a self-titled album which spawned three major hits: “Stand Tall”, “I’m Scared” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” (a Randy Bachman song).
Again, like many, I went to those Burton Cummings shows.
On Friday for the Opening Juno Gala, I wandered into a room at the National Music Centre in Calgary, and noticed a group of guys huddled around a large tribute photo of Burton Cummings. I recognized them because I’ve seen them in concert with Burton Cummings. It was his current band mates – the Carpet Frogs. We talked – they were gracious to me. They were awaiting Burton’s arrival for press photos. On arrival, he was gracious to the gathered crowd.
On the Saturday night after the Juno Gala Dinner and Awards, I spoke with him briefly and congratulated him on his induction. I really wanted him to know that he made a difference in my life as a musician. He thanked me – sincerely.
On Sunday night at the 45th Annual Juno Awards Ceremony, he thanked the sold out Saddledome crowd who stood and cheered their appreciation. He was moved and offered a heartfelt thank you.
The Future ….
For Burton Cummings, a 2016 poetry book and solo-career documentary called “RUFF”.
And regarding the music, he still tours extensively with his band. About making records he explains, “I want to make another album because that’s what I do. I have some terrific songs. Everybody that has heard them says it’s the best stuff I’ve written. That’s very exciting for me.”