Gi­ants of Canuck mu­sic

Young, Cockburn headed for Song­writ­ers Hall of Fame

Toronto Sun - - NEWS - JANE STEVENSON jsteven­son@post­ @JaneCSteven­son­

Max Ker­man may not re­mem­ber the first Neil Young song he heard — his dad was a fan first — but the front­man of the decade­old, Juno-win­ning Hamil­ton rock­ers Arkells cer­tainly re­mem­bers the first time he per­formed one at the ten­der age of 15.

“Across the street from where I grew up in Toronto ac­tu­ally, I had these two friends, and we had kind of our first high school band­slash-base­ment jam par­ties and one of the first songs that we jammed was Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World,” said Ker­man. “I think a lot of peo­ple who learn how to rock start with that song. It’s an un­de­ni­able rock song.”

Flash for­ward to Sept. 23 at Toronto’s hal­lowed Massey

Hall, Ker­man and the rest of Arkells are get­ting the chance to per­form two of Young’s songs again in front of the le­gendary Toronto folk-rock singer­song­writer him­self at the Canadian Song­writ­ers Hall Of Fame bilin­gual in­duc­tion cer­e­mony that will hon­our Young, fel­low Toronto folkie Bruce Cockburn, Mon­treal rock­ers Beau Dom­mage and Que­bec song­writer-com­poser Stephane Venne.

Ker­man said they couldn’t per­form with­out renowned Toronto pedal steel gui­tarist and Bald­win Street Sound owner/pro­ducer Aaron Gold­stein, who they met and played with at col­lege in the roots-rock band The Surly Young Bucks.

“Gold­stein is like a Neil Young fa­natic,” said Ker­man. “He’s re­spon­si­ble for get­ting us all deeply into Neil Young and with The Surly Young Bucks we cov­ered Tonight’s The Night, and that song is maybe one of my favourite Neil Young songs. And we also cov­ered Pow­derfin­ger. And when I found out about this gig, I called up Goldie and I told him about it and I said, ‘Neil, I think, is go­ing to be there. We’re go­ing to play a cou­ple of songs, and you need to play pedal steel with us.’ ”

Also per­form­ing a sin­gle song in hon­our of Cockburn will be long­time fan and Toronto singer-song­writer Hawk­sley Work­man, who just moved to Mon­treal six weeks ago.

“Just to qual­ify, I’m fa­nat­i­cal,” said Work­man. “Bruce Cockburn is my David Bowie. He’s the guy who saved my life. I don’t know any other artist’s mu­sic more than I know his, so he was kind of my guid­ing light through high school. But I could def­i­nitely trace it all the way back to a record that was in my dad’s col­lec­tion, which was Hu­mans from 1980. Bruce was my bench­mark for my own song­writ­ing. And I think for me as drum­mer first, Bruce was the guy who al­ways had Toronto’s hottest rhythm sec­tion. He was a guy who re­ally kept his ear to the ground in the Toronto mu­sic scene, in the Canadian mu­sic scene and al­ways pulled the great­est play­ers.”

The rest of the CSHF in­duc­tion per­form­ing lineup in­cludes k.d. lang, Randy Bach­man,

Buffy Sainte-Marie, White­horse, Ruth B, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Lisa LeBlanc, Damien Ro­bitaille, Daniel Lavoie, Don Ross,

Elage Diouf, France D’amour, Florence K, Julie Payette, Wil­liam Prince, Eh440, Jes­sica Mitchell and Yann Per­reau.

Ker­man said, ul­ti­mately, the mark of “a great artist” is one who keeps evolv­ing.

“There are a lot of dif­fer­ent stages of Neil Young to get into,” he said. “You go through the years — there are a lot of dif­fer­ent sides to him. I think he’s re­ally hon­est as a song­writer. He’s very vul­ner­a­ble. He speaks the truth. He’s re­ally in­ter­ested in his own feel­ings. And I think that’s what we’re all look­ing for in a song­writer is some­body who you be­lieve in when they’re singing some­thing. And also, just his melodies are top tier. And as a guy who is in­ter­ested in chord pro­gres­sions and ar­range­ments, he brings that to the ta­ble too. So he sort of checks off all the boxes.”

Added Work­man of Cockburn’s song­writ­ing gifts: “His sense for writ­ing great cho­rus lyrics. Like I al­ways feel with Bruce he has these great con­cepts like Ru­mours of Glory or Wait­ing For A Mir­a­cle or Lovers In A Dan­ger­ous Time and his ti­tles alone tend to en­cap­sule some­thing so mys­ti­cal and you’re al­ways wait­ing for the story. I al­ways feel like I’m ap­proach­ing a Bruce Cockburn song like it’s a glow­ing orb on the hori­zon. It’s so con­tained.”

The CSHF, founded in 2003, held seven in­duc­tion cer­e­monies be­fore be­ing taken over by SOCAN in 2011, which put a pause on the live events un­til this year.

The Massey Hall show will be livestreamed at CBCMu­sic. ca and on CBC Mu­sic’s Face­book and YouTube pages start­ing at 7:30 p.m. ET next Satur­day and recorded for later broad­cast on CBC Mu­sic and ICI Musique.

Tick­ets are avail­able at cshfin­d­uc­ and massey­

Neil Young, left, and Bruce Cockburn are hall of famers.

KER­MAN Keep on Rockin’

WORK­MAN “Fa­nat­i­cal”

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