This Wednesday will be the third time in my (nearly) five years living in the Bay Area that a certain Canadian band I've been following for most of my adult life will be coming to town. I first saw Blue Rodeo in 1991 (I think), when they played the Shatner Ballroom (yup) in McGill University's Shatner Building (uh-huh) in Montreal. Since then, a festival up north, a couple more shows at Theatre St. Denis, but never in the U.S. until I came to California. That said, theirs have long been my go-to albums for extended head-phoned guitar playing, even though since the mid-90s there's been a bothersome trend of some undisciplined music and wandering lyrics. Their most recent CD, The Things We Left Behind, is a double album in the truest sense, constrained sprawling as is their wont of late.
Now unlike the Tragically Hip, who are reasonably popular just south of the Canadian border, Blue Rodeo has never quite caught fire in the States. Which is just as well, since that may have made it easier to avoid having to justify featuring them on my blues show when the came to town in 2008 on the Small Miracles tour. They were playing at Cafe du Nord, which is not only a tremendously smaller venue than they normally play in Canada, but a place I've played at, for crying out loud. At the time, though it was just a matter of balancing the fact that a little over two years into being a radio professional I was now interviewing people whose career I'd actually been tracking for a (relatively) long time, and what I needed to get from them for the radio show. There we were, Jim and Greg with guitars in hand, and Devon asking if they knew any blues tunes. Seems these singer-songwriter types like to play their own stuff.
The interview certainly went (mostly) fine, though it seemed Jim gradually yielded to Greg in talkativeness. Along with some tunes from the then-new album, I put in a couple of requests from their back catalogue, and they came up with a bluesy Neil Young cover to end the session. You can hear the results on this week's show, where we'll be re-broadcasting most of the interview so that I can make their show at The Independent -- why do they only seem to play San Francisco on Wednesdays?
In the meantime, here's a "web exclusive" for ya, Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor live and unplugged in the Fog City Blues studio: