Getting a bunch of players together for a small crowd a few years ago was the shape of things to come for Bruce Guthro.
The Sydney Mines-born singer-songwriter had become a fan of intimate artistsí sessions heíd seen in Nashville and he wanted to bring the experience North.
"It evolved from me being at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville to pitching the idea initially to the East Coast Music Awards to have as an event, which of course grew to be one of the biggest showcases of the ECMAs. Now theyíre even taping that for national television" Guthro recalled in a phone interview.
With the popularity of the songwritersí circle at the ECMAs, Guthro pitched the idea of a similarly-staged series to CBC.
"Itís such natural entertainment. Thatís the way Iíd put it. Itís unscripted and it kind of just rolls. It made a perfect concept.Ē
third batch of Songwritersí Circle with Bruce Guthro shows premieres
this weekend. Airing Sundays at 6pm., the first show features Randy
Bachman and Chantal Kreviazuk.
simple format has Guthro and his guests taking turns on songs that
theyíve written and telling bits of the stories behind the lyrics
and music. This batch of performances dates back to Halifax tapings
in the fall of 2003, which seems a bit like ancient history to the
What stays fresh, though, is the contained energy of the performances, which often boils down to the songwriters seemingly performing for each other.
think the fact youíre facing each other as artists and that youíre
not facing the audience ó that definitely brings something out because
eventually, I think, your guard drops.
The in-the-round seating arrangement is integral to the performances, Guthro said.
"I think the fact that itís in a circle makes a huge difference. The fact that youíre facing each other ó the guard is down and itís not a performance for an audience, as such, as it is a performance for your peers," he said.
"It usually takes a round for every one to settle in and relax and realize what itís about and that itís not really about puffing on your game face, as so many artists do when they hit the stage. 'Give me the real you.' Thatís probably the best way to put it. 'Whoís Tom Cochrane when heís in his living room?'"
Guthro purposely limited the pre-show contact with his guests to ensure spontaneity when the cameras were rolling. Many times they would talk about the show for the first time when they would bump into each other in the makeup department.
"I read their bios and usually before the show Iíll just go and ask if thereís anything that they want to talk about or anything that they donít want to talk about. I try to avoid going on any touchy subjects that theyíre not cool with. Beyond that, itís totally open and thereís very little prep work done," Guthro said.
"Really, it just comes down to chemistry. Sometimes itís there. Sometimes itís not. Sometimes you need to work a little harder as host to make it work but most times, once you get in that circle, everybodyís in the same boat."
While different combinations of guests may have resulted in different types of shows, Guthro said the main mission in booking the performers was to avoid the predictable.
Scotlandís seven-piece power band Brolum had just torn up the packed crowd in the Main Stage Tent on Block House Hill with a sensationally lively performance of Scottish songs and dances.
Yet it took Guthro only a few seconds to establish order. The crowd, it turned out, was waiting for him, eager to be delighted by Guthroís polished, commanding presence and his born tale- tellerís way with both song and story. And thatís not to mention his powerful voice and his inimitably personal singing style, and his strong, clear voice.
Guthro has a knack for establishing a crowdís utmost confidence. Almost more personal friend than one of the nationís greatest singer / songwriters, he rides on a tidal wave of empathic energy. He can do anything he wants in absolute (but never taken for granted) assurance that we will love it. Heís an honoured guest in our hearts, and he knows it without noticing it.
Joe Butcher, a veteran Guthro hand, played bass and backed up the choruses with strong harmonies, and a new old-friend, Troy Power, had been persuaded by the irresistible Guthro to back him upon rhythm and solo guitar.
Power was playing on stage for the first time in eight years, though heís a Guthro band alumnus. You could have fooled us. Powerís guitar breaks repeatedly brought cheers and applause from the crowd. Typically, Guthro teased him all through the set, a Cape Breton way of putting him at his ease, both recognized and wholeheartedly endorsed by the crowd.
Guthroís humour embraces all acts of men and women. It is laden with irony, the trademark of the kind of humour that finds us laughing at the butt of the joke, all the time realizing we are also laughing at ourselves.
The compassionate sympathy of his song-stories require this sort of balance. Irony saves them (and us) from sentimentality. By the time Guthro has aligned and fine-tuned our sensibilities, we are ready to weep again at the unmitigated loneliness expressed in one of his biggest hits, I Am Falling, in which a train station becomes the edge of the world for a prodigal son.
April 20, 2004
It's spring at last!! I've spent most of the past few months writing and fine-tuning songs for the next record so hopefully the long wait will be worth it.
have some great news....
April 22nd - Allan Doyle and Julian Austin
All shows are at 7 pm ADT (7:30 pm NDT)
So tune in and enjoy the shows and don't forget to tell your friends!
November 16, 2003
Hello all, Iím back. Still working toward the new record. Most times when I pick up the guitar I donít set out to write for my CD, or anyone elseís CD in mind. I just write. Sometimes what ends up happening is after months of writing I get parts of 3 different records. Thatís kind of where Iím at I guess. Still trying to figure out which record I want to record.
In the mean time Iíve been busy playing dates through Ontario, and some corporate stuff here at home. I also played the Strawberry Music Festival in California for the first time this year. Alison Krauss closed the night I was on stage but I ended up staying next to "Camp Cocktail" needless to say I donít remember much of Alisonís set. It was a lot of fun though.
Runrig celebrate their 30th anniversary this year so Iíve been bouncing back and forth a lot more than usual. We played Stirling Castle in front of 8,000 people for the celebration gig. What a blast. To top that off we were just given a lifetime achievement award in Scotland. Very cool indeed.
Hurricane Juan came crashing into Nova Scotia while I was in Demark. We lucked out, no damage to the homestead. A tree fell across the driveway but missed the truck by five feet. Halifax got hammered pretty hard though. It just doesnít seem fair, I mean if your going to give us hurricanes at least give us Floridaís weather. I guess I should be careful what I ask for.
ya, I did 4 more CBC Songwriter Circle Shows with some smokiní guests.
April 9, 2003
Right then, I guess it's long overdue I got back to this site. Sorry for the delay and thanks for the reminders.
So what's up? Writing and demoing has basically taken over my life for the last wee while. Getting ready for the next record. I can't say a whole lot about it right now, but I do have a good feeling about it and I'm looking forward to getting back in the studio and digging in.
I played the Halifax Comedy Fest the other night. Did a couple of songs in a talk show kind of set up hosted by the incredible Bette MacDonald. I haven't laughed that hard in years!
On the home front... we have a new member of the family. Her name is Jess and she's 12 weeks old. She's a beautiful Golden Retriever who is keeping the family very busy. Now I have someone to hang out with in the dog house ;-)
I made my first trip to Disney World this year. Wow, what a place! We had a wonderful cabin in Fort Wilderness. A big thank you has to go out to David Reimer and Leah Copeland for hooking us up. It really is all they say it is. The only word I can think to describe the trip is 'MAGIC'. I would have to say the highlight for me was the Epcot fireworks display. If I said 'wow' once, I said it a thousand times. I guess I am just a big kid after all.
Things are starting to pick up again on the live scene, with summer sloowwwly creeping in. Keep an eye on the tour page and we'll see you at some gigs.
December 20, 2002
Bruce Guthro has been nominated for SOCAN Songwriter of the Year for The Songsmith. The 2003 East Coast Music Awards will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia from February 13-16th. Remember Bruce when you fill out your ballots!
December 10, 2002
December already.... wow. Seems like I was just doing summer festivals. I'm off to the UK for a bit but just wanted to drop a note to wish everyone a great holiday season! Have fun, be careful and don't do anything I wouldn't do...... which pretty much leaves it wide open!!
I'll leave you with a few words from a Christmas song I wrote a while back... mmmm..... just might do a Christmas CD someday?
hope and love
July 31, 2002
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. August is here already and a busy one it is. Bouncing back and forth over the pond and province-hopping here in Canada for festivals doesn't leave much time for the barbecue. Such is life !!! I've been digging in and writing a lot lately... starting to gear up for the next record. I'm really looking forward to making this one. I learned a lot of stuff recording "Guthro". What I want to do with this new one is focus on writing great songs. It's always been the most important thing to me and ultimately what makes for great records. Stay tuned !!
We nearly got blown off the stage at the Apple Blossom Festival here in Nova Scotia earlier this summer. In the middle of "Stan's Tune" (a tribute song I wrote to honour the memory of the late, great Stan Rogers), the heavens opened up and down came the rain. I remember looking back at one point watching Dave Burton hit his drum and the water rising up and flying horizontally across the stage. It was a little scary with the lightning flashing around us as we stood in puddles of water... but we all survived the night. They shut the show down, so I came back out and did a few acoustic numbers for those who fought off the elements to hang around. We hope to come back and finish the show some time soon.
Big Pond was another treat to play this summer. I love getting home to Cape Breton whenever I can. We had a beautiful night with a clear sky and the Capers were up for it as always !!
We finally have "CONFIRMED AIR DATES" for the Songwriter's Circle Show. Not going to say when just yet, but they are going to air on CBC with me hosting some of the finest songsmiths in Canada. Keep checking the web site... we'll be posting the dates soon.
Well, that's all I can think of right now. Do drop me a line, I love reading your comments. Keep an eye on the tour schedule and come out to see me if I'm coming your way.
April 29, 2002
The summer time is comin'. Thank God!! Winters are far too long here in Canada. Soooo... what's been going on? Well... I'll start by saying I had a GREAT time at the Juno's in St. John's. That city has to be one of the most dangerous in the world....... in the BEST kind of way, mind you !! I hosted the Songwriter's Circle that had Jimmy Rankin, Maureen Ennis, Allan Doyle, Ron Hynes and Daniel Lanois. What a stacked circle indeed! It went down a storm. After the work was done, I just kind of kicked back and enjoyed the various parties.
The Ontario dates went well. I stripped it down to a two piece with Joe Butcher playing some bass and guitar... sort of an up close and personal kind of thing. The people who came out really seemed to enjoy it and judging by the email, it was a great success. I do think I'll do it again some time. Sorry about the Kingston and Ottawa dates, but I'll be back... promise.
I spent a beautiful week in the Mexican sun at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort in the Mayan Riviera region. The beach was deluxe with a pier you could snorkel from. I was chasing sea turtles, sipping tropical drinks, eating great food and writing songs. The service was second to none, maybe too good :-) Time to get back on the tread mill !!
Hopefully I'll see you around one of the festivals this summer... keep checking the web site for dates.
February 13, 2002
Hi all, I'm just starting to feel normal again after the ECMA's. Some serious healing over the last week. It was a great weekend all around and I just thought I'd take a moment to thank everyone for their support through the voting process. Be it over the phone or the ticking of ballads... if you cast a vote my way, know that it was appreciated. I'm still reading all my mail so please drop me a line.
We had a blast touring across the country with LEAHY... quite the pranksters, that lot. The last night of the tour we went out to find our van up on blocks! We had a lot of good laughs and I thank them for some great times, but I warn them... beware when you least expect it!!
The new material from the album was received strongly and speaking of which, we have a new single coming to radio soon. "Hey Mister" got the nod so cross your fingers that it gets a good reception. Doing a lot of writing lately in my down time, always thinking of the next record. Well, that's it for now, see ya along the road.
Bruce Guthro, multi-award winning Cape Breton singer/songwriter has emerged as the top nominee in the 2002 slate for the East Coast Music Awards, scheduled for national broadcast February 3rd, from Saint John, New Brunswick.
Bruce is nominated for seven awards including Album of the Year (GUTHRO), Male Artist of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, SOCAN Songwriter of the Year (Livin'A Lie - Bruce Guthro/Jan Kristen Anderson), Single of the Year (Livin' A Lie), Video of the Year (Disappear) and Pop Artist/Group of the Year.
"Yes, awards are important," says Guthro, "but it's great just to be in the race, recognized by the industry."
He broke into the scene five years ago, after being spotted on the same show by EMI President Deane Cameron, performing a self-penned song with Natalie MacMaster. "His voice knocked me out" says Cameron, "and he had that sense of stage presence, so rare in the business." CBC apparently agreed, shooting a one hour national special "Solo" to accompany his first album release. They have subsequently filmed six more one hour specials, "Bruce Guthro Songwriters Series" set for airing later this winter.
The album "Of Your Son", now certified Gold, has spawned several singles and brought him critical raves. Guthro was also spotted by European concert touring band Runrig who were looking to replace their lead singer. They pursuaded him to join the group and share his time with his pursuits on his solo career. With the release of his new album "GUTHRO", Bruce has been touring Canada coast to coast, both as a headliner and with multi-platinum selling group LEAHY. More touring plans are in the works for spring and several festivals are booking summer appearances.
CALL NOW TO VOTE BRUCE "ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR" FOR THE EAST COAST MUSIC AWARDS 2002 !!!! (Deadline Jan. 25th) 1-900-870-3262
Hi everyone, and welcome to my new site. Well guess what ???? itís here!!...Finally. The new CD hits the record store shelves August 14th. Man, it seems like a long time. The journey took me to 4 different producers, dozens of writers and players, all across the States, back to Nova Scotia and finally to Toronto to finish the last track a couple of weeks ago. The last one being "Donít Go" the sequel to "Falling". Last time I looked the new single "Disappear" was #28 with a bullet on the AC charts. So we have a good start on things.
Itís hard for me to say what I think of this new record. Donít get me wrong..... I love what we did with the songs. Itís just taken so long in the making I think what I need is your thoughts on it to help find some closure...... well I guess youíll let me know soon enough.
We went more electric with this one and the co-writing has brought a few different songs to the table but for the most case itís all me which is why we decided to simple call it "GUTHRO".
Thanks for hanginí in there, Iíll be touring across the country very soon, hope you make it out to a show.