Eric Bogle in Concert, with John Munro
In his first visit to this region -- and his "Farewell Tour" of the States -- well-traveled and world-celebrated songwriter Eric Bogle is making his way from Australia to Ithaca. With self-deprecation, he describes himself as, "roundish, shortish, baldish, sixtyish, and Scottish," and tolerates being called a living legend only because it beats being a dead one.
This engaging performer won't mention, but we will, that his songs have earned him a U.N. Peace Medal, The Order of Australia, a Gold Disc, and heap of other music awards. His 1971 song And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, recorded more than 100 times by peformers ranging from Joan Baez to the Pogues, is recognized as one of the most powerful anti-war songs of all time.
The power comes from gentleness, compassion, a keen eye and wit, and a true heart. Eric Bogle's songs of real life and death, delivered with warm, earthy Scottish burr and understated guitar, offer a needed dose of honesty and humanity. Not to mention hilarity. Bogle distills deep issues from the experiences and emotions of the individuals who populate his songs.
He is driven to write, and continues an energetic output. He describes entering a recording studio in 2002 with 18 new songs he'd created in a few months, including one about his visit to Graceland, a hymn-like Cradle to the Grave, and "songs about refugees, junkies, the global economy and environment, September 11, politicians, and personal journeys."
For Bogle, it has been a rich journey from his birthplace in Peebles, Scotland to his adopted home (since 1969) in Australia, where he tried his hand at many jobs, but settled on, "a life of austerity, obscurity, and poverty to become a professional musician." Thirty-plus years later, with 20-plus recordings and countless performances, any "obscurity" is only by his choice: to shun the glare of fame and remain low-key, personable, and a craftsman of songs with integrity. Eric Bogle, "...has a poet's eye and the common touch; ... he elevates social consciousness with a persuasive blend of humor and pathos," says Mike Daly of Melbourne.
Accompanying Eric Bogle on this tour, as he has for 25 years, is another Antipodean Scot, John Munro, master of guitar and mandolin, and a founder of "Colcannon" and "The Skillet Lickers," a renowned Australian bluegrass band.
I haven't heard Eric Bogle live since 1980, when he held an audience in Dunedin, New Zealand rapt. A night to remember. November 12 is a "DON'T MISS" concert.
Tickets are available at Ludgate Farm Market, Ithaca Guitar Works, Greenstar Co-op, Small World Music, Colophon Books, and, if any are left, at the door. You may also order tickets online and by mail: SASE to CFSC, PO Box 481, Ithaca, NY 14851.
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