100 years of Calgary Cowboys with internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter and multi-award winner, Ian Tyson, and JUNO award winner, Corb Lund.
There’s no better way to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Calgary Stampede than with an evening of stories, songs and memories with Tyson and Lund. Get ready to experience the west the way it was meant to be heard with music’s finest cowboys.
The legendary Ian Tyson and Alberta’s own troubadour, Corb Lund at the Martha Cohen Theatre – July 9, 10, 11, 14 & 15! The shows are sold out!
Congratulations to Sarah R. the winner of the #LastMinTix for tonight!
Tweet your experience at the 100 Years of Calgary Cowboys with Ian Tyson and Corb Lund using the hashtag #100YrsCalgaryCowboys!
Stories and songs of the west with Ian Tyson and Corb Lund
By Mike Bell, Calgary Herald
“An evening of stories songs and memories with Ian Tyson and Corb Lund.”
Doesn’t that sound lovely?
Isn’t that something you’d want to bring gramma, gramps and the kids to: a nice evening with nice men doing nice things? It really is marvellous, family-friendly marketing. Truly a delight.
“My vote was for: ballads, broncs and bulls–t,” Lund says with a laugh. “I got vetoed somewhere along the way.”
Probably for the best. And probably one of the reasons the concert featuring the pair of Alberta singer-songwriters telling stories and swapping songs from their western catalogues has already sold out a five-night run that kicks off Monday at the Martha Cohen Theatre.
Of course the timing is pretty impeccable, too, coinciding with the Stampede’s centennial, when everyone’s looking for unique and interesting ways to celebrate.
That is, celebrate without the presence of drunken junior oil execs horning on their co-workers, surgically evolved and tight tank-topped Barbies shilling over-priced cans of American swill out of a beertub, and carnies. Especially carnies.
But the biggest reason is most likely because of the seemingly odd but remarkably dynamic onstage pairing, itself: the iconic 78-year-old Tyson, whose influential half-century musical history is long and storied and even earned him Parade Marshall honours for this landmark year; and Lund, whose early days in ’90s punk metal act The Smalls have given way to his return to his country roots, which has yielded a handful of acclaimed albums including his latest, Cabin Fever, set for an Aug. 14 release.
On paper they may seem an odd couple, but stylistically Lund thinks they share very similar ground — more specifically this one, Alberta soil, where many of his and Tyson’s songs are set.
“Our songwriting’s quite different, but he’s influenced me a great deal in terms of making me realize it’s a good idea to sing about your own culture and your own area. It’s easier to sing about L.A. or Nashville because people know the city, they have conceptions about it already so it’s got cultural stuff to it. It’s harder to sing about Calgary or Saskatoon or whatever because people don’t know it and you have to build your own mystique around it. . . .
“But I feel pretty comfortable singing about this part of the country.”
The pair have been friends for a decade now, meeting when Lund was performing in the tribute concert to Tyson called The Gift. Since then, they’ve hung out together on occasion at the elder cowboy’s Longview-area ranch, and also in musical settings, including a tour of the southern states where Tyson introduced his fans to his younger compatriot.
The current concert pairing grew out of a Calgary stop for the book tour Tyson was doing to promote his 2010 autobiography The Long Trail: My Life in the West, with Lund interviewing the author onstage, in front of an audience, and in a fittingly casual, down-home manner.
“I kept thinking the whole time, ‘If we had guitars, it would be perfect. We could just swap songs and bulls–t between songs.’ That’s what gave us the idea to do it,” Lund says. “And then we started thinking about the (Stampede’s) centennial and it just seemed like a good time to do it.”
The shape of what the new performance would take has formed gradually over the past few months of rehearsals, with the theme being the history of cowboy culture — real cowboy culture (i.e. sans whistles on straw hats) — with Tyson being incredibly well versed in that.
“He’s a walking historian of the west,” Lund says. “He’s the western music patriarch of this area. Even down in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, he’s still the king of cowboy music down there.”
For his part, Lund should have a great deal to add, with both sides of his family having spent 100 years in this area (he grew up on a farm in Taber). He’ll also offer in some personal recollections and stories of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, noting that his grandfather competed and won at the rodeo in the ’30s, his mom won the barrel racing in the ’50s, and he and his father have also ridden in the Stampede.
The banter between the two will keep things loose and from becoming too academic, as will, of course the songs, which will be evenly split between Tyson material, Lund’s work and classic cowboy songs, with only one set list certainty agreed upon from the very the start of the process.
“We both made it clear that we won’t be playing Four Strong Winds or The Truck Got Stuck,” he says and laughs of the two tracks each is probably most known for. “We’re staying away from those.”
As far as playing along with Tyson on any other of the gems from the veteran’s storied career and having to trade songs of his own during the show, Lund says it’s beyond being something that he’s intimidated by or nervous about.
“I forget about his stature now,” he says, noting the same goes for the more than 30-year age difference. “It doesn’t feel like hanging out with a 78-year-old. It feels like hanging out with any of my musician buddies. . . . He’s a really good friend.”
And one whom, he acknowledges, has been entirely supportive in what it is Lund is doing, having lent his ear and advice to the younger musician when asked for, giving him a step up when needed, and being vocally and quite publicly complimentary to his talents.
At times, it has been noted that Tyson, in his actions, intentionally or not, seems to be passing him the torch, some imagined handing down of the reigns, from one cowboy to the next, to lead a new generation of western songwriters and storytellers, something this current concert would appear to support.
“I don’t really think about it that way,” Lund says thoughtfully. “I’ve been asked about that a number of times and it’s kind of left to outside people to decide. Because when we’re hanging out it’s just buddies, you know.
“It kind of gets creepy when I think about it too much.”
“I think there’s a mutual artistic respect and that we both know we’re coming from a similar cultural standpoint,” he says, before conceding the point slightly.
“Probably. But that’s not really something that I would go around saying.”
100 Years of Calgary Cowboys: An evening of stories, songs and memories with Ian Tyson and Corb Lund runs Monday to Wednesday July 9-11, July 14 and 15 at the Martha Cohen Theatre. The shows are sold out.