He’s spent decades as a rock ‘n roll front man/vocalist, but Burton Cummings’ current tour sees him play his piano alone on stage and have conversations with the audience about his many hits. (Photo contributed)

Burton Cummings’ Up Close and Alone tour offers more intimate rock ‘n roll setting

Canadian rocker playing two sold-out shows at Mary Winspear Centre in October

He’s spent more than 50 years thrilling arena and festival crowds with rock ‘n roll shows. Now Burton Cummings is toning things down a fair bit for his fall tour.

The Up Close and Alone tour is just him and his piano in the cozy confines of the Mary Winspear Centre, Oct. 8 and 9. But don’t expect this veteran performer’s enthusiasm to wane just because the overall volume level will be lower.

He’s excited to share his musical hits with people in a way that gives them a glimpse into the creative process.

“What people like about it is the intimacy and the fact I do the songs they’ve heard,” he said from Winnipeg. “I get to talk about the songs and how they evolved and people like that very much.”

READ ALSO: Green Day song may be new NHL anthem

If you’re accustomed to cranking your media player up for old Guess Who tunes or Cummings solo hits, think hanging out with a buddy, talking music: “It’s more like when [the songs] were written … It’s sort of like inviting the crowd into my living room for a while.”

Speaking of living rooms, he vaguely answered a question about being a part-time resident of nearby North Saanich – “I do spend some time on the Island, I like the Island very very much.” But he marvels at changes he’s seen in Greater Victoria over the years. “When we used to come there in 1966 and ‘67, it was just a sleepy little town. It’s not the same as it was, but I’ve always enjoyed coming there.”

While he admits to having “a hundred songs that nobody’s ever heard,” Cummings isn’t anxious to put out another album after recording 30 or so. He uses Spotify on occasion, but laments the loss of record stores, from which millions of copies of his previous material were sold. “Even people as big as Paul McCartney and Elton John are not showing big numbers,” he said.

He keeps himself busy in other ways. He has a second book of poetry coming out, following up the highly acclaimed The Writings of B.L. Cummings (2017).

“And I have a monstrous music collection. I have 500,000 MP3s in my computer; it’s literally years and years of music I’ve accumulated over the past 20 years. I can get lost in my music library,” he said. He also reads a lot and still has his prized comic book collection, some of which date back to the 1940s.

At 71, he still spends a significant number of days on the road, with the fall tour two solid months. While the travelling is a slog – he prefers buses to flying, as he can sleep in a bunk – he continues to relish the two hours he spends on stage.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: First film about Thai cave rescue to premiere

“I’ll be doing shows as long as I can get my notes and people still want to see me,” he said. “I want to extend my career another 10 years.” He points to older artists still touring, such as McCartney and the Rolling Stones.

Cummings and his band packed summer shows at the PNE and CNE, the latter of which saw former Guess Who bandmate Randy Bachman join him for three numbers. “And I believe the crowds went home happy … I just want that to continue,” Cummings said.

Both Sidney shows are sold out, a testament to the popularity of his music and showmanship. You can follow what’s new with him at burtoncummings.com or on Facebook.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dog dies, Victoria man arrested after incident in Oaklands

Police called to ‘incident between a man and a dog’ Monday afternoon

Booms go up in Gorge Creek after hydrocarbon spill

The source of the spill is being investigated

Supreme Court determines bext phase of Victoria’s plastic bag ban on Thursday

The Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether or not it will hear the appeal

Put away the shovels, week of rain ahead for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada calling for wet weather until Sunday

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: Study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

VIDEO: Greater Victoria mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

Skier dies at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

Vancouver Island home to one of Canada’s largest private skateboard collections

Eric Pinto owns hundreds of boards, spanning multiple decades

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Surrey’s ‘Pink Palace’ being used for Stephen King horror shoot

New web series based on King’s The Stand novel

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

Most Read