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.

Just Posted

With $4M investment, Camosun College offers first sonography program on Vancouver Island

Starting in May 2020 students from Vancouver Island can pursue a career in sonography

Greater Victoria developer rushes to demolish historic wall before Oak Bay applies heritage permit

Abstract Development punches holes in one of Oak Bay’s oldest stone walls

School district launches survey for George Jay Elementary name change

The Greater Victoria School District wants to take public cues before decisions are made

$775-million wastewater project on track to be completed on time, within new budget

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins praises public education aspect of project

Regional naturalists cook up four spook-tacular forest events

CRD’s kid-friendly events feature Halloween activites, costume contest, guided walks

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Campbell River homicide suspects arrested in Vancouver

Two men remain in custody, but have not been charged

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Elizabeth May confirms plan to eliminate fish farming in open ocean pens

Green Party leader stops in Qualicum Beach as part of Island campaign

STRIKE: WFP and USW are back at the table for mediation

“No further updates until either an agreement is reached or one party or the other breaks off talks”

Green Party leader Elizabeth May rolls through Vancouver Island to boost a party stronghold

Mocks media, evokes Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and promises change

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

Most Read