Tom Cochrane and Red Rider at the Shell Theatre March 25

Tom Cochrane with Red Rider Monday, March 25 tickets go on sale Friday, Jan. 11. Trevor Stoyko/Submitted Image

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It has been used countless times, and let’s use it again… “Life is a Highway,” and that highway leads to Fort Saskatchewan as  Canadian rock icon Tom Cochrane, along with the legendary band, Red Rider, will be at the Shell Theatre, Monday, March 25.

 Over the course of a long and illustrious career now spanning more than 40 years, the pride of Lynn Lake, Manitoba has covered more terrain than the Franklin expedition. From early beginnings as a folk-based singer/songwriter playing the coffeehouses of Toronto’s famed Yorkville scene in the early ’70s, Tom became the driving force in adventurous rockers Red Rider prior to achieving massive international success (over six million copies sold worldwide and diamond sales status at home) with breakthrough 1991 album Mad Mad World and its anthemic hit “Life Is A Highway.”

Since then, he has continued to create potent new material while cementing his place in the hearts of Canadians through crowd-pleasing performances from coast to coast and his unwavering work on behalf of humanitarian causes and organizations. An Order of Canada recipient and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, Cochrane has won eight Juno awards and numerous other industry honors, including the 2013 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award and a Grammy nomination.

In recent years, Cochrane stepped off the music industry treadmill, but his creative itch never disappeared. “It gnaws at you when you haven’t created something for a while,” he explains. “I tried my hand at painting again, but I 

didn’t find it as satisfying as I used to. There were a number of reasons I wanted to make another record. First and foremost, if you’ve got wings you fly! You start to feel that voice, that muse, the urge to get something off your chest. That never goes away, it may just not be as intense at certain times.”

“There is a conditioned cycle that has been imprinted on me since I was about 26. You get out there, you read, you talk, you travel, you experience, you do this stuff that creates a life then you write about it and attempt to record it. Sometimes that is really painful, sometimes it is really joyful. 

There is drudgery to it. It’s like flying an aircraft in some senses, with moments of complete boredom and drudgery and moments of complete terror, then you bring the whole thing in for a safe landing!”

The aviation analogy is fitting for this son of a bush pilot (Tom is also a pilot, and was a proud honorary colonel for six years with the 409 squadron in Cold Lake Alberta). 

Inspirations

Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot as well as artists who inspired another generation. Look at Dylan and Willie Nelson, staying on the tour bus, moving to the next city to play for people. It’s like the boy inside the man, they’re going back to their youth. To me, some of the songs on this record explore that.”

Tom pays homage to “the ones that gave so much for freedom,” specifically two inspirational figures, civil rights heroine Rosa Parks and Terry Fox. The profile in courage exemplified by Fox had a direct impact on Tom via one memorable encounter. “Seeing him on the last day he ran was such a powerful experience,” he explains. “Red Rider was driving non-stop from Winnipeg to Toronto. We hadn’t seen a hotel room in three nights and I was contemplating quitting. In the middle of nowhere, near Thunder Bay, the traffic stops. I see this kid running by on one leg, his face looking really pasty, and you can’t tell if its tears or rain running down his face. I’m thinking ‘how tough do I have it? Here is this kid giving his all to save lives and bring attention to cancer.”

This ability to tell personal stories that have a universal resonance is a trademark of the troubadour, and this is a talent Tom Cochrane has always had. His revamped rendition of his monster hit, “Big League” for the tragic event of the Humboldt bus crash. It became an “anthem” to try and bring peace and solace to such a horrific event. 

Tom Cochrane and Red Rider will perform Monday, March 25. Tickets go onside Friday, Jan 11.

tstoyko@postmedicom

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