Bruce Cockburn, Mark Eitzel, Birds of Chicago and more

Mountain Stage with Larry Groce

Bruce Cockburn, Mark Eitzel, Birds of Chicago and more

Sun · June 4, 2017

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

$30 - $35

This event is all ages

Sadly, The Pines will be unable to join us for this Sunday's live Mountain Stage due to circumstances beyond their control. We hope to reschedule soon and wish the band well.

Prefer to purchase tickets over the phone? Call 877-987-6487

Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn
For 40 years, this Canadian musical legend has been capturing in song the essence of human experience – while fiercely striving to make it better.

by Nicholas Jennings

One of Canada's finest artists, Bruce Cockburn has enjoyed an illustrious career shaped by politics, spirituality, and musical diversity. His remarkable journey has seen him embrace folk, jazz, rock, and worldbeat styles while travelling to such far-flung places as Guatemala, Mali, Mozambique, and Nepal, and writing memorable songs about his ever-expanding world of wonders. "My job," he explains, "is to try and trap the spirit of things in the scratches of pen on paper and the pulling of notes out of metal."
That scratching and pulling has earned Cockburn high praise as an exceptional songwriter and a revered guitarist. His songs of romance, protest, and spiritual discovery are among the best to have emerged from Canada over the last 40 years. His guitar playing, both acoustic and electric, has placed him in the company of the world's top instrumentalists. And he remains deeply respected for his activism on issues from native rights and land mines to the environment and Third World debt, working for organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and Friends of the Earth.
Throughout his career, Cockburn has deftly captured the joy, pain, fear, and faith of human experience in song. Whether singing about retreating to the country or going up against chaos, tackling imperialist lies or embracing ecclesiastical truths, he has always expressed a tough yet hopeful stance: to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight. "We can't settle for things as they are," he once warned. "If you don't tackle the problems, they're going to get worse."
For his many achievements, the Ottawa-born artist has been honoured with 12 Juno Awards, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and a Governor General's Performing Arts Award, and has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada. But he never rests on his laurels. "I'd rather think about what I'm going to do next," says Cockburn. "My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stop working till they drop, as I fully expect to be doing, and just getting better as musicians and as human beings."
His commitment to growth has made Bruce Cockburn both an exemplary citizen and a legendary artist whose prized songbook will be celebrated for many years to come.
Mark Eitzel
Mark Eitzel
Mark Eitzel’s tenth solo album and his first in three years, Hey Mr Ferryman,
will be released on January 27, 2017, by Merge Records.

Hey Mr Ferryman is Eitzel’s first full studio album recorded entirely in London. It
was made at 355 Studios with Mercury Prize winner Bernard Butler (ex-Suede,
McAlmont & Butler), who has produced and/or recorded albums with Tricky, Ben
Watt, Bert Jansch, Edwyn Collins, and more.

Butler produced Hey Mr Ferryman and played all of the electric guitar, bass, and keyboard parts on the album.Butler wrote of the process: “I spent a fortnight on my own in the studio seeing where I could go, how to expand every mood, make the dark songs darker, the drama bigger, the joy more celebratory. I was elated when I sent initial mixes off and Mark was happy. The greatest gift for a producer is the trust of the artist with their work. I knew from the off with this record that the songwriting
was in a different league. It was for me to find beautiful frames for each story.”

Hey Mr Ferryman features the vivid melodies long associated with Eitzel’s
former band American Music Club (a.k.a. AMC), which remains a cult
favorite to this day, as well as Butler’s distinctive guitar that serves to
complement Eitzel’s expressive vocals. Of that voice, Pitchfork once wrote:
“If Leonard Cohen’s voice is a story about the passage of time and Levon
Helm’s is a story about losing what is most precious to you, Eitzel’s is about
the circuitous roads we take in search of ourselves.”

As both a solo artist and the frontman for AMC, Mark Eitzel is a celebrated
lyricist and champion of the downtrodden. A hauntingly evocative singer,
he has earned even greater notoriety for his brilliance as a composer,
combining the intensity of Ian Curtis, the pastoral beauty of Nick Drake, and
the melodrama of Scott Walker and Jacques Brel to build one of the most
impressive and darkly poetic bodies of song in the modern pop canon.

“The songs on this record are about celebrating musicians and music, about
misogyny, the long shadow of history, getting one’s head out of one’s ass,”
quips Eitzel on the themes of Ferryman. “Also oceans, blood, skies, hearts,
gay pioneers, carpenters, weeping women, and how death waits for you even
in the happiest place on earth: Las Vegas.”

The album opens with “The Last Ten Years” which includes the lyric “Spent
the last ten years / Trying to waste half an hour” which, like the best verses, will
leave you pensive and wanting more. The album continues with a sensuous
love song (“An Answer”), an ode to the plight of the working musician (“The
Road”), the growing political divide in America (“In My Role as Professional
Singer and Ham”), the frustration of ripped trousers (“Let Me Go”), and “Sleep
From My Eyes,” which Mark describes as “an experiment to write a love song
from the point of view of someone in a coma. As you do.”

“As I wrote these songs, I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles; painted
two houses; spent all my money; threw away everything I owned; traveled to
and from London, New York, and Austin; performed various shows; learned
‘I’m Your Man’ by Leonard Cohen for a friend’s wedding (it was so hard);
replaced the battery and the hard drive in my perpetually dying computer;
gained and lost and gained 20 pounds; went to the doctor a lot; moved to the
mountains; moved to New York; and ran my car into the ground,” continues
Eitzel. “I just finished writing my next album and have started recording the
demos to send to my 50 friends.”

Mark Eitzel has released over 15 albums of original material with American
Music Club and as a solo artist. The Guardian has called him “America’s
greatest living lyricist,” and Rolling Stone once gave him their Songwriter
of the Year award. Originally formed in 1983, AMC released seven albums
before breaking up in 1995. The band reunited in 2004 and subsequently
signed to Merge for two full-lengths, Love Songs for Patriots and The Golden
Age. In April of 2012 while working on a solo record, Eitzel suffered a heart
attack which forced him to slow down and delayed the album’s release. That
fall, Merge put out Don’t Be a Stranger to much critical acclaim, and in 2013, a
newly healthy Eitzel embarked on what proved to be the most successful tour
of his career to date. In 2015, he wrote music for Simon Stephens’ Song from
Far Away, his second collaboration with the English playwright, and began
work on the forthcoming Hey Mr Ferryman.
Birds of Chicago
Birds of Chicago
In so many ways, we are a word weary culture, ever searching for ways to communicate in fewer and fewer words, letters, syllables...Our online, blogged out, you-tubed attention spans are truncated and fragmented like never before. Birds of Chicago, the collective centered around Allison Russell and JT Nero, reassert the simple notion - radical in these times - that beautiful words and music can still tap deep veins of emotion.
real midnight's gonna come/ real midnight's' gonna come
real wolves at your door/ with blood on their tongues
now what you gonna do/ with your days left in the sun ?
ha da la ha

Stark, elemental imagery that feels like scripture, or a lost folk song recovered; the Birds draw heavily on the gospel tradition and the music feels like a new, secular gospel of sorts. For Birds of Chicago, every word counts. Every note counts. No gold-dusting, no filler. Music is the good news and Real Midnight, the band's poignant new Joe Henry produced album, throbs with an urgency that feels quietly seismic.

Birds of Chicago was born in 2012 when Nero began writing for his vocal star-muse, Russell. Both were accomplished singer/songwriters with projects of their own, Nero with JT and the Clouds and Russell with the acclaimed Canadian roots outfit Po' Girl, but together there was an unmistakable chemistry. Nero had found the perfect voice for his rock and roll psalms. Russell moved from being a primary songwriter to an interpreter, and her simmering restraint is deeply refreshing to a landscape scorched by post Voice/American Idol vocal gymnastics and over-emoting.

On Real Midnight, Birds of Chicago alternate moody rock swagger with the ghostliest of soundscapes. Produced by Joe Henry, a man who's expert blending of light and shadow is well known, the album is a melancholy - but never shoe gazing - suite, full of wayward, joyful, lonesome voices raised up against the night.

Music this raw and soul-rich demands to be experienced live, and Birds of Chicago have developed a fervent following, touring 200 nights a year since their formation in late 2012. For these Birds, singing for a room full of new people, hearts wide open, keeps off the cold and chases off the shadows. 2016 will find the band in constant motion - from sea to sea and beyond.
Allison Pierce
Allison Pierce
This album feels like the most important creative outpouring of my life so far," says songwriter Allison Pierce, who is launching the second half of her distinguished career by teaming with producer Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, Paul McCartney). “It feels like the most genuine expression of who I am, musically and personally.”

Year of the Rabbit (May 5, Sony Music Masterworks) marks Allison Pierce’s first album as a solo artist, following two decades with her sister in the acclaimed duo, The Pierces. Recorded in analog straight to magnetic tape, the album was mostly performed by Allison and Ethan at Hollywood recording mecca Sunset Sound (much in the same spirit as Johns produced Ray LaMontagne’s debut LP, Trouble). The only outside contributors were Gabe Witcher, who supplied fiddle on two tracks, and Greg Leisz, who played pedal steel on another.

“Over the years, I’d write these songs knowing they weren’t Pierces songs, and I collected them in anticipation of the day when I could record them myself,” says Pierce. “I’d envisioned the whole thing, so I was ready, and waiting patiently for the opportunity to make it.”

Listen to the first single “Evidence” here on Spotify. “Any good story has a villain, and the more epic the story, the more epic the villain—it makes the story complete,” says Allison, on her retelling of the Original Sin.

“It was intense,” Allison says of the experience, “because Ethan is trying to capture something that’s really intimate, and the more vulnerable, the better. Sometimes I’d feel like a take wasn’t my best musical performance, but Ethan would say, “No, no, no, this is the magic.’ He hears something that’s special, something that would appeal to the emotions of the listener.”

As for the album title? In Chinese astrology, rabbit is the symbol for hope. For Pierce, it also means transformation. “The rabbit in Alice in Wonderland was what took her from her mundane world into the spiritual and mystical realm, where she was transformed.”

Sony Music Masterworks comprises Masterworks, Sony Classical, OKeh, Portrait and Masterworks Broadway. For email updates and information please visit

Hear "Evidence":
Leif Vollebekk
Leif Vollebekk
Leif Vollebekk is a Montreal adopted singer-songwriter. He released his third full-length Twin Solitude on February 24th, 2017.
Since the beginning of his career, Leif has performed at the Newport Folk Festival and shared stages with Daniel Lanois, Beth Orton, Sinéad O’Connor, Patrick Watson, Coeur de Pirate, William Fitzsimmons and Sam Amidon. He released his break-through sophomore album ‘North Americana’ in 2013, while his 2010 debut ‘Inland’ was described as “beautiful, memorable and moving” by NPR and “timeless and monumental” by the Independent UK.
Venue Information:
Culture Center Theater
West Virginia State Capitol Grounds
Charleston, WV, 25305