Singer/songwriter Jim Cuddy is heading to Red Deer to introduce fans to his latest creative venture Skyscraper Soul.
Cuddy, who released the CD last fall, performs at the Memorial Centre Jan. 11. He recorded the project in Blue Rodeo’s Woodshed Studio earlier this year.
Back in early 2010, following an extensive touring stint with Blue Rodeo, Cuddy began writing tunes for his wife’s short film Four Sisters. It turned out that some of what he’d written didn’t fit the film, but he kept on writing just the same. It wasn’t long before he had the kind of material he knew could form a third solo CD.
Production on Skyscraper Soul was handled by Cuddy, guitarist Colin Cripps and Chris Shreenan-Dyck. Cuddy was joined in the studio by his touring solo band, The Jim Cuddy Band (Colin Cripps, Bazil Donovan, Joel Anderson, Steve O’Connor and Anne Lindsay) and a number of Toronto’s top horn players and string players. Many of the album’s songs benefit from the spontaneity of having the musicians set up together in the studio and play live off the floor.
One of the CD’s highlights is Everyone Watched The Wedding, which was also the record’s first single.
“I’ve never been much of a royalist but this song is about the royal wedding,” says Cuddy. “Something about this last wedding got me. When I started reading more about it I realized that there is something about it that is very inspiring. And this was truly a gift. This song just came out. I had come into the studio to do something completely different and within half an hour I had this song completely sketched out and that doesn’t happen, usually there’s more work involved.”
Looking back, Cuddy began his musical explorations fairly early on.
“I asked my parents for a guitar when I was 10 because I wanted to be like Roy Rogers,” he says. “The first song I learned was Gordon Lightfoot’s That’s What You Get For Loving Me. I love the idea of this little kid singing all these ‘love gone wrong’ songs.”
Cuddy also points out that he started writing songs because it was easier than trying to learn other people’s. “When I became a teenager I got into singer/songwriters like Dylan, Jackson Brown and Kris Kristofferson, as well as the British Invasion through the Beatles and the Stones.”
Of course, he would later meet Greg Keelor and the legendary partnership would ultimately lead to one of Canada’s foremost bands Blue Rodeo. The band emerged in the early 1980s as a countrified rock group in the era of hair metal and glossy pop. Later, in 1993, when grunge rock was squeezing commercial rock off the radio, they recorded Five Days In July and scored their biggest hit selling over a half million copies of that one record alone.
Their popularity has remained pretty much rock solid over the years, too.
Blue Rodeo has sold more than four million discs, won five Juno Awards for Group of the Year, been handed the keys to the City of Toronto and been inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Cuddy and Keelor are also renowned as a formidable songwriting team, though each approaches the craft differently. Cuddy is the classic story-teller allowing the experiences in his life to take form in a series of characters inhabiting his songs. Keelor uses music to explore the depths of love and pain and then paint pastoral pictures. Their latest project, 2009’s The Things We Left Behind, marked the band’s 12th studio outing.
Meanwhile, Cuddy relishes the times he has on his own, breaking new ground as a solo artist.
“When I write songs for my solo material, the songs tend to be a lot more personal than what I write for Blue Rodeo,” he says. “I come in here and sit down with all of these instruments and work at building the ideas until a song emerges. Once I’ve demoed the track and played it for the band, we work on fleshing it out.”
Tickets for his Red Deer show are available at Ticket Central (4922 – 49 St.), by calling 403-347-0800 or visiting the web site at www.ticketcentraloutlet.ca.