Bill Bourne
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Bill Bourne


Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"Musical chameleon Bill Bourne reinvents his sound on latest CD, Boon Tang"

Mar 15, 2007 04:30 AM

Elusive Edmonton songwriter and acoustic guitarist extraordinaire Bill Bourne brings his bag of mysterious tricks – songs that might have been imagined by famed British progressive folk musician Bert Jansch during a blizzard in Norway or an idyll in the tropics – to these parts this week for a rare swing through southern Ontario.

"I've been crazy busy, not playing as much as I'd like to ... producing other artists and getting ready for `The Dance,'" Bourne said last Friday afternoon as he was about to head out for a show at Port Dover's Lighthouse Theatre.

Minus the ubiquitous topper that has become his onstage trademark, the peripatetic musician was slow getting his bearings. Bourne had flown in earlier in the day from Memphis, Tenn., where he performed at the recent North American Folk Alliance conference with his protégé, Icelandic singing sensation Eivor Pálsdóttir, and after a brief stopover in his hometown.

"The Dance" is what Bourne calls his website and the unpleasant business of self-promotion, a ritual he indulges in only when there's a new recording to promote.

It has been about four years since his landmark effort, Voodoo King, was released. For the past two, Bourne has been slowly working toward completing its successor, Boon Tang – he claims the title is a little-used English phrase that means "an unexpected blessing with a strong flavour" – released this week on the Vancouver label Cordova Bay and launched with a performance Saturday night at Harbourfront Centre's Enwave Theatre, with guitarist and frequent sidekick Madagascar Slim, singer Kristin Sweetland and drummer Michelle Josef.

A flight through the musical ether distilled from a lifetime of adventures in African, Caribbean, Nordic, bluegrass, country, Celtic and blues forms, Boon Tang features Bourne's fluid, unrestrained reinvention of three covers – Gordon Lightfoot's "For Lovin' Me," the Bob Marley hit "No Woman No Cry" and Ewan McColl's "The Terror Time," a prescient piece salvaged from Bourne's time with the Tannahill Weavers – along with eight original compositions featuring Pálsdóttir's powerful voice and contributions from two new prodigies. The young talents are the Red Deer, Alta. singer-songwriter known only as Laurelle and 12-year-old Hong-Kong-raised flautist Aysha, whom Bourne credits with almost single-handedly organizing a concert that raised $700,000 for tsunami relief at Edmonton's Windspear Centre last year.

"I'm very happy with this album," Bourne said. "I took my time with it, recording it at home on a two-track tape deck with good mics and preamps. I'd add bits when I had time. I was in no hurry to get it finished, but when it was, it sounded like a new kind of music. Someone told me it reminds him of music played in some remote part of Mongolia ... but I've never been there."

Bourne is also taking part in local promoter/graphic artist Michael Wrycraft's famous quarterly "Boys Do Girls" extravaganza tomorrow night at Hugh's Room, serving up his own take on Emmylou Harris. The gender-bending roots music revue, and its alternating counterpart Girls Do Boys, have become must-see events in the city's concert routine, and are generally sold out well in advance.

The object, of course, isn't as vulgar as the title suggests. Interpretation, not imitation, is the name of the game, and at tomorrow's s show Bourne will be joined by Moe Berg appropriating Hilary Duff, Craig Cardiff (Cyndi Lauper), Nash the Slash (Carole King), Jory Nash (Ricky Lee Jones), Dale Nikkel (Eliza Gilkyson), Ian North (Kate & Anna McGarrigle), Blair Packham (Aimee Mann) and David Sereda (Joni Mitchell).

For details and ticket information go to or call 416-531-6604.

New Blues Groove: For an outfit that boasts an accordion as its main lead instrument and almost no blues pedigree, local quartet the Son Roberts Band comes off as seasoned and assertive veterans on their independent debut CD, You Don't Know Yet, which is launched officially tonight at 9 at the Trane Studio Bar & Lounge, 964 Bathurst St.

The strong, blues-based vibe they put out is not really surprising, since singer/harmonica player Roberts has been a fixture in Toronto roots music haunts for more than a decade, and accordionist/pianist/organist Ed Roth's session/sideman credits cover the entire musical spectrum from Brazilian bossa nova to jazz, folk and hip-hop.

"And when it comes to songwriting, it's a completely collaborative effort," says Roberts. "The only reason my name is out front is because I do all the grunt work."

- Toronto Star

"The latest version of Bill Bourne can be seen March 23 at the Elks Hall."

Advocate staff
Mar 16 2007

Central Alberta’s own Bill Bourne makes a visit to his old stomping ground later this month.

A singer and songwriter whose music spans a wide area, including blues, folk, roots, worldbeat, Celtic and funk, Bourne is originally from the Innisfail area.

He’s something of a musical chameleon and has worked with a variety of musicians over the years, including rocking bagpipe player Alan MacLeod.

Bourne also worked in a musical partnership with violinist Shannon Johnson, resulting in two acclaimed albums, Dear Madonna and Victory Train.

More recently, he’s been a member of Tri-Continental, playing with Lester Quitzau and Madagascar Slim.

Between times, Bourne regularly performs solo and puts out his own albums.

The reason for his coming Red Deer show is a a new CD.

Scheduled for release in mid-March, it’s called boon tang and includes a selection of Bourne-written tunes and some covers.

The covers include Gordon Lightfoot’s For Lovin’ Me, The Terror Time by Ewan MacColl and No Woman No Cry by Vincent Ford.

Bourne sings these with his most recent musical partner, Faroe Islander Eivor Palsdottir.

The choice of songs on the album was a matter of using his musical instinct, said Bourne.

He said he took his time with the project, recording it over a couple of years.

“A little bit here, a little bit there,” he said from Toronto, where he was performing.

Bourne said he came up with the title last summer, then wrote a song to reflect that.

He’s happy with the finished product.

Music is a living thing, said Bourne, and that’s why he’s always trying different combinations of musicians and various musical genres.

“Even the same song from day to day is going to come out a bit different,” he said, “because it’s life.”

His Red Deer show is set for March 23 at the Elks’ Lodge at 8 p.m. and will include Red Deer singer Laurelle and talented 12-year-old flute player Aysha Wills, both of whom are on the album.

Bourne’s son Pat, 24, will play guitar. This will be his public debut playing with his dad, said Bourne.

Tickets, from Ticketmaster, Valhalla Pure Outfitters, at 2319 Taylor Dr. or ARC Records, at 4917 48th St., are $26.50 plus service charges.

Contact Penny Caster at
- Red Deer Advocate

"Youthink Magazine - Vancouver, BC - Monthly - April Issue - REVIEW"

Boon Tang

by Zoe Robyn – York House, Vancouver

***** ( 5 out of 5 stars)

A dreamy, sleepy, whispery, lovely folk album from Juno-award winner, Bill Bourne.

Bill Bourne’s “Boon Tang” takes you to a wide-open country under a big huge sky, where there are squeaky porch swings and warm dirt roads. Bourne’s dusty voice is similar in nature to Tom Waits, and combined with a baby marimba, an electric slide guitar, and a fiddle, the songs are sweet and comfortable. I listen to “Roll River Roll,” a song with unreal female vocal harmonics, and I start longing for a marigold sunrise, cottage country, and apple pie. I could listen to it all day.

Zoe’s fave track: “Roll River Roll”
- Youthink Magazine


1990 - Bourne & MacLeod - "Dance and Celebrate" ***
1992 - Bourne & MacLeod - "Moonlight Dancer"
1993 - Various Artists - "Saturday Night Blues" ***
1996 - Bill Bourne & Shannon Johnson - "Victory Train"
1997 - Bourne, Schuld, Stammer - "No Special Rider"
1998 - Bill Bourne - "Sally's Dream"
2000 - Tri-Continental - "Tri-Continental" ***
2003 - Bill Bourne - "Voodoo King"
(*** indicates a Juno Award Winning Recording)
2006 - Bill Bourne - Boon Tang



Bill Bourne - 'A one man tour de force - who sings, plays guitar and writes with deep soul.' - Mike Regenstreif / Tom Russell

Bill was raised in a musical family in rural Alberta. When he was 2 years old, he was known to sleep behind the piano at country dances. His parents played dance music in community halls in beautiful farming country. The love of nature and of music and of people gathering for celebration has been with him for his whole life.

Bill loves to collaborate with friends (musicians). His most recent collaboration is with Eivør Pálsdóttir from the Faroe Islands. He produced and performed on Eivør's third solo CD, 'eivør'. The recording won double at the Danish Music Awards Folk in 2006. Other collaborations: with Alan MacLeod, Shannon Johnson, Hans Staymer and Andreas Schuld, and Lester Quitzau & Madagascar Slim, as well as his solo projects, have all attained award status in Canada.

A multiple Canadian Juno Award winner, Bill has received international acclaim for his recordings and live performances. A mainstay on the international roots scene, life on the road is reflected in Bill's music - powerful rhythms and soulful songs, steeped in World Beat, Blues, Cajun, Celtic, Folk, Flamenco, Funk, Poetry and more...