Special salute to Leonard Cohen

Roots and Blues Festival to pay tribute to one of Canada’s well-loved artists.

File photo Roots and Blues organizers are preparing for another awesome festival Aug. 18 to 20, with finely tuned performances, including a tribute to Leonard Cohen on Sunday night.

As part of the all-Canadian mainstage on the final night of the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival, A Celebration of Leonard Cohen will be performed by a wonderful cast of artists from both sides of the border.

Cohen, who passed away in November of last year was, without question, one of the most-loved and critically acclaimed artists of our time.

“The Montreal native produced a huge canon of work that is regarded as both brilliant and timeless and it’s hard to know where to begin when toasting the best works of this unique artist,” says artistic director Peter North.

As his longtime friend and fellow artist Jennifer Warnes stated, “Leonard acknowledges that the whole act of living contains immense amounts of sorrow and hopelessness and despair; and also passion, high hopes, deep love, and eternal love.”

The Roots and Blues Celebration of Cohen hopes to properly capture a balance of sorrow and high hopes of Cohen’s work and a number of artists jumped at the chance to be involved in this special Roots & Blues project, says Peter North.

Hosted by Tower of Song, that being Oliver Swain and Glenna Garr, participants will include Jeffrey Foucault, Irish Mythen, Dana Wylie and Dan Shinnan from the Mad Dogs Experience, Canadian poet John Lent and the Roots and Blues House Band.

Songs already chosen for the 75-minute performance include Sisters of Mercy, Dance Me To The Edge of Love, Everybody Knows, Bird On A Wire and Suzanne.

When asked to participate, American tunesmith Livingston Taylor responded quickly, opting to participate in a very unique fashion.

The brother of James Taylor will take a few minutes to share with the Salmon Arm audience, the importance to American artists of Cohen’s songwriting, along with that of Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Ian Tyson.

As well, Taylor will perform snippets of tunes from what he describes as Cohen’s personal jukebox.

The Celebration of Leonard Cohen will follow sets from April Verch one of Canada’s greatest fiddler’s, The Stephen Fearing Band, and will precede the closing festival set featuring Alex Cuba.

This year’s festival will be a celebration of Canada 150 and features a stellar lineup that includes Ricky Skaggs, Five Alarm Funk, Booker T, Boogie Patrol, David Essig, Coco Jafro, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, Maria Dunn, The Mad Dogs Experience and much more, once again, living up to the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society’s mission statement: “We present excellent world class, culturally divers music and artistic experiences to enrich and build community.”

For more information on the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival or to get tickets, call 250-833-4096 or visit www.rootsandblues.ca.