One of Canada's most famous songwriters and rock musicians is excited that he'll be returning to Estevan for a concert.
He must be excited; he's passing up on a historical hockey moment in the city where he's lived for nearly 30 years.
Burton Cummings will be performing at Spectra Place on June 15. Cummings was born in Winnipeg, and like many Prairie folk, he is a passionate hockey fan. He now lives in Los Angeles, home of the recently-crowned 2012 Stanley Cup champions.
He'll be flying to Canada on June 14, the same day in which the Los Angeles Kings will have a victory celebration for their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. But he's fine with missing the party, since he gets to return to the Canadian Prairies.
Estevan will be one of the first stops in his "Your Backyard" summer tour, which will take him to communities and venues throughout North America. Cummings is familiar with the Energy City, as he frequently played in Estevan at the start of his music career in the early 1960s.
The concert in Estevan on June 15 will see Cummings spend two hours playing his most successful and popular songs from his days with the Guess Who, and from his solo career.
“The audience hears 'No Sugar,' 'American Woman,' 'Share the Land,' 'Break it to them Gently,' 'Stand Tall' and 'I'm Scared,” said Cummings.
Those songs, and many others, such as "These Eyes," remain very popular. "These Eyes" continues to be played on radio stations 44 years after its release.
“As long as I can keep healthy, and keep hitting my notes, and we still sound like the records, I could keep doing this for another 10 or 15 years,” said Cummings.
He doesn't know why the songs have remained so popular for so long, but he knows the writing was good, and that the songs carried a genuine message.
“They weren't fluffy little love songs, we were actually having a look around at the world, and writing about that,” said Cummings. “And we wrote good hooks, good musical and lyrical hooks; the kind of stuff that stayed with the fans.”
Joining him in Estevan will be his band, which he's been touring with for nearly a dozen years. Last year they performed at about 50 shows. This year they expect to perform at 60 or 70 concerts.
The opportunity to tour takes on more significance each year, as some of his musical contemporaries, and some musicians who are younger than him, have passed away.
“As we've all seen, we've lost Whitney Houston and Levon Helm and Robin Gibb and Donna Summer. The list goes on.”
Cummings is currently working on a couple projects. The first is an album, compiled from two live concerts at Massey Hall in Toronto. It will be released in late August or early September.
“'Hand me Down World' and some of those songs that I've done forever have never sounded better than this, and it's a live album, so that's really saying something,” said Cummings.
A book of poetry will be released later this year. It has been in the works for some time. He decided to publish the poems after he posted some of them on his MySpace account in 2008.
“I remember just writing some poems very quickly, without thinking about them too much, and the response was amazing,” said Cummings. “So I wrote a few more. And I got more and more responses. Not just from fans of my songs, but from English professors and literature teachers. Other writers themselves were telling me it's great stuff.”
People who like his lyrics will love the poetry book, he said.
Tickets are still available for the concert.