November 3, 1997


Blue Rodeo Rides Again
by Rick Overall - Ottawa Sun


Yes folks even rock stars have to deal with the teachers' strike.

Case in point: One Jim Cuddy, singer in Canada's acclaimed group Blue Rodeo, is keeping an eye on his three kids and is at the same time chatting about the group's return to the studio and the tour trail -- which brings them to the Ottawa Civic Centre on Thursday.

"We were ready for this, we just took the kids to Italy for a month and home-schooled them while we were over there. Three weeks later they're back to that routine again," Cuddy says from his Toronto home.

With three young children, Cuddy gets serious quickly when discussing education.

"We feel like we're the test case for what's being done -- these are the kids that will matter because things are already critical at our school."

He also knows where the kids' hearts lie.

"The kids have heard people criticizing the teachers for breaking the law, but since they only understand that as a broad, spooky concept they don't really totally get it.

"But I know that the parents around this area of Toronto realize that the teachers are fighting the battle for them because the teachers don't really have anything to gain here."

Turning to the real reason for our chat, Cuddy indicates that Blue Rodeo's latest CD Tremolo sounds so comfortable and joyous because it's an indication of the group's state of mind these days.

"The idea with this CD was to go in, present songs to the band and then let the collective first instinct be the correct one.

"The recording was a case of concept and reality meeting. The concept was that the band would not rehearse, but rather just go in, make it and see what happens. Often you end up leaving stuff on demo tapes that you really like, but just cannot recapture.

"The situation is that when musicians are playing a song that they don't really know, they're reacting in a way that doesn't happen after they're used to the music."

The whole Tremolo session was really a case of Blue Rodeo flying by the seat of their collective pants.

"Greg Keelor had just come off a tour for his solo album and frankly we didn't know if he even had any songs for us.

"It ended up being a good obstacle for us because we came into it cold and secondly it had been a fair while since we'd been together to do Blue Rodeo business and it felt good to be around one another. It was instantly easy to do the songs and things happened very quickly.

"So what we ended up with was a record that didn't suffer from our own overmanipulation. And then, with the extra time we were left with, we were able to come up with string and mellotron arrangements which added some complexity of structure to the overall sound."

The success of Blue Rodeo is largely due to the expanse the group can cover with Cuddy and Keelor fronting the vocals.

"You can't have two lead guys so there's always that interchange of subordination and the band is different when that change takes place.

"It's been the pleasure and the pain of Blue Rodeo because sometimes people don't know what to respond to and many times what Greg and I wanted out of a particular album has been different.

"But on Tremolo it just felt like a very good exercise of exchanging songs and although the dynamic of the songs isn't as broad as before, we as a band find ourselves unified."