Photo Book Review - "Bruce Cockburn - a view from the Woodpile"
by David Yazbeck
Keebler is also a photographer. Since 1994, he has had many opportunities to shoot Cockburn shows. And now, Keebler has turned some of his photos into a book entitled "Bruce Cockburn - a view from the Woodpile", which features more than 110 images taken at soundchecks and performances from 1994 to 2008.
The book's journey can be traced back to 1994, when a friend of Keebler's got him in to a Cockburn soundcheck before a show at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. Not only did Keebler meet Cockburn - he also struck up a relationship with Bernie Finkelstein, Cockburn's long-time manager. Finkelstein signed up for the just-launched Gavin's Woodpile, and a fruitful relationship with the artist and his management followed. Starting in 1996 at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Keebler obtained authorization to take photos at Cockburn shows.
This is no teenaged, glossy eyed fan's collection of hero worship. Keebler's eye sees Cockburn in various stages of working and perfecting his craft, shots that are often as intimate as they are insightful. Of particular interest are the soundcheck photos. Cockburn is known for the seriousness of his soundchecks, which can take up to two hours as he strives for the perfect sound. Images from soundchecks comprise the lion's share of those in the book, and it therefore represents a rare and interesting insight into an often hidden aspect of an artist's work.
Keebler explains that it took some time for him to get comfortable shooting both at soundchecks and at shows. But over time, he has been able to achieve excellent detail. It is evident from these images that, while Keebler is clearly a fan of this great singer/songwriter, he also holds great respect for his work - not only in the songs that result but the effort that is taken to make those songs sound so wonderful. Keebler does an excellent job of capturing the intensity of Cockburn's efforts.
Keebler also has a keen eye for seeing the joy in Cockburn's performances, and there are many fine photos which capture the artist with a smile or a grin, obviously enjoying the results of his work. In November, 2008, Cockburn participated in a recording session in Seattle as part of a tribute to the Mississippi Sheiks. Keebler took advantage of the opportunity and captured some lovely images of Cockburn in the studio.
At 120 pages, "Bruce Cockburn - a view from the Woodpile" is a smallish book but at 8 X 10 inches the photos are a great size. As he notes on his website, "I did not set out to make piles of cash off the sale of this book, but rather to share my photos with fans of Bruce Cockburn, hoping it might offer a slightly unique view of him at work." Keebler certainly achieves that hope, and this would be a fine addition to any fan's collection, or a great gift for a Cockburn follower. In addition to photos, there is a brief bio, a discography and a few other tour-related graphics. The book is available in paperback or hardback with dust jacket, and can be purchased online at blurb.