Circles in the Stream Tour Documentary 1977


Circles In The Stream was recorded live in Toronto at Massey Hall on April 8 and 9, 1977. It is nearly 40 years at this writing since it was released as a double LP.  This was Bruce's first live album. The tour ran from February into May, 1977. There was an add-on show at Ontario Place Forum in Toronto in June. The players are: Bruce Cockburn: acoustic & electric guitars, dulcimer, vocals / Bill Usher: percussion, voice / P.M. Doug MacKay: bagpipes / Pat Godfrey: electric piano, marimbas, vocals / Robert Boucher: bass. You will find a detailed review of the album here.

In 1997, during a phone conversation with Bill Usher (a band member on the tour), he mentioned a CBC Radio program (Special Occasion) he had been involved with during the Circles In The Stream tour. When he told me it was a two-hour long documentary of the tour, I wanted to pursue the subject further. Bill told me he wasn’t sure if he would be able to find the master tapes as they had been in storage for 20 years at that point in time. Additionally, once found, there would be a question as to the quality of the tapes after having been stored in variable environments for so long.

Bill was about to make a trip to Vancouver Island from his home in Toronto, first stopping briefly in the city of Vancouver to see a friend. The plan was, if he could locate the three 10 inch reels, to leave them at the home of his friend in Vancouver. Living less than two hours from Vancouver, I would drive across the border and collect the tapes. I received a call from Bill telling me he was indeed able to find the tapes. At this point I contacted Jim Serediak, a friend in Edmonton who has a recording studio and who has followed Bruce’s work since very close to the beginning of his solo career. Jim was the kind of person I wanted to check and transfer the tapes from reel-to-reel to DAT (digital audio tape). The project called for someone who cared about the subject. I packaged the three reels carefully and sent them off to Jim. After receiving them he worked on the project for some weeks. When completed he returned to me a DAT and analog copy of the reel-to-reel tapes, and he returned the three reel-to-reel tapes to Bill  in Toronto.

Listening to this program for the first time in 1997 with headphones on (as is HIGHLY recommended because of the technique used to record it) seemingly put me in the very locations the tapings took place in 1977. I was amazed at the quality of the recording and the unique way Bill approached the project. I consider this to be, without question, one of the most treasured items in my archive. I am thankful to Bruce Cockburn and Bill Usher for giving me their blessings to bring this program out of the dark. My thanks to Jim Serediak for the many long hours of caring work and fine-tuning he put into this project. I believe this is the first time it will have been heard since the original airing on CBC Radio on September 8, 1977. I have been sitting on this for almost 20 years and am very happy to share it with you all... at last.   Daniel Keebler  February 7, 2016

>>>Listen to an introduction to the program by Bill Usher. Bill recorded this from his home in British Columbia on January 31, 2016.

Special Occasion presents: On Tour With Bruce Cockburn

A two-hour program produced for the CBC in 1977. Bill Usher documents aspects of the Circles In The Stream tour of which he was a part. Included are intimate conversations with Bruce Cockburn about himself, his music and those who listen to it.

>>>Circles in the Stream - On Tour With Bruce Cockburn 1977

TECHNICAL NOTES: If you would like to save the file to your computer and listen to it at your convenience... start the file, when your player pops up you can pause the player, then right click on the player and select "Save Audio As " or "Save As." The exact procedure may vary depending on your web browser and/or operating system. You can then select the folder on your computer where you want to save the file. The MP3 file size is 209mb. The running time is 1 hour and 55 minutes. It includes a few snap, crackle and pops, but it's all good :)

These photos made their way to me in the 1990s. They were taken by Robert Shandro in Edmonton when Bruce played the Students' Union Building theatre on the University of Alberta campus on February 24, 1976, before the release of Circles In The Stream. The photos come with this story...

Robert was sitting near the stage with his trusty camera. He was shooting photos of Bruce without the use of a flash so as not to be distracting. However, someone sitting near Robert was using a flash. Robert told me that at some point after the neighboring flash went off, Bruce appeared to be looking right at him and made a comment suggesting that the flash was distracting. CRUSH!

Fast-forward to August 2003. I compiled these four photos into an 8x10 and had a print made. At a soundcheck in Seattle my wife and I were sitting in the house of the theatre talking with Bruce. I presented the photo and told him the story. I asked if he would sign the photo for Robert and I would then mail it to him. Bruce took the photo, paused for a moment, and 25 years after the photos were taken he wrote, "Robert, I didn't mean you! Nice shooting. -Bruce Cockburn"


© Daniel Keebler 1993-2024