Tom Cochrane’s illustrious musical career has spanned more than 40 years but headlining the 20th Kitikmeot Trade Show will break new ground for him.
“We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be exciting doing the Kitikmeot Trade Show. I just hope the venue’s not outdoors,” he joked. “We feel very, very privileged that we’re able to do this, and that we were asked.
It’s a very high honour and something we don’t take lightly.”Playing in Cambridge Bay will be Cochrane’s northernmost performance. He’s never before held concerts within the Arctic Circle.
Speaking from Toronto, which is his home most often when he’s not on the road, Cochrane said the audiences in Cambridge Bay on Sunday and Monday can expect an acoustic version of his many hit songs, accompanied by guitarist Bill Bell.
“I think the Inuit people are storytellers. They like to listen, from what I understand. I think there’s more of an emphasis on the lyrics and the more intimate side of the songs when we break it down like that,” he said of the acoustic performances. “People sometimes even say, ‘Jeez, I had no idea that’s what the song was about.’”
Cochrane, an eight-time Juno winner and a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, has written and recorded more than 200 tunes. His hits – some of them conceived with band Red Rider – include Life is a Highway, No Regrets, Lunatic Fringe, White Hot, Boy Inside the Man, I Wish You Well, Sinking Like a Sunset, Victory Day and Big League.
“Obviously we play the songs that people want to hear,” Cochrane said, adding that even after decades of being on stage he still gets “an adrenaline rush” when crowds cheer his music.
If there’s an opportunity to get out by snowmobile or dog-team while in Cambridge Bay, Cochrane said to count him in.
“That’s the plan, I hope,” he said. “I hope they’re planning to do that.”
Enjoying some local cuisine, like caribou and Arctic char, is also something he’ll savour. Although he’s tasted caribou before, if there’s any seal or whale meat around, he’d give those a try for the first time.
“I’ve never had seal or whale. I would (sample it). Do I have to eat it raw? I mean, I love sushi. I’ll give it a go,” he said. “I won’t eat the bannock though. I’m on a low-carb diet.”
Although he’s never been to Nunavut, Cochrane, 65, can relate somewhat to remote living. He spent his early childhood in Lynn Lake, in northern Manitoba. His father was a bush pilot. His mother’s side of the family is of Icelandic descent. He’s looking forward to learning more about the Inuit culture, he said.
“I’m really pumped. I can’t tell you how excited we are about this,” said Cochrane.
The feeling is mutual, according to Jim MacEachern, a trade show organizer and Cambridge Bay’s assistant senior administrative officer. The local radio society has been advertising the concert and playing Tom Cochrane tunes frequently, said MacEachern.
“The buzz has been extraordinary,” he said. “He’s a Canadian icon.”
The public performance is scheduled for Sunday at 7 p.m. at the community hall. There’s no charge and it’s first come, first serve, limited by maximum capacity at the hall, MacEachern noted.
The concert on Monday night is designated for Kitikmeot Trade Show delegates.