by Jeremy Cote
While at the ECMAs last month, I accidentally, but fortunately found myself at the Lord Nelson Hotel on a Saturday evening. This just happened to be the location of a CD release party, that of none other than Bruce Guthro, the north side’s favorite son. Why by accident? By pure stroke of luck, I happened to be with an acquaintance of Bruce’s who had been given a personal invitation, he in turn, invited me. Although it wasn’t the wildest party I had ever crashed, it certainly held the promise of something special. I can tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.
Guthro’s second album, Of Your Son, is his first with EMI, and the major label record company pulled out all the stops. The evening started out with a cocktail hour, attended by an eclectic group, ranging from record executives to fellow musicians. The background music was, naturally, Of Your Son, on continuous loop to put people in the mood. Finally EMI president Dean Cameron took the stage to introduce the man of the hour. He outlined the company’s first encounter with Bruce, which was the Stan Rogers’ tribute concert. There, Guthro sang an original composition in the style of Rogers’. Since that time, EMI has been involved with Bruce, anticipating what would surely be a collection of truly original music. With this confidence in the artist he introduced Bruce Guthro.
In front of a standing room only crowd, Bruce opened with his first single from the album “Walk This Road.” The audience was familiar with the song and some could be seen singing the lyrics along with the band. When the song had ended Guthro informed the crowd that the single had just broken the top ten, good news at a release party. This up-tempo single has a folk/country sound which has brought it radio play on a wide variety of stations. This trend in crossover music has been working in the recent past for U.S. artists and is will likely work for Guthro.
Other songs from the album that were played included “Ivey’s Wall” which followed an introduction from Bruce that demonstrated that he can be a showman as well as a prolific song writer. He introduced the song as a tribute to a favorite uncle who would tell his nephew stories of the past and of the boy’s late father. Leaving meaningful silences in the description, Guthro drew the audience into the tale, then started the tune powerfully The show stopper was the next release from the album, Falling, and was heard on the ECMA awards show the following night. While he sang, the crowd remained almost silent as they absorbed the lyrics. The power of the song caught most off guard as Guthro had been smiles and jokes up until the first note. A measure of how the audience was affected by this song is the fact that a full ten seconds passed between the final note and the first applause, which immediately swept through the crowd. If this reaction is representative of the reception on the charts, this single has tremendous selling power. The final song of the evening held a special surprise. Natalie MacMaster, with whom Guthro has worked in the past, came on stage to lend fiddle background to the song “Dirty Money”. This country/rock tune had the crowd moving and Natalie lent her energy to make it a good choice for a grand finale.
The band took their bows to applause and whistles, and the strains of Bruce’s album were again played at near sub-conscious levels. Media personnel flocked to the stage to speak to Bruce and Natalie. Bruce stayed for a considerable time, talking to people in the crowd and signing autographs on posters. Guthro happens to be one of the most approachable performers I’ve come into contact with. I left the ballroom with anticipation that the approval shown by that night’s spectators would be shared by the general public.