April 14, 2008

Edmonton is going to be the site of an international Leonard Cohen festival this July. There’s been an annual Leonard Cohen Night held here since 2002, but this is a bigger event with concerts, poetry readings, visual arts, open mikes, Cohen-centric city tours, academic talks, and delegates attending from around the world. Featured performers include Jann Arden, Serena Ryder, Tom Rush, and Australian band Monsieur Camembert whose concert is called “Famous Blue Cheese.” One notable absence will be the great man himself. Cohen avoids these type of events, and will in any case be in the thick of his own world tour, which won’t be coming to Edmonton or any Canadian cities west of Ontario. A pity, really, since at age 73 how many tours can he have left in him? (I suspect he wouldn’t even be doing this tour if his former manager hadn’t swindled him out of his retirement nest egg). Cohen’s been here before, of course – most famously in 1966 when he wrote Sisters of Mercy. I saw him perform in 1988 (supporting I’m Your Man) and in 1993 (The Future). At one of those concerts he told of another chance encounter in Edmonton, this time not with young girls in miniskirts, but with a gathering of Chinese poets in a restaurant (I’ve forgotten the details of this anecdote and maybe I don’t even have this much right – maybe someone who was there can refresh my memory?)

Cost for the entire event is $145 plus tax – a bargain. Website.


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