Delta rocks
Canadian favourites Blue Rodeo entertain young and old

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Oct 11/99) - Blue Rodeo must have thought it appropriate when they struck up the chords for What Am I Doing Here during the first of two concerts held recently in Inuvik.

With a snow squall forcing the cancellation of a planned outdoor performance during their first visit north of the Arctic Circle and their show being hastily moved inside the Sir Alexander Mackenzie school gymnasium, Blue Rodeo played their first set for an assembly of less than 150 students and parents.

"That's the smallest gig we've played in a while," confirmed Greg Keelor, fresh from an autograph session outside the gym following the show.

But Keelor, who along with Jim Cuddy makes up the singing/songwriting component of the group, also confirmed that Blue Rodeo's outlook is as smooth and relaxed as are its compositions.

"It was sweet playing here for those kids," he said. "Sure, it's very different from what we usually do, but it was great to see some of them singing along, some of them screaming -- and some of them ignoring us completely."

Indeed, few of the kids seemed to understand who they were listening to but many clearly enjoyed the country-rocking rhythms of the band's big numbers like Cynthia, Rose-Coloured Glasses, Try and Lost Together.

Keelor said it was Blue Rodeo's first trip to the Delta, though he added they have visited Baffin Island and the Yukon since breaking onto the national music scene back in the mid-1980s.

"I think we're one of the few bands from the south who will make the trip up," he said. "It's always nice for us to play in the more remote parts of the country."

And Keelor added that touring has taken its toll over the years.

"I was diagnosed as a diabetic about five years ago, and my energy is not quite the same as it was," he said. "Between age and diabetes, travelling's a little hard on me -- but the playing is OK."

That playing was certainly appreciated by the older audience at the second show later Friday night. The sound in the school gym was amazingly good, Cuddy and Keelor's vocals rich and loud and the band's presentation practised, tight and pleasing.

The band travelled even further North the following day, performing in Tuktoyaktuk before heading home to Toronto.