Where: Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton St.
When: Sunday, May 28, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $65-$85 from the Royal McPherson box office (250-386-6121) or rmts.bc.ca
Note: Cummings and his band also perform Monday at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo
Burton Cummings has led a storybook life. Millions in record sales. Yet more millions in earnings. The Order of Canada, a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, and induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Remarkably, page-turning chapters are still being written by the legendary frontman for the Guess Who, who turned 75 on New Year’s Eve. The Winnipeg-born, Saskatchewan-based favourite is currently on tour across Canada, playing hits from his solo career and the Guess Who catalogue with his band, the Carpet Frogs, in an acoustic environment.
The unplugged tour got underway Wednesday in New Westminster, and moved over to Vancouver Island for a stop Thursday in Campbell River. Cummings also performs Sunday in Victoria at the Royal Theatre and Monday in Nanaimo at the Port Theatre.
His concerts are selling well, which is hardly surprising. Not only does Cummings tour consistently, he has the benefit of a stellar catalogue to draw from, including Guess Who staples American Woman, These Eyes, and Undun and solo hits such as Stand Tall, My Own Way to Rock, and Break it to Them Gently.
The latter hit appeared on his 1978 solo album, Dream of a Child, which at the time of its release was the most successful album in Canada to that point. Its sales were equal to one in every 50 people in Canada owning a copy of the record.
“I had the first triple-platinum album ever in Canada,” Cummings, who is not doing interviews on his current tour, told YouTube host Adam Reader in 2022. “To sell almost half a million [copies], good lord — that was unbelievable.”
Canada has been a consistent presence in Cummings’s life, with his native Winnipeg playing a central role. He no longer maintains a residence there, but celebrated his 75th birthday in Winnipeg with a New Year’s Eve concert staged at the Burton Cummings Theatre, of all places.
He abandoned his longtime Los Angeles residence following a traumatic car accident in 2018, and now spends the majority of his time in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Cummings owned a home on Vancouver Island for more than decade, but it’s unclear if he still does today.
“L.A. is different when you’re young,” Cummings told the Winnipeg Free Press last year. “I told myself years ago, silently, ‘I don’t ever want to get old here.’ I’ve had enough of the big city and I like the fact that Moose Jaw is only 30,000 people. I’ve played to bigger crowds than that.”
Cummings remains a popular concert draw, both on his own and with the other primary member of the Guess Who, guitarist Randy Bachman, who also has a residence in Greater Victoria. If the two reunited for another songwriting session, which they did often from 1965 through 1970, during Bachman’s tenure with the group, who knows what magic would transpire.
It was a writing session in our area that resulted in the Guess Who’s second U.S. Top 10 single.
“We wrote Laughing on our old bus, after we had either played Victoria or Nanaimo or were about to play in Victoria and Nanaimo,” he told the Times Colonist during a previous interview.
“Randy and I started messing around and before the ferry left, we had written it.”