Randy Bachman still in overdrive as gigs keep coming in

Sure, he turns 70 in September. That doesn’t stop Randy Bachman, Canadian rock’s senior statesman, from taking care of business with a young man’s zeal.

Phoning from Edmonton, the guitarist rattled off his projects with rat-a-tat alacrity. There’s his current tour, Every Song Tells a Story, which travels to the McPherson Playhouse on Wednesday night. Next year, Bachman will tour his music-storytelling show to Los Angeles, Austin, Nashville, Chicago and New York.

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Then there’s Vinyl Tap on CBC Radio, which Bachman has hosted since 2005. His popular music program, currently taped in Victoria, has been renewed for another three seasons.

He’s also doing “a huge amount of rock gigs” with his old Bachman-Turner Overdrive bandmate Fred Turner. This summer, the two amigos will do the summer-festival circuit on the same classic-rock bill as the Doobie Brothers, Joe Walsh, Cheap Trick and Heart.

There’s more. Bachman has been writing music for Mike Holmes’ new TV series, Holmes Makes It Right.

And he’s in negotiations to team up with the Sadies opening for Neil Young and Crazy Horse this fall (he’s done this before in Winnipeg and Toronto).

“I’m constantly doing my joy, which is some sort of music,” said Bachman, whose records have sold more than 40 million copies. “I couldn’t be happier, still living my teenage dream.”

Bachman has performed his Every Song Tells a Story show for years. But he says the current incarnation is new and improved, complete with vintage video and photo projections.

He and his band (drummer Brent Howard and guitarists Marc LaFrance and Mick Della-Vee) will play songs from his Guess Who career in the first half, with the second part focusing on the Bachman-Turner Overdrive years. Throughout, Bachman — a born raconteur — will tell the stories behind the songs.

“The reviews I’ve been getting, and we’ve been getting sellouts [in theatres] everywhere, is beyond anything I comprehended,” he said. “It’s just really been a fun thing for me.”

Bachman tapes Vinyl Tap every couple of months at CBC’s studio in the CHEK-TV building. He and an engineer will tape four episodes on a Saturday, and then four more on a Sunday. A weekend’s work keeps the show going for three months at a time.

Once based on Saltspring Island, Bachman still retains a home there. However, he now keeps apartments in Santa Monica, California, Toronto’s Liberty Village neighbourhood and London’s Covent Garden district.

This fits with his relentless work schedule (in Toronto, Bachman’s manager, Gilles Paquin, lives just two blocks away).

“I’ve taken on a four-cornered lifestyle, bringing along a guitar and some clothing and a computer.”

Bachman may be the hardest-working man in Canadian showbiz — still, he tries to take care of himself.

On Saltspring and in Victoria, he regularly visits his doctor (“because you know, I have some trouble with my heart”), a chiropractor, a masseuse and a hairstylist.

“You get to a certain age, you’re like a vintage car. Unless you keep getting an oil change and a nice polish and a vacuum, and getting your transmission tuned up and your brakes done, you’re gonna break down,” he said. “My health is fantastic because of these pit crews I have.”

Bachman takes pride in being a working musician. Part of what keeps Vinyl Tap vital, he says, is the fact he tells stories about new musical adventures as well as dipping into the nostalgia vaults.

Just last week, he was in New Zealand, performing on a bill with Pat Benatar and America. Not long ago, he did a rock ’n’ roll cruise in Florida with Foreigner and Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers.

Anecdotes about these experiences will be spun into future editions of Vinyl Tap.

“I’ll say, ‘You gotta see these guys, that rock ‘n’ roll is still alive out there,’ ” he said.


Where: McPherson Playhouse (also Duncan’s Cowichan Theatre on Monday)

When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $62 (250-386-6121)

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