Burton Cummings is doing his bit to boost the morale of his fans.
Commencing with a five-minute performance of I Will Play A Rhapsody on his Facebook page on St. Patrick's Day, the former Guess Who mainstay has been spending recent nights performing several selections on piano for fans he affectionately calls his "shut-ins" from his home in Moose Jaw, SK, using a cell phone camera being held by another person.
Last Saturday ( March 21) the 72-year-old, twice-inducted member of the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame expanded his set to 41 minutes on an electric piano, performing a combination of originals that included Save My Soul and I'm Scared, as well as covers ranging from the Flying Burrito Bros.' Sin City to Phil Phillips & The Twilights' Sea Of Love, a song revived in the '80s by The Honeydrippers, while mingling in stories about his life.
Cummings also took the occasion to announce the upcoming release of Bachman Cummings' The Collection on Sony Music Canada - a 7-CD/7-vinyl compendium of five Guess Who albums - Wheatfield Soul, Canned Heat, American Woman, Share The Land and So Long, Bannatyne - as well as one disc of Randy Bachman-led supergroup Bachman Turner Overdrive highlights and one of his own solo material.
The set is being released in a limited edition to commemorate the upcoming 24-date Randy Bachman Burton Cummings Together Again Live In Concert reunion tour promoted by Live Nation.
Most recently, Cummings performed Blue Is the Night, the first single released by his pre-Guess Who band, The Deverons.
In a phone interview conducted for the liner notes of Bachman Cummings - The Collection, the six-time Juno Awad winner said the purpose of these impromptu performances was "to keep everybody's spirits up."
"I've had ridiculous amounts of response to it, " said Cummings. "The first one I did reached about two million people, so it's a nice way to get out to people. I know some people are far more affected by this quarantine business and being alone and being shut-in at home. I put up a blog (Friday) morning saying I might do another one tonight and I've already got thousands of comments saying, 'we're looking forward to this.' It's found its own momentum."
Cummings acknowledges that other artists are conducting self-isolated performances on the Internet, but he says they're getting too sophisticated.
"A lot of people have now jumped on the bandwagon and they're saying, 'we're going to be broadcasting at 11 o'clock - blah blah blah," he notes. "I just did it at the beginning without any preparation. Now people are hiring crews and having line checks and designated times.
"The people who are doing that are missing the whole point. People are shut in - they just want something to look forward and to take them out of their nervousness, you know? I'm doing it with just a phone with no mics or anything: very, very rough. But the response has been tremendous."
"The first performance I did was I Will Play A Rhapsody - it's over two million views now. That's a lot of folks."