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Old 09-07-2012, 10:32 AM   #2
Join Date: May 2000
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Default Re: BRIGHTON, Michigan- SOLD OUT

The Ballad of Gordon Lightfoot: Folk legend coming to Brighton this month

As he approached age 70, folk-music icon Gordon Light-foot overcame paralysis in his dominant guitar hand, temporary deafness and a debilitating stomach illness.

Lightfoot retrained himself to us his right hand — now at "99 percent" — recorded a new album, and began touring at a nearly nonstop pace.

After a career spanning five decades, no venue is too big or small for Lightfoot, who will play primarily his hits at the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts during his Sept. 23 show.

"Whether it be in Brighton or whether it be at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England, it will not make any difference to us because we always go full-blast," Lightfoot said last week in a Daily Press & Argus interview from his home in Canada.

"We are enthusiastic, and we are prepared, and we are excited. Wherever we go and whatever we do, Brighton's going to get the best show that we can possibly give them," he added.

Lightfoot, known for a litany of hit songs, including "Sundown," "Early Morning Rain," "If You Could Read My Mind" and the legendary "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," will kick off the performing arts center's 2012-2013 season.

The show will be one of about 50 Lightfoot shows this year, and one of 14 shows on a 17-day U.S. tour.

In 2004, Lightfoot released "Harmony," his most recent album of new material. In April , he released "All Live," consisting of live performances of his greatest hits.

He recorded "Harmony" in hurried fashion while recuperating from numerous surgeries over a 19-month period. It took him 28 months to return to the stage, with his first show at the hospital that cared for him.

Due to his illness, Lightfoot recorded the vocals and guitar parts for "Harmony" using practice tapes separately from his band.

He was, essentially, deaf for six months following his surgeries, most likely due to blood clotting, he said.

In 2006, Lightfoot lost use of his right hand after a stroke. In the meantime, he played all guitar chords with his left hand and directed his band with his body language. He didn't miss a single show.

The makeshift arrangement was short-lived, however: His right hand was at "98 percent" six months later, and today is at "99 percent," he said.

"It's darn good. My playing has improved dramatically as a result of that stroke because it's made me practice and practice, and not stop practicing," Lightfoot said.

"My time is short now. I'm going for the goal line," Lightfoot added.

He was dealt yet another setback last year when his longtime lead guitarist, Terry Clements, died. Lightfoot said he's returned with a stronger-than-ever, four-piece backing band.

While a prolific recording artist, Lightfoot, at 73, remains most focused on performing.

Lightfoot said "the gift" is his 220 recorded songs to choose from for each performance. Some might argue that could be somewhat of a curse, considering he limits his shows to two hours.

"I have a rollover. I have a rotation of material that I use," he explained. "I have to be careful that I don't leave something out that should be in the program."

His music to date has proven timeless for his fans.

Lightfoot said he reaches at least a few younger fans at each show — most, he said, influenced by their parents' or other relatives' recordings.

"We do get a lot of younger people who are curious to know how I do what I do because they can learn from watching me, because what I play is not complicated," Lightfoot said.

One such young fan lauded Lightfoot online under a posted video on YouTube of the title track to the "Harmony" album: "I love this song and I'm 13. I always sing with it," the young fan wrote.

That's somewhat in line with his track record: He recalled drawing large crowds of college-age students at university shows when he was approaching 30 during the mid-1960s.

His competition was plentiful that decade, perhaps most with The Beatles, who topped the charts for most of the 1960s.

"We had competition. Every time we would have an album, there would be another Beatle album sitting right in your face," Lightfoot recalled, noting that his hit "Sundown," however, knocked Paul McCartney's post-Beatles band Wings off the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Chart in the early 1970s.

Lightfoot has little use for modern technology: Unlike nearly all national acts, Lightfoot doesn't have an official Web site, though there are multiple fan-based Web sites. He chooses not to have a cell phone. He said that, when necessary to reach someone on the road, he uses pay phones or hotel phones.

He said he, much like rock icon Mitch Ryder in metro Detroit, has found a niche for his career after his heyday of past decades.

"Mitch and I are in the same bag. You'll find even Boz Scaggs is out doing places that you never heard of," Lightfoot said.

Michigan has special meaning to Lightfoot. It was the first U.S. state the Canadian citizen was granted a work permit in which to perform. The show was at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, where he was an opening act.

"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" tells the story of the 1975 sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior, which claimed the lives of 29 men.

He performed in Michigan during the 1967 Detroit riots, and his song "Black Day in July" is based on his experiences at that time.

Lightfoot's music continues to inspire young artists.

In past decades, his music been has recorded and revered by legends including Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Glen Campbell and Peter Paul & Mary. More recently, country artist Toby Keith and pop artist Sarah McLachlan have covered his songs.

He doesn't plan to record new material, at least for the foreseeable future.

"There's so many people there that they don't need me to be doing that now," Lightfoot said.
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