“You say that you’re leaving. Well, that comes as no surprise.”
Last year’s cross-country tour wasn’t Greg Keelor’s first rodeo, but it may be his last. He says that Blue Rodeo, the beloved country-rock band he co-fronts with Jim Cuddy, will never tour again.
“I don’t think I can do it any more,” Keelor told The Globe and Mail this week. “The night after night after night, I just go crazy.”
The 2017 tour was in support of the veteran band’s 14th studio album, 1000 Arms. It involved 30 shows in 23 cities, from Vancouver to Moncton. By the end of it, the 63-year-old Keelor was a “mess,” in his words.
“Touring is pretty tortuous for me,” Keelor says. “My head has a hard time with the volume and the travel. My brain turns against me and it gets very neurotic. It’s not pleasant at all.”
That said, Blue Rodeo is not retiring, or even pulling itself off the road entirely. The band, which released its first album in 1987, and which was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2012, has 10 coming summer appearances listed on its website. According to Keelor, who suffers from inner-ear problems, Blue Rodeo concerts will be limited to “one-offs and trips.”
Keelor’s comments come on the heels of the news that Huey Lewis, the 67-year-old I Want a New Drug rocker, was suffering from Meniere’s disease and would need to cancel all of his 2018 tour dates. “I can’t hear music well enough to sing,” Lewis said in a statement released last month. “The lower frequencies distort violently, making it impossible to find pitch.”
Earlier this year, Neil Diamond retired from touring after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Paul Simon is currently on what he has said will be his final tour; and Elton John’s massive, multiyear Farewell Yellow Brick Road curtain call is set to commence in Allentown, Pa., on Sept. 8.
Keelor’s recently released solo EP Last Winter was recorded as a therapeutic response to the physical and psychic trauma caused by the Blue Rodeo tour. “The songs are quiet — dreamscapes, really,” he says. “Music is the salve that heals.”
There are no plans for Keelor to tour solo in support of the meditative four-song release. Blue Rodeo’s next concert is in Sunderland, Ont., on June 8.