Views / Backstage Pass London

Former Blue Rodeo keyboardist Bob Wiseman gets political with his music

He’s downright bold when it comes to taking a hard look at politics, social justice and human rights issues through his art.

Canada’s Bob Wiseman is set to take the stage Saturday at APK to showcase his new album, Giulietta Masina, at the Oscars Crying, along with music by Corin Raymond (who funded his album with Canadian Tire money) and live projections from the London Ontario Media Arts Association.

Known as the former keyboardist of Blue Rodeo (with whom he won five Juno awards), and for trying to take Prince’s name when he changed it to an unrecognizable symbol, Wiseman has taken a step back from the music-industry machine to focus on his own music, films and plays.

His 13th album touches on everything from world politics to music awards ceremonies and inspiring people. His song Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver Airport recounts the story of a Polish man who died six years ago after being Tasered by the RCMP.

Taking up these issues through art is necessary, he says.

“It turns me on, it makes me feel better about the world,” Wiseman says.

“I love that artists can make political points that advance the agenda.”

His song The Reform Party at Burning Man gives his take on the situation in Canada circa the May 2011 federal election when the Conservatives earned a majority government.

Wiseman questioned Harper government policies, with lines that read, “their grand plan unveiled build more jails,” and “they are OK with foul play every little G20 cop got paid.”

But politics aren’t the only subject that inspires the musician.

His new album and title song Giulietta Masina at the Oscars Crying is about the private life and career of Giulietta Masina, wife of legendary director Federico Fellini.

The two suffered a miscarriage and later the death of their infant child.

“I’m a big fan of Fellini and his work and their relationship,” Wiseman says.

“He put a lot of their relationship up on screen, which I thought was brave and radical.”

Despite the serious subject matter of Wiseman’s songs, many of them also contain elements of comedy.

“There is something powerful about the capacity to laugh when you grasp how awful and absurd some things are,” he says.

During his Saturday stop in London, Wiseman will screen some of his films made on super 8 and 16 mm along with videos set to live music.

Doors open at 9 p.m. Cover is $10 or $5 plus a donation to the London Food Bank.

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