Border crossing Canadian bands rock Vermont

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By Brent HallenbeckFree Press Staff Writer
Two-hour delays at the border? That’s not enough to deter this week’s Canadian Invasion.Two of Canada’s most venerable rock bands will take the trip south to Vermont in the coming days. Sunday will see Blue Rodeo make an appearance in the Higher Ground Ballroom. Two days later, The Tragically Hip returns to its sizable Vermont fan base for a show at Memorial Auditorium.

Blue Rodeo has a habit of touring with fellow noteworthy Canadian musicians who sit in with the band, and the current tour — which began Sunday in Michigan and ends Nov. 10 in Buffalo, N.Y. — is no exception. Singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith joins Blue Rodeo along with fellow Canadian singer-songwriters Luke Doucet and Justin Rutledge. Inspired by Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, the show will feature all the acts playing together as one band and sharing each others’ songs.

Only 48 hours after the final notes of “O Canada” leave your head, The Tragically Hip finds its way back to Vermont with its famously blistering live show. For those of you in need of your Hip fix, it’s been a quick turnaround — the Ontario-born band was most recently in the greater Burlington area just over six months ago for two shows at Higher Ground, the South Burlington night club that’s also presenting Tuesday’s concert at Memorial Auditorium.

Those sold-out Higher Ground shows in April demonstrated the Hipsters’ immense popularity in northwestern Vermont. Bass player Gord Sinclair talked about that with The Burlington Free Press before those shows: “Generally speaking, people in your neck of the woods are more open-minded to things that are not from America,” he said then. “We’ve never had the benefit of a stateside single. With a group like ours, all you have to do is get us in front of people.”

Check out this critique of a recent Hip gig from the band’s home-country publication the Halifax (Nova Scotia) Chronicle Herald: “While the guitar duo of Paul Langlois and Rob Baker with bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Fay laid down the fierce rock groove, frontman Gordon Downie was a one-man, three-ring circus, a vessel of fervour and emotion.”