top of page

Warmed by the Stolen Fire

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

S. Portico Bowman captures the essence of ListynKC In Persyn Presents Bruce Cockburn in Conversation

Republished Courtesy of S. Portico Bowman, Daniel Keebler, and
UMKC Student Union

My husband Tom asked me if I was excited. We were making the relatively short drive from our home to the University of Missouri-Kansas City Student Union in Kansas City, MO to attend Listyn KC InPersyn Presents Bruce Cockburn in Conversation from 6:30 – 9:30 pm. However, it would be 11:00 pm before we got in the car to drive home.

I told him excited was the wrong word. I’m a writer. I live in words. Awe was the better choice. Not only was I not driving a long distance for a Bruce Cockburn concert, I wasn’t going to a concert. The typical theatre that keeps the audience a stingy distance from the performer was being replaced with something akin to the living room.

Bruce Cockburn - Liberty Hall, Lawrence, KS - February 16, 2023

Kelsyn Rooks, host of KC’s listening experience, Listyn KC took to the stage moments before Mr. Cockburn opened his February 15 concert at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, Kansas. I thought he was going to ask for money for any one of Mr. Cockburn’s associated humanitarian interests. Instead, Kelsyn told us about the Center for Recorded Music. He shared their vision dedicated to the concept of social listening and learning anchored in sharing the artistic, technical, and social histories of recorded music on a stereo system worth more than a condo in Florida. And he was inviting us to come share an evening with Bruce Cockburn and Listyn KC in a three-hour program of conversation, and music. This would not be a concert, but it would be a time of intimate connection and communication dedicated to the album, Stealing Fire. My ticket was purchased before Kelsyn walked off the stage. Kansas City is where I live. I could walk if I had to. I didn’t have to.

Bruce Cockburn at Listyn KC

The three-hour program turned into four. Mr. Cockburn and Kelsyn shared a passionate space of dialogue that passed back and forth around a thoughtful musical playlist of Mr. Cockburn’s early musical influences, and his own recordings. There was an ease and a joy to the conversation and the curated playlist that brought Mr. Cockburn’s creative process into reach. The evening began with a recording of the “Ritual Fire Dance” by Manuel de Falla.

This is the recording that opened Mr. Cockburn to the power of musical experience. He was just a young boy. His father had played for the family the new Record of the Month. Mr. Cockburn told his dad he saw naked people dancing around the fire. His father thought that wasn’t possible but for Mr. Cockburn it was. From this moment on the musical fire has been burning.

Bruce Cockburn and Kelsyn Rooks at Listyn KC

The flame this past Saturday night was tended by Kelsyn’s careful questions. A gentle environment warmed the audience, and the light was all around. We were listening to the mysterious creative power of Mr. Cockburn and looking into the kaleidoscope of his musical ability. The conversation flowed back and forth with a rhythm tended by the sincere attention and connection between Mr. Cockburn and Kelsyn. There was an outline Kelsyn had prepared but it was bending and dancing as the conversation emerged. I was a witness to a creative process merging in the body of us all attentive to the privileged condition we were in. No one was rushing us out of the theatre.

There was no bad “seat” in the room. We were in a space that made every seat a perfect seat. I resisted my twinge to try and get closer. I was close enough by virtue of being in the room. However, what made the evening so profound was the sense of time, and expanding time as Mr. Cockburn talked, and we listened. No one was rushed. We were all present and accounted for.

Bruce Cockburn listens to Stealing Fire at Listyn KC

We spent four hours as words shaped in the form of love as musical sound gave us direct insight into how music has made this man, Bruce Cockburn, and then how this musical man has made the world I live in more bearable.

Stealing Fire at Listyn KC

We ended the evening with the uninterrupted listening to both sides of Stealing Fire. The stereo system did not disappoint. The Klipsch La Scala II speakers, Audio Note amplifiers and turntable rearranged my senses. I could taste the music and feel the fire. I didn’t need to steal a thing.

Bruce Cockburn with a few fans

Mr. Cockburn’s presence and interest and appreciation for us was profoundly sincere. He stayed and waited till every last one of us had our final taste of the evening. Mr. Cockburn’s generosity in this regard was a poignant luxury. The entire experience was a magnificent gift.

Always I am grateful for Bruce Cockburn who demonstrated to me, early on when deciding not just how to live – but why – that the resilient beauty of the creative life is also a life of service to the truth. Mr. Cockburn’s life has made all the difference to mine. Thank you. Truly.

Thank you, ListynKC.

Republished Courtesy of S. Portico Bowman, Daniel Keebler, and

More from Bruce Cockburn

Catch Bruce on Tour in 2023.

Listen To "Us All" new single from O Sun O Moon releasing May 12, 2023

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page