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Cowboy Junkies to Play at the Avalon Theatre
July 27, 2018 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
“There’s no other band that can stay that quiet and that dynamic at the same time,” said Ryan Adams, the alternative country singer who has appeared on albums with The Cowboy Junkies, who are set to perform in Easton on the Avalon Theatre stage on July 27 at 8 p.m. “They create tension by not adding tension. I sort of imagine them living in an attic in a library in Canada or something.”
The Cowboy Junkies’ music is moody and often solemn, and this Canadian alt-country group is best known for its slow, stripped-down covers of classics by Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young and Townes van Zandt, among others, sung in Margo Timmins’s ethereal smoke-and-honey voice. In 1988 the band scored a minor hit, its only one, with a reinterpretation of “Sweet Jane,” written by Lou Reed, from its second album, “The Trinity Session” (RCA), which went on to sell more than a million copies in the United States and two million in Canada.
But while countless other 1980s bands have fizzled out or disappeared after far greater success, the Junkies still pack clubs throughout North America and Europe about 75 times a year, thanks to a cultish, Deadhead-like following that seems to surprise outsiders.
“The Cowboy Junkies are such an interesting act to us at The Avalon,” says Suzy Moore who books the talent at the theatre. “When they originally came out, their understated rock and roll sounded great, but it wasn’t as loud or as fast as what much of the audience at the time was used to. Some 30 years later with that same audience having turned 40 or 45, the Junkies more mature, ethereal sound is just what the doctor ordered for many and the band is selling out live shows everywhere really.”
“We never bought into the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle by moving to New York or Los Angeles,” said Michael Timmins, the lead guitarist (and Margo’s brother), who writes the band’s original music and lyrics. He, like his band mates, still lives in Canada. “We’ve just always made music, which is what we love to do.”
With Cowboy Junkies’ new album, “All That Reckoning,” (releasing 13 days before their show in Easton) the band once again gently shakes the listener to wake up. Whether commenting on the fragile state of the world or on personal relationships, this new collection of songs encourages the listener to take notice. It also may be the most powerful album Cowboy Junkies have yet recorded.
While the music is characteristically easy to listen to, the songs on “All That Reckoning” are visceral. In true Junkies fashion, the gentleness is juxtaposed with rock that can be jarring. “It’s a deeper and a more complete record than we’ve ever done before,” says Michael. “We’ve always tried to make records that are relevant to who we are as people. These songs are about reckoning on a personal level and reckoning on a political level. So much is going on around us right now and nobody knows where it’s going to end up.”
Unlike most long-lasting groups, they have never had a break up or taken a sanity-saving hiatus. There’s an appreciation of each other that keeps them constantly working. “It’s that intimacy and understanding of what each one of us brings to the table,” says Michael. “Even if the world doesn’t know it, we do.”
Cowboy Junkies are not following anyone else’s guidebook. It’s advice Margo gave to her 15-year-old son, who is an aspiring musician in his own band. “He asked me, ‘How do you come up with the next ‘latest thing’? I told him, ‘Don’t try. It’s your music… Just love what you’re doing and do it your own way.”
Cowboy Junkies appear at The Avalon on July 27 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available by calling Kimberly in the box office at 410-822-7299 or by ordering online at avalonfoundation.org.