Archive for May, 2010

Renmin Park background and blogs

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

I hope everyone is enjoying the album. Over the past month or so I have been blogging about some of the inspiration behind the album and if you missed some of those blogs, and are interested, you can catch up by clicking on the links below. In the coming weeks I’ll be posting about the specific inspiration behind some of the individual songs. So be sure to check back in.

Renmin Park – Introduction

Renmin Park – The Place

Renmin Park – The Sounds

Renmin Park – The Music

Renmin Park – The Lyrics

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Mary Gauthier – The Foundling

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I had the great pleasure of producing Mary Gauthier’s new album, The Foundling, this past winter. It’s an intensely personal collection of songs, best described in her own words:

I was born to an unwed mother in 1962 and subsequently surrendered to St. Vincent’s Women and Infants Asylum on Magazine Street in New Orleans, where I spent my first year. I was adopted shortly thereafter but left my adopted family at fifteen. I wandered for years looking for, but never quite finding a place that felt like home. I searched for, found, and was denied a meeting with my birth mother when I was 45 years old. She couldn’t afford to re-open the wound she’d carried her whole life, the wound of surrendering a baby. The Foundling is my story.

Working with Mary on these songs and talking about the stories and the issues that revolved around them allowed me to finally focus on and conceptualize the album that became Renmin Park. It was an intense and wonderful experience. Latent Recordings has the great honour of representing The Foundling in Canada. Here are some links to some early reviews of the album.

No Depression

Boston Globe

Take a listen to the album for free and if you like what you hear buy a copy.

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Happy Birthday Bob

Monday, May 24th, 2010

(Here’s something from our friend Ron Wells…)
Robert Allen Zimmerman, born May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota
He was born an enigma wrapped in a cloak of mystery outside the Gates of Eden, outside of time and space, walking in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie, sitting amidst the blues of Blind Willie McTell, kin to Alan Ginsberg  and Jack Kerouac who taught him the Beat, and soulmate to Rimbaud who painted words in lavish strokes of color that defied meaning and spoke volumes. He writes songs that touch eternity and come back to visit earth, only to soar away like shooting stars as he strums his guitar and his soul roams the world looking for stories of sacred love, political lust and enduring life, a song and dance man playing electrified magical musical notes for the gods. And if you want to find him look inside the holy halls of the Chelsea Hotel, but it’s probably too late because he’s already hit the road on his way to some other joint down Highway 61, and if you hear some woman with her hands in her back pockets, Betty Davis style, whispering on the wind, “Happy Birthday, Bob”, well, he probably doesn’t hear her anyways because he’s an artist and he don’t look back as he heads for the Highlands where his spirit is on the water and his heart is traveling slow, onward, forever onward, passing mere mortals on the way to the next show.
“Thinking of a series of dreams
Where the time and the tempo fly
And there’s no exit in any direction
‘Cept the one that you can’t see with your eyes”
——-Bob Dylan

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Jason’s Video Diary (May – New England)

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Here is Jason’s video diary for the May tour. It’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time to see Pete working on his mind over matter opening act routine…its gonna be real big. To catch up on Jason’s Tour Diary, enter “Jason Lent” in the Junkies Blog Search window and check through the Blog archives.

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June & July Tour Dates

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Our plans for June and July are coming together. Still a few more dates to add, but we’ll be in Memphis, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Austin, Albuquerque, Scottsdale, Salt Lake City and Arvada, CO, in June. And Camden, Annapolis, Knoxville, Asheville and Atlanta in July. Click here for more details.

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Tour Diary -Great Barrington, MA (May 15, 2010)

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Great Barrington

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

Tonight was the fifth night in a row for the band and the last night of the New England tour. Coming off some weird towns in Connecticut, a good day in Great Barrington was needed to end strong. The beautiful town delivered on every count. The downtown area bustled with life and character. Ice cream parlors, bookstores, and vintage clothing were just a few of the attractions. The locals have carved a trail along the river that cuts through private property and gives everyone access to the slowly flowing water. Arriving early in the afternoon, there was not nearly enough time to enjoy all of Great Barrington.

The Mahaiwe Theater is tucked just off the main drag and the restoration work was done perfectly. The room is beautiful without sacrificing what made it special when it first opened in 1905. Much like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets Show, Ed and I watched the show from the small balconies overlooking the room. At many restored theaters, these balconies house lighting rigs or are simply boarded over. Being able to sit in the perch and watch the band interact musically added to a perfect evening.

Local singer-songwriter Adam Michael Rothberg opened the night with songs of love and hope. The exuberance of playing guitar and singing songs could be felt in every note he strummed. There was no agenda to his music, just a man singing songs he wrote. The music felt like a soundtrack to this beautiful town and provided a nice musical bridge into the Junkies set.

On a final night when many bands are firing up the tour bus halfway through the set, the Junkies once again dug deep and played with a sense of urgency. A few nights ago, “Me & the Devil” appeared on stage and the current touring line-up with Aaron on pedal steel brought a blood red ferocity to the song. Tonight, it reached its peak with the sound engineer sliding some effects under Margo’s vocal that turned this version into a sonic riot. When a breathless Margo delivered the final lines of “Good Friday,” the end of the tour crept back into view and it was time to say goodbye.

Those who follow this band know that each tour feels unique and that the music never stops evolving. Each of these runs has a personality all its own that is colored by the towns, the venues, and the audiences. When I look back at all these years of touring, this short expedition through New England is going to be remembered fondly. It did not surprise me that Cookie Bob and Crazy Ed were fantastic friends to share this journey with. As Ed mentioned to the band, good people attract other good people and we’re blessed that the nucleus of Cowboy Junkies continues to pull us all together. More true words have never been spoken.


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Tour Diary – Ridgefield, CT (May 14, 2010)

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Old Saybrook 2

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

The deep-rooted wealth of Old Saybrook transitioned into the more recently won prosperity of Ridgefield, CT as the tour descended on this perfectly manicured village. The main street was full of happy teens sharing ice cream and not a piece of trash could be found on the streets. Property values were holding steady and the parade of luxury cars were full of smiling people. As one of the locals remarked after the show, of course this place is nice, we’re rich.

To pass the time driving from show to show this week, Crazy Ed, Cookie Bob, and I held a fantasy set list draft with each of us drafting five songs. It’s amazing what three music geeks can come up with when stuck in a rental car for 2,000 miles. As we enter the final night of the tour, Bob’s first round selection of “Renmin Park” has paid off huge but I’m hanging on to a thin lead. The new songs bumping “Stranger Here” to the side have left me precariously close to a Boston Bruins-like collapse.

The show tonight took place in a restored theater (I type this a lot in New England) on the grounds of a high school, I think. I’m not really sure but there were a lot of kids skateboarding, playing baseball, and running around the parking lot. The music and the band sounded connected throughout the evening while the crowd bordered on raucous by Ridgefield, CT standards. Mike obliged the crowd with a short blast of “Sweet Jane” on the acoustic guitar and then we returned to the regularly scheduled music. A near perfect night of music in a eerily over-perfect town


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Tour Diary – Old Saybrook, CT (May 13, 2010)

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Old Saybrook

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

Somewhere on the coast of Connecticut, Old Saybrook sits pleasantly unchanged. The main street provides a few shops and restaurants while stately homes dot the pleasant streets. There’s not much going on in this pleasant town and I get the impression the residents work hard to keep it that way. The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, “the Kate” as us locals say, stands at the end of main street, flanked by a pleasant city park. The warm acoustics of the comfortable new venue lends itself to a pleasant night of music.

The band played two sets tonight with a diverse set list. The audience remembered the older material and was enthusiastic for the new songs. The addition of pedal steel to “Me & the Devil” brought a menaced beauty to the jam. The second set featured some laughs and gave the evening a relaxed atmosphere. There were a lot of smiles on stage and in the audience tonight.

On each run, there is that night when the end of the road suddenly makes an appearance on the horizon. Driving after the show, I caught a glimpse of it and a sinking feeling took root in my heart. Damn this band. At some point, a few bad shows or a disappointing album would make it so much easier to get back to life. Then again, what would life be without rock and roll? Let’s keep driving.


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Tour Diary – Providence, RI (May 12, 2010)

Friday, May 14th, 2010

outskirts

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

When I opened my eyes today, Lake Champlain shimmered across my horizon as I looked out from the hotel window. The day started promising and went south from there, both geographically and metaphorically. Arriving in Providence, the venue was situated in an industrial area of abandoned factories and a dreary waterfront. It felt like the town had started to rehabilitate the area but then lost interest or investment capital.

Driving around the city, I never gained traction on what the city is about or where people spend their time. The one strip of quirky stores and restaurants a few blocks from the university was absent of people. Our first attempt at lunch was thwarted when the waitress informed us the cook had left so we couldn’t order off the menu. Rhode Island, a great place to do laundry.

Tonight’s club was a faux upscale restaurant with a stage in the corner. Everything was designed and operated with the bottom line of the venue as the sole beneficiary. My enquiries about seating were met with harsh words by the manager so I just pulled a stool close to the side of the stage and hung out. The staff looked overmatched as guests clamored to send back their undercooked filet mignon and order more beer as the show began. The after show meet and greet was relocated outside as everybody was anxious to leave the negative vibes of the restaurant behind.

The band took the stage with the Montreal Canadiens up 4-0 early in the second period so spirits were high. In the first set, the country twinge to the live version of “My Fall” moved with the crisp, concise energy of a single that is climbing the radio charts (if such things still happen in music). The debut of “Cicadas” worked perfectly as the crowd chatter unintentionally added an extra layer of murmuring to the song’s swarming atmosphere. A great night of music, a huge game seven victory by Montreal, and a drive out of Providence to a familiar futon. We’re chalking today up as another win on the road.


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Tour Diary – Burlington, VT (May 11, 2010)

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Burlington, VT

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

Monday brought no concert so I did what any illogical nomad following his favorite band does: take a walking tour of Northampton, MA where the band has played over twenty shows stretching back to the 1980’s. About nine years ago, an email came through from a guy named Ed who asked me to send him money to help buy Margo a few hundred yellow roses. I didn’t know Ed but it sounded like a good idea. So here I was on a day off in New England, standing outside the Calvin Theater with Ed, looking at the venue where the flower conspiracy transpired. Life has a way of circling back to you.

Burlington, VT greeted us with warm sunshine and a beautiful lake. The downtown commons area included several indie record stores and plenty of pubs. I met a free spirit playing guitar outside the record store and we formed an impromptu band. I arranged three chords a few different ways and she handled the vocals. Our set list went “Helpless” and then “Sweet Jane” with no encore. We didn’t make any tips but Ed seemed mildly entertained. We bought her a copy of Lay It Down from the used bin and some pizza. Then she slipped off into the crowd to hustle some tips and find a place to sleep.

The show tonight was in your standard box shaped rock club with folding chairs and a long bar. The crowd was uncomfortably sparse but those who came caught a solid night of rock and roll. Between the small crowd, a lighting guy on copious amounts of Red Bull (or something equally stimulating), and some sound issues, the energy never reached transcendent levels. The encore sparkled as the audience, music, and band finally landed on the same page. Tomorrow, we head south to Rhode Island. I miss the islands of Hawaii so the day sounds promising….


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