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The Kennedy Suite – Origins by Scott Garbe

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

(We will be releasing The Kennedy Suite on Latent Recordings on November 12th. Pre-orders will start on October 15th. The debut performance of The Kennedy Suite will be on November 22nd and 23rd at The Winter Garden Theater in Toronto. Please visit The Kennedy Suite website and Facebook page)

Scott Garbe is the writer of The Kennedy Suite. He will be posting a series of blogs about the writing of the Suite, it is a fascinating journey and definitely worth following along…make sure that you check back in every now and then.

 
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Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one. A moment. In childhood. When it first occurred to you that you don’t go on forever. It must have been shattering, stamped into one’s memory. And yet, I can’t remember it.”
  • Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

When I think about the origins of The Kennedy Suite it really began when I was in the third grade. I didn’t start writing the songs at that time, of course, I had a formative experience that was to change my perception of the world.

President Kennedy was a hero in our home. The image attached here is of a vinyl record of his most famous speeches that used to lean against our family’s old cabinet stereo in perpetual view. Maybe your family had the same record.

Even at a young age, I was struck by JFK’s beautiful family and the ideas he had left for the world to consider, the stories of his courage during the Second World War (PT 109), of his longing to reach the moon, of his love for poetry. In a sense, I had all the romantic notions of President Kennedy as a young boy that many citizens of the world must have had in the early sixties, that of a man of great dreams and grace – almost invincible.

In the fall of that third-grade year, I was digging through my parents' bookshelf when I came across a commemorative book published by the Associated Press entitled The Torch Has Passed… Unsuspecting, I flipped through to a sequence of pictures of the assassination in Dallas. I hadn’t known the President had been murdered. In a double page fold of stark, black and white photos I saw for the first time that the world was not what I thought it was. It was a dangerous, frightening place where no one was safe, not even Presidents.

Especially striking was an image taken shortly after the shooting. Kennedy had fallen forward, unconscious, onto the floor of his limousine. The life of the bold leader of the New Frontier had been ruthlessly taken before my eyes – Secret Service Agent Clint Hill’s foot dangling hopelessly over the rear side of the car in a desperate attempt to steady himself as the Presidential party rushed in a violent blur to Parkland Hospital.

That’s when I realized, for the first time, that I wouldn’t go on forever.

And that’s why I had to write these songs.

Talk to you soon,

Scott

jfk-death-2

Kennedy LP Photo

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The Kennedy Suite performance – 2nd show added

Monday, September 30th, 2013

We are excited to announce that a second show at the Winter Garden Theater in Toronto has been added on November 23rd (the first show is on November 22nd). We will be performing two sets each night, with the first set dedicated to a complete performance of The Kennedy Suite which will have a stage production created and designed by  Benedict Hilliard (Associate Designer for Cats, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon), Stephen Pollard (Lighting Designer for U2, Adele, Simple Minds) and Geoff Burpee. Joining the band for both performances will be Skydiggers, Sarah Harmer, Jason Collett, Lee Harvey Osmond, The Good Family, Harlan Pepper, Jessy Bell Smith, Reid Jameison, The Screwed, The Potion Kings and Ivy Mairi. In the second set we will pull songs from the more familiar corners of our catalogue and hopefully we can convince a few of our guests to join us on stage.

We will be starting pre-sales on the Kennedy Suite album on October 15th and along with the album we will be offering some limited edition prints of 14 collages that brother Pete created for The Kennedy Suite artwork.

Also, we continue our Nomad Tour on October 24th and are heading to some of our favourite haunts in the mid-west. Please check out the tour page to see if we are coming close to your front door.

disintegrating

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The Kennedy Suite: An Introduction

Friday, September 20th, 2013

(We will be releasing The Kennedy Suite on Latent Recordings on November 12th. Pre-orders will start on October 15th. The debut performance of The Kennedy Suite will be on November 22nd and 23rd at The Winter Garden Theater in Toronto. Please visit The Kennedy Suite website and Facebook page)

When I was eleven years old my older brother John arrived home with the album Jesus Christ Superstar under his arms. I still have a memory of him walking in to the kitchen and pulling it out of the bag and announcing it's arrival. I must have listened to that album a hundred times and to this day I can still sing every song (which is saying something because I can't even remember the words to my own songs).

Ours was a Roman Catholic household and although we weren't very strict Catholics we still attended Mass on Sundays and had been thoroughly indoctrinated into the church at an early age by the nuns that were our grade school teachers. At first I was shocked by the album title, the idea that someone could meld the words Jesus Christ and Superstar was outrageous, approaching blasphemy, was tempting the wrath of God and his mighty lightning bolt (I got God and Zeus mixed up a lot back then). And then I was hooked in by the songs, the word play and melodies. But ultimately I kept delving deeper into the album because I was intrigued by how this piece of music took the iconic event of our civilization (the crucifixion) and the main players (Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the Apostles) and humanized them. Jesus became a young man fueled by a cause, but also blinded by ego and filled with doubt; Mary, who had been marginalized in the Bible teachings, became a confidant, a source of comfort and an important part of Jesus' inner circle; Judas, who had personified the word “treachery”, became another young man conflicted by doubt and driven by confusion; Herod was shown to be the psychotic sociopath that he probably was; and even the ultimate evil-doer, Pontius Pilate, had a slightly more humane and shaded light shone upon him. In other words all of the people in this great passion play became human, they were not the good vs evil, black vs white cardboard cutouts that I had been taught. This may not seem to be that revolutionary in 2013, but in 1971, inside the mind of an eleven year old, in a Roman Catholic household in Montreal, Quebec it was pretty mind expanding. I was hooked….and by the way, the band on the album was rockin'. 

When I was first handed the demo for Scott Garbe's The Kennedy Suite, I had some of the same reactions. At first I was intrigued by the title and premise: the idea that someone would attempt to write a song cycle around one of the most iconic events of the 20th century. And once I began to listen I was struck by the intelligence of the lyrics, the way they blend and blur history and fiction, the way they play upon some of the mysteries and controversies surrounding the event, the way they easily bounce from the macabre to the enlightened, from black humour to empathy and pathos. And eventually what kept me hooked was the humanity of the whole thing. The way the songs took this catastrophe, an event that has been twisted and poked and prodded and until it has lost all sense of the actual horror and suffering that it entailed and scaled it back down to a simple human tragedy. The assassination and subsequent funeral may have been played out in front of the entire world, but ultimately it is about loss and grief and the horrible randomness of colliding worlds.

The Kennedy Suite is filled with acute insights into the human condition, black humour, profanity, moments of pure empathy, historical details, cultural references and self-referential asides.  Each song is written from the perspective of someone, real or imagined, that had a connection to the events of Dealey Plaza on Nov 22, 1963. JFK, RFK, Jackie, Ruby and Oswald are all represented as are; three sisters giddy with anticipation for the Kennedys’ arrival at Love Field; a motorcycle cop riding in the motorcade determined to protect the Presidential couple to make up for his own failure to save his own family; a police detective assigned to escort the suspect Oswald but caught up in a delusional reverie about his Senior Prom and many other assorted characters. In order to do justice to Scott's vision we decided to call on a number of our friends and collaborators in the Canadian music scene. The Junkies along with Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson (Skydiggers) took Scott's demos and recorded our own versions. We then invited more friends to join us and to add their voices and talents. Margo took on the role of Jackie Kennedy on board Air Force One returning from Dallas with her husbands body; Jason Collett is JFK singing from the horse drawn caisson making its way through the streets of DC to Arlington cemetery; Bruce Good does his turn as a profane and nasty Jack Ruby sitting in his club and contemplating killing Oswald; and Sarah Harmer performs a delicate, yet searing epilogue to the Suite. Many others joined us as well, including Hawksley Workman, Doug Paisley, Martin Tielli, Jessy Bell Smith, The Screwed, Harlan Pepper, Lee Harvey Osmond, The Potion Kings and Ivy Mairi.

The Kennedy Suite is an examination of a world changing event and the human toll that the assassination exacted. It is also a cutting look at our present day culture and times: it holds up a mirror to the circumstances, people and events of November 22, 1963 and reflects back a strikingly recognizable image, half a century later.

*****

Here is a taste….Jackie Kennedy (as imagined by the writer) sitting on Air Force One, heading back to Washington with the body of her husband, still wearing her blood-splattered clothes so that the world could see “what they have done to Jack”, wracked with survivors guilt and suddenly struck by the horrible realization that maybe the bullet wasn't meant for him, but for her.

 

 

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The Kennedy Suite performance – on sale now

Monday, August 19th, 2013

As I mentioned in the blog below, our latest project is a collaborative one called The Kennedy Suite. We will be performing the Suite in its entirety on Nov 22 at The Winter Garden Theater in Toronto. This will be a two set night with a debut performance of The Kennedy Suite in the first set. The second set will be all Cowboy Junkies with, we hope, a few special guests joining us on a few songs.

Helping us with The Kennedy Suite performance will be a long list of friends that also perform on the album: Sarah Harmer, Jason Collett, Skydiggers, Lee Harvey Osmond, Harlan Pepper, Jessy Bell Smith, Reid Jameison, The Good Family (Bruce and Margaret Good), The Screwed, The Potion Kings and Ivy Mairi.

This will be a very special and unique night of music. Tickets go on sale today so now is your chance to get snag the best seats in the house. Click here for ticket info: http://roythomson.com/eventdetail/cowboyjunkies

We will be posting a lot more info about the Kennedy Suite album in the coming weeks. Stay Tuned. We are looking forward to seeing some of you in November.

In the meantime there is still time to do a little bit more fishing:

P1000744

 

 

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Kennedy Suite ticket update

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Tickets for the show on November 22 at the Winter Garden Theater in Toronto will go on sale at 10am on Monday August 19th. We will post the link here on the 19th. In the meantime…go fishing.

 

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The Kennedy Suite

Monday, August 5th, 2013

DSCN3649

It's been a strange summer up her in the Great White North: cool temperatures and more rain than anyone can remember. But I haven't minded so much. Excellent sleeping weather and when it's not raining the air has been clean and the temperature has been perfect for biking around and enjoying our most amazing city. This is truly a great place to live (especially in the Summer). We have been off the road since May and it has given me a chance to to do a bit of fishing (no luck yet with the browns but the largemouth have been very game) and an opportunity to watch my team: the aggravatingly-horrible, ball-kicking-gong-show that is the Toronto Blue Jays. But mostly, we have been in our new studio (The Hangar) finishing off our next project, The Kennedy Suite.

The Kennedy Suite is one of those albums that is extremely difficult to describe. It's a rock opera, a musical, a song cycle, a melodic psychological exploration of the people, characters and events surrounding the assassination of John Kennedy. We didn't write it and we don't even perform all of the music on the album, but we are proudly putting our name to it and “presenting” it on our Latent Recordings label. It is one of the most intelligent, creative and moving piece of writing that I have come across in decades (ever since Jesus Christ Superstar entered my life at the impressionable age of eleven) and it is one of the most exciting and unique projects that we have been involved with in a long time. The narrative of the song cycle takes place over the course of the weekend of November 22 – 24, 1963. Starting with the Kennedys' arrival at Love Field in Dallas and ending with the President's funeral in Washington DC. Each song is written and sung from the perspective of someone, real or imagined, that had a connection to the assassination. JFK, Jackie, Ruby, RFK and Oswald are all represented as are: three sisters giddy with anticipation for Kennedy's arrival at Love Field; a motorcycle cop riding in the motorcade determined to protect the Presidential couple to make up for his own failure to save his own family; a police detective assigned to escort the suspect Oswald but caught up in a delusional reverie about his high school senior prom, and many other assorted characters. The Junkies (myself, Alan and Pete) along with our good friends Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson (The Skydiggers) perform as the band for most of the songs. Margo does a turn as Jackie Kennedy and delivers one of the most compelling and heartbreaking performances on the album (would you expect anything less?). Each song has a different vocalist and working with all of this talent has been the one aspect of this project that has been the most exciting and satisfying. Joining us are: Sarah Harmer, Jason Collett, Hawksley Workman, Doug Paisley, Martin Tielli, The Good Family, Jessy Bell Smith, The Screwed, Harlan Pepper, Lee Harvey Osmond, The Potion Kings and Ivy Mairi, as well as a large and varied assortment of musicians. As I said, it's a difficult project to describe. We have chosen to record and release an album that requires repeated listenings, a record that needs to be sat with and mulled over and that even needs liner notes to be fully appreciated. This is not a blueprint for success these days. But we have you and we know that there are enough of you out there that still want your music to challenge and inspire you.

We don't have a set date for the release just yet, but we are aiming for the end of October. We do have a very special concert planned for November 22 at the Winter Garden Theater in Toronto. It will involve most of the performers on the album. Tickets for that show will go on sale next week (I'll post more info about the show as soon as we have ticket info). We will be blogging a lot about the making of this album over the next couple of months and we will be creating a seperate website for it….so stay tuned. In the meantime here is the lyric for the song (Disintegrating) that Margo sings on the album. This is Jackie Kennedy (as imagined by the writer) sitting on Air Force One, heading back to Washington with the body of her husband, still wearing her blood-splattered clothes so that the world could see what had been done to her husband, wracked with survivors guilt and suddenly struck by the horrible realisation that maybe the bullet wasn't meant for him, but for her. As I said, it's an amazing piece of writing, crossing effortlessly between the literal, the historical and the figurative, ultimately inspiring, but not afraid to creep into those dark under-explored recesses of our thoughts and actions and to shine a little light on the complexities that make humans, human.

Disintegrating

In glazed eyes and red stains

I’m thinking this has to be

The biggest case of “I told you so”

 

I know I’m being petty

But when Nellie turned and said,

“Can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you…”

I almost laughed before you put your hand on my knee

 

To stop me,

Please stop me

Like I couldn’t stop you

From disintegrating

 

The young woman you waved to

For that moment I hated you

I imagined you dead and that I was finally free

 

And that’s when it happened

Did I will it to happen?’

Was all I was thinking as I

Held your head in my hands

 

This is a tight sleeve,

The fucking engines of this plane are shrill

My lips are bloodless

 

Please, stop me

Please, stop me

Like I couldn’t stop you

From disintegrating

 

The face of that young aid

Glancing back over LBJ’s shoulder

Did I overhear him say, “Hey, I’ve got a sure-fire way to win a second term

Put a hit out on his wife

The sympathy vote would be a landslide”?

You weren’t really thinking that, were you?

Did you?

 

Were they killing you?

Or were they just missing me?

And if you were in my place

Would you be…Disintegrating?

 

 

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Lee Harvey Osmond on Polaris Prize prize long list

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

We are excited to announce that Lee Harvey Osmond's "The Folk Sinner" has made the long list for this years Polaris Prize. For those of you who don't live in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, the Polaris Prize is awarded annually in Canada to the artist with coolest facial hair, or the most tatoos….or maybe its for the best album voted on by those with the most facial hair and coolest tatoos. In any case, the winner gets a nice chunk of change and its always good to be recognized for a job well done…it's also a great album. If you haven't had a listen, please do so by going to the Lee Harvey Osmond website where you can listen for free.

You can find more info about the Polaris Prize here

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The Good Family Album

Monday, May 27th, 2013

We here at Latent Recordings headquarters are proud and excited to announce the release of The Good Family Album by the newly minted, multi-generational, super-group, The Good Family. The band is a family affair essentially made up of two iconic Canadian bands: The Good Brothers and The Sadies. Fathers, brothers, mothers, uncles, cousins, nephews, sons and nieces abound in this band and the one thing that glues it all together is supreme musicianship. Folk, bluegrass, country and some good ole Southern-stomp blend together on the album to make up one of the most captivating traditional-styled albums that I have come across in a long time. You can listen to the album for free by clicking on the player below and if you like what you hear please do yourself (and the musicians) a favour and buy a CD or a download of the album. Enjoy.

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Live webcast from San Francisco tonight

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

We will be broadcasting our 8pm (PST) show from Yoshi's in San Francisco tonight. You can watch it live (no replays) by going directly to the youtube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/ShowGotv?v=smGuitORAlQ

Enjoy the show.

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The Nomad Tour is heading West

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

If you are a Westerner please note that our Nomad Tour is heading your way in less than a week. On April 17th we will be starting a week-long run of dates through Alberta and then heading north to Whitehorse, on to Victoria and then south in to Washington, Oregon and Northern California. Most nights we will be playing two sets with the first set dedicated to our just completed Nomad Series and the second set full of songs from our catalogue. If there is a song of ours that you have always wanted to hear us play, please email the title to us at JunkieInfo@aol.com and we will do our best to play it that night (make sure you tell us what show you'll be at). Check out our Tour Page for relevant venue and ticket info. It will be a while before we are back in this part of the country so we hope to see out there.

For those of you in or near Quebec City, we'll be heading your way on May 11th for a show at the beautiful Palais Montcalm.

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