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The Winter Garden Theatre – November 22 and 23, 2013

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013


It was an amazing weekend of music. We thank all of you that put your faith in us and bought a ticket. We hope you weren't disappointed. And we thank all of the musicians and crew that came together to create a weekend of inspired music. It was one of the more satisfying and uplifting events that I have had the pleasure in being a part of. Here are some pictures from backstage….I was a little busy so I didn't have much time to properly document the event. I'm expecting to receive some more pics over the next few days so I'll post them when I receive them. Check out the Cowboy Junkies and The Kennedy Suite facebook pages for more coverage and photos.

Created with flickr slideshow.

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The Kennedy Suite – Trading Joe Pesci for Theseus by Scott Garbe

Friday, November 15th, 2013

(You can order The Kennedy Suite album now. 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.

Writing The Truth About Us (The Ballad of Lee and Marina) was a cathartic artistic and personal moment. It was a relief to give expression to some of my broken certainties, and I was later thrilled and humbled when the Skydiggers decided to include the song on their 1997 recording Desmond’s Hip City. With the passing of several years, however, I began to realize that I had broken out of one maze to find myself in another. The sense of freedom I had felt initially was replaced by an existential stone on my chest. What was I to do?

Write more.

“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; and where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.” – Joseph Campbell

This quote eloquently crystallizes one of literature’s great comforts, and in my search for an exit strategy, I latched onto it immediately. If I wanted to avoid becoming Joe Pesci playing David Ferrie in Oliver Stone’s JFK , I had better play Theseus. The Labyrinth is dark, but the path well travelled. I needed to find the end of that thread, slay my Minotaur and follow it out.

Back to the beginning…

I dug out my copy of The Torch Has Passed… and turned again to the series of photos that had so devastated me decades before. I interrogated the images for information, pushing further and further with my imagination. Where was the thread? Pushing to get close. Young and old at Love Field, straining to shake the President’s hand. Opaque reflections framed in horned-rimmed glasses. A child giggling in a rain hat on the shoulders of an unseen parent. Jackie beaming – the recent death of her infant son Patrick lifted from her expression. Red roses. Pink Chanel suit. Fall sunlight glinting off flawless chrome. Straining to pull humanity from still faces. Find the thread. Tight knot on a thin tie. The turn from Houston to Elm. A shot. A shot. Hands to the throat. Mrs. Kennedy’s white glove cups her husband’s jutting elbow. She leans towards him. Questioning. Inches from his puzzled face. Back brace holding him aloft. Upright. In harm’s way…

A police officer rides directly beside Jackie Kennedy. His head turned sharply over his right shoulder. In between the second and third shots, his mind is in transition. Faint smile fades. Jaw clenches. I had found my thread.

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The Kennedy Suite – the Scott Garbe demo

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

(All of the work that we did on The Kennedy Suite was based on the inspired demo that Scott Garbe and Doug Telfer created. It was an impressive blueprint, and for some of the songs, all we had to do was colour in the squares. The blog below was written by Doug Telfer who co-produced the demo along with Scott. If you pre-order the Kennedy Suite before Tuesday Nov 12th you will recieve a free digital copy of the demo. I think that its an important part of the project.)


Musicians meet musicians through other musicians; it’s like social media except without the colossal invasion of privacy. That’s how I met Scott Garbe – through our mutual friend Dean Sherman. Dean gave me a collection of songs that Scott had written – the songs were awesome, the lyrics were intelligent and insightful, but the recording was awful (sorry Scott).
I had some home recording equipment I’d been tinkering with rather than doing something productive. So, naïvely thinking it would take a weekend and maybe a couple of evenings, I made an offer to Scott to turn his collection of songs into something a little more polished.
The demo recording – which took about a year – was a continuous learning process. Scott credited me on the demo as co-producer, but that’s an exaggeration. Scott would have an idea, and my contribution was to turn off the furnace and hit the record button, hoping I had everything set up correctly.
The more we recorded, the more creative Scott became. He had a clear vision of the sound he wanted. The demo for Senior Prom was the most complex, with historical sound clips, Sydney Hodge on violin, and a late-night recording of my insomniac daughter Katie counting in (which made it to the final version). At the end of the song, the shot that felled Oswald reverberates through the basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters.
Scott was still writing during the recordings, and he kept showing up with new songs that were getting better and better. Some of those later songs are still my favourites, especially Secret Spy Decoder Ring, The Dallas Youth Auxiliary, and Slipstream.
With the release of The Kennedy Suite, it’s a revelation to hear how each song has been interpreted. Lyrically, there is dark comedy and despair, but hope is also given elbow room. I hadn’t heard the demo in quite a while, so I went back to give it a listen recently, and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the recording despite our inexperience. I do confess pride at playing a small part in this unique project. But the songs would have shone through no matter the quality of the recording.
When we started, Scott was a friend-of-a-friend. By the end, the hyphens and the degree of separation had disappeared. He’s a remarkable guy, soft-spoken but driven. Luckily it seems he’s met up with some other driven people along the way (notably Mike Timmins) who have moved this suite of songs to a special place. – Doug Telfer

The Cowboy Junkies Kennedy Suite can be ordered from Maple Music. The Cowboy Junkies and their friends are performing two shows at Toronto’s Winter Garden theatre on November 22nd (sold out) and 23rd. If you’re in the area, it’s not to be missed. Tickets can be bought from Massey Hall.

Read some of the previous Kennedy Suite blogs:



Lee Harvey Arrives Unannounced in Mexico

The Truth About Us

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The Kennedy Suite – The Truth About Us: Trading Perry Mason for Lewis and Clark by Scott Garbe

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

(We will be releasing The Kennedy Suite on Latent Recordings on November 12th. You can pre-order the CD and Deluxe Package now. 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.


Sandy was my Yearbook Sales Representative.  Gleaming nails, a clatter of silver bracelets & bangles, and foundation make-up that shimmered on her face like condensation on a window pain. But her humour was every bit as sincere as her appearance was superficial. Hair of platinum, heart of gold. And when I told her that there was one place I was compelled to visit while I was in the city, she generously agreed to take me.

My guess was that Sandy would have been 10-12 years old at the time of Kennedy’s assassination, yet she didn’t speak about her experience. In fact, though a Dallas native, her visit to Dealey Plaza with me would be her first. When the President and the First Lady had rolled through town that bright November morning, some students made welcome signs and lined the motorcade route to enthusiastically wave hello, others had teachers who steadfastly refused to release them and at least one, as described in William Manchester’s book Death of a President, did nothing to quell the rousing cheers that filled her classroom when the death of the President was announced. What was Sandy’s experience? She wasn’t volunteering, and I wasn’t about to intrude. I was a tourist, both in a physical and emotional sense. I had been impacted by an event that I had to wrestle with through my imagination. She had lived the moment, and it contained no poetry. It had come and gone without epiphany.

But as I said in my previous entry, after visiting the Sixth Floor Museum and walking the grounds of Dealey Plaza, Lee Oswald had imposed himself as a presence.

He tagged along during the remainder of my yearbook training. He carefully unfolded the wax paper around his sandwich as Sandy and I ate lunch in the publishing company’s cafeteria. After Sandy and I had parted ways, he sat tight-lipped beside me on the plane back to Monterrey. He lounged in the back of the taxi that took me to my apartment from the airport. And he calmly sipped a soda, inscrutable, as I finally had time to take a long, inquiring look into his eyes.

Did he or didn’t he?

Lee wasn’t saying. His brother Robert had tried to discern an answer in the same manner when he visited with him in the Dallas County Jail after his arrest. Noting his probing stare Lee responded glibly, “Brother, you won’t find anything there.”

Meeting that silence forced me to turn a corner. Instead of waiting for an answer, I would explore the question, and that question was not one of culpability, but one of construction. Through his 24 years, Lee Harvey Oswald was a composite, a collage of aliases, fragmented story lines and false starts.

What conditions created him? What materials were grafted layer by layer in his manufacture? What was his path? If traced it back, where would it lead? If extrapolated into the future, what would be its trajectory?

The Truth About Us (The Ballad of Lee and Marina) is a document of that expedition. When I began writing, Lee had been looking over my shoulder. By the time I put down my pen, he was gone.

I haven’t seen him since.


(Here is The Truth About Us off of The Kennedy Suite sung by Andy Maize of Skydiggers)


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On Canvas, WHYY

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

We are proud to be featured by Philadelphia's WHYY On Canvas show. They came out to our Sellersville, PA show this past spring, filmed a pre-show interview and recorded the show. Looks and sounds pretty darn good….check it out:


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Congrats to the Blackhawks

Monday, June 24th, 2013


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Tour Diary – Cochrane, Alberta (April 18, 2013)

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Pete's ipad sketch of the Alberta landscape:

This morning we drove back across the prairie from whence we came: heading to somewhere between Calgary and the Rocky Mountains, to a little town situated on the banks of the Bow River, named Cochrane. The word is that this town is fishing central when the season finally gets underway, but at this time of year there doesn't seem to be a whole lot going on. It's an ugly time of year, not quite winter, not quite spring, the dominant colours being brown and gray. Cochrane does have an “old town”, but it looks more like an “olde town” to me, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of architectural heritage lining the streets. Once again there are lots of malls, lots of Tim Horton's, lot's of convenience.

We played tonight in the The Cochrane Alliance Church, which is home to the Cochrane Folk Club. Performing in churches is always difficult, the acoustics generally aren't designed to absorb a drum kit and an electric bass amp, but this hall was particularly difficult. Jared had a tough time at front-of-house and we struggled all night with the sound on stage. The good part of the equation was that we had a sold out show and an audience that was excited to be there. I think we played ok, despite the challenges.

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Tour Diary – Albany, NY (March 2, 2013)

Monday, March 4th, 2013

We slept last night in the Northampton Quality Inn parking lot and this morning made our way to Albany and The Egg. There are very strict rules about playing The Egg, because the theatre is mounted (yes, mounted) on top of a government plaza. The entrance to the loading bays which are underneath the plaza are as well hidden as the batcave and we had to circle the plaza a few times before Alfred appeared to show us the way. Once inside, and before he had a chance to back the bus up into the loading bay, our driver, Randy, was set upon by an overenthusiastic State Trooper. He was told that he had a five year old outstanding New York State ticket and that his license had been suspended in the State, so he had to leave the bus immediately and couldn’t even back it into the bay. Randy pleaded innocent and in his defence offered the fact that he had crossed the Canada/US border into New York State several dozen times  over the past few years and had never been flagged. Eventually the trooper made a few more inquiries, wrote him some kind of ticket and then backed down on his demands and drove away. But now Randy has a ticket which carries with it a misdemeanour, which he has to deal with….all in the name of keeping us safe I suppose

The Egg is one of the weirder theatre designs out there. It sits on top of a pedestal at the edge of an enormous concrete plaza. The urban myth about its design is that the architect was having breakfast with Nelson Rockefeller who told him that he wanted a landmark theatre to be built in the state capital, so the architect placed a half a grapefruit on top of a water glass and said “how about something like that?”….and so it was born. This was the first of five or six Trinity Session shows that we are doing on this run. Two sets, with the first being made up of all Nomad Series songs and the second set a run through from start to finish of The Trinity Session. We have done three or four of these types of shows in the past. They are a little odd and a little “constructed” but tonight we could feel how they could easily work…it’s just a matter of relaxing in to the “construct”. Not a bad night overall.

Pete's ipad sketch of The Egg:

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Tour Diary – London (January 25, 2013)

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

We put a few miles in after the gig last night to lessen the pain of the three hour drive from Manchester to London.  We pulled in to London around midday and wound our way through the streets to the Barbican Center that sits in the middle of the city. The Barbican is an ugly child of the 70’s, an example of modern architecture at its finest/worst, you decide.  The theatre itself is quite beautiful and a very prestigious place to play. We booked this gig many months ago, in the hope that the long lead time and playing in such a high profile venue would help get the word out. Our gamble paid off and we had a huge crowd tonight.

 I never left the building today. We drove in to the underground parking lot and I hunkered down in our dressing room until gig time. I love London, but I’m too tired to explore and it’s just miserable outside. It was an odd gig tonight. We all felt that we played well, but we had difficulty raising the show to the level that we know we can achieve and on the occasions that we did reach those heights we had trouble maintaining. It wasn’t a bad show, it was just a lot of work. The audience seemed a little bit lost during the first set of all Nomad Series songs, but really came alive during the second set, they were a generous and appreciative bunch. All in all a good night…sometimes you reach for the stars and have to just settle for a moon or two….and there is no crime in that.

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Tour Diary – Porto, Portugal (November 18 and 19, 2012)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

November 18: There is a leisurely pace to this little tour. Today was a day off and this morning we piled into a small van and headed up the highway to the city of Porto. Three hours later we took up residence at a cafe along the banks of the Rio Douro and settled in to enjoy the perfect weather and this incredible city. The old city of Porto is carved out of the cliffs that rise from the river. Centuries stacked upon centuries. The streets and alleyways create a maze that twists and turns and switches back on itself. The only way to find ones way out is by heading downhill, toward the river. Around every corner looms a dark, haunted looking church, vampires peer down from perches high above the alleyways (not the cute Kristen Stewart/Rob Pattinson variety, but the creepy Klaus Kinski kind). It’s an amazing place. Some of us also sampled one of the local delicacies, some call it a Frenchie, some call it a Drunk Mans Sandwich and some call it something else in Portuguese. I call it disgusting…two pieces of bread, covered in melted cheese, with a fried egg on top and sausage, steak, ham and whatever other scraps the kitchen has on hand, inside. Then the whole thing sits in a putrid, spicy gravy. I guess it was kind of like going to Philadelphia and ordering a Phillie Cheesesteak, but not nearly as good for you … does strange things when one is in an unfamiliar time zone.

November 19: The gig tonight was not in the old town but in a more modern part of the city in the Casa De Musica, which is the cities main concert hall. In direct contrast to the cities ancient past this building looks forward, far forward into a galaxy far, far away…it boldly goes where no man has gone before. It is a futuristic mess. The building was designed by Koolhaas in the early 2000s and I suppose it is an attempt at breaking away from the traditional European concert hall, perhaps an ironic twist on a theme, but it is a perfect example of form (gone mad) over function…perhaps it looked good as a scale model. The building is a strange, indefinable, multi-sided shape that sits on a huge undulating marble platform (a skateboarders paradise). Ironically the space age materials used on the outside already looks worn and dated (in many ways the outside of the building reminds me of one of our local Toronto architectural calamities, the ROM chrystal…impractical, ugly and dated within a week of its completion). The inside of the building is concrete, stainless steel, plastic and neon. While walking around inside it’s hard not to flash on scenes from The Andromeda Strain, or expect to meet Lord Vader and a dozen storm troopers coming down the hall. Our dressing room had these fantastic, huge windows jutting out at 45 degree angles over the skateboarders below, it reminded me of the lounge (10 Forward) on the Starship Enterprise (for all you Next Generation fans). Apparently the future is a very uncomfortable place with lots of hard edges and harsh light…although there is the occasional cool window and sliding remote control door to keep one amused. The performance hall itself is enormous, not necessarily in seating capacity but in the actual volume of space….it is vast. Don’t get me wrong, we felt honoured to be asked to play in such a prestigious hall and loved the opportunity to do so. Once again, we had a very appreciative and enthusiastic audience. We had a very good show although not as consistently strong as the night before. What can I say…Portugal rocks….we had a blast….we hope to return soon.

Created with flickr slideshow.

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