Posts Tagged ‘Jason Lent’

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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Tour Diary – Bellow Falls, VT (May 9, 2010)

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Bellows Fall, 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.)

The ride out of Bethel at midnight tested the caravan with blowing snow, felled trees blocking the road to the hotel, and a menagerie of wildlife whose red eyes were thankfully on the shoulder and not the centerline of the winding roads. With time on our side, the morning eschewed the highways and included more meandering roads that never let the river out of sight as we climbed into Bellows Falls, VT.

A few notes on the village where the stately opera house stood. The local florist was not only open past operating hours (where Bob bought the last 12 yellow roses in southern Vermont); they sold beer and wine in the same cooler as roses. Once seated in the venue, the usher asked a guest, is that your spliff on the ground? When he offered it to her, she insisted on asking around so it could be returned to its rightful owner. In the end, it was finders, keepers. Needless to say, this was a fine town to spend an evening with Cowboy Junkies.

Maybe it was the vibe of the town, maybe it was just the upcoming day off greeting everyone after the encore, but tonight’s show took flight early and didn’t come down until the third song of the encore when the last rush of cymbals walked off into the evening. The debut of “My Fall” and the resurrection of the understated “River Waltz” were just some of the highlights on a night when the band was connecting on every note. It was a good night to be a fan. From what I caught in the glances and smiles on stage, it was an even better night to be on stage.


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Tour Diary – Bethel, NY (May 8, 2010)

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Jason, Bob and Ed at Woodstock

(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.)

I awoke to the sound of rain pattering against the roof on the Crazy Ed Compound. Cookie Bob and Ed have taken me under their wings on this run and my rental car has taken on new life. It was a short run into New York and we rolled into Nazarus, feeling about half past dead. Wait, that was the song we were blasting as the car pulled into Bethel, NY the actual home to the Woodstock Festival of 1969!

The group that purchased the property has built a full size amphitheater, a fantastic, interactive museum with rare video footage from the concert, and a smaller room for intimate shows (where the band played tonight). Like most new venues built in the Ticketmaster Era, the facility is clean, well equipped with security gates, and lacking in character. Thankfully, all of this was built atop the hill overlooking the original site and the spiritual epicenter of Woodstock remains untouched.

The three of us walked the property and stood at ground zero of the original stage. Looking up at the hill, the echo of the crowd whispered in the wind and one could not help but feel the power of the entire generation. For someone not yet born in 1969, the entire Woodstock mythology is a pastiche of VH-1 specials and stories from my parents about the music of that period. I thought I understood it, I thought I appreciated it. Lying on the shimmering green grass as clouds passed through my field of vision, everything felt in harmony and I realized that this wasn’t a movie, a slogan, or a brand. This was a moment in time when a generation stood together and used music as a vehicle for change. As I felt the grass tickling my neck and the damp grass seeping through my jeans, I considered what this site represents today. Is it a beautiful reminder of how we can use music to fuel social change or a cenotaph to a time when that seemed possible? I’m not sure my generation has managed to answer that question with our actions.

The room tonight situated the band in front of a dormant fireplace as the glass windows circling the room braced against fierce winds. The sound was clear and the crowd polite. Almost too polite. At times, the music was searching for the extra push from the audience to help it take flight and it wasn’t always there. On tour as a fan, there are those special moments you want to bottle and carry in a back pocket for days when you need to pour some light into your soul. When the band stripped down and delivered “Something More Besides You,” the tiniest reverberation of each guitar string entwined itself with Margo’s breath and danced slowly through the night. Much like my day in Bethel, those three minutes of music will never fade in my memory. Peace. Love. Music.


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Tour Diary – Troy, NY (May 7, 2010)

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Troy, New York

(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 tour resumed in Troy, NY, where I have encamped with family throughout the tour. So, it was on familiar ground that I loaded up another rental car and drove back into the adventure. The town of Troy, NY sits upriver from the capital Albany.  Once a wealthy steel town, the city has suffered its hard times but efforts to preserve the architecture and history are visible. Sitting on the back patio of a pub overlooking the Hudson River drinking some handcrafted ale, it’s an easy city to pull for.

Tonight’s venue was a small concert room with a balcony of tables and an open floor. The first 100 or so people through the door made for the upstairs and the floor remained lightly populated until show time. Troy sits in the area of Upstate New York now dubbed the “Geese Belt” and the crowd did it’s best to match Buffalo and Syracuse’s chatter before, after, and during songs. It didn’t matter. The band came to play.

Margo attacked the set from the word go and the music followed boldly. Aaron switched between pedal steel and guitar adding new sounds to familiar tunes. On “Lay It Down,” the band explored the darkest corners of the song while “A Common Disaster” shook the floor with its powerful low end. If tonight is a harbinger of the next week in New England, it promises to be a special run of shows.


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Jason’s Video Diary (April – East Coast)

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Here’s another video from the road from Jason. You can also find a very nice review of our new album Renmin Park on No Depression written by our good friend Paul Cantin. We’ll be back on the road at the end of the week. Make sure you check out the tour page to see if we are coming to a venue near you. Check back often and follow us through the Tour Diary or use one of the RSS feeds to keep up to date, or follow us on Twitter (CJMusic) or subscribe to the Cowboy Junkies page on Facebook.We hope to see you out there.

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Tour Diary – Philadelphia, PA (April 24, 2010)

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Philadelphia

(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.)

It was a wet and grey day when I finally reached Philadelphia. I headed over to the venue as the Penn Relays let out on the adjoining campus and found myself swimming upstream in a river of traffic. Time was short so the planned trip to see the Rocky statue was cancelled and I only caught a glimpse of downtown Philadelphia. The venue was modern and featured live music on multiple levels. There was seating if you ordered their expensive dinner but those interested only in music were left to stand.

It was a difficult night in Philadelphia. The band’s set appeared to be hampered by sound issues on stage all evening. The more rocking songs lacked the punch of the previous night and a few songs almost came undone as the band struggled to fight through the technical issues. On the last night of a tour that covered over 2,500 miles in nine days, the band managed to keep their sense of humor and deliver some memorable moments when they stripped down for the acoustic songs. Later, Margo really let loose and exorcised some of the night’s frustrations during “Good Friday.”

After the show, my friend and I strolled up fraternity row and settled into the counter at an all night diner. It smelled of burnt fry oil and the seats were torn. Two sisters, Ginger (the older at 19) and Jolina were working their third shift together as waitresses. They talked about becoming nurse technicians and someday seeing Hawaii. There was hope in their voices and a real belief that they were headed towards someplace better. I hope they get there.

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