Posts Tagged ‘The Kennedy Suite’
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.