The Cowboy Junkies, a Canadian quartet formed in 1985, comprised of three siblings Michael, Margo, and Peter Timmins, along with longtime friend Alan Anton, have known each other since Kindergarten.
“When you’ve known somebody that long it’s kind of hard to pretend you’re someone else,” said Alan Anton. “It’s kept everyone in check over the years. The family dynamic makes us a lot tighter.”
As full-time artists, they have consistently been releasing music from the start up until now, hardly taking any breaks. They have grown together and progressed, transforming into their sounds, expanding their ranges and exploring new comfort zones, but it wasn’t always as easy as it is today.
“When we started we couldn’t really play our instruments that well, so that’s one thing that’s changed a lot,” said Anton. “We became better musicians. When we started we also never thought we’d be doing it this long and making money at it.”
Since their modest beginnings, the band has racked up numerous successful and widely-known albums. Their latest album The Trinity Session, a re-issued release from their 1988 sophomore album, which caught the attention of many, contains the country rock infused with blues, folk, and jazz this band’s known for. The symphonic mixture of Margo Timmins sultry voice full of bluesy passion topped with the exquisite instrumentals from her brothers Peter (drums) and Michael (guitar), and Anton’s bass-playing, is what makes this band the full package.
On top of their authentic sound, the Cowboy Junkies are also acclaimed when it comes to their remarkable covers. Recording classics, such as, Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane” and Hank William’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” along with several others, this band has earned sort of a cult following through the admiration that has accrued from their well-done tributes. Paying homage to some of the greats, they most certainly prove to doing them justice.
“We grew up to the 70’s when we were old enough to be influenced by music,” said Anton. “We picked up a lot of influences from that time, the most important ones for us being The Velvet Underground and Neil Young.”
Their new project, The Nomad Series, a collection of four volumes, will be due out within the next 18 months. Still in the early phases, they surely have time to alter their ideas, but primarily the first record entitled Remnin Park will contain songs inspired by Mike Timmins three-month stay in China with his family. This disc includes all new material, except for a few covers written by a few talented Chinese artists.
As for Demons, the second album, this plans to be a collection of “conceptually linked cover songs,” inspired by Vic Chestnutt, who recently died this past December. The band and Chestnutt had been discussing collaborating for some time, so they figured this would be an opportune way to honor their dear friend’s lifetime of musical achievements.
At the moment the third volume Sing In My Meadow, it’s content is still up in the air, being contemplated and argued over.
“There’s a lot more honest debate probably since we’re so comfortable with each other,” says Anton. “We don’t hold anything back.”
Part of this is not due to the fact that the band does not have enough ideas, but has collected too many, trying to narrow their focuses down. It’s inevitable that a lot of the content they record doesn’t get put on the record.
“It’s good,” says Anton. “I mean you sort of miss some of the stuff that doesn’t make it on the record, but it’s better than the opposite situation where you’re struggling to get it.”
The fourth installment The Wilderness will be a compilation of new songs the band has been working on. After all these albums are finished there are also plans to release a book highlighting the inspiration, character, and methods used in the making of these four albums, to be published by Enrique’s publishing house, Whale and Star.
As for having any connections to Buffalo, Anton told me a little bit about why he’s grown fond of the city.
“I like the hockey team,” said Anton. “We watch a lot of hockey and we like the Sabres.”
Come check out the Cowboy Junkies with special guests Lee Harvey Osmond at Asbury Hall at Babeville on April 15th and show them some Buffalo love. The all ages show begins at 8 P.M. Tickets can be purchased for $27 in advance and $30 at the show and are available, Babeville box office, or can be charged by phone at 888-223-6000.