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Cowboy Junkies to lay it down in Aspen

Janet Urquhart
Canadian quartet the Cowboy Junkies will make an Aspen appearance on Feb. 27. (Susan King)
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The Cowboy Junkies, the Canadian quartet known for its mournful country/blues and Margo Timmins’ distinctive vocals, will play Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House on Feb. 27.

Tickets for the first Junkies appearance in Aspen ” at least in the recollection of Aspen Times staffers ” went on sale Monday at the Wheeler Box Office.

The Cowboy Junkies have been around since 1985, releasing a string of recordings over a 20-year span after hitting it big with their breakthrough self-release, “The Trinity Session,” in 1988. It was the group’s second effort.

The Junkies lineup ” guitarist Michael Timmins, brother Peter Timmins on drums, and bassist Alan Anton, along with vocalist and Timmins sibling Margo ” gathered with a single microphone in Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity to record “The Trinity Session.” Produced in one 14-hour session ” at a cost of $250 ” it featured spare, lilting originals alongside Jennings, Williams and Patsy Cline covers, as well as a haunting version of the Velvet Underground classic “Sweet Jane,” notes the band’s bio.

With “Sweet Jane” getting considerable airplay on college and commercial radio, and reviewers lauding the band’s fresh sound, word spread. Before long, the Junkies had signed to RCA Records, which re-released “The Trinity Session” to a wider audience and platinum sales.

Since then, the Junkies have released eight more CDs, along with such projects as a live album and a collection of rarities and B sides. Recordings like “The Caution Horses” (1990), “Black Eyed Man” (1992), “Pale Sun, Crescent Moon” (1993), “Lay It Down” (1996), “Miles From Our Home” (1998), “Open” (2001) and “One Soul Now” (2004) chronicle the band’s evolution ” a process Michael Timmins sees as gradual and organic.

“Mostly, we’ve changed in the way we play as a band; it’s become much easier to communicate musically over the years. And we’ve all grown as musicians. We’re able to bring more dynamics and variety to the music,” he says in the band’s bio.

Last year, the band released “Early 21st Century Blues,” a thematic work of mostly cover tunes related to war, violence, fear, greed, ignorance, etc.

“We hoped to reach a critical mass of material that would reach out and touch a couple of hearts and souls. Our goal was to create our own small document of hope,” explains the band’s website.

For two decades, the Cowboy Junkies have consistently made music on their own terms ” a key to the group’s longevity, according to Timmins.

“I think ours is a healthy success story,” he says in the band’s bio. “It’s not a flashy one ” we’ve never had an enormous hit (though “Lay It Down” produced the Top 20 hit “A Common Disaster” and earned the Cowboy Junkies a gold record), but that’s probably the reason we’re still around.

“We’ve been able to do what we want with our integrity in tact and always keep our respect for the audience in the forefront. I think the fans appreciate that.”


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