Cowboy Junkies life and biography

Cowboy Junkies picture, image, poster

Cowboy Junkies biography

Date of birth : -
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Nationality : Canadian
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2012-04-24
Credited as : country/folk rock band, Trinity Revisited, Long Journey Home (Live)

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Cowboy Junkies are a Canadian alternative country/blues/folk rock band. The group was formed in Toronto in 1985 by Margo Timmins (vocalist), Michael Timmins (songwriter, guitarist), Peter Timmins (drummer) and Alan Anton (bassist).

The Cowboy Junkies were described as "country music subversives'' in People after their album The Trinity Session began to attract widespread attention. The Canada-based band is composed of Michael, Peter, and Margo Timmins (who are siblings), and Alan Anton. Their stark, slow, haunting brand of country and blues has proved popular with fans and mystified critics. After asserting that "mystery'' had long been missing from country music, Time reviewer Jay Cocks proclaimed that "that is precisely what the Cowboy Junkies offer.'' The Trinity Sessionspawned the hit "Misguided Angel,'' and also contained re-workings of country classics such as "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry'' and "Walking After Midnight.'' The albums Lay it Down, Miles from Home, and Open remained true to the group's heartfelt lyricals and slower tempos.

The roots of the Cowboy Junkies as a band lie in the experiences of Michael Timmins, the eldest of the siblings, and Alan Anton. Friends since their early childhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the two formed their first band in high school. When they became adults, they moved with a band called The Hunger Project to New York City to try their musical skills. At this time, Timmins and Anton were primarily interested in performing punk; as Cocks reported, ``they tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to make a living playing adaptations of the kind of fierce rock that was then coming out of England.'' Undaunted, the duo decided to offer their wares in England itself, forming with others a band called Germinal in which all the members played whatever they wished on their instruments at the same time. As the pair told Cocks: "It was the ultimate release for us. But for the audience, it was quite a chore.'' Eventually, however, Timmins and Anton came to feel that the English were not receptive to their work, and returned to Toronto.

There, Michael Timmins began working on new music with his brother Peter. Anton joined them, and Margo Timmins--who had worked previously as a social worker--was invited to provide vocals. Around the same time, the newly formed group toured the southern United States, and were inspired by the country music they heard there. In 1986 they independently recorded an album entitled Whites Off Earth Now! Despite having to distribute it themselves, the Cowboy Junkies sold four thousand copies of the disc, and began to establish something of a cult following in Toronto. But, of course, the band's big break came when they signed with RCA Records and released The Trinity Session in 1988.

That album takes its name from the fact that it was recorded in Toronto's Church of the Holy Trinity for a very low cost using only one microphone. This spare recording style plays a large part in the acclaimed starkness of The Trinity Session, but so do Margo Timmins's "soft, haunting vocals,'' which People claimed "lend a distinctive dash of angst to the Junkies' country sound.'' Some critics, however, were uncomfortable with the band's low-key approach to the material on Trinity Session, and even found it dull; Alanna Nash of Stereo Review lamented that ``when I listened attentively, the hour seemed to stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.'' But Anthony DeCurtis in Rolling Stone declared that "The Trinity Session is in the great tradition of albums that establish a mood and sustain it so consistently that the entire record seems like one continuously unfolding song.'' One of the cuts from Trinity Session, "Misguided Angel,'' received a great deal of airplay on the music video channels, and helped boost sales, but critics tended to single out other songs for praise, such as the remake of Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane.'' Cocks revealed that ``I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry'' "hasn't sounded so desolate since [country pioneer] Hank Williams'' recorded it. And, after first citing the soulfulness of the late Patsy Cline's rendition of ``Walking After Midnight,'' Cocks conjectured that ``in the false lull of Margo Timmins' lovely voice and measured phrasing there is the suggestion that whoever's up after midnight may be not only walking, but stalking.'' But on the subject of the dark tone of their musical interpretation, Michael Timmins reassured People: "No, we are not depressed, or melancholy or any of those things. We don't consider the music sad, just heartfelt. To us, it's very strange when people come up to us and say, `You must be so depressed.'''

In 1990 the Cowboy Junkies released the follow-up to The Trinity Session entitled The Caution Horses. The latter album was originally to be called Sharon, but according to Rolling Stone, the band became bored with some of the songs, decided to abandon them for other cuts, and rerecord the disc under a new name. The first single from The Caution Horses was "Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning.'' The Caution Horses did not receive as much publicity as the band's previous album, but the Cowboy Junkies still retained a sizable following. The loyalty of their fans helped launch the 1992 record Black-Eyed Man, featuring "A Horse in the Country," "Southern Rain," "If You Were the Woman and I Was the Man," and the 1993 album, Pale Sun, Crescent Moon.

According to Billboard,the Cowboy Junkies 1996 release, Lay it Down "remains true to the band's minimalist country/blues approach, the ... release's most noticeable aspects are its starkness and tight interplay between vocalist Margo Timmins, guitarist Michael Timmins, drummer Peter Timmins and bassist Alan Anton." Miles from Our Home, the Cowboy Junkies' 1998 record, is "simply a solid album from a reliable band," says All Music Guide writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine.

In 2000, after leaving Geffen Records, the Cowboy Junkies released Waltz Across America. This live recording sold exclusively on the Internet under the bands independent label, Latent Recordings. Rarities, B-Sides and Slow, Sad Waltzes, released in 1999, began as an Internet venture as well, until Toronto's True North Records placed the album on Canadian record store shelves. Open, the Cowboy Junkies' 2001 release, according to Kelly McCartney of All Music Guide, is "full of wonder and romance, fear and passion," offering tracks like "Thousand Year Prayer" and "I'm So Open." Guitar Player suggests Open" is like an Orson Wells movie set to music." The band released Open Road,a three-hour DVD documenting the band's Open tour and a bonus CD containing live material, in 2002.

In June 2007, Cowboy Junkies performed alongside the Boston Pops at Boston Symphony Hall conducted by Keith Lockhart. The program was titled Edgefest.

In 2007 they released Trinity Revisited, a re-recording of the album featuring guest artists Ryan Adams, Vic Chesnutt, Natalie Merchant and Jeff Bird. Both the album and the film Trinity Revisited were filmed and produced by Pierre and Fran├žois Lamoureux. On 9 November 2007, CBC Television aired Trinity Revisited: featuring Cowboy Junkies, which was filmed as the band recorded the new album.

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