By Mark Allan
When the Cowboy Junkies perform July 31 at the Filberg Festival, it will be one of their first performances as members of the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame.
The veteran Canadian band was inducted May 7.
Guitarist-songwriter Michael Timmins believes it will be the first time the Junkies have played in the Comox Valley.
The quartet has kept busy entering its fourth decade – amazingly with the original lineup of Timmins and siblings Margo (vocals) and Peter (drums) with friend Alan Anton (bass).
“We enjoy playing together,” Michael Timmins says from Ontario in a phone interview. “We keep ourselves challenged … and that keeps us going. The main thing is, it’s still fun.”
In an effort to keep their creative juices flowing, they have become uncommonly creative and innovative.
“In this day and age, you’re trying to do something that’s different,” Timmins comments. “We’re always trying to keep ourselves … inspired.”
The Nomad Series was four themed albums recorded in 18 months and released two years ago in a boxed set with a fifth CD of outtakes and a coffee table book.
“It was really just a matter of keeping us focused on a project, a pretty massive project.”
Released in 2013, the Kennedy Suite was a song cycle by Toronto poet Scott Garbe and co-produced by Timmins to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Currently, the Junkies are participating in Under Cover, an ongoing online project involving them and fellow Latent Recording artists.
“Every month we release on the Latent Recordings Facebook page … a cover (song) that the Cowboy Junkies did and one of the (other) artists on Latent Recordings did.
“They’re usually somehow themed together,” adds Timmins, who says the bands consider suggestions from fans.
The band is working on a four-CD box set to be released this fall.
Three of the albums will be remastered versions of ones released in the 2000s and the fourth will be recordings of songs written in that period but not released.
The band’s remarkably distinct languid style just evolved, Timmins reveals. Margo, who had no formal vocal training, just started singing in that remarkable dream-state style of hers.
“It is the sound of the way the four of us sound together. We didn’t sit around and say, ‘We’re going to play this style of music.’ ”
Timmins says the Filberg Festival crowd can expect a mix of old and relatively new material, “a real range of material” in the July 31 setlist.
“We try to span the whole catalogue in some way. We’ll definitely focus on songs that anybody who has the slightest knowledge of us will know.”
It will be a special performance on the Friday evening of the four-day festival, with The Lion, The Bear, The Fox as the opening act. Tickets are sold separately from the rest of the fest.
Other 2015 entertainers covering a wide range of genres include veteran folksinger Valdy, Spirit of the West frontman John Mann and popular opera-trained singer Ken Lavigne. Juno Award winners Norman Foote and siblings Matthew and Jill Barber are also on the bill.
Led by acclaimed Denman Island potter Gordon Hutchens, the festival again features more than 125 of the best artisans in Canada in one of Western Canada’s largest juried outdoor arts shows.
Besides the music, the talented artisans, the food, and the awesome setting on the Comox waterfront, the festival also includes a Kids’ Enchanted Forest.
Gate admission is charged because the festival is the primary fundraiser for the not-for-profit organization that repairs and maintains the heritage property and buildings.
For more information, visit http://filbergfestival.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 250-941-0727.
Mark Allan is a freelance writer and a former editor of the Comox Valley Record.