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Cowboy Junkies bring Canadian perspective to Kennedy assassination

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2013

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Cowboy Junkies' Michael Timmins was four years old, and growing up in Canada, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. But he feels that his latest project for the group -- composing music for a new song cycle called "The Kennedy Suite" -- shows that the event was a shared tragedy.

"I think the international side of it is important," says Timmins, 54, who composed the music to go along with Canadian writer Scott Garbe's text, as well as sound bites from Kennedy speeches that dot the piece. "The assassination really affected the whole world. People were just completely struck by it, and Scott's writing brings i that and just the personal side to it, that not only was this a huge event, it happened to real people.

"You have the social and cultural icon, Jackie, and this paradoxical man, Jack. It was two human beings, and very young. So the actual human tragedy of it is phenomenal when you get deeper into it."

"The Kennedy Suite" CD comes out in Canada on Nov. 12, while Cowboy Junkies and some of guest singers who took part in the project -- including Sarah Harmer and Broken Social Scene's Jason Collett -- will perform the piece on Nov. 22-23 in Toronto. But bringing it to the U.S. poses some problems, according to Timmins.

"It is a Junkies record, to a certain extent, but we can't really tour it ourselves," explains Timmins, who's also gearing up to make a more traditional Cowboy Junkies in the new year. "It doesn't lend itself to a concert tour. I'd love to do the bigger show at a few locations in the States, but the expense is to great to get everyone around, so we'd need to find a backer.

"We definitely want to release it outside of Canada, but these days it's almost pointless to release a record if you can't tour it. Hopefully we'll figure something out; I think there's a viewpoint and perspective to this that's different than all the other Kennedy stuff that's out there."

Cowboy Junkies perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, for t 17th Annual Fall fundraiser for The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $50-$500. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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