As we creep towards 2012 and the end of the world, we figured that it is only fitting that we have a big “blow out” sale in the Junk Store. So we’ve discounted everything in the store by 20%. The sale will last until the world ends or January 15th (whichever comes first). I hope you are all having a peaceful and safe holiday season.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. Here is the quasi-title track from the upcoming Volume 4 (The Wilderness)…our holiday gift to all of you for taking the time and making the effort to listen to what we create. This song owes a huge debt to the Marilynne Robinson novel “Gilead” (as do many of the songs on “The Wilderness”). I have a habit of copying inspiring passages or lines in my notebook when I am reading. I often refer to these notes when I’m doing my own writing or when I’m stuck and looking for a direction. I think I could have copied half of this novel into my notebook. The novel takes the form of a letter written by an elderly, dying pastor to his seven year old son. It is a dense read and the type of book that you only want to undertake when you know you have a good stretch of time to devote to sitting, reading and thinking (such a luxury these days, eh?). Here is a sampling from the book…mull on these thoughts as you stand in line at Target, waiting to return Uncle Ernie’s holiday offerings…”A father must finally give his child up to the wilderness – trust that there will be angels in that wilderness.” …and as you inch closer to the cashier…”We fly forgotten as a dream, leaving the forgetful world behind us to trample and mar and misplace everything we have ever cared for. That is just the way of it, and it is remarkable.” Have a fantastic break…enjoy the music.
Last year we announced that we were about to undertake a four album project called The Nomad Series and that the project was going to be completed in 18 months. Well, depending on how you do the calculation, today is the 18 month anniversary. The way I figure it, we officially released volume 1 (Renmin Park) on June 16th, 2010, so I count that as the official start of the ticking clock. Projecting 18 months forward from that day lands us squarely in the middle of today. So what can I say…oops…we tried, we failed…mea culpa…. My excuse is that the reality of earning a living got in the way of our ambition and I had to suspend production on Volume 4 when I got offered to do the music score for a very interesting documentary project called My Father And The Man In Black (more on that in the months to come). This set the production schedule back by about six weeks. In any case, the good news is that all of the recording for Volume 4 (The Wilderness) has been completed and we have just started mixing. We aim to have the album finished and mastered by mid January and to have the finished goods in hand when we start touring again in February. Once we have the finished master (in mid-January) we plan to have a one day listening party for the new album on the website, so that we can claim that we only missed our deadline by a few weeks (we’ll give everyone a lot of notice about the date when we finalise the details).
Ultimately, the whole point of the project was to put out four albums that forced us to stretch our imaginations and talents and to pull on the experience that we have accumulated in our 25 plus years as a band. We also wanted to make sure that we pushed the expectations of those of you still listening. We think we have done that and we hope you agree. Quality first…right? We think Volume 4 will be a fitting capper to the whole project. I’ll start blogging about the making of the album and posting audio in the New Year, so don’t wander too far. We will also be having a blowout sale in the Junk Store starting right after Christmas so keep your eyes on the site.
Our friend Ron Wells sent us an obituary for the great Hubert Sumlin (posted below). Hubert Sumlin was very instrumental in the genesis of our sound. In the mid-80’s, when we were jamming in the garage and trying to form an aesthetic and direction, Pete and I would often catch Hubert at a little dive of a club on the then desolate end of Queen Street West (I can’t even remember the name of the place). For some reason he came through town fairly often and would pick up a few of the local “blues” musicians and play two or three sets. There would rarely be more than 15 people in the audience, but Pete and I were always there. In-between sets Hubert would come in to the audience and personally thank anyone that was there and sit and talk. His playing was magical. No matter how clumsy and ham-fisted his back up band was, he was always effortless and fluid and endlessly inspired. At the time, Pete and I thought he was ancient (he was only a few years older than I am now) and that was a great inspiration. But the way he completely owned his sound, the way that his instrument was an extension of his personality was what truly thrilled us. He sounded like nobody and nobody sounded like him. We would go home and dig through our Howlin Wolf collection and sure enough, you could easily pick out Hubert in the groove, doing his thing. Bye, bye Mr Sumlin. Thanks for the inspiration.
Hubert Sumlin, Nov. 16, 1931 – Dec. 4, 2011.
Another one of the greatest guitar players to ever walk the planet has died. Listen to his playing on the album “Howlin’ Wolf,” also known as the Rockin’ Chair Album, and you will know everything there is to know about this man’s exceptional skills.
Early last year I saw him play with Pinetop Perkins in a show I’ll never forget. Sadly, both men are now gone. Here’s a brief part of my review from that show:
“Then, midway through the set, the room heated up when Hubert Sumlin walked on stage. Dressed in a black suit and tie, black hat, black shoes with a swatch of white, and with an American flag pin on his lapel, he was dressed to kill, and just as dangerous. His guitar strap had flames on it brought straight from the depths of hell and just as hot as his guitar playing, as he coaxed sounds out of his instrument that the other players just stood and marveled at. School was definitely in session, and Sittin’ on Top of the World was a revelation the way Mr. Sumlin played it.
Hell hath no fury to match a blues god who’s on fire, and so Sumlin sat down and showed how Little Red Rooster is supposed to be played. Then, suddenly, he stood up like struck with lightning, picked that guitar to pieces, and then sat back down. When he was done, he held out both hands, palms down, as if to say, ” ain’’t that the coolest.”
Yes, it was the coolest. R.I.P., Hubert Sumlin.
Come On Home, Baby
Some developer friends of ours have created a Cowboy Junkies app and given it to us and all of our Blackberry and Android using pals as an early Christmas present. The app will allow you to access the blog through email and social media. We hope to eventually make it so that you can buy our music through it as well. It’s all free so help yourself: