Cookie Crumbs, Volume 1 – The Path Taken Tour (Spring/Summer 2007)
Bob Helm (aka Cookie Bob) is closing in on his 150th Cowboy Junkies shows. He introduced himself to us about ten years ago when he knocked on our bus door proffering a tin of ginger snap cookies. He was immediately dubbed Cookie Bob. Bob is not only an inveterate concert goer he is also a very discerning listener and an avid “taper”. We have asked Bob to tap into his archive of Junkies “bootlegs” and put together a series of “best of” collections from the tours that he has attended. It’s an arduous, time consuming task so check back every now and then as he slowly adds a few more crumbs.
Cookie Crumbs, Volume 1 – The Path Taken Tour (Spring/Summer 2007)
“Cookie” Bob is an inveterate concert goer, avid “taper”, discerning listener and a good friend of the band. He has attended over 150 Cowboy Junkies shows. Cookie Crumbs is culled, by Bob, from his extensive Junkies archive of live recordings
Hi All. Cookie Bob here. I got to see 11 shows on the Spring / Summer 2007 Tour, and I thought the band was playing as well as I’ve ever seen them perform. After reading the Tour Diary & “Last Night In” forums,plus getting some first-hand reports,I’m convinced that I saw an unusually high ratio of the best shows this tour. Mike has asked me to pick some of my favorites from the shows I attended,so here goes…
1. CUTTING BOARD BLUES (acoustic) – Baltimore,MD. 6-20-07: Technical difficulties onstage at the outset serves to build compression within the band. That compression is vented during the instrumental section here,and the band is barely able to rein it in by the song’s end.
2. ANNIVERSARY SONG – Camden,ME. 6-15-07: How many bands care enough about their fans to discuss which prominent audience members are absent from shows where they’re expected?
3. SPIRAL DOWN – Woodstock,N.Y. 6-9-07: Jeff emulates an accordion with his harmonica. Anticipating Garth tonight,Jeff?
4,5,6. RAKE -> FLYING SHOES -> MARIE – Brownfield,ME. 5-18-07: The new Townes’ trilogy was criminally underplayed this tour. Cowboy Junkies are the best interpreters of Townes’ material,and I’ll stand on Steve Earle’s coffee table in Dylan’s cowboy boots and say so. They perfectly capture the sadness inherent in Townes’ lyrics. I especially like the way Mike has reconcilled the two very different tempos between Rake and Flying Shoes.
7. SOMEDAY SOON – Phoenixville,PA. 6-10-07: Listen to Jeff’s bass (!) playing on this one. His Ashbory bass has a nice fluid sound that fits this song well.
8. TO LOVE IS TO BURY – Camden,ME. 6-15-07: Too long out of the repertoire for this one! Every version I heard was solid,but I picked this one for subtleties in Margo’s phrasing. I’ll forever miss Jeff’s fiddle on this tune.
9. STILL LOST – Phoenixville,PA. 6-10-07: For those of you who don’t know me, Margo introduces me here. Margo had been experimenting with how long she could hold her note on the word “lost” on the chorus. This was the night she nailed it.
10. BROTHERS UNDER THE BRIDGE -> – Camden,ME. 6-15-07: “One minute you’re right there,then something slips” It slips here,alright. Listen to Jeff’s deconstruction on his mandolin shortly after that line. Perfectly underscores the lyric.
11. BREAD AND WINE – Camden,ME. 6-15-07: I really like the spacey interlude in the middle of this. Mike and Jeff both are playing well,and Margo’s scat singing plays off of Jeff’s mandolin riffs.
12. I’M SO LONESOME I COULD CRY – Brownfield,ME. 5-18-07: A letter perfect rendition of this by all band members. A reminder that Cowboy Junkies remain the masters of understatement,in case you forgot.
13. LAY IT DOWN – Phoenixville,PA. 6-10-07: Mike plays a style of guitar that I’ve come to think of as “staccato Picasso”. I think you’ll understand what I mean when you hear this. A major shredfest builds to a glorious cacophony.
14. MOUNTAIN – Northampton,MA. 5-20-07 Late Show: Anyone with ears can hear that Al is the pulse and lifeblood of this tune – he owns it. That doesn’t mean that Mike and Jeff won’t playfully try to wrest control.
15. WALKING AFTER MIDNIGHT – Northampton,MA. 5-20-07 Late Show: Mike is all over this one!Behind the vocal,during the solo – everything he plays is on fire!
16. BRAND NEW WORLD – Ridgefield,CT. 6-14-07: Excellent version. The whole band is galloping along at full speed and once again,barely able to stop. Margo gets in a fine shriek,too.
17. CARMELITA – Toronto,ON. 7-3-07: Another tune that doesn’t quite get played enough. A strong version this night. Don’t forget to check out Fred Eaglesmith’s original.
18. MY LITTLE BASQUIAT – Toronto,ON. 7-3-07: Although the band admitted to being tired at this show,they held back nothing on this version. I guess having Anna in the audience really does get them excited. Another song that Al rules.
19. BLUE MOON REVISITED – Woodstock,N.Y. 6-9-07: Margo changes her phrasing on this one to good effect. Garth Hudson guests on accordion. Enough said.
20. FOLLOWER 2 – Phoenixville,PA. 6-10-07: Pete really drives this version of Follower 2. I think this will be a very strong song for the band for a long time to come.Margo sees how long she can sing the word “rain”.
21. MURDER,TONIGHT,IN THE TRAILER PARK – Northampton,MA. 5-20-07 Late Show: Someone yells “rock it out” and the band proves it’s up to the task. Margo exits the stage early and the boys just tear it up!
22. BLUE GUITAR – Camden,ME. 6-15-07: This Blue Guitar was the highlight of the tour for me. I took in a hillside view of Camden’s beautiful harbor prior to the show,and that image was much on my mind during this song. I’ve been calling this the “rock & bird” version of Blue Guitar. Mike and Al stay firmly anchored and rock solid with Mike loudly extolling the joys of his guitar. Jeff Bird,like his namesake,is content to musically soar overhead for awhile before succumbing to his friend’s invitation to jam. Pete’s a team player,with his drums supporting Mike & Al,while his cymbal splashes and colorings seem to be engaging Mr Bird. A stunning jam ensues,making this one of the best-ever versions of Blue Guitar,right up there with the classic Elgin or Petaluma versions,in my opinion. Back to the same hillside after the show with a group of friends capped a great show and a perfect evening.
23. CUTTING BOARD BLUES (Electric) – Somerville,MA. 5-16-07: I thought I’d include an electric version for contrast. The swift tempo of this one gives Margo a lot of lyrics to get out in a short time. She rises to the challenge and succeeds admirably. The whole band charges through this one like a runaway train. Highly energetic!