SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Blending country, blues and folk rock, Cowboy Junkies created a style all their own that has garnered a cult following. Unlike most bands that spend years finding their musical niche, the Junkies’ distinct sound can be traced back to their breakthrough second album, 1988’s “The Trinity Session.”
Now, fans old and new will get the chance to hear “The Trinity Session” in full at the South Orange Performing Arts Center on Feb. 28. Bassist Alan Anton said playing all 12 songs on the album, including the band’s biggest hit “Sweet Jane,” is fun for all involved.
“We’ve been doing it for a few years on and off (since the album’s 20th anniversary) and it’s always been nothing but a great response from the fans,” Anton said. “I can see why, too, because over the years we’ve played a few songs from ‘The Trinity Session’ every night, but to play it all in a row is kind of a special thing for a real fan to hear.”
What’s ironic is that the album’s success was completely unexpected, according to Anton. He said the songs were recorded in Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity (hence the title) over the course of a day, many hours of which were spent moving instruments around and putting up blankets just to keep the sound from reverberating too much.
In the end they had captured the style they’d become famous for, but Anton said they’re still trying to figure out what made the album catch on as well as it did.
“The fact that it got some traction with pretty much a mainstream audience was a real shock to us,” he said. “We never really got quite a picture of what it was about that record that people liked, but we’re happy that they liked it.”
The Junkies haven’t slowed down since “The Trinity Session,” releasing another 15 albums and contributing to film soundtracks, including the theme to the 1994 Meryl Streep movie “The River Wild.”
SOPAC Executive Director Mark Packer said he’s happy to have such a prolific band perform at his venue, for it shows how much the center’s schedule has improved since he and programming consultant Steve Lurie committed themselves to creating a niche for singer-songwriters last year. And people are taking notice; according to Packer, 4,000 visitors attended a SOPAC show for the first time since the new season started.
David Stone, a SOPAC board member, said he predicts a bright future for the venue under Packer’s leadership, which bodes well for music aficionados. Stone said Junkies fans in particular should be thrilled to have the chance to hear the band perform their iconic album live.
“They’re going to be ecstatic,” Stone said. “It’s once-in-a-lifetime because they may never have this opportunity again.”
But as much as Junkies enthusiasts are anticipating their upcoming concert, Anton said the band is equally excited.
“This is the first time we’ve played this venue, so that’s always fun for us,” Anton said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
For ticket information, click here.