INDIEcent Exposure #35: NTRVW — Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies

PLUS: Eight other artists you should give a listen to.  * EXPLICIT * (but just a tiny bit…)

Welcome, Indie music fans from around the world to Episode #35 of INDIEcent Exposure. I’m your host, the mongrel, and, as always, I’ll be spinning you a wide selection of choice tracks from far flung locales and genres.

We speak with Michael Timmins of legendary alt-rock-country-blues-folk act Cowboy Junkies this past week as the band gets ready to do a micro Northeast U.S. tour.

Cowboy Junkies is a nearly 40-year collaboration between (left to right) Alan Anton, Peter Timmins, Margo Timmins, and Michael Timmins ; featured photo by Heather Pollock

Raccoon Raccoon; photo by Yoris, photographer.
Raccoon Raccoon; photo by Yoris, photographer.

Your ears did NOT deceive you if you thought you heard the voice of Michael Timmins during the cold open. This amazingly talented member of legendary alt-rock-blues-folk act Cowboy Junkies spoke with us this past week as the band gets ready to do a micro Northeast U.S. tour. We’ll be hearing about 12 or 13 minutes of our talk on this episode, in addition to a couple tracks off their recent release, All that Reckoning, right here on this episode.

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We’ll get to our chat with Michael Timmins and the tunes in just a bit, but first, let’s open this show with a group we’ve heard from before — Racoon Racoon, from France, by way of Los Angeles, has just released another single, “Thunderbird.” And if I’ve been accused of not having a softer side, well, I guess featuring this track puts the lie to that notion. So wistful and sweet, you just about have either to start with it or end with it, so here’s “Thunderbird,” on INDIEcent Exposure.

A little like a tune out of time, right? Again that’s “Thunderbird” by Racoon Racoon.

In this Episode

Racoon Racoon • “Thunderbird” • single
Cowboy Junkies • “All That Reckoning Part 1” • All that Reckoning
Cowboy Junkies • “When We Arrive” • All that Reckoning
Wes Buckley • “Golden Runner” • Dancing the Bliss
Rad Trads • “Wishing Well” • On Tap
Tanya Gallagher • “Dolphin in the Snow” • One Hand On My Heart
Louis Ville • “Combien De Lunes” • Eponyme
Tumbler • “Diamond In A Drawer” • Come to the Edge
Flowers For Jayne • “So Much Better” • single
Lizzo • “Truth Hurts” • Truth Hurts, Dubmatix Pressure Remix


Gibson Parlor Mahogany Modern A/E Antique Nat W/C

Gibson Parlor Mahogany Modern A/E Antique Nat W/C

The Gibson Parlor Mahogany Modern Acoustic-Electric Guitar is the next evolution of what a small-body instrument should sound like. Never before has a slim, small-body cutaway guitar offered such a giant sound.

Wes Buckley; photo by Jason Velázquez.
Wes Buckley; photo by Jason Velázquez.

Now, if you’re familiar with Cowboy Junkies, but haven’t heard 2018’s All that Reckoning, you’re in for such a treat. I don’t review many albums on this show, and I won’t be reviewing this one, but I will say that the tracks on this release stack up to any album of originals they’ve released to date. If you don’t know their work, you may want to pause this episode, pick up downloads of Pale Sun, Crescent Moon and The Trinity Session, have your mind blown, and then come on back. Or you could do that later and just enjoy the title track off this latest effort, “All that Reckoning, Part I.”

November 9, 2019 at 8:00 p.m.
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield, Conn.

November 10, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
The Egg
Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York

So much of Cowboy Junkies signature smokiness in that one, and it only gets better from there. As I mentioned, Michael generously gifted us about 30 minutes of his time, and I’ve selected some of his answers to questions that are compact enough to present in a block. Much of the conversation was back and forth that really showed a lot of the personality behind the lyrics, and I hope you get a chance to hear it. I started off with the obvious question: What’s Cowboy Junkies origin story?

We’ve been together for a little over 30 years and Alan [Anton] and I worked together before that for about seven or eight years in other bands, so we’ve been playing music together for over 40 years.

— Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies
(Please listen to the podcast for the full answer.)

Three, going on four decades is a long time, not just to be a band, but to be a band with the same lineup pretty much the entire time, and not taking any real hiatus to speak of. How do you DO that? Without killing each other?

You know, it’s hard to know that exactly, but we definitely get on each other’s nerves you know. Like any band on the road, we get on each other’s nerves. It’s like any people right?

— Michael Timmins
(Please listen to the podcast for the full answer.)

All Cowboy Junkies’ travels and trials and trials have brought them to this place, and wherever this place in time and space is, it’s a point of reckoning. I asked Mr. Timmins how we were supposed to interpret the word “reckoning.”

…reckoning is, of course, taking stock, you know. There’s that side of it where it’s a looking back and taking stock of things and reassessing and looking at one’s life or what’s gone before. There’s also a reckoning in the sense of a comeuppance, you know, basically you’re paying the bill.

— Michael Timmins
(Please listen to the podcast for the full answer.)

Even for groups who’ve established themselves, a fair amount of pressure tends to exert itself from outside influences — both artistic and commercial. Mr. Timmins suggested that Cowboy Junkies resolve to stay true to their own ideals may have had a role in attracting such a fiercely loyal following over the years.

We were very, very aware of outside influences and keeping people outside of our circle. I think you could talk to anybody who dealt with us as a band on the business side, and they would say that we were not very open to them—I mean, we weren’t not open to suggestions, but we’d take a suggestion, then we’d go away and make a decision, and come back and tell them.

— Michael Timmins
(Please listen to the podcast for the full answer.)

There’s no question that many of the lyrics within “All that Reckoning” seem to resonate especially powerfully in this social and political climate. I wanted to know what it is about his songwriting that still manages intimacy even when the subject matter encompasses current events and issues.

As far as songs are concerned, I find that if there’s something that’s a bit too pointed, or tries to force the listener to look in a certain direction or or to experience something specifically from the songwriter’s perspective, there are some exceptions, but generally I find those songs don’t last, they don’t work. They might be very exciting and work in the moment, but in the long run they don’t, and I feel we sort of approach the music from a very long term idea, as far as the music is concerned. And I just feel like the songs that have a personal side…if I’m getting if I’m getting a bit too, for lack of better word, political, I want to somehow bend that so that there’s a personal side to it…To me that’s more interesting and also it allows the listener into the song.

— Michael Timmins
(Please listen to the podcast for the full answer.)

Turns out that Cowboy Junkies has a long history of performance in Western Mass, albeit in the Five Colleges area of the Pioneer Valley. I did my best to put a bug in Michael’s ear about all the great performance opportunities in the Berkshires these days.

For sure! That area is beautiful. North Hampton, from very early, early days, was a real spot for us, the Iron Horse being one of those classic and iconic spots that, for us when we first played there, was fantastic. So yeah, we’ve been to that area lot—we love it. Yeah, sure. And festivals, especially in that area, would be fantastic.

— Michael Timmins
(Please listen to the podcast for the full answer.)
The Rad Trads, On Tap

Well, even if we can’t get Cowboy Junkies to add a date in the Berks on this tour, it’s really not much of a struggle to get to the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, Conn on November 9th, or, even closer, The Egg in Albany, New York on November 10th. I’ll be sure to put a link in the shownotes to their tour page, so you can get all the details. And, to get you primed, let’s have one more track off their new release, All that Reckoning; this one’s called “When We Arrive.”

Tanya Gallagher

I guess I tend to lean pretty heavily towards strong songwriting in this show. Not that I don’t hold up great musicianship, because I definitely try to do that, too, but I’m just such a sucker for a good wordsmith. And our next artist is a singer/songwriter who is very much on the rise as he attracts attention both from music lovers and industry insiders. And it’s my own personal extreme good fortune that this musician is, in fact, based in the Berkshires of Western Mass. I got to sit down with Wes Buckley and his cats at his home in Pittsfield last week, and although we’ll be hearing much more of that interview on next week’s show, I thought I’d tease you with a snippet of our talk and a track off his soon to be released album, Dancing the Bliss. The song, “Golden Runner” is just one in a collection of songs that wade into the light and dark pools of human connection.

Friday, November 8, 2019 at 6:30 p.m.
Lichtenstein Center For Arts
28 Renne Avenue
Pittsfield, Mass.
Admission: $10

Louis Ville, Eponyme

Again, that was “Golden Runner” off Wes Buckley’s upcoming release, Dancing the Bliss, out in November. And if you’re in or around Western Massachusetts on Friday, November 8, you can be right there for Wes’s album release party at the Lichtenstein Center For Arts, presented by the Berkshire Music Project. He’ll be sharing the stage with former musical collaborator Erin Durant. Admission is $10 and doors open 6:30 p.m. Check the shownotes at for links to more information.

Right now, I think it’s time to open it up a bit and settle into a long set of tunes. I’ve got brand new music from three bands and a slightly older song from a group that mysteriously has not been featured on this show yet, so it might be new to you. We’ll hear from a artist who’s just about our musician-in-digital-residence this year it seems, Tanya Gallagher brings us “Dolphin in the Snow,” from One Hand On My Heart, released just this Summer. I’ll spin you “Combien De Lunes,” off this year’s French import Eponyme from the artist Louis Ville, and well cap it off with Tumbler that band I’ve been hording all to myself — we’ll hear Diamond in a Drawer, from their 2016 release Come to the Edge. And we’ll kick this whole block off with “Wishing Well,” from the Rad Trads off their 2019 release, On Tap, right all here on INDIEcent Exposure.

Tumbler, Come to the Edge
Tumbler, Come to the Edge

Former Lime Spiders members JL Murphy and Phil Hall have teamed up with world-renowned drummer and percussionist Jess Ciampa to form Australia-born trio, Flowers for Jayne. After releasing the single, “I Want You” in the Spring of 2019, they started making plans for a North American tour possibly later this year. We’ll hear their latest single, “So Much Better” in just a minute.

Hoo boy, right? Now THAT is whatcha call a block of tunage right there, I tell you. And that’s how I like to do it around here — away from the mic just long enough for you to start missin’ me. And while you might be thinking that I couldn’t possibly pack any more into this show, I’ve managed to save a couple special goodies for the very end.

Flowers For Jayne, “So Much Better,” single

First though, I have explain why I thought I’d jump into the controversy swirling this week around the D&B artist Lizzo. When the Dubmatix Pressure Remix of her Billboard-topping hit “Truth Hurts” landed in my inbox, I wasn’t not going to play it, but I was like, this track has been at number one for a month or whatever. Surely everybody who needed to hear it has heard it somewhere else by now. But I admit, I do like the remix rather a little bit, AND I’m not often authorized to play tune that are blowin’ up in mainstream media, AND one of the whiny little bitches suing Lizzo, Justin Raisen, was quote in the New York Times as saying, “This makes me not want to make music professionally anymore. This is sad.”

Lizzo, “Truth Hurts,” Dubmatix Pressure Remix

So Justin, we’ll play this track just for your sad ass, because you know, “Truth Hurts.” But first, “So Much Better” by Flowers for Jayne.

And that is IT for this week’s show. Next week’s show is actually going to come pretty close on the heels of this week’s show as we get back to our previous Friday release schedule. Glad you could spend some time getting INDIEcent with me — you know how I love that. Until next time, support an Indie artist — spend 99¢ or whatever and but one track this week. ‘Sall ya gotta do to make a musicians day and put her that much closer to making rent next month.

A’ight, I’m outta here.

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