Thanks to the Duke City Fix and AMP Concerts, my wife and I were able to attend the Cowboy Junkies show at the Hispanic Cultural Center last night. We arrived at the advertised start time, 7:30, and found our chairs. At first glance our seats, which were extra chairs set up in aisle between upper and lower seating, seemed to leave a little to be desired. However, almost immediately I realized these were going to be great seats... centrally located with a good view of the stage and just to the left of the mixing board. We were going to hear the mix just as the sound guy was hearing! If the sound guy was worth his salt, it should be perfect. Turns out he was, and it was.

Show started promptly with no opening band, the C-Junkies trickled out to the sparsely decorated stage and took positions behind their instruments. The line up consisted of Alan Anton on bass (Happy Birthday, Alan), Mike Timmins on Guitar and primary songwriter, Peter Timmins on Drums, Jeff Byrd on mandolin, melodica and harmonica, and of course Margo Timmins on vocals. Yes, the 3 of them are siblings and knowing that got me these tickets in the first place. Jeff is not an official member of the band, so it seems, rather a sideman brought in to complement the core group.

These guys are pretty subtle in their presentation, the guitar and bassist both wear black and basically stare at their shoes all night. Alan is upright, stoic, and immobile and Mike sits in a chair with his black hair obscuring his eyes. Peter moves his arms quite a bit, totally solid and in time, but being a drummer isn't really wandering the stage much. It seems like the spotlight concentrates on Margo while she sings and Jeff who takes most of the instrumental breaks. My wife was a bit disconcerted by the lack of action on stage, but thoroughly enjoyed the show. I knew what to expect, so was not surprised by their low key demeanor. These guys are all spot on musicians, everything is tight and together just sounds so good!

As much as I like Mikes erratic and just about to come apart but doesn't guitar solo style, I was really into the mandolin players contributions to the sonic pallet. He alternated between a traditional Oval hole f-style mando and a 2-point solid body electric. When the electric came out, he departed from your typical folk mando stylings. He was not shy with effects such as delay, reverb and nice crunchy distortion. Often these effects were building an subtle ambient bed for the rest of band and Margo to play over, other times he was ripping a searing solo... in fact, I have not heard an electric mando sound so raaawk since watching Dave Dusterhoff playing in Nak Nu Nu way back in the day. I was digging it all the way up and down the place!

Overall, it seems they played a good mix of old and new material... starting with something from the Trinity Session, and recognizable stuff from Whites off Earth Now as well as The Caution Horses all interspersed with songs from the new album, Renmin Park. Everything I heard that night had that beautiful Cowboy Junkie sound, and Margo was reflecting feelings of sorrow, sadness, and strength. Nowhere is that sound and feeling more apparent than in their first encore song, Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning, which is a personal favorite of their songs.

Thanks again to DCF, Neal at AMP for bringing such great bands to Albuquerque all these years, and thanks for reading my rambling little review.

I don't like mucking up a concert with cameras, flashes and cell phones screens, so I waited to the end to snap a quick shot of the stage. With only a few exceptions, this audience seemed to take the same attitude... unlike other shows which are often a sea of cell phone screens.

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Comment by neal copperman on June 24, 2010 at 1:30am
Glad you had such a good time! Jeff Byrd is not officially part of the Junkies, but he has been with the band every time I've seen them in the last 6 or 7 years (and I think that is 5 times).

For more pics of the show, check out
Comment by lisa gill on June 24, 2010 at 1:31am
It was nice to read this review, having enjoyed the show... gracias.
Comment by Bret on June 24, 2010 at 8:57am
Very nice and well written review.
I too enjoyed the show. That venue was perfect for it. I would like to see more shows there.
Jeff bird was really amazing. I had never seen or heard anybody play a mandolin like that. Just awesome.
Comment by Rocky on June 24, 2010 at 9:52am
What Rudolfo said – great to have a review of ‘spot on musicians’ by one of the same….
Comment by Arthur Miller on June 24, 2010 at 10:04am
Grr... I missed this show! Really wanted to go. I was at another great AMP concert just last week, Josh Ritter.


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