The success of “The Trinity Session,” the Cowboy Junkies’ second album, came as a complete surprise, according to bassist Alan Anton. The music was so unusual-sounding, so outside-the-box, that it was never expected to catch on with a mainstream audience, Anton said.
But it did, and in a big way, too. The 1988 release became the Junkies’ most successful album, introducing the world to their unique blend of country, blues and folk rock and establishing the cult following the band still enjoys.
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. 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 and it’s always been nothing but a great response from the fans,” he 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.”
Anton said the “The Trinity Session” came about when the Junkies decided to go for a different sound from their first album, and a producer suggested recording in Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity. But recording proved more difficult than expected, as the band spent most of their time moving instruments around and putting up blankets to keep the music from reverberating too much, he said.
Eventually they arranged things just right, and Anton said in about five hours they were able to capture the style for which they’d become famous. But even all these years later, he said, they still can’t explain what exactly made “The Trinity Session” resonate with such a large audience.
“We’ve talked to a lot of people about it, and it just seems to have been different things to different people,” Anton 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.
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.”
Sean Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.