Bassist Calandra Ysquierdo and singer/guitarist Abigail Henderson conceived Trouble Junction last summer while sitting on a "white-trash dock" -- Ysquierdo's term -- in Springfield. (In one of the group's seemingly misleading concessions to the genre's fashion, onstage, Henderson wears the cowboy hat she dons during such fishing trips.) The duo booked a concert, drawing from a set list Henderson composed for a series of solo acoustic shows. Hooking up fortuitously with Bersuch, the then-trio rounded out its sound in the two-week span between Trouble Junction's birth and its first gig.
Henderson never considered herself a country songwriter; in her mind, those twangst-ridden tunes were "little folk songs." But from the heartbreaking content to the thickly drawled delivery, her creations recall the work of rural traditionalists old and new. Both the musical style and her rich, expressive Grand Ole Opry-ready vocals belie Henderson's New York City background. "I guess you always run away from where you're from," she reasons. Her dialect is convincing enough to fool even experienced ears. When Trouble Junction played on KLZR 105.9's local-band showcase, a smattering of country-savvy listeners called in to describe its offerings as "good trucker music."
On the other hand, Ysquierdo hails from Leavenworth, yet she always brings the rock. Her former outfits include the Pillows, Festish Obsession and Johnny Lane, a short-lived group of little repute from five years ago that offered the first electric musical outlet for Henderson and the first Kansas City band experience for Clem and Ysquierdo. Although she never had much of a taste for country before Trouble Junction, Ysquierdo quickly acquired a craving for its bittersweet flavor, crafting bass lines that rumble menacingly under Henderson's sorrowful laments like slight tremors disturbing a funeral.
Henderson still contributes riffs and pens the band's lyrics, but with the addition of Clem and Bersuch to the act, Trouble Junction's songwriting became more of a democratic process. Within that open-input format, the members maintain there's no tension between the group's country and rock contingents. "We don't ever argue," Clem says. "It's just good music -- fuck it -- it can be rock; it can be country."
In Big Jeter, Clem and Bersuch walked a similar line between the genres, but the likeness between the two bands ends there. Trouble Junction delivers its material with an energetic, charismatic yet relatively straightforward live show, lessening the sting of a set's worth of dour soured-relationship downers with an occasional quip. With Jeter, Clem, the group's primary musical mastermind (singer Gary Huggins wrote the satirical/absurdist lyrics) composed some inspired cowpunk hoof-stompers, but the stunning presentation, boosted with audio/visual supplements and constant sight gags, took center stage.