Iowa City, Iowa 6.3.13 – Son Volt has been at the forefront of the alternative country movement since they debuted in 1995. If you are familiar at all with Son Volt then you know that frontman Jay Farrar and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy were in the band Uncle Tupelo together as bandmates and friends. As fate would dictate UT was not to last. A John and Paul type situation developed resulting in the end of Uncle Tupelo and the genesis of two formative bands: Son Volt (Jay Farrar) and Wilco (Jeff Tweedy). Jay stated in a Wall Street Journal article, “…I haven’t spoken with him in a while. We travel in different circles.” You can read more about Jay in his book entitled “Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs.”
The current incarnation of Son Volt began touring February 22, 2013, in support of their new album “Honky Tonk.“
[box_light]Play “Honky Tonk” as you view the photos below and maybe even dance a bit to a double-time Cajun-waltz.[/box_light]
Jay has been heading in a more acoustic direction in recent years. With “Honky Tonk” Jay added a contemporary feel to the record’s rootsy sound with distortion and feedback. In a recent review with Kevin Ransom for AnnArbor.com, Jay talked about the making of “Honky Tonk,” “At times, it’s been more electric, at times it’s been more acoustic, but these last couple of albums, we’ve just been drawn to the acoustic side. Our music has always been on that kind of continuum, and lately, we’ve just been wanting to get back to that acoustic sound.” “We didn’t want to feel limited by the parameters of that ( honky tonk) period. We didn’t want to do a nostalgia thing.” we were thinking of Solomon Burke or Otis Redding on that one, but I also wanted to get some distorted harmonica in there. That’s something Bob Dylan does a lot when he plays live—runs the harmonica through an amp, to get that dissonant sound.” (More)
Son Volt’s opener was Colonel Ford which was Son Volt minus Jay Farrar. Colonel Ford’s set was like sitting in a small bar off the beaten track in Nashville complete with plenty of covers that flowed into each other. After a break the house lights dimmed slightly as a notification that Son Volt was about to begin. The crowd caught a glimpse of the band prompting cheers and applause. Gary Hunt and Andrew Duplantis appeared first followed by Jay Farrar , Mark Spencer and Dave Bryson. For the following 90+ minutes Son Volt delivered songs from Honky Tonk mixed with well known tunes and some not so well known Jay Farrar penned classics. Toward the end (or what I thought was the finale) Jay began to play electric guitar and Son Volt took a step forward and a little bit to the left of center. Gary Hunt and Jay began to sound like Haynes and Trucks or Clapton and Allman, to use an ABB analogy. With each song the intensity mounted cumulating in a classic use of feedback from the pedal steel and Jay’s guitar. The music faded and the band waved to the mesmerized crowd as they exited the stage.
As the Jon Luc Ponty vibe filled the Englert Mark Spencer resumed playing his pedal steel followed by Gary Hunt on the violin. The culmination of the feedback led seamlessly into “Hearts and Minds” off the “Honky Tonk record. Son Volt brilliantly went full circle from acoustic based to electric guitar driven jams back to acoustic. Son Volt may have earned “my” favorite show of 2013…thus far. The year is not over and the Englert has more surprises up their sleeve.
[box_light]Colonel Ford –Dave Bryson (drums), Andrew Duplantis (bass guitar), Mark Spencer (keyboards, steel guitar), Gary Hunt (Guitar, Mandolin, Fiddle)– opened the show[/box_light]