Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jayhawks on Letterman

Saw the Jayhawks live twice, once acoustic at Warsaw in Greenpoint Brooklyn, once full-on electric at Irving Plaza. They were touring off their album Rainy Day Music at the time. I also caught Golden Smog at Irving Plaza in late '98 and it goes down as one of the best five or six shows I've seen, absolutely. Golden Smog had Gary Louris and Mark Perlman from the Jayhawks and Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, along with Dan Murphy from Soul Asylum. They played most of their first two albums, Down by the Old Mainstream and Weird Tales, but then played two covers during their encore that blew everyone away: I Got You, the "old" new wave song by Split Enz, and I Fooled Around & Fell In Love, the Elvin Bishop chestnut. After the show me and Steve were having a drink in that bar around the corner from Irving Plaza and we met Louris and talked to him for a while. So down to earth, no attitude, but that's what you would expect if you ever listened to the man's music. He talked about his newborn daughter and then Gary Olsen, his former partner in the Jayhawks who had left the band after the second album. Louris is a totally brilliant/original guitarist, although he sometimes bends notes in the style of Neil Young, yet every solo is different and exciting. Louris is also a terrific songwriter and has penned tunes for Kelly Willis and the Dixie Chicks. A great talent, even though the Jayhawks are now apparently history. Get their first two albums and get ready for your life to change, in a positive way: Hollywood Town Hall & Tomorrow the Green Grass. Imagine if the Beatles had grown up in Minnesota and were deep into the Flying Burrito Brothers and Byrds instead of skiffle and Chuck Berry. That's what I'm talking about.

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