Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Son Volt at The Blue Note, 11/5

The year I graduated high school Son Volt was just starting to collect a cult of alt-country followers as rabid as the fan bases of either Pavement or Sebadoh. Jay Farrar formed the band in 1994 from the dismantled Uncle Tupelo, going one way with Son Volt, while former bandmate Jeff Tweedy went the other with Wilco.

Parent band Uncle Tupelo was huge in my tiny town, in part because of Hillsboro's proximity to St. Louis—half of eventual Son Volt members were rooted in St. Louis (the other half in Minneapolis). I was never a Son Volt junkie myself, thanks to a characteristically teenage lack of motivation to dig deeper and see what they were all about. At the time, if a band didn't grab me at first listen, I often didn't give them another chance. (I'm still bad about this, but age has slowed my rashness a bit. On the other hand, sometimes I'm quick to love a sub-par band. I guess I'm all over the map.) Son Volt has apparently run into similar ambivalence: they've never been a commercial success but are generally loved by critics.

Son Volt has been compared to everything from Bob Dylan to Neil Young to the Jayhawks to REM, but they keep on doing their own classic American alt-rock thing. Having survived many ups and downs and changing lineups, the band released an album earlier this year, American Central Dust. It contains the song "Cocaine and Ashes," which you can hear Jay Farrar sing with Mark Spencer (formerly of the Blood Oranges and now part of Son Volt) in the clip below. Jay Farrar's voice is nice and warm like flannel.

Once again, I'm going to have to pass on Son Volt. I have a feeling it will be a good show, but I'm suffering from stubborn teenage indifference. Please share details if you go.

Peter Bruntnell

Opening for Son Volt is Peter Bruntnell, a British singer/songwriter with a gentle voice who now spends his time living on the West Coast, surfing, and raising a family. Gentle indeed.

Check out Son Volt with Peter Bruntnell at The Blue Note, Thursday, November 5. Doors open at 7:30.


  1. Son Volt sounds like country.

  2. Yep, they definitely have an alt-country thing going on--not everyone's cup of tea. There's a very fine line to be walked between a "tear in my beer" and little touches of pedal steel guitar.

  3. your blog is sunny. why do you lend current trendy comments as your alter ego?
    stop the distraction.

  4. Sigh. A dark cloud on the horizon. You've rained on my parade.

    It's okay--I AM sunny.