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|NEW SON VOLT ALBUM|
LOS ANGELES - This fall, Jay Farrar will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Son Volt's acclaimed debut album, Trace, with tour dates featuring original pedal steel player, Eric Heywood, along with multi-instrumentalist, Gary Hunt. The tour is billed as "Jay Farrar Performs Songs Of Trace," and tickets for the tour are on sale now!
The dates will begin with a special AmericanaFest performance at 3rd & Lindsley on September 20. Farrar will also bring the tour to New York City on October 30, and on the same day, Rhino will release a two-disc version of Trace that features newly remastered sound and more than two dozen unreleased bonus tracks. The original album will also be re-issued on 180-gram vinyl.
TRACE: 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION includes audio that has been digitally remastered from the original analog masters. Farrar was heavily involved in the remastering process and contributes highlighted track commentary to the liner notes, which also feature a contribution from No Depression magazine founder Peter Blackstock.
In addition to every song from the 1995 original album, the first disc also features previously unreleased demos for eight album tracks, including "Drown," "Live Free," "Windfall," and an acoustic version of the rocker "Route."
The second disc contains an unreleased live performance recorded at The Bottom Line in New York's Greenwich Village on February 12, 1996. At the show, the band played nearly every song from Trace, covered Del Reeves' "Looking At The World Through A Windshield," and performed "Cemetery Savior," a tune that wouldn't surface until the following year on Son Volt's sophomore release, Straightaways.
The show also features songs originally recorded by Uncle Tupelo including "Slate," "True to Life" and the title track from the band's final album Anodyne (1993).
|SON VOLT DELIVERS HONKY TONK|
CD | VINYL | DIGITAL
Honky Tonk is out now on Rounder Records! The album features eleven new Son Volt songs that are inspired by the classic honky tonk sound of Bakersfield. Bandleader Jay Farrar observes, "Honky tonk music is about heartache, heartbreak, the road." Honky Tonk stays true to what's so appealing about honky tonk music, while stretching out its familiar contours into new shapes and spaces.
Farrar sees Honky Tonk as a record moving forward on the path toward a more acoustic-based music that Son Volt took on its last record, 2009's American Central Dust (also on Rounder). "The record is a continuation of what was happening with American Central Dust," observes Farrar. "Once again, I didn't play much if any electric guitar."
Like American Central Dust, Son Volt recorded Honky Tonk in Farrar's studio in St. Louis, with Mark Spencer (who also plays bass guitar, pedal steel and keyboards) at the recording helm. Dave Bryson provided drums and other percussion. Most of the songs on Honky Tonk were written in a two-week burst, and many of its compositions mine a more thematic lyrical vein inspired by a traditional country music aesthetic, which Farrar first explored on the band's previous record.
"I was always averse to using certain words in songs," recalls Farrar, "including ‘love' and ‘heart.' But I started using them on [American Central Dust] and now I guess the floodgates have opened."
EXCLUSIVE TOUR CDs IN THE STORE
Now available in Jay's Store and at shows are 4 new Cds. Dogtown Sessions, Artifacts, 1999, and Live In St. Louis. All of these titles are exclusively available here and at shows!
JAY FARRAR'S, FALLING CARS AND JUNKYARD DOGS, OUT NOW
GUTHRIE PROJECT, NEW MULTITUDES
a cadre of musical brothers finally coalescing after years on the road
apart, Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Gob Iron, Uncle Tupelo), Will Johnson
(Centro-matic, South San Gabriel), Anders Parker (Varnaline, Gob Iron)
and Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket, Monsters of Folk) gratefully deliver New
Multitudes, an intimate interpretation of American icon
and musical legend Woody Guthrie's previously unrecorded lyrics.
the invitation of Nora Guthrie, Woody's daughter, to tour the
Guthrie archives, each of the four songwriters were offered the chance
to plumb and mine the plethora of notebooks, scratch pads, napkins,
etc. for anything that might inspire them to lend their voices and
give the words new life. "These guys worked on an amazing group
of lyrics", says Nora. "Much of it culled from Woody's
times in LA. Lyric wise, it's a part of the story that is still
mostly unknown. From Woody's experiences on LA's skid row
to his later years in Topanga Canyon, they are uniquely intimate, and
relate two distinctly emotional periods in his life."
MULTITUDES AUDIO CLIPS
Check out these audio clips of the guys speaking about the project on the New Multitudes Facebook page.
Farrar: What was the process behind matching each artist to
On Tuesday, March 13 from 2-3 pm, Jay, Will, Anders and Jim will perform a taped set before a live audience at WXPN's World Café. This performance will air at a later date on over 230 NPR stations. If you are a WXPN member, try and get tickets to the performance!
TERROIR BLUES: THE DOGTOWN SESSIONS
The latest digital release Terroir Blues: The Dogtown Sessions is now available through Jay's web store as well as iTunes and all other digital outlets.
This latest release features an 11-track sequence, including 5 alternate mixes from the Terroir Blues session ("Cahokian", "Fool King's Crown", "Dent County", "Out on the Road" and "Walk You Down") as well as 6 re-mastered tracks from the original 2003 Terroir Blues release.
Jay's web store exclusively features the album art for this release.
VOLT - 'AMERICAN CENTRAL DUST'
‘American Central Dust,' on
Rounder Records, a plaintive 12-song collection, recalls
the melodic succinctness of the band's debut
album ‘Trace.' After
the musical experimentation of 2007's ‘The Search, ' ‘American
Central Dust,' the band's first album
on Rounder, refines the band's robust sound. Fiddle,
pedal steel, lap steel and sparkling piano add an atmospheric
nuance to Son Volt's Americana inspired rock, surrounding
band leader Jay Farrar's stream of consciousness lyrical
CENTRAL DUST' tracklist:
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ON THE ROAD
Left to right: Gary Hunt, Jay Farrar, Dave Bryson, Mark Spencer, Andrew Duplantis
Photo: Emily Nathan.
“Break up the silence
Make it clear
Make it last…” – “Down the Highway”
From his earliest recordings in the 1990s as a founding member of Uncle Tupelo,
Jay Farrar has been a keen observer of the American landscape: its beauties
and its tragedies, salvations and poisons.
It’s a perspective that’s been hard-won by steady touring and travel through this nation, and Farrar’s almost two-decades as the leader of Son Volt (as well as impressive turns as an acclaimed solo artist and collaborator) have only deepened and sharpened his gift for capturing the sights and sounds of his American journey – a gift which is in evidence once again on Son Volt’s sixth studio album: Honky Tonk.
After all, few places are as quintessentially American as the honky tonks where neon beckons to lonely and discontented souls with the promise that sorrows can be drowned in whiskey, cigarettes and a timeless music in which the clear hard truths of its lyrics mine the emotional complexities of life and love as fiddle and pedal steel sweetly commiserate.
“Honky tonk music is about heartache, heartbreak, the road,” Farrar observes.
That music provides a touchstone for eleven new Son Volt songs that excavate the classic honky tonk sound of Bakersfield (and Texas and Tennessee too) yet distill and reimagine it. Honky Tonk stays true to what’s so appealing about honky tonk music, while stretching out its familiar contours into new shapes and spaces.
Farrar reflects that as he wrote and recorded the music so deeply steeped in tradition for Honky Tonk, “I realized I also wanted these songs to sound more contemporary and modern. There was no strict adherence to methodology of the past. You never want to be a nostalgia act.”
“Always a common thread between us…” – “Heart and Minds”
Farrar sees Honky Tonk as a record moving forward on the path toward a more acoustic-based music that Son Volt took on its last record, 2009’s American Central Dust (also on Rounder).
“The record is a continuation of what was happening with American Central Dust,” observes Farrar. “Once again, I didn’t play much if any electric guitar.”
Like American Central Dust, Son Volt recorded Honky Tonk in Farrar’s studio in St. Louis, with Mark Spencer (who also plays bass guitar, pedal steel and keyboards) at the recording helm. Dave Bryson provided drums and other percussion. Most of the songs on Honky Tonk were written in a two-week burst, and many of its compositions mine a more thematic lyrical vein inspired by a traditional country music aesthetic, which Farrar first explored on the band’s previous record.
“I was always averse to using certain words in songs,” recalls Farrar, “including ‘love’ and ‘heart.’ But I started using them on [American Central Dust] and now I guess the floodgates have opened.”
Indeed, many of Honky Tonk’s songsdwell on affairs of the heart, including the album’s opening tracks, “Hearts and Minds,” a speedy Cajun waltz which assays the delicate balance between love’s steadfastness and its caprice, and “Brick Walls,” a lover’s plaint steeped in pedal steel that embraces the notion that “love’s a Spanish word to be sung.”
It’s also there in a song like “Barricades,” which affirms the necessity of pushing forward in the face of overwhelming despair and defeat in a way that makes it seem that playwright Samuel Beckett might have had a backing band called the Buckaroos. “No wage can buy what the world never wanted,” Farrar sings. “Hearts press on anyway, undaunted.”
This continuing lyrical turn toward the heart is woven into an even more countrified sound on Honky Tonk. Much of the immediate inspiration for the intense exploration of honky tonk music came directly from Farrar’s recent decision to learn to play a new instrument.
“In the time in between Son Volt records, I started learning pedal steel guitar,” Farrar says. “I play with a local band in St. Louis now and then called Colonel Ford. So I was immersed in honky tonk music, the Bakersfield sound, in particular. And it was almost second nature when I started writing the songs for this record.”
Indeed, a song titled “Bakersfield” serves as a swaggering Baedeker to the enduring musical and lyrical charms of the genre, from its evocation of Merle Haggard in the “sound of heartbreak from a jail cell” to the bars where “hell breaks loose on Saturday night” and its nod to the agriculture heartland in which many of these classic songs are rooted, a place where workers “sweat and toil one with the land.”
“No cup of gold, no Candy Mountain,” sings Farrar. “No better place to make a stand.”
That pedal steel sound that Farrar has grown so fond of playing winds through most of the songs on Honky Tonk, with much of the playing provided by St. Louis musician Brad Sarno. But Son Volt’s leader also found places on the record to work in another signature of that classic music: a jolt of twin fiddle provided by 2010 Grand Master fiddle champion Justin Branum and Gary Hunt (who also plays mandolin and electric guitar on Honky Tonk).
“Twin fiddles were such a feature of the 1950’s Grand Old Opry,” says Farrar. “I was watching some old episodes where there were two and sometimes three fiddle players in the house band. It’s an interesting sound, a natural chorus effect”.
Album opener “Hearts and Minds” is one song where that trademark twin fiddle dominates, and Farrar recalls with pleasure the interplay between Branum and Hunt in the recording of that tune.
“When we were listening to the playback of the song,” Farrar says, “I heard Justin make the comment, ‘Here's where I add the third fiddle.’ Justin is one fiddle player approximating the sound of two while he plays side by side with Gary, which at certain points in the song actually sounds like three fiddles playing.”
Farrar also points to the enigmatic “Seawall” as another place on the record where twin fiddle provides key element of the sound. “There’s a lot of power when the whole band drops out, and you get a burst of twin fiddle,” he observes.
Yet for all its hearkening back to a classic sound, Honky Tonk possesses a restless urge to make its source music new. On the somber “Livin’ On,” St. Louis roots music stalwart Thayne Bradford’s accordion is stretched out into a cold, haunted and disorienting sound that matches perfectly with Farrar’s meditation on a defiant stubbornness – the “reckless side of tradition” – in which “not even happiness falling down/ can ever change your mind.”
For a music that seeks to evoke the dark and smoky corners of the soul, classic honky tonk music (especially the Bakersfield variety) boasts an enviable clarity and crispness in its production. So in the moments when Son Volt washes the genre’s trademark instruments in echo, or distorts them to a shimmer or shards, it’s hard not to hear Farrar’s acknowledgment of what time’s passage has wrought on the music – and of the powerful ghosts tend to appear when old songs are summoned up. Or, as Farrar himself asks on “Seawall,” a song on which the inevitable decay of what we do and build is evoked so powerfully: “Do honky tonk angels still walk this ground?”
“Always a wild wind blowin’/ Just want a guitar and a radio” – “Bakersfield”
With almost 20 years on the road, listeners will likely wonder where Honky Tonk fits into the trajectory of the Son Volt’s storied career.
There are obvious points of connection between Honky Tonk and some of the most notable moments in the band’s history. The ebullience of “Hearts and Minds” and the buoyant optimism of “Barricades” bring to mind “Windfall,” the classic opener to the band’s first record, Trace. And it’s hard not to recall some of the more countrified moments of the band’s second record, Straightaways, (songs like “Creosote,” “Left a Slide,” “Last Minute Shakedown”) in a number of songs on Honky Tonk.
“I see Son Volt as a continuum from the first record,” Farrar says, adding that the band has consistently tried, on all of its records, to explore a continuing dialectic between the sheen and shimmer of the studio and the immediacy and urgency of live recording.
“There’s really a combination of raw and polished sounds on this Son Volt record,” he says. “That approach has been there since the first song [“Windfall”] on the first Son Volt record.”
Yet there are even deeper thematic continuities between this new music from Son Volt and its past endeavors. Honky Tonk – as well as Farrar’s forthcoming book, Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs (Counterpoint) – both continue his ongoing exploration of America’s landscape through the redemptive power of its music.
In that regard, a song like “Down the Highway” is a key addition to the band’s legacy. Mandolin and fiddle partner here to push forward a steady shuffle that sums up a number of Son Volt’s journeys thus far. “Throw this love down the highway, and see where it takes you,” sings Farrar.
“The song’s about the need to take music on the road,” he explains.
Farrar’s commitment to that quest, and his desire to find (as he puts it elsewhere on “Down the Highway”) “a world of wisdom inside a fiddle tune” is the thread that connects Son Volt’s work – and makes Honky Tonk a landmark on that continuing journey.
Release Date: March 06, 2007
Track listing for CD Longplay
|Son Volt LIVE 6 String Belief
Release Date: May 23, 2006
Track listing for DVD Video Longplay
|Okemah And The Melody Of Riot
Release Date: October 04, 2005
Track listing for CD Longplay
Band - firstname.lastname@example.org – PO Box 3141, Jersey City, NJ 07303
Management - Sharon Agnello for Steel Toe – email@example.com
North American, Australian & Japanese booking – Frank Riley & Brian Jonas for High Road Touring firstname.lastname@example.org
UK & European Booking: Bas Flesseman for Belmont Booking – Bas Flesseman email@example.com
Publicity: Regina Joskow for Rounder Records – Regina Joskow firstname.lastname@example.org