Jay Farrar says his band, Son Volt, has been a movable feast.
After several recent “famine” years, when the band’s recordings and performances have been few and far between, 2013 is a feast year for fans - the band released Honky Tonk on March 5 on Rounder Records.
And a tour brings the band back to Little Rock for the first time in years. (Previous appearances have been at Juanita’s and Stickyz, back when it was known as Sticky Fingerz.)
Farrar formed the band in 1994 after splitting from Uncle Tupelo, which he had formed in Belleville, Ill., across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.
He and co-leader Jeff Tweedy, like John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles, didn’t always see eye-to eye. Farrar took Uncle Tupelo drummer Mike Heidorn with him when he left, and has shuffled the band’s lineup numerous times since.
Son Volt’s 1995 debut album, Trace, helped the band make it onto the cover of the first issue of No Depression magazine, started by fans of the music that Farrar and others were creating. The music was labeled “country rock,” a term that eventually gave way to “alt country,” as well as “Americana” and “roots rock.”
The band followed up with Straightaways in 1997 and Wide Swing Tremelo in 1998. In 1999 Farrar announced a hiatus to pursue solo projects, which produced Sebastopol; The Slaughter Rule soundtrack; Terroir Blues; and a live CD/DVD,Stone, Steel & Bright Lights.
In 2005, the same year a new version of Son Volt appeared, the band’s original record label, Warner Bros., released A Retrospective: 1995-2000, which contained previously unissued versions of Son Volt songs plus cover versions of Farrar favorites, including songs by Big Star, Townes Van Zandt, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and Bruce Springsteen.
Accompanying Farrar on Honky Tonk and on tour: Gary Hunt on fiddle, mandolin and electric guitar; Dave Bryson on drums and percussion; and Mark Spencer on keyboards and steel guitar. Andrew Duplantis, who was not on the album, is playing bass and providing backing vocals.
Bryson, Duplantis and Spencer also were on Son Volt recordings Okemah and the Melody of Riot in 2005, The Search in 2007 and American Central Dust in 2009.
In publicity materials supplied by his label, Farrar writes: “In the time between Son Volt records, I started learning pedal steel guitar. I play with a local band in St. Louis now and then, called Colonel Ford” (the opening act for this weekend’s Little Rock show).
“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.
“I was always averse to using certain words in songs, including ‘love’ and ‘heart.’ But I started using them on American Central Dust and now I guess the floodgates have opened.”
9 p.m. Saturday, Revolution Room, 300 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock
Opener: Colonel Ford (featuring members of Son Volt)
Tickets: $17 advance; $20 day of show
Weekend, Pages 35 on 09/26/2013
Print Headline: Rewired Son Volt ready to jolt the Rev Room