Posts Tagged ‘Gary Louris’

Previous Jayhawks’ records primarily featured the work of leader Gary Louris (or if one goes back far enough Louris and Mark Olson). XOXO features significant contributions from every longstanding member in the band. Each one is in charge of how his/her songs were arranged and recorded, as well as their parts on the co-written material. The album’s title was intended as a nod to Elliot Smith’s sensitive masterwork XO. Indeed, songs such as “Homecoming” and “This Forgotten Town” would fit right in with Smith’s delicate yet noisy oeuvre. XOXO does not have a cohesive theme as much as a consistent sunshiny tone in the land of gloom: the silver lining to the dark cloud. Even the sad songs seem to contain a wistful smile. We may be “Living in a Bubble” due to COVID-19, where Big Brother and the television news seem to control how we see the world when we are afraid to go outside, but things could be worse. “Life may be full of trouble”, but it beats the alternative. And there are ways to escape and find our sanity, if only momentarily.

The Jayhawks are very excited to premiere the full length version of the “Dogtown Days” video. Directed by renowned director and rock video pioneer Philip Harder and filmed in May 2020 during quarantine, the video tells the story of two friends on a road trip to see a Jayhawks show in the 7th St. Entry, circa 1985.

This dramatic video was produced with social distancing filming techniques and expertly integrates some archival footage of the band culled from several time periods, including actual 1985 footage shot in the Entry. Dogtown Days has a little bit of everything that makes for a great video: stunning cinematography, thrilling drone shots, an engaging plot and characters, a cool “reveal” and even an easter egg for astute students of Jayhawks history.

The beautiful full length “film short” version of Dogtown Days – featuring an extended prologue and an evocative, three dimensional sound design not found in the standard version – makes its debut today exclusively on The Jayhawks digital properties.

The 2nd single from The Jayhawks “XOXO” album, coming July 10 on Sham/Thirty Tigers.

the jayhawks

The Jayhawks have a new song out Tuesday with “This Forgotten Town,” the second track off the band’s forthcoming album XOXO. They previously dropped the Elliott Smith-esque tune “Living in a Bubble.”

The mid-tempo jangly roots-pop gem opens the band’s first album of new material since 2016’s Paging Mr. Proust. The song features vocals from lead singer Gary Louris and drummer Tim O’Reagan“Introducing different voices throughout the song added a new dimension to telling the story,” says the band’s bassist Marc Perlman, who co-wrote the song with Louris. “We approached it much like we did the whole record — more collaboration in the writing and more sharing of lead vocals than in the past.”

Marc brought the chord progression for this song, and then I started singing a melody on top of it,” Louris adds. “We wrote the lyrics together.”

The band’s 11th studio album marks the first time the group has fully distributed its songwriting duties, with all four band members (Louris, Perlman, O’Reagan and Karen Grotberg) writing their own songs and singing lead vocals. The album follows the group’s latest release Back Roads and Abandoned Motels, a collection of previously released material that Louris wrote for other artists like the Dixie Chicks and Jakob Dylan

The opening song on the upcoming new album, XOXO, which is being released July 10th via Sham/Thirty Tigers. “This Forgotten Town” finds Gary Louris trading off lead vocals with Tim O’Reagan as Karen Grotberg joins in on harmonies, setting the stage for the band’s most collaborative album to date.

“Marc brought the chord progression for this song, and then I started singing a melody on top of it. We wrote the lyrics together,” explains Louris. “A lot of the time when I’m working on lyrics, I’m thinking as much about the sound of the words as the meaning. I like to leave space between the lines for interpretation.” Perlman adds, “Introducing different voices throughout the song added a new dimension to telling the story. We approached it much like we did the whole record – more collaboration in the writing and more sharing of lead vocals than in the past.”

XOXO is The Jayhawks’ most diverse and wide-ranging collection of songs, marking a new era for the beloved band. For the first time, the album includes lead vocal and songwriting contributions from all four members bringing a new energy and confidence to The Jayhawks’ signature harmonies and infectious melodies. The group’s camaraderie is at the heart and soul of this release, showcasing an unrelenting ability to evolve while staying true to their authentic sound. XOXO is the product of a group more inspired and more itself than ever before, and reminds us why The Jayhawks have remained such an influential and respected band for over 30 years.

The Jayhawks have continued their success since returning to the core members from the late-90’s lineup, releasing Paging Mr. Proust in 2016 and Back Roads and Abandoned Motels in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim. The culmination of five years spent growing even more together, XOXO is a sonically and emotionally cohesive album that stands as a testament to The Jayhawks’ consistent forward motion.

Alt-country vets The Jayhawks have shared this warm, breezy song which opens their upcoming album XOXO, due July 10th via Sham/Thirty Tigers

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       Gary Louris,  





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On July 13th, Legacy Recordings, will release Back Roads and Abandoned Motels, the new record from The Jayhawks. This is their 10th studio album from the group, and it focuses on songs that bandleader Gary Louris previously wrote with other artists (along with two new Louris compositions). Recorded in two soulful sessions in 2017, Back Roads and Abandoned Motels finds the current incarnation of The Jayhawks–Louris (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), Marc Perlman (bass), Tim O’Reagan (vocals, drums, percussion), Karen Grotberg (vocals, piano, keyboards), John Jackson (mandolin, violin, acoustic guitar)–expanding the group’s repertoire with 11 new performances of Gary’s songs.  Karen and Tim each sing lead on two songs on the album. Tim performs “Gonna Be a Darkness” and “Long Time Ago” while Karen takes lead vocals (for the first time on a Jayhawks album) on the opener, “Come Cryin’ to Me featuring a soulful horn section.

For more than three decades, The Jayhawks’ deeply melodic, harmony-rich blend of rock, folk and country have earned them consistent praise from fans and critics alike. Back Roads and Abandoned Motels expands the group’s repertoire with brand-new recordings of songs that frontman Gary Louris has co-written with other acts.

The tracks include “Come Cryin’ to Me” (originally released on Natalie Maines’ Mother); “Everybody Knows” and “Bitter End” (released on Dixie Chicks’ Taking The Long Way); “Gonna Be a Darkness” (recorded with Jakob Dylan for True Blood: Music From The HBO Original Series – Volume 3); “Need You Tonight” (originally released on Scott Thomas’ Matson Tweed); “El Dorado” (originally released on Carrie Rodriguez’ She Ain’t Me); “Bird Never Flies” (originally released on Ari Hest’s The Break-In); and “Long Time Ago” (written with Emerson Hart of Tonic).

Have a listen to latest track “Backwards Women,” which was written with The Wild Feathers but never released on one of that group’s albums. Louris says, “I love the swagger to this song. I met The Wild Feathers out in LA and we banged out two songs in an afternoon, one of which was American which ended up on their eponymous debut of 2013. I always loved the other song Backwards Women which ended up on our new record. The verses are a sort of Faces/Stones 70’s thing and it is fun as hell to sing. I hope the boys like it.”

The Band

  • Gary Louris – vocals, guitar
  • Marc Perlman – bass
  • Tim O’Reagan – vocals, drums
  • Karen Grotberg – vocals, keys
  • John Jackson – mandolin, violin, guitar


The votes are in and singer-songwriter Gary Louris’ Vagabonds Expanded to a 2LP set is now available to order. This edition includes the entire acoustic VAGABONDS EP making its debut on vinyl as well as outtakes and demo recordings that have never been released on any physical format. ROG only manufactures one numbered edition so “Get ‘Em Before They’re Got!”, now through June 7th.

Vagabonds manages to sound grand and organic at once, with the arrangements and production capturing a sense of the wide open spaces of Hollywood Town Hall and Rainy Day Music, especially on the beautifully heart-tugging “She Only Calls Me on Sundays,” while also encompassing the more ambitious melodic conceits of Smile and Sound of Lies on tracks like “Black Grass” and “Omaha Nights.” … the result is an album that sounds full-bodied but natural and uncluttered, and gives Louris’ fine songs plenty of room to reveal their virtues. Anyone who has followed the Jayhawks’ career knows that Gary Louris is a major talent, and Vagabonds demonstrates he’s still capable of making remarkable music outside the framework of the band.

Weird Tales is a bit of a misnomer for a collection of songs about the triumphs and tragedies of everyday life. The title, however, does lend itself to some great packaging and artwork. On this second full-length outing from Golden Smog, the band (featuring members of the Jayhawks, Wilco, Soul Asylum and Run Westy Run) is joined by former Big Star drummer Jody StephensWeird Tales is American band Golden Smog’s second album, released in 1998. The title comes from the pulp magazine Weird Tales, the cover art being from the October 1933 issue, by Margaret Brundage.

With members from three of the best little big bands of the last 30 years of rock music. Members of these bands, plus other,equally worthy musicians, came together to form Golden Smog, a loose, brilliant alt-country supergroup comprising of like minded individuals. Weird Tales, was their third album, it is their masterpiece, and a finer album of Americana I’ve yet to hear this side of Stranger’s Almanac.
The music ebbs and flows with a gentle purpose- angst ridden and meloncholic in places,peaceful and accepting in others. Particular highlights include Gary Louris’ Until You Came Along, Tweedy’s Please Tell My Brother and the wonderful Jennifer Save Me.

Featuring songwriters (Gary Louris of the Jayhawks and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy) both contribute Weird Tales’ most solid tracks. A pet project aimed more toward fans of the genre than the casual listener, Golden Smog nonetheless deliver the goods with a good deal of twangy heart and soul.” It’s  a first-rate collaboration among differing band members that’s unified in both vision and spirit.

the band ;

  • Kraig Johnson
  • Dan Murphy
  • Gary Louris
  • Marc Perlman
  • Chris Mars
  • Noah Levy
  • Jeff Tweedy
  • Jody Stephens

Revered for being one of the original alt country acts in the mid-’80s, The Jayhawks felt out of place even in the acoustic circles they shared with their fellow Minneapolis porch pickers. Instead of going the cow punk route or trying to establish themselves as Nashville outlaws, they looked to the past, to artists like The Louvin Brothers and Gram Parsons, for inspiration. Their work was unhurried and unconcerned with modernization—they mixed a potent brew of country, folk and heartland rock that spoke to the heartbroken and the overworked. And possessed of golden harmonies, immaculate songwriting chops and an utter lack of pretension, the band sought to explore and reintroduce the rustic sounds of decades past.

The band’s work felt timeless, a mixture of electric and acoustic country tendencies that fed into their fascination for the histories of various sounds. They weren’t afraid to embrace the rockier aspects of their influences, but they also weren’t averse to thinning things out a bit when they were in a more introspective mood. Looking back, their songs were insular in the best way, enclosed worlds where melody and the art of songwriting were seen as virtues and their existence not left to chance.

The band was formed in Minneapolis in 1985 when Mark Olson, after doing a tour of duty on upright bass in a rockabilly band called Stagger Lee, decided to focus on his own musical voice. He invited Marc Perlman, a guitarist who’d performed with a local band called the Neglecters, to be his bassist and brought on drummer Norm Rogers shortly thereafter. As a trio, the group began booking shows, and on one such occasion, local music veteran Gary Louris was in attendance and struck up a conversation with Olson after the show. They soon found common musical ground, and by the end of the evening, Louris had been officially invited to join the band. Hollywood Town Hall is the third studio album by American rock band The Jayhawks.

They kicked around the various Twin Cities clubs for a bit, sharpening their focus and coming to an understanding of just what The Jayhawks could be. They released their self-titled debut in 1986, and although it was only pressed in a limited edition of a couple thousand copies, the album developed substantial acclaim and success. And though it looked promising that the band would sign a major label deal on the strength of their debut, that opportunity never happened for them. They continued to tour and attained a significant following, all the while writing new songs that highlighted their alt country prowess. The Jayhawks weren’t looking to reshape the world, even if their records did suggest otherwise.

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In October 1988, there was a shift in the band’s lineup, with Rogers exiting the band and Thad Spencer taking his place behind the drums. Around the same time, Louris was in a bad car accident, and the band decided to take a hiatus while he healed. So while the band was resting a bit, their music was still going strong. In 1989, the people behind Minneapolis independent label Twin/Tone released the demos that the band had been working on for the past few years as “Blue Earth.”

After the album’s release, Spencer left the group and was replaced by Ken Callahan. The newfound attention and critical success being lavished on the band brought Louris back to the group, and they hit the road for a national tour. Their next big break came in the form of A&R representative/producer George Drakoulias, who heard “Blue Earth” playing in the background on a call he had made to the Twin/Tone offices and signed the band to American Records. The band entered the studio and recorded what would form the basis of their next record, 1992’s “Hollywood Town Hall,” their greatest and most comprehensive work.

“Hollywood Town Hall” isn’t just a single-minded alt country record—it is a curious shape-shifter that maneuvers through a handful of sounds with an ease the band hadn’t shown before. Producing a handful of radio hits, including “Waiting for the Sun,” “Take Me With You (When You Go)” and “Settled Down Like Rain,” the album works through its American rock influences with a heart filled with country eccentricities and folk earnestness. The vocal harmonies between Olson and Louris were stronger and more confident than they’d ever been, leading the band across winding trails of acoustic melodies and curiously ragged electric guitar lines.

There is an obvious yearning to break free of tradition laced within these songs but also a need to connect with the past without invoking nostalgia. And with all the songs (except for “Wichita”) written exclusively by Louris and Olson, there is a sense of continuity in each song’s rambling history. The band was helping refine the Americana sound. And while you could trace those roots all the way back to the ’60s and beyond, The Jayhawks’ contribution was so immediate and prescient that their work with these sounds from the mid-’80s to the early ’90s really set the bar for modern alt country.  A captivating experience from start to finish, “Hollywood Town Hall” is a casual and lovely record that speaks to creaky front porches, unrequited love and open fields, the kind of imagery and ideas usually reserved for old-school country artists. But it also holds tightly to its blue-collar rockiness, with sounds carried across an often-craggy, guitar-driven landscape. “Hollywood Town Hall” is many things to many people, and in its rhythmic expanse, it discovered the beating heart of America.

The Jayhawks
  • Mark Olson – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, vocals
  • Marc Perlman – bass
  • Ken Callahan – drums
  • Gary Louris – electric guitar, fuzz guitar, guitar, vocals

In the Jayhawks new video for their song “Comeback Kids,” frontman Gary Louris embarks on a mysterious trip that channels the song’s meaning in a slightly different way. “The song itself is about traveling to see someone,” he says. “Ironically, [it] centers around an airport and that is the only form of travel not touched upon in the video. We were trying not to be too literal.”

Though mostly shot in black and white, color images are interspersed throughout the four-minute clip, which Louris says was deliberate – and a point of discussion when it was being conceptualized. For Louris, the video represents a “longing” and a “deliberate and willful drifting” when he watches it back.

The video’s concept came from Chuck Statler (Elvis Costello, Devo), who Louris thinks took them up on the opportunity to make the visual for a rather specific reason. “He is in love with the process,” Louris says. “He certainly didn’t do it for the money because there wasn’t any.”

“Comeback Kids” is on the Jayhawks’ latest album, “Paging Mr. Proust.” The band is currently on tour in Europe; then they’ll start a week-and-a-half long club tour across the States.

Official music video for “Comeback Kids” by The Jayhawks, from their 2016 album, Paging Mr. Proust. Directed by legendary music video pioneer Chuck Statler. Produced by Chuck Statler and Rick Fuller.