w/ Shannon McNally
Fri. Jan. 27
32 Ann St.
“The last year and half of touring has been really good and I think we’ve grown as a band,” says singer/guitarist Jay Farrar, longtime ringleader of veteran St. Louis rock band Son Volt. Known for their twangy guitar sound, Guthrie-esque heartland lyrics, and rollicking, low-lying melodies, Farrar, 38, and his troupe have been at it since the 1994 breakup of his previous group, Uncle Tupelo — co-led by singer/guitarist Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco).
This week’s show at the Music Farm marks the first time this current version of Son Volt has made it into Charleston. After three albums and relentless touring, the original lineup — original Tupelo drummer Mike Heidorn, bassist Jim Boquist, string player Dave Boquist, and (eventually) mandolinist and pedal steel player Eric Heywood — took a long break around 2000. Farrar took that opportunity to step aside from the Americana rock to work on several more experimental solo discs — Sebastopol and Terroir Blues, an EP titled Thirdshiftgrottoslack, and a live album titled Stone Steel and Bright Lights.
By that time, revived and inspired, he was ready to reassemble Son Volt as an active force. The results: a new album titled Okemah and the Melody of Riot (Transmit Sound/Legacy). Tellingly, the title refers to the Oklahoma town where Woody Guthrie was born.
“After having done two primarily acoustic-oriented solo records and a lot of acoustic touring for several years. I was ready to get back to playing electric,” says Farrar. “I wanted the solo records to be open-ended, open to trying out different sounds, different approaches. With this Son Volt record, I wanted to get back to the fundamentals.
Farrar recorded Okemah with the new core of the band — Brad Rice (of The Backsliders, Tift Merritt), bassist Andrew Duplantis (ex-Meat Puppets, Bob Mould) and drummer Dave Bryson (ex-Canyon). Together, the new bandmates created back-to-basics, raw-energy rock sound sure to please most hardcore fans.
“The overall approach was to keep it pretty organic,” says Farrar. “The approach I’ve found that works best is to try and capture as much live energy there in the studio as possible. A lot of that gets lost if you spend too much time correcting things, you know?”