Friday, October 12, 2012

The Jayhawks - A Quick Appreciation

A while back I started noting a few Minneapolis-area artists that have turned Scruffy's crank, and It's finally time to get back to it (the oft-valuable Fuel for Friends blog reminded me with an awesome Minneapolis Mixtape). So we come to The Jayhawks. Suffice it to say, these guys were probably my introduction to what soon became known as alt country. In fact, I'd say they also sparked a re-introduction to country period, as I had forgotten how great folks like Johnny Cash were. But more importantly, I'm not sure I would have been as open to the greatness of The Long Ryders, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Wilco, Steve Earle, Dwight Yoakam, or more traditional artists such as Allison Krauss, Marty Stuart or Patty Loveless.

My oldest son decries what he calls "Hipster Country", but I haven't even played him The Jayhawks yet. The thing is, there ain't too much hipster in this band, unless you think influences like the Byrds or Bob Dylan or Neil Young are hipster-oriented. Not that the 'Hawks really ape those artists, but there's nothing wrong with stellar harmonies, the right feel as opposed to auto-tuned fakery, an emphasis on well-wrought lyrics, finely crafted melodies, and some sweet guitar that might be reverb-drenched, could be honeyed acoustic, or possibly launch into wailing Neil Y teritory.

The band's been around so long now the members have splintered and come back together and they sound as good as ever. She Walks in So Many Ways comes from 2011's Mockingbird Time, the get-back-together record, and it's really grown on me.

The Jayhawks' website has a lot of tunes from over the years for you to stream if you want to hear more, and 2009's Music From the North Country is also a good introduction.

Clifton Bridge from The Jayhawks on Vimeo.

Comments welcome below.

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