Son Volt: better than Uncle Tupelo, I think, which was a band that I wanted to and should have liked far more than I did at the time. Great bones in the songwriting and in the story construction from Uncle Tupelo, but they were one of those complicated affairs that left me glad to know that I still had my simple garage-band tastes to return to. Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt have guitarist/songwriter Jay Farrar in common. Tupelo has been gone for a long time, and from their leavings a far more popular band named Wilco came about. Wilco’s popularity has long eclipsed Son Volt.
One gets a sense that it hasn’t necessarily been an easy walk for Farrar or for those close to him, considering that Son Volt has a few starts and stops in their band history and a revolving membership door. I know what you’re thinking: reality show in the making, right? Possibly Farrar thought the same thing when he screwed a web camera into the ceiling of his studio and filmed 16 days of him recording with his band.
Son Volt came to be in 1994, and from the beginning there was an inner-band wattage that was hard to deny. They released the best of their handful of recordings, Trace, Straightaways, and Wide Swing Tremelo. Critics swooned. The songs felt like Farrar was driven, like he had to record them. It felt personal and may have been fueled by a grudge match with Tupelo bandmate Jeff Tweedy, a rift that continues unrepaired to this day and that he alludes to in his new book released in March, an autobiography titled Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs. Farrar’s book takes a couple of shots at Uncle Tupelo/Tweedy, lowbrow as they may be, but otherwise it’s a collection of vignettes culled from the life of a songwriter who has demonstrated himself to be more-than-passing interesting.
Colonel Ford also performs.
Son Volt: Belly Up, Friday, August 2, 8:30 p.m. 858-481-8140. $18 in advance/$20 day of show