Scene and Heard

The Jayhawks with Jessica Lea Mayfield to play Friday, October 14th

Posted in Entertainment by sceneandheardblog on August 1, 2011

Friday, October 14th @ 8pm The W.L. Lyons Brown Theatre All Ages Reserved Seating $25 Gold Circle $35 Tickets On Sale 8/5 @10am Tickets can be purchased at The Kentucky Center box office, or by phone (502) 584-7777, (800) 775-7777 or TTY (502) 562-0730

┬áThe Jayhawks were definitely swimming against the tide when they emerged from a crowded Minneapolis music scene halfway through the 1980s — a memorable decade that saw the likes of the Replacements, Soul Asylum, Husker Du and Prince put Minnesota on the musical map in a big way. Forging a rootsy sound that wasn’t quite rock or country — “Hank Williams on speed” somebody once memorably called it — The Jayhawks quickly turned into one of the most important bands of the post-punk era. Over the course of two decades, several albums, countless memorable live shows and enough personal drama to fill a couple of Behind the Music episodes, this beloved band soared to heights few ever achieve while wining the hearts and minds of numerous critics, fans and peers in the process. Named after “The Hawks” — as in “Levon and the Hawks,” the name of Dylan’s backing band in the 60s before they became known as “The Band” — The Jayhawks and their fellow travelers even helped make the world safe again for artists who weren’t afraid to fuse traditional rock, country and folk influences into something that was both timeless and modern, just like the best American bands always have. Formed by Mark Olson, Gary Louris, Marc Perlman and Norm Rogers in early 1985, The Jayhawks original members all came from a variety of Minneapolis bands toiling away in the hyperactive local club scene at the time. Prolific and highly motivated, the band amassed a staggering number of original songs in a very short time, culminating with a self-released eponymous debut album in 1986. After a tumultuous period that found the band actively seeking a recording contract, The Jayhawks finally landed with Twin/Tone Records, the seminal Minneapolis indie label that released early records by the Replacements and Soul Asylum. Blue Earth, released in 1989, was a quantum leap forward from the first album and garnered widespread positive reviews. It also caught the ear of Def American producer/A&R rep George Drakoulias, who legendarily heard Blue Earth playing in the background during a call to the Twin/Tone offices. Frustrated by the major label rat race, founding member Mark Olson suddenly quit the band in late 1995, shocking fans and fellow band members alike. Olson packed up and headed to the Mojave Desert with his new wife, singer Victoria Williams, to embark on a solo career unencumbered by the restrictions inherent to the corporate music business. Louris and the rest of the band laid low for a while and then surprised nearly everyone by continuing on without Olson while keeping the band name. Augmented by Kraig Johnson (Run Westy Run) and Jessy Greene (Geraldine Fibbers), and paying little heed to their previous playbook, The Jayhawks released Sound of Lies in 1997, a dark, moody modern pop masterpiece that evoked fond memories of everything from Big Star to The Beatles. After a revelatory acoustic tour in 2003 with the core trio of Louris, Perlman and O’Reagan, the next chapter in The Jayhawks Saga found them retrenching somewhat to the “classic” sound of their earlier albums. Sparingly produced by Ethan Johns, Rainy Day Music was chock full of catchy songs (“Save It For a Rainy Day,” “Tailspin”) that tied together sounds and influences from every chapter of the band’s career. The band — now reduced to a trio, supplemented by touring member Stephen McCarthy, a veteran roots rocker (Long Ryders) and talented multi-instrumentalist — mounted the heaviest touring schedule and promotional blitz of their career, resulting in their highest charting album ever. Sadly, the momentum couldn’t be sustained and one of the most exciting American bands in recent history quietly went on hiatus in 2004. The ensuing years found Louris, Perlman and O’Reagan embarking on a variety of endeavors; all three have released solo projects in recent years. Louris also kept busy with a multitude of songwriting collaborations, production work, soundtracks and even the revival of longtime side-project, Golden Smog, a proverbial “supergroup” featuring members of Soul Asylum, Wilco and Big Star, as well as Jayhawkers Perlman and Johnson. Significantly, after years of estrangement, Olson and Louris finally reunited for a couple of well-received tours, followed by Ready For the Flood in 2009, their first full length studio venture together in 15 years. Even though the door to the future was never officially closed, long time fans were still surprised — and overjoyed — with the news in 2008 that the Tomorrow the Green Grass-era lineup of the band with Mark Olson would be reuniting for some summer festival shows in Europe. The good news kept on coming in 2009 with more reunion shows and the release of the band’s first retrospective, The Jayhawks Anthology, a multi-disc collection personally supervised by Louris that featured key tracks from all phases of the bands career, a disc of rarities and a DVD. 2010 saw the long awaited re-release of the bands long out-of-print, highly collectable first album, as well as the launch of a massive reissue project of all the band’s major label albums. During June 2010, the “classic” lineup of the band performed a three night stand at Minneapolis’ legendary First Ave. club, the scene of so many great Jayhawks memories over the last quarter century. Anyone who was lucky enough to have witnessed any of those recent shows knows all too well that the spirit of this essential American band is alive and well. Produced by The Kentucky Center & Production Simple For more info on these and other shows check out our website at

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