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September 14, 1995 - Image 27

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-14

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The Michigan Daily - Wua 4a . --Thursday, September 14, 1995 - 13B

ayhawks soar with'Tomorrow the Green Grass'

and carries on the
ountry-rock cause

y Jennifer Buckley
eekend, etc. Editor
The way Mark Olson tells it, you'd
ink that the success of his band the
tyhawks and their fourth album "To-
orrow the Green Grass" is a perfectly
itural occurrence, a combination of
ird work and luck. Damn near ordi-
"Well, it just sort of floated along
at way," he said. "It just sort of hap-
Fans and critics tend to feel that the
rnd of God had a little more to do with
but whichever story you prefer, one
ing is undeniable: the Jayhawks blend
e mournful twang of country, the soul-
L fervor of gospel, the honesty of folk
d the exhilaration of rock and roll
to some of the finest, freshest tunes
er committed to tape.
Since February, Olson and his sing-
g and songwriting partner Gary
ouris; bassist Marc Perlman,
pyboardist Karen Grotberg and new
ummer Tim O'Reagan have trotted
e globe supporting "Tomorrow." They
ent their summer touring with long-
me pals like Wilco, Soul Asylum,
latthew Sweet and Victoria Williams
ho happens to be Olson's wife), head-
ing tours and opening shows for the
es of Johnny Cash.
"We spent about six weeks in Eu-
>pe," explained Olson. "We played
ienna and Berlin for the first time, and
otland is always nice."
It's thousands of miles, hundreds of
gs, four albums and three record la-
Is removed from where the Jayhawks
ere a decade ago: working their way
rough the same Minneapolis music
ene that spawned the Replacements,
ul Asylum and Husker Du.
Olson, who had been playing "in a
nch of pickup bands, but nothing like
and band," met Perlman in the mid-
80s. The two "got together with a
'end and put together a practice band.
e knew Gary and approached [him]."
dding drummer Ken Callahan, the

group began to struggle through the
burgeoning Minneapolis scene, play-
ing everywhere from downtown bars to
Indian reservations.
"We started out on Monday nights
and worked our way to Friday nights.
That sort of thing," Olson recalled.
In 1985 the Jayhawks released their
first, self-titled LP on the tiny indie
Bunkhouse Records. "Blue Earth," a
last-ditch collection of demos from the
temporarily disbanded group, followed
four years later on the Twin/Tone label.
That's all ordinary enough. It's what
happens next that smacks of divine in-
In early 1992, producer George
Drakoulias called Twin/Tone on busi-
ness. While stuck on hold, the Def
American Records rep heard a few
minutes' worth of "Blue Earth" play-
ing on the other end of the line. It only
took a couple of choruses of Olson
and Louris' gorgeous, exuberant,
country-styled harmonies for
Drakoulias to decide to not only sign
the band to Def American, but to pro-
duce their next album as well.

and that's one of the best things about
Olson honors his wife's musical tal-
ent on "Tomorrow" with the spirited
"Miss .Williams' Guitar," singing,
"Sounds like a field being painted in the
Delta sun / songs from the book of life
for everyone." It's a near-perfect de-
scription of Victoria's quirky folk-rock
style, which Olson has admired for
"[The song] is a tribute to her guitar-
playing," he explained. Williams, who
shared set time with the Jayhawks dur-
ing their August tour with Soul Asylum
and Matthew Sweet, contributes back-
ing vocals and electric guitar to the live
version of "Miss Williams' Guitar."
Olson bragged, "She actually does a
wicked solo on that one live, a really
wild solo."
Friends for a decade before their
marriage, Olson and Williams had
played several shows together over
the years. The Jayhawks appeared
along with Sweet, Soul Asylum, the
Waterboys, Lou Reed and others on
her 1992 tribute album "Sweet Re-
lief." Proceeds from that record ben-
efited Williams, who was diagnosed
with multiple sclerosis in 1991 with
no health insurance to cover rising
medical costs.
Williams' health improved ("She's
doing great," said Olson) and nearly
two years ago the two married. Since
then they've toured almost nonstop,
supporting her wonderful LP "Loose"
and "Tomorrow the Green Grass" across
the United States, Europe and ... morn-
ing television?
"We started doing morning televi-
sion shows when she was touring on her
record," saidOlson. "We did the Kathie-
Regis show, and 'Good Morning,
America.' You have to get up really
early to do those. There were all sorts of
people who ended up seeing it, you
know, people that don't normally go
out to rock and roll clubs. It was strange,
but it was a good time."
Both the Jayhawks and Williams plan
to finish touring soon and get to work
on new projects. Olson and Louris are
already writing songs for a follow-up to
"Tomorrow," Olson said. "We're go-
ing to do the Soul Asylum tour and then
we're going to get ready for another
record, I guess."
With any luck, it will be even better
than "Tomorrow the Green Grass." It'll
just sort of happen that way.
Thank God.

Mark Olson (center) and his band, the Jayhawks, are just a bunch of country-rockin', gee-tar-playin', a11-around swell folks.

Little Kids."
The Jayhawks divide the album in
half with a good-natured, off-the-cuff
cover of Grand Funk Railroad's "Bad
Time," potently backed by the throaty
yelps of Sharleen Spiteri, vocalist of the
band Texas.
Olson remembered, "[Sharleen]
was in L.A. at the time and came
down to visit. We met [Texas] in Paris
... oh, that sounds really (self-depre-
cating chuckle) ... but we got along
really well. So when we were in L.A.
we got a hold of them and they came
down to the studio and she sang on it
... It just kind of happened that way,

__________________________ V. -.


COG ft*dUnsprm ft
A Concert of Hits from the 50s & 60s
The fun includes ballads, novelty numbers, show
tunes, doo-wop and the beginnings of rock &
-. ' roll, performed by the COG singers and special
offeatured groups:
* Music Box " The Halftones
" The Gelcaps " Strangelove
Saturday, September 16, 8pm
Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
Tickets $5.00 (student,s.nor)
On sale at
SKR Classical,
539 E. Liberty,
Ann Arbor and at the door

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