New Jayhawks Legacy Releases Planned, Anthology on the Horizon

Some great news for Jayhawks fans– Sony Legacy/Columbia are working on preparing Legacy releases of the Jayhawks American/Sony catalog. This would be Hollywood Town Hall (1993) and  Tomorrow the Green Grass (1995) with Mark Olson in the band; and the post-Olson-departure releases Sound of Lies (1997),  Smile (2000),  and Rainy Day Music (2002). According to information shared on the jayhawksfanpage board (THE source for all things Jayhawks-related) as well as some interviews recently Gary and Mark (mostly Gary) have been combing through their personal archives to come up with the bonus material to be included in these releases.

Additionally, there will be an anthology to be titled Music From the North Country – The Jayhawks Anthology, which will be a two-disc set with one disc of tracks from their albums including their bigger hits, and the second disc will be full of demos, compilation-only tracks, soundtrack-only tracks and b-sides. This will be released on July 7th– just in time for their reunion gig at the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis on July 10th.

Tracklisting for Music from the North Country – The Jayhawks Anthology:

DISC ONE: Two Angels / Ain’t No End / Waiting for the Sun / Martin’s Song / Clouds / Settled Down Like Rain / Blue / I’d Run Away / Over My Shoulder / Miss Williams’ Guitar / Trouble / Big Star / The Man Who Loved Life / Smile / I’m Gonna Make You Love Me / What Led Me To This Town / Tailspin / All the Right Reasons / Save It For a Rainy Day / Angelyne

DISC TWO: Falling Star (from Bunkhouse Album, 1986) / Old Woman From the Red Clay (alt version) / That’s the Bag I’m In (KFAI recording) / Won’t Be Coming Home (early demo) / Stone Cold Mess (HTH outtake) / Mission on 2nd (demo) / Lights (from Sweet Relief album, a classic!) / Darling Today (Blown Away soundtrack) / Break My Mind / Get the Load Out (both “Bad Time” B-sides) / Poor Little Fish (alt version) / Someone Will (Live from Woman’s Club) / Cure for This (this and all the rest are from the band’s rehearsal studio, 1999-2001)/ I Can Make It on My Own / Rotterdam / Follow Me / In the Canyon / Tailspin (alt version) / I Think I’ve Had Enough (Louris home tape) / Help Me Forget

As far as the Legacy releases of the albums are concerned, according to this thead on the fanboard in a reply by “Sacred Roots” who was involved in the archive research for the releases, including the Anthology release, the plans have been to add around six songs to each of the releases, except for Tomorrow the Green Grass which should get a second disc that includes 18 tracks from “The Mystery Demos.” Here is a great post on the blog Sixty-to-Zero about the Mystery Demos resulting from what must have been be the work done for these releases.

In this time of record labels trying to figure out how to stay viable it is clear that they at least feel that the future sustainability lies in re-releasing and re-packaging product. In the case of Sony/Columbia we see in the Legacy releases the interest in providing fans with new material that hasn’t seen the light of day before commercially. As a collector, I’m overjoyed that they can do this, but as a past consumer, I can’t help but feel like I’m being taken advantage of. I know, “gift horse” and all that, but I only have so much money to invest in material I already have.

Aside from that, I’m hoping that the relationship momentum that Gary Louris and Mark Olson have established resulting in the fantastic Ready For The Flood and the renewed interest in their back catalog may precipitate a future Jayhawks release of new material.

Mark Olson & Gary Louris Live @ CSPS in Cedar Rapids 2-19-09 (review)

Gary & Mark
Like a lot of people I became a fan of the Jayhawks around the time of the airplay of what was arguably their biggest hit “Waiting for the Sun” off of Hollywood Town Hall in 1992. That album plus the album Short Man’s Room by Joe Henry recorded with the Jayhawks in tow really propelled the obscure Twin Cities band to the fore of my daily soundtrack.

Fast-forward to 1995 and I’m living in Minneapolis– home of Prince, Bob Mould, Soul Asylum, and the Jayhawks. 1995 brought a new album from the Jayhawks– Tomorrow the Green Grass— and what would be the last album to feature the songwriting partnership of Olson and Louris the principle songwriters and shared frontmen for the group. Although the album failed to meet the expectations of success set by Hollywood Town HallTomorrow the Green Grass was the craftwork of extensive touring and the years of Olson and Louris working together. In Minneapolis the album was local-boys-done-good– played on Cities 97 and Rev105 (R.I.P.) all the time and it was as much a soundtrack to my Minneapolis years as Hollywood Town Hall was to my post-college years.

It was the love note of “Miss Williams’ Guitar” on Green Grass that foretold the future departure of Olson from the Jayhawks leaving Louris carrying the mantle of the band through three more albums. By the time the following 1997 album The Sound of Lies came out, I was back in Iowa with my future wife and daughter and concerning myself less with the rootsy sound of Americana bands like the Jayhawks, Wilco,  and Son Volt and more with electronica, triphop and the post rock sounds coming out of Chicago.

Mark Olson

It wasn’t until 2007 when Mark Olson released his first solo album The Salvation Blues and I had a chance to interview him that I started digging back through the Jayhawks catalog. Mark’s show in February 2008 at CSPS was enlightening and the sound of a man turning a page in his life as a musician. By the time I saw him last year, the plans were already underway for Flood— both men having put whatever differences they may have had in the spirit of working together again.

The sessions for Ready for the Flood were produced by Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson which were really a culmination of two “reunion” tours and a desire to work on new material. Robinson provided a very subtle organic sound to the recording leaving most of the sonic shape of the album to be made by the vocals and acoustic guitars. The album was shelved in favor of letting Mark tour in support of his new album, which also provided Gary the opportunity to continue working with Robinson on his first solo album Vagabonds. Vagabonds was one of my favorite albums from 2008 and was released in a wonderful 180g vinyl pressing with gatefold cover. Gary was also generous with bonus material providing an interesting guitar-and-vocals version of a handful of songs in the form of the Acoustic Vagabonds EP, as well as iTunes and Amazon exclusive B-Sides.

Gary Louris

A label switch in the fall of last year from Mark’s label Hacktone over to New West delayed the record release to late January but gained it a couple of bonus tracks.

When the CSPS show was announced as part of a February mini-run for the East and Midwest, I felt we were pretty lucky to have this stop considering the size of the other cities on the tour– in fact Cedar Rapids sticks out as an irregularity in a tour that includes stops in New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago and Minneapolis! But, part of the appeal of Cedar Rapids is its close proximity to I-35 and I-80 making it sort of a tour nexus. I waited until almost the last possible minute to work out my tickets– the show sold out soon after I got my ticket! I know on occasion that CSPS has sold out a show, but I’ve never been to one, and John Herbert made a comment about this in his introduction of the band saying that typical attendence for shows like Tuvan throat singers are around 40! The pre-sale of 175 was sold out and there was a waiting list of another 20-25 who showed up at the show that night hoping to get in.

I was a bit shocked when I got to the venue– at 7:15 most of the prime parking spots on 3rd Avenue were already taken and people were already in seats by that time. Gary and Mark were put up on the big stage as opposed to the typical risers on the floor and the candlelit tables on the floor were replaced with rows of folding chairs. John Herbert was carrying out extra folding chairs to provide an ad-hoc front row for the last-minute hopefuls. I’m pretty sure they got them all in, which was cool. The crowd was a mix of ages, which Mark commented on during the show. Quite a bit of the crowd were 40-somethings like myself, but there were quite a few kids and a noticeable number of seniors which, I guess is a testament to the wide appeal of well-crafted songs.

Gary & Mark

The show started roughly around 8:15 after a nice introduction from John Herbert where he told the crowd that while normally there would be a set break, there wouldn’t be one for this and suggested that if people needed to get up for a break they should, but hurry back to their seat.  Mark and Gary ran quickly through the first three songs from Flood. They appeared to be very comfortable with the material and it looked to me like they had assumed familiar roles with each other. I hadn’t had the opportunity to see the Jayhawks in their heyday so I can only assume it seemed like this show. The two were joking around with each other dishing out good natured jibes. Olson seemed to ham it up a bit on stage while Louris played a bit of a straightman. Mark seemed to have developed thin blood since moving to Joshua Tree and was sporting not one, but two vests to combat the cold Iowa night and Gary commented that it was all about oneupmanship and he was planning to wear three vests the next night!

The show was recorded by Tim “Cyfan” who recorded Mark’s show last year as well as some other notable shows I’ve been to in the last five or so years (Cracker Acoustic Duo at the Mill, Richard Buckner at the Picador) and he does a top-notch job. It will be interesting to hear how this translates to audio.

Gary Louris

Mark Olson

Frankly, the acoustic setting of this show really presented an accurate picture of the Flood album, in my opinion, and even the most uptempo track on the album “Chamerlain, SD” with its “Kansas City” rhythm translated well to this twin acoustic attack.  A few of the songs enjoyed an extended workout. A notable one was the ominous “When the Wind Comes Up” which got a really nice guitar solo in the middle. That’s a song on the album I wish had been longer, so it was great to hear what they can do with the song in a live setting.

Of course the crowd really responded to the familiar Jayhawks catalog and certainly songs like “Waiting for the Sun,” “Two Angels,” and “Blue” paid appropriate tribute to their shared past.

In a surprising and generous gesture Mark announced that they would be donating the proceeds from their CD’s that night to help CSPS in its recovery from last year’s flood damage. Additionally, they would hang around afterwords and sign every copy! These sales donated $750 to the Iowa Artist Relief Fund. A very touching gesture, indeed!

It is notable how the new Flood songs fit so well with the established Jayhawks catalog and even after having the new album on my iPhone for a while quite a few of the songs were instantly familiar to me thanks to the well-crafted hooks they use. Songs like “Bicycle” with it’s repeated “hallelujah” followed by dirty guitar run and slide guitar and “Saturday Morning on Sunday Street” that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Simon and Garfunkel album are just as strong as “Blue” and “Two Angels” in my opinion. We are lucky to have these guys back together again.

After the show was over, a line quickly grew at the merch table as people queued up to have their CD’s signed. A congregation formed in the lobby area participating in the bubbly afterglow of a genuinely great show. I hesitated leaving for a minute fearing the Iowa winter would dash it away.

Click Here for the flickr photoset of the pictures I took at the show.

Upcoming Show: Mark Olson & Gary Louris at CSPS in Cedar Rapids 2/19/09

Mark Olson & Gary Louris by Steven Cohen Photography

Mark Olson & Gary Louris by Steven Cohen Photography

Ready for the Flood, the new album from former Jayhawks members Mark Olson and Gary Louris is due for release on January 27th according to and other sources. Ready for the Flood was originally supposed to be released on September 15th on Olson’s home label Hacktone but was moved to New West Records, current home of John Hiatt, The Old 97’s and The Drive By Truckers and other artists who compliment Olson and Louris’s country-influenced sound.

Ready for the Flood was recorded in January with production help from Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, who also worked on Louris’s brilliant solo album Vagabonds. Since both Louris and Olson had solo records released last year that still needed to be promoted and toured, they decided to delay the release until late this year, and now the release is moved to January with the label switch.

Shortly on the heels of Flood’s release Olson and Louris will kick off a tour during February in support of the album hitting small venues across the nation, wrapping up at a hometown show in Minneapolis at the Varsity Theatre. If any of the torrents of the live shows in Europe are any indication, these shows will be a Jayhawks fan’s dream pulling songs from the new album and songs from the Jayhawks catalog in an intimate stripped-down acoustic set.

Olson and Louris will be playing the (sadly) best-kept secret venue of Cedar Rapids, CSPS on February 19th. Mark Olson played a well-received show there in February this year– in fact it will be almost a year to the date! Tickets are $17 in advance and $20 the day of the show.

Feb 3 2009 7:00P
The Ark Ann Arbor, Michigan
Feb 4 2009 7:00P
The Mod Club Toronto, Ontario
Feb 6 2009 7:00P
Somerville Theater Somerville, Massachusetts
Feb 7 2009 7:00P
Zankel Hall @ Carnegie Hall New York, New York
Feb 9 2009 7:00P
Sellersville Theater Sellersville, Pennsylvania
Feb 10 2009 7:00P
Birchmere Alexandria, Virginia
Feb 11 2009 7:00P
The Arts Center Carrboro, North Carolina
Feb 13 2009 7:00P
Eddie’s Attic Atlanta, Georgia
Feb 14 2009 7:00P
Exit/In Nashville, Tennessee
Feb 15 2009 7:00P
Phoenix Hill Tavern Louisville, Kentucky
Feb 17 2009 7:00P
Blueberry Hill St. Louis, Missouri
Feb 18 2009 7:00P
Mojo’s Columbia, Missouri
Feb 19 2009 7:00P
CSPS Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Feb 20 2009 7:00P
Park West Chicago, Illinois
Feb 21 2009 7:00P
Varsity Theater Minneapolis, Minnesot

Click Here to visit the MySpace page for Ready for the Flood with song samples

Click Here to visit the Facebook Event I created.