If you’re in the mood for some toe tappin’ alternative country, we’ve got the band for you! Son Volt has been jammin’ since 1994 when the band was formed by Jay Farrar. And for you local Missourians, the band is based out of St. Louis, which is one of the reasons we are so excited to welcome them to Columbia for the 2018 festival.
Farrar first gained recognition when he was part of an alt-country group called Uncle Tupelo with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. The two unfortunately went their separate ways because of creative differences, which led Farrar to form Son Volt. He paired up with Uncle Tupelo’s former drummer, Mike Heidorn, as well as sibling duo Jim (bass) and Dave Boquist (guitar, fiddle, banjo). Soon after forming, the band signed with Warner Bros. and released their first album Trace in 1995 that was well received.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all smooth and easy for Son Volt. The band’s second and third albums were not as celebrated as their first album; with their fan and critical support depleting, the band started to have some problems. Although the band did not admit that they broke up at any time, Jay Farrar started working on solo projects, and the band seemed to take a break from releasing music altogether.
The public thought that the band was done for good until 2005, when they released their albums Okemah and Melody of Riot. To create these albums, the band added drummer Dave Bryson, guitarist Brad Rice and bassist Andrew Duplantis. The band continued on to release four more albums, The Search in 2007, American Central Dust in 2009, Honky Tonk in 2013 and their newest album, Notes of Blue, in 2017. The albums also included a new addition of band members as well; Chris Masterson (guitar) and Mark Spencer (steel guitar, keyboard).
Notes of Blue substitutes the alt-country sound that’s prevalent on their previous albums for a more simple but fresh blues/folk feel. According to Rolling Stone, Farrar was inspired by the English songwriter Nick Drake: “Nick Drake may seem to stand in contrast to those guys, but ultimately they all shared a similar aesthetic in terms of using a lot of finger-picking style guitar, which is one of the main areas I wanted to focus on with this album.”
We hope to hear some of their new finger-picking songs this year at RNB!