The Jayhawks

(Minneapolis, MN)

Sit down at the foot of Gran'paw's easy chair, kids. He's gonna tell you a story about the times before Mumford was born, and he didn't have any sons either. “Americana” was a drugstore postcard collection, and if you said “alt country” the person you were speaking to might have thought you were trying to speak German. In Minneapolis in 1985 you had hardcore punk and Prince's gang of funk- rockers, and that was about it. Outta nowhere comes this gang of skinny kids wearing trucker hats and thrift store clothes two sizes too big, playing this twangy, jangly cowpunk stuff.

Well, nobody knew what to think; their guitars were too loud and fuzzed-out to be country, and it had too much lap steel and pretty Everly Brothers harmonies to be rock. 'Cept they kept on getting bigger and better, deeper and rootsier, and pretty soon anyone with ears could hear that they were approaching the kind of Cosmic American territory that their namesake The Hawks (later called The Band, kids) were the kings of. Before you could say “no depression” three times fast, there was a movement afoot.

Throwing curveballs at the beards-and-murder-ballads set, they opened up their sound through the ‘90s and into the new millennium with psychedelia, power-pop, and even electronica. Newly reunited with the lineup that gave Canada a 1995 Top 30 hit (“Blue”), they're playing to bigger audiences nowadays than they ever did first time round—to a world that's ready for them. A world they helped create, you might say. Now go'wan, kids, sidle up to that mainstage, open your ears, and listen: this is what a Great American Band sounds like.


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