The Jayhawks and their rootsy sound were definitely swimming against the tide when they emerged from a crowded Minnesota music scene in 1985. Over the course of almost 4 decades, 11 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 winning the hearts and minds of numerous critics, fans and peers in the process.
After releasing two Indie albums in the 80s The Jayhawks signed with American Recordings in 1991 and over the next decade released 5 challenging, at times groundbreaking, albums, toured the world to widespread acclaim and even survived the departure of founding member Mark Olson in 1995. After a hiatus in the mid 2000s, the “classic” 1994 lineup reunited for another new studio album in 2011 and 2 years of solid touring, reacquainting audiences old and new with the band’s timeless musical vision. 2014 saw a late 90s version of the band led by Gary Louris hitting the road to support the reissues of the 3 Jayhawks albums released from 1997-2003. This lineup released the band’s 9th studio album in 2016, recorded in Portland, OR with producers Peter Buck and Tucker Martine. The band’s next studio album, Back Roads And Abandoned Motels, was released in the summer of 2018, featuring Jayhawks versions of songs Gary Louris had previously written with other artists plus 2 new compositions. Recording for a new Jayhawks album was completed in Minnesota in late 2019 and in July 2020 the band released their 11th studio album, XOXO.
With opening performance by Freedy Johnston
Freedy Johnston is one of those rare singer-songwriters who counts critics among his biggestfans—and whose heroes consider him a peer. Not bad for a self-proclaimed “geek in glasseswho never left his room.”
On September 9th, Forty Below Records will release Johnston’s 9th album, Back on the Road to You. It’s a record steeped in wit, humor, pathos, love, and friendship drenched with memorable, infectious melodies. Johnston recorded the album in Los Angeles with producer Eric Corne after setting up house in nearby Joshua Tree. The new surroundings seem to have imbued the album’s mood and instrumentation with echoes of The Byrds, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young. Joining Johnston in the studio were Aimee Mann, Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles, and long time collaborator, Susan Cowsill, along with an all-star roots music band, including Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams), Dusty Wakeman (Jim Lauderdale), Dave Raven(Shelby Lynn) and Sasha Smith (Priscilla Ahn).
In 1994 Rolling Stone named Johnston the ‘Songwriter of the Year’, describing him as “A master storyteller, (who) sketches out full-blown tragedies in a few taut poetic lines.” Adding, “He joins that elite cadre of songwriters—Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Elvis Costello—whose brilliant pop compositions turn magical with the addition of a defiantly idiosyncratic singing voice.