Reviews > Shows
Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker and Yim Yames at The Fillmore
New Multitudes: Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker and Yim Yames
San Francisco, CA
Right before he played “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” from My Morning Jacket’s latest album Circuital, Jim James glanced side stage where Jay Farrar had just exited and turned back to the packed Fillmore audience. “Jay’s been a hero of mine since high school” said James, “one of the great American voices.” On a night built in honor of Woody Guthrie, one of the first great American voices, it was a poignant moment, a reminder of the cyclical nature of music. As James was influenced by Farrar, they were both inspired by Guthrie, now they were singing Woody’s words and turning on a whole new generation.
Today it’s impossible to imagine the folk music landscape without Woody Guthrie. His influence on contemporary songwriting, not to mention politics, art and literature, is so far reaching to start untangling the wires would be futile. With Guthrie’s 100th birthday arriving this year, singer/songwriter/guitarist Jay Farrar, best known for his work in Son Volt and before that seminal alt-county band Uncle Tupelo, spearheaded New Multitudes, an album (released February 28 on Rounder Records) and brief tour featuring three other powerful voices: Will Johnson (Centro-matic, South San Gabriel), Anders Parker (Varnaline, Gob Iron) and James (My Morning Jacket).
When Guthrie lost his battle with Huntington’s disease in 1967 he left behind piles of journal entries, lyrics, stories, art work, and raw ideas. Through visits to the Guthrie estate songs were created, and as one might expect, they are largely folk numbers. At least on the album.
Live these songs were bigger, meaner, much more rock & roll with brief, explosive jams reminiscent of My Morning Jacket’s unhinged abandon. However, though distortion was used and big crashing drums a critical aspect, there remained a campfire sing-along atmosphere, each artist taking the mic, trading songs almost in a round-robin style that felt directly from the folk tradition. Clearly the songs were louder than the way Woody would have played them, but these are louder times and Guthrie would have loved this.
Tuesday night at The Fillmore was the first of eight shows, and one wonders if this could perhaps be the only eight shows this band ever plays, what with their busy schedules and all. As the quartet took the stage it was interesting to see James on bass, something he never does with MMJ. There was a good deal of instrument swapping through the show, Parker playing some bass when James picked up acoustic guitar, Johnson predominantly on drums, though Parker would play some too, Farrar front and center, the ring leader on electric guitar (mostly) and harmonica, even if James was the star.
Early in the set James took his first vocal lead on “My Revolutionary Mind” and when he opened his mouth a legion of fans screamed in approval. At first it was just the angelic timber of James’ voice setting off the crowd, but soon it was the lyrics too: “I need a progressive woman/ I need an awful liberal woman/ I need a social conscious woman/ To ease my revolutionary mind,” truly a perfect hit for San Francisco.
Without much material the set ran just under an hour as the band blasted through the album. Mixed with the burning guitar-led songs, where Parker proved to be an ace sideman, were stripped down numbers like the haunting “Chorine,” with interlocking harmonies that recalled CSN. Comprised of four guys who all front other bands and are natural leaders, it was remarkable how well the group played together and off one another, each one happy to take the support role.
Following the main set came an extended encore where each member did a solo song from one of their other bands. If James’ rendition of “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” didn’t steal the encore portion, then Parker’s version of Varnaline’s “Song” surely did. To some Parker appeared to be the least familiar of the four artists onstage, but by the end of the night he may have been the most impressive.
As the entire band came back for two final songs, James took a minute to compliment the crowd. “You guys are beautiful, and you smell great too,” he said, commenting on the clouds of smoke heading towards the venues chandeliers. And though they didn’t play Guthrie’s famous “This Land Is Your Land,” at least while the music was playing, we felt a little closer to world he so often dreamed of.
The Howlin’ Brothers take to the Relix rooftop and share a song they wrote with Warren Haynes.
Beth Hart shares the opening track from her latest album, Bang Bang Boom Boom, live at Relix.
Jamie Lidell sets up in the Relix boiler room and delivers a tune from his 2005 album Multiply
Duane Trucks is happy to announce his new project, King Lincoln. Watch them perform “Coffee” live and acoustic at Relix’s Online-Video Coordinator’s loft in Williamsburg.
Here’s another song from Crystal Bowersox’s new record All That For This, live at Relix.
WYATT share a song in the famed Relix boiler room.
Goodnight, Texas share a song from their latest studio album, A Long Life of Living, live at Relix.
Warren Haynes performs a solo, acoustic version of “Railroad Boy” and explains how he adapted the traditional Celtic song for Gov’t Mule, backstage at the Hangout Music Festival.
Australia’s Alpine recently made their NYC debut at the Relix office with this song from their new album A is for Alpine.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
- Summer Stars: Shovels & Rope
- Visions of Bonnaroo Friday (Paul McCartney, Passion Pit, Conspirator…)
- Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Free Download "Dear Lord (Give Me The Strength)"
- God Street Wine with Warren Haynes "Sweet Little Angel" (Live 1996)
- The Howlin’ Brothers "Big Time"
- Primus in Toronto
- Twice "The Joker" on Saturday at Bonnaroo (Gov’t Mule and Jack Johnson)
- The National’s Grateful Dead Tribute Album Dead Hot In Motion
- Interlocken Confirms Daily Lineups, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Punch Brothers, Keller & The Keels and More Added
- Mumford and Sons Cancel Bonnaroo Show, Summer Tour
- Ed Helms: Bonnaroo, Banjos and a Bit of Phish
- Robert Hunter Will Return to the Stage for Eight Shows
- Warren Haynes to Play Jerry Garcia’s Wolf on Symphony Tour
- Tedeschi Trucks Band Share New Song
- Jack Is Back: Jack Johnson Talks Bonnaroo, ALO and New Album
- Patty Griffin in Boston
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll