Written by Samuel Barker
Feb 22, 2002 at 08:00 PM
ImageWhen former Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt lead man, Jay Farrar made his way to Austin, music fans were ecstatic to see the show. Especially since Austin used to be an Uncle Tupelo stomping ground.

The line into the venue wrapped from one end of the block to the other as music fans of all ages awaited a chance to see two of the godfather’s of the alternative country movement. The buzz was growing as the fans were left outside an hour longer than scheduled, but no one was complaining after the doors opened.

The night kicked off with a set from Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets. Henneman opened up the show by coming out alone and playing the Bottle Rockets cut, “Early in the Morning.” The audience instantly responded by yelling and singing along with the song.

Then, Henneman was joined on stage by the Bottle Rockets’ bassist/back-up vocalist, Robert Kearns, who added a nice textural element to the music, as well as the vocals. The first song the duo went into was “Get Down River,” followed by “Smokin’ 100’s Alone.”

After the trio of Bottle Rockets songs, the band went into some songs from the new Bottle Rockets album, Songs of Sahm, which is a tribute to the late San Antonio-based musician, Doug Sahm. As a treat to the local audience, Henneman added some extra songs into the mix that he had not been playing elsewhere. On “Crossroads” Henneman ridiculed the crowd for being too quiet during the chorus and made everyone sing along before he would stop playing it.

A fun touch was an impromptu version of “Coffee Monkey,” which Henneman and Kearns changed to the key of G, and never missed a beat. For the close, Henneman and Kearns played a final Doug Sahm cover, “Stoned Faces Don’t Lie,” which had everyone singing along by the end and having a wonderful time.

Their set alone would have stood on a strong leg, many people had to focus to realize the night was only half way over. They almost forgot that Jay Farrar was still to come.

After a relatively short wait, Jay Farrar took the stage with Mark Spencer, who is traveling as a utility man with Farrar. Over the course of the night, Spencer would play electric and acoustic guitar, lap steel and piano. Farrar also played multiple guitars and some piano.

Farrar opened with a personal favorite from his new album, Sebastopol, “Feed Kill Chain.” Everyone broke into song as soon as Farrar did. There was never a moment that someone was not singing along with the songs.

The set weaved through tracks from all his bands, as well as come assorted covers and a new song. These all served as a showcase to his talents as a songwriter. Spencer’s playing melded well with Farrar’s acoustic guitar playing and somber voice.

Farrar mixed up the show well, he opened with two songs from Sebastopol, a couple of Son Volt songs and then he went into the Uncle Tupelo song, “Still Be Around.” This had the people who remember the days of Uncle Tupelo’s reign in Austin during the recording of Anodyne in a state of bliss.

Normally not a person to stray from the path, Farrar leaned over and told Spencer they were going to play “Tear Stained Eye,” which wasn’t on the set list Farrar had drawn up. This gave way to a new song Farrar recorded for the Slaughter Rule soundtrack called Gather. This definitely pleased all the fanatics in the house who are always craving something new.

For a touch of beauty, Farrar played Drain with Spencer on the piano. This definitely brought the somber mood of the song to the forefront and got everyone moving along with the sound.

In a surprising twist, Farrar close with two of Son Volt’s electric songs, which featured the hard edge playing Spencer at its finest. “Straightfaced” definitely took on a new life with the flavors each brought to the table, and “Route” just put the icing on the cake. Both songs came across well in this format, almost as well as they did for Son Volt live.

As the fans chanted and called for one more song, Farrar obliged with two songs. The first was the Uncle Tupelo classic, “Slate.” Farrar still poured a lot of feeling into the song, despite it being one of his older tracks. Then, Farrar went into the Son Volt staple, “Windfall.” I could not have thought a more fitting closing to the set, but that was just until the end came.

Farrar and Spencer left the stage, only to appear again after everyone called them back. This time the tandem went into a George Harrison cover to celebrate the life of the influential songwriter.

With this, I was sure the set had ended, but Farrar came out again and manned the piano, while Spencer grabbed his acoustic. They then broke into the Merle Haggard classic, “Take Me Home.” This was a brilliant way to end the show and the crowd ate it up.

Despite more cries for encores, Farrar had done his job and moved on. Playing a two-hour set with 25 songs played, Farrar tried not to leave many people wanting more, but, they all did.

Brian Henneman Set List: Early in the Morning, The River Song, Smokin’ 100’s Alone, I Don’t Wanna Go Home, Anyone Going to San Antone (Sahm), Crossroads(Sahm), Indianapolis, Wave That Flag, Coffee Monkey, Kerosene, Welfare Music, Stoned Faces Don’t Lie(Sahm)

Jay Farrar Set List: Feed Kill Chain, Vitamins, Driving the View, Flow, Medicine Hat, Still Be Around, Tear Stained Eye, Gather, Damn Shame, Barstow, Make It Alright, Damaged Son, Outside the Door, Feel Free, Direction, Drain, Dead Man’s Clothes, Different Eyes, Voodoo Candle, Straightfaced, Route. Encore 1: Slate, Windfall. Encore 2: George Harrison cover. Encore 3: Take Me Home (Haggard)