Review by Kirsten Ferguson
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
As Jeff Tweedy’s band Wilco prepares for their three-day Solid Sound Festival this weekend at MASS MoCA, it’s easy to forget Tweedy’s roots in the humbler Midwest alt-country band Uncle Tupelo, which he formed with high school friend Jay Farrar in Illinois in 1987. A soured relationship between the pair led to the band’s dissolution in 1994, but by the following year both songwriters had released well-received albums with new bands: Farrar with Son Volt and Tweedy with Wilco.
When Son Volt played Bogie’s in Albany back in 1995, it was hard not to compare Farrar’s first solo recorded effort, Trace, with Wilco’s debut A.M. At the time, I was leaning toward Trace as the superior effort: it was packed full of great songs, from “Drown” to “Windfall,” and just sounded like the more serious effort.
Since then, Wilco has evolved from its country-punk roots into a nearly unrecognizable indie-rock collective with experimental tendencies – and a much larger fan base. Meanwhile, Jay Farrar soldiers on with Son Volt, staying close to the band’s roots as a serious, country-influenced band with road-weary songs about struggling people and hard-luck places.