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The Jayhawks

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Led by the gifted songwriting, impeccable playing, and honeyed harmonies of vocalists/guitarists Mark Olson and Gary Louris, the Jayhawks' shimmering blend of country, folk, and bar band rock made them one of the most widely acclaimed artists to emerge from the alternative country scene. The group sprang up in 1985 out of the fertile musical community of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Olson had been playing standup bass in a rockabilly band called Stagger Lee. His desire to write and perform his own country-folk material soon prompted him to begin a solo career, which he launched after enlisting Marc Perlman, the guitarist for a local band called the Neglecters, to become Olson's bassist. After the addition of drummer Norm Rogers, the group began booking shows, playing its first gig in front of a small crowd of less than a dozen people. One of those patrons, however, was Gary Louris, a veteran of the local bands Safety Last and Schnauzer. He and Olson began talking after the show; by the end of the evening, Louris -- who was famed locally for his innovative, pedal steel-like guitar sound -- had become a member of the group, which eventually adopted the name the Jayhawks. Drawing on influences like Gram Parsons, the Louvin Brothers, Tim Hardin, and Nashville Skyline-era Bob Dylan, the Jayhawks quickly became a local favorite, honing their sound in Twin Cities clubs before releasing their eponymous debut in 1986. Issued in a pressing of just a few thousand copies, the album was well received by those who heard it; a major recording deal did not follow, however, so the bandmembers continued to polish their craft live, with more and more of their songs bearing writing credits belonging to both Olson and Louris. In October 1988, after a lineup change that saw the departure of Rogers (who joined the Cows) followed by the addition of drummer Thad Spencer, Louris was nearly killed in an auto accident, and the Jayhawks went on hiatus. At much the same time, however, executives at the Minneapolis independent label Twin/Tone decided to issue the demos the group had been stockpiling over the past few years, and after some overdubbing and remixing, Blue Earth appeared in 1989. Richer in sound and more complex in its themes and concerns, the record's release brought the group considerable attention, and also brought Louris back into the fold. After another drummer switch (Spencer for Ken Callahan), the band hit the road for a national tour. The Jayhawks were signed to major label American Records after producer George Drakoulias heard Blue Earth playing in the background during a phone call to Twin/Tone's offices. With Drakoulias in the producer's seat, the band recorded its breakthrough album, Hollywood Town Hall, in 1991; a mainstay of critics' annual "best-of" lists, the album generated the alternative radio hits "Waiting for the Sun," "Take Me with You (When You Go)," and "Settled Down Like Rain." After a tour that saw the permanent addition of Minneapolis pianist Karen Grotberg, the individual bandmembers guested on albums from Counting Crows, Soul Asylum, Maria McKee, Joe Henry, and others. Before recording the fourth Jayhawks album, Callahan departed, and was replaced by session drummer Don Heffington. The resulting record, 1995's Tomorrow the Green Grass, is a beautiful collection of songs led off by the elegiac single "Blue," the recipient of significant airplay. A tour followed, but after some months on the road, Olson announced he was quitting the band. In 1997, the Jayhawks -- now consisting of Louris, Perlman, Grotberg, and drummer Tim O'Reagan -- released the album Sound of Lies. Grotberg left the band in early 2000, and was replaced by ex-DAG keyboardist Jen Gunderman for the band's sixth album, Smile. A move to a new label (Lost Highway) in 2002 brought about more changes in the band's ever evolving lineup, leaving Louris, Perlman, and O'Reagan (assisted by newcomer Stephen McCarthy on guitar) to craft 2003's rootsier Rainy Day Music. After that, the band ceased operating under the moniker, though Olson and Louris toured together in 2005 and 2006 billed as "From the Jayhawks: An Evening with Mark Olson and Gary Louris, Together Again," eventually releasing an album together in 2009 called Ready for the Flood. That same year, the band released Music from the North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology, and a reissue of 1986's Bunkhouse Album appeared soon after. During the summer of 2009, the Jayhawks reunited for two festival dates in Spain. The success of both shows encouraged the bandmates to bring the reunion back to America, where they holed up in several locations (Louris' apartment in Minneapolis, Olson's home in Joshua Tree, a cabin in northern Minnesota) to write new material. Most of those new songs made their way onto 2011's Mockingbird Time, the band's first release in nearly ten years. The Jayhawks toured extensively in support of the album, but tensions within the group once again led Mark Olson to bow out of the lineup. Louris continued on without him, and the group continued to play live dates in 2014 and 2015. One show from the tour, a January 2015 performance at the Belly Up Club in Solana Beach, California, received a digital release as Live at the Belly Up. Later that year, the Jayhawks -- Louris, Grotberg, Perlman, O'Reagan, and guitarist Kraig Johnson -- returned to the studio to work on an album. Peter Buck and Tucker Martine served as producers for the sessions, which were released in April 2016 as Paging Mr. Proust. Buck and his former R.E.M. bandmate Mike Mills both made guest appearances on the album, as did Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows and the Minus 5. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Albums by
The Jayhawks

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    12 songs

    On Air

    Paging Mr. Proust

    20 songs

    On Air

    Live at the Belly Up

    15 songs

    On Air

    Hollywood Town Hall

    12 songs

    On Air

    Mockingbird Time

    15 songs

    On Air

    Blue Earth [Bonus Tracks]

    20 songs

    On Air

    Rainy Day Music [Bonus CD]

    10 songs

    On Air

    Hollywood Town Hall

    13 songs

    On Air

    Tomorrow the Green Grass

    13 songs

    On Air

    Smile

    13 songs

    On Air

    Smile

    10 songs

    On Air

    Hollywood Town Hall

    40 songs

    On Air

    Music from the North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology

    36 songs

    On Air

    Tomorrow the Green Grass

    20 songs

    On Air

    Rainy Day Music

    19 songs

    On Air

    Smile

    17 songs

    On Air

    Sound of Lies

    1 song

    On Air

    She Walks in So Many Ways

    15 songs

    On Air

    Hollywood Town Hall

    13 songs

    On Air

    The Jayhawks (aka The Bunkhouse Album)

    12 songs

    On Air

    Sound of Lies

    13 songs

    On Air

    Tomorrow the Green Grass

    45 songs

    On Air

    Music From The North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology

    20 songs

    On Air

    Music from the North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology

    20 songs

    On Air

    Rainy Day Music

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Top Songs by
The Jayhawks

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Take Me With You (When You Go)
  3.   Blue
  4.   Settled Down Like Rain
  5.   Waiting for the Sun
  6.   Hide Your Colors
  7.   Two Angels
  8.   She Walks in So Many Ways
  9.   Wichita
  10.   Save It for a Rainy Day
  11.   Sister Cry
  12.   Nevada, California
  13.   Pouring Rain at Dawn
  14.   Crowded in the Wings
  15.   Clouds
  16.   Two Hearts
  17.   Real Light
  18.   Stumbling Through the Dark
  19.   Closer to Your Side
  20.   Black-Eyed Susan
  21.   I'd Run Away
  22.   Bad Time
  23.   I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
  24.   The Man Who Loved Life
  25.   Lies in Black & White
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
The Jayhawks

    On Air

    Alt. Country

    On Air

    Americana

    On Air

    A Great Big World: I Am The DJ

    On Air

    Hair Of The Dog

    On Air

    Take A Hike

    On Air

    Folk

    On Air

    Grateful Dead: DNA

    On Air

    Tom Petty: DNA

    On Air

    Indie 500

    On Air

    Jam Bands

    On Air

    Indie Coffee House

    On Air

    Adult Alternative

    On Air

    The Current

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    Eclectic Rock


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