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Son Volt rises out of Uncle Tupelo's ashes

By Joel Bernstein, May 1997

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One cut ("Fading Fast") recently surfaced on the soundtrack album for the Winona Ryder film "Boys." The others will likely appear on Willis' upcoming A & M album.

Asked about whether there should be a place for the Merle Haggards and George Joneses' of the world on radio, Boquist says "You can sometimes find them on AM, out of nowhere There's a station in Cincinnati, WLW, that plays older country at night. The audience is primarily truck drivers." (That clear-channel station can be heard in most of New England).

"I'm all for completely (free form) radio but it won't happen because of money. Some college stations or NPR stations have shows. Musical segregation is what it is (in commercial radio), It's too bad when a certain type of music is labelled 'it all sucks.'"

In Boquist's ideal world "you'd hear Merle Haggard, Jimmy Reed, Freddie King, ZZ Top, Television, and Neil Young all in a row. What the new country people don't realize is how derivative what they're hearing is from cottonfield rural blues."

Boquist has little patience with anything that might interfere with his music. "You're asking the wrong person about marketing and strategies. I just do music. With this album that's how we recorded it. Maybe there's too many people way too conscious of marketing when they're playing music. "

"There are people who come to our shows who like all different kinds of music We've played in theaters as well as rock clubs. We've played The Fillmore in San Francisco. They do all kinds of music. We mostly headline small clubs (200 to 2000)."

There's no timetable yet for a follow-up album. "We did a couple of recordings along the way, in San Francisco. I'm not sure whether that'll be on the album. Probably later in the summer we'll go at things in earnest. We've been getting good label support. They've been behind us all the way."

It was almost 30 years ago that The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Grateful Dead revitalized stodgy country music with their "alternative" brand of the genre aimed at a youth audience with no use for most of Nashville's product. That music was ignored by the country establishment then and for the most part remains unacknowledged by it now.

But it's direct progeny, The Eagles, became are the heroes of today's country artists.

Will the Son Volts and Wilcos of the 90s have the same effect? Tune in a generation from now for the answer.

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