Tweedy cut from a different cloth

I, being the luckiest girl in the universe, got to see Jeff Tweedy tonight and yesterday over at Hogg Auditorium, and I am desperately infatuated with him now. I worked the first show and was happy to do so- Jeff is the lead singer of Wilco, and has had a few other semifamous bands to his credit- among them Loose Fur and Wilco-precursor Uncle Tupelo. I only knew some Wilco songs, and was not the most ardent fan, but watching him play alone, backed only by several guitars lying in wait upstage, fingers flying over the frets, I was completely seduced by the simplicity and beauty of his music. That man is a surgeon with a guitar. He played songs from all the bands, and told us stories in between songs. He has this incredible stage presence, and hilarious rapport with the audience, which seemed to be mostly die-hard fans. I resolved to return the next day.

When I went back tonight I was kinda hoping for the same show as yesterday’s, but no dice. Completely different, but still wonderful. He only repeated a couple of the songs from the night before (Remember the Mountain Bed was not one of them, boooo), and made completely different jokes. I hate when musicians have an audience schtick, some pre-written banter, and Jeff is totally schtick free. Between these shows and the UNBELIEVABLE Ghostland Observatory show at Hogg on Friday, I think it’s been a pretty solid week concert-wise.

6 Comments so far

  1. Pat Doyle (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 11:58 am

    Not to single out Tweedy here, but I remember the 1980s when y’allternative and “New Sincerity” bands like Wilco and True Believers were going back to their daddys’ record collections on a purist’s quest to rise above the sturm and drang of rock music and it’s derivatives. One early SXSW panel entitled “Whither Rock” met to discuss this neo-conformist and culturally conservative trend. I moved on when it was apparent that most were simply channeling Gram Parsons and Roger McGuinn in a vain attempt to reconcile old wounds with said daddy before he drafted his last will.

    Now it’s 2007, and Austin has actually helped to mainstream such mediocrity by parlaying it into a lucrative annual music festival.

    While many musicians living outside of Austin think we have the hippest zip codes this side of Mars, the sentiment is often ridiculed thorughout the rest of the country, particularly at the business end of the music industry, which (notably) has zero presence here. They love our lakes and margaritas, blow copius amounts of smoke up our collective a…s, then hi-tail it back home faster than a jackalope running from a javelina. After 30 years of ACL, 20 years of SXSW, Willie Nelson and countless major-label also-rans (Fastball, Eric Johnson, etc.) why do we suppose that is? It’s because ACL and all these other local banjo’n’bongo yokels have forever branded Austin a 3rd-tier prep-school for mediocre country and folk singers, which it’s not. Combine that quaint image with the relatively low attendance at local shows, and our chances of attracting the type of respectability and industry that can sustain working musicians beyond the cost of the next days’ breakfast are slim to none. Hell, a little schtick might be just what Austin needs…

  2. Bob Dobbs (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 12:23 pm

    Well not everybody can be the Pocket FishRmen.

  3. Pat (unregistered) on January 25th, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

    “Well not everybody can be the Pocket FishRmen.”

    Please. If we had gotten one-tenth of the props that the neohippie singer-songwriter gang gets from the Granola Mafia, I could buy a house next door to Louis Black.

  4. Michael A. (unregistered) on January 26th, 2007 @ 12:42 pm

    Lauren, please don’t refer to Uncle Tupelo as a side-project, let alone a current one. (RIP, 1992.) You’re probably on safe grounds with “semi-famous,” though.

  5. ttrentham (unregistered) on January 26th, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

    Yeah, Uncle Tupelo is a precursor, not a side project to Wilco.


    Wilco wasn’t an 80’s band. Uncle Tupelo was formed in the 80’s and I’ve seen them lumped in with True Believers, Rank and File and Jason & the Scorchers, though most of Uncle Tupelo’s stuff of note was released between 1990 and 1994 and they got re-tagged as “alt country” instead of “new sincerity”. It’s all just media terms anyway.

    That being said, I totally agree with you on Austin’s music scene as it’s perceived outside of Austin and I’m not really a big fan of that type of music. It’s unfortunate that bands like Big Boys in the 80’s and the Trance Syndicate stuff in the 90’s hasn’t gotten more national recognition. Isn’t that the “Austin Curse”? It seems almost impossible for anything decent from this town to break out and gain success.

    I suspect the attendance and inability to make a decent wage at it is that there are too many bands and musicians in Austin. It’s supply and demand issue.

    Oh yeah, I went to the second Tweedy show and enjoyed it. I wanted to do a post of my own and still may do it as a supplement to Lauren’s.

  6. Lauren (unregistered) on January 26th, 2007 @ 8:23 pm

    Tim and Michael A.- So noted, so edited. I would make a joke about Uncle Tupelo being a bit “before my time” but for my sake I really, really don’t want to go there :o)

    I think some of the Austin bands that are/are becoming successful are good (Ghostland, Spoon, Voxtrot, etc.), but that’s just me, I guess. I wouldn’t say Austin’s cursed….

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