The Jayhawks' Mark Olson on seeing Arlo Guthrie: "I was floored."
As previewed in last week's issue, The Jayhawks have returned with a new album and a new sense of joy. As the band returns to Dallas with Mark Olson and Karen Grotberg in the lineup, you can expect to hear plenty of great country rock on Wednesday night at the Granada Theater.
The Jayhawks' Mark Olson.
After Olson shared his thoughts about the band's reunion, he told us about some of his first show experiences. He distinctly remembers his first show, his first few times playing Texas, and the last time he was in town with fellow Jayhawk Gary Louris.
What's the earliest show memory you have? On a related note, were you with your parents?
Well, that's a good question because I was with my mom. She took me down to this new wonderful place called Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. For any city that puts money into the arts, builds a nice building and people start coming to town, it can have a really good effect on young people. My mom wanted to go to this building to show what was going on with fancy new acoustics and [thought] maybe this son of mine might enjoy. So she takes me down to see Arlo Guthrie and his band Shenandoah. Later on, I bought Hobo's Lullaby which, to this day, is one of my favorite albums of all time. It was just an incredible experience. The band sounded like this beautiful, energetic living thing, you know? And he's singing these songs that are political in nature and singing all kinds of Woody Guthrie songs. So it wasn't just music, it was the ideas and philosophy behind the music that kind of captured by imagination. I just couldn't believe someone had such an interesting and wonderful life to be able sing songs like that. So I was floored.
What was the first show you paid to see?
OK, let me think about that one. Boy, that's a hard one. I think it must have been when I got out of high school. I went to high school in my last year in California [where] I lived with my grandmother. I came back to Minnesota and came downtown to hear rock bands, so it must have been a rock band in downtown Minneapolis at a bar called the Fog Horn, but I can't remember which band. But I must have paid some kind of cover, and I remember the energy and also seeing people hanging out in a groovy scene. After the band played, they were cranking good music. That was another instance where I was drawn into the musical world.
What do you remember about the first Jayhawks show?
Well, I was playing with this guy Caleb, and we did this acoustic duo at the Uptown Bar. I vaguely remember that.
What do you remember about the first Jayhawks reunion show?
It was in Spain. We rolled in there and rehearsed. It was nice. It was really fun. We went up and played just like it had always been. It just kinda flowed. We had played in Spain a lot over the years, all of us.
What do you remember about the first time you played the Dallas area?
Oh, I remember that quite well! We played with this band called Flathead. We drove our van down there all the way from Minneapolis. It was a semi-outdoor bar, and it was semi-raining and some of us got shocked on the microphones. After the show, the next day, we drove down to Houston and drove all the way back to Minnesota. There wasn't a lot of people at the Dallas show, but we played on that first record. We had an old van and went around and played some shows, you know? At the time, Joe Ely was going on down there. There was an interest in this kind of music. We played one time with Johnny Reno, the Sax Maniac, at Fitzgerald's in Houston. I don't remember the name of the venue in Dallas though.
What do you remember about the last time you and Gary played Dallas, at Sons of Hermann Hall? Do you remember the opening act, The O's?
Yeah! I remember getting the banjo player up there [John Pedigo] and they were super-nice guys. I remember the show. It was a very nice evening outside, and I remember having a great time and people really liking it. I remember the overall feeling being super-positive. Sons of Hermann Hall is a totally groovy place. That's what playing music is all about, playing some beautiful old dance hall and feeling happy. That's what it's all about.