Tag Archives: Mark Spencer


Son Volt Bring a True Sound to The Bowery Ballroom on Friday Night

April 10th, 2017

Son Volt – The Bowery Ballroom – April 7, 2017

Son Volt – The Bowery Ballroom – April 7, 2017
The Bowery Ballroom was packed on Friday night as fans eagerly waited for alt-country pioneers Son Volt to take the stage. Jay Farrar and Co. were in town for two sold-out weekend appearances supporting their new album, Notes of Blue, which finds the band mixing their rough-around-the-edges heartland anthems with a more bluesy sound. Opening the show, singer-songwriter Anders Parker eased the crowd into the night with a set of slow-burning ballads and fiery rockers. He said that a new album called The Man Who Fell from Earth arrives this week, describing it as a somber affair with Parker backed by just a pedal-steel guitar and a string trio. But he and his band opted to put some muscle behind the new material live, suitably spreading out the songs with guitar solos reminiscent of Neil Young in all of his ragged glory.

When Jay Farrar walked onstage and stepped up to the microphone to sing, “Today’s world is not my home” in his whiskey-soaked croon there was no mistaking what he meant. Ever since the dissolution of his partnership with Jeff Tweedy in the seminal alt-country band Uncle Tupelo in the mid-’90s, Farrar has been making records with Son Volt that strive for a similar gold standard: records that seem like they’ve been etched into stone and remain timeless if not out of step with the times. The new album was given the lion’s share of the set, but Son Volt managed to weave in some old favorites including the majority of their classic debut album, Trace, which, two years ago, was reissued for its 20th anniversary.

The band’s encore found them reaching deep for some Tupelo classics and Trace’s opening track, “Windfall,” which inspired the biggest crowd sing-along as the chorus “May the wind take your troubles away” rang crystal clear from the choir of flannel-clad fans raising their drinks toward the sky. Just when we thought it was over, and the audience began to thin out, the band returned to the stage for one more encore and played an exuberant cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Happy.” It was a real cherry on top of an already perfect night of rock and roll. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing

Photos courtesy of Marc Millman Photography | www.marcmillmanphotos.com/music


Son Volt Take the Road to The Bowery Ballroom

June 17th, 2013

Son Volt – The Bowery Ballroom – June 14, 2013

The Bowery Ballroom would never be described as a honky-tonk, but when Son Volt rolled through town, treating Friday night’s sold-out crowd to songs from their latest record, the aptly titled Honky Tonk, New York City got a little taste of the twangy Western swing made popular at those titular roadside joints. Making good use of Gary Hunt on the mandolin and fiddle and Mark Spencer on steel guitar, Son Volt frontman Jay Farrar expressed timeless country themes, namely, heartbreak and the power of the open road, in new songs “Bakersfield,” “Brick Walls” and “Wild Side.”

But even though Honky Tonk finds Son Volt honing in on classic Americana themes and country-music styles, Friday’s set wasn’t just about an acoustic aesthetic. The band equally relished performing harder rocking numbers like “Drown” and “Bandages and Scars,” songs that cement the alt in alt-country, a genre in which they found a sturdy foothold during their formation. Of course, even in their early days, Son Volt explored many of the same themes as they do in the new material.

Performing “Windfall,” a mid-’90s ode to getting away and “trying to make it far enough to the next time zone,” Farrar plaintively sang, “May the wind take your troubles away/ Both feet on the floor, two hands on the wheel/ May the wind take your troubles away.” Over the years, this restless spirit has made Farrar a veteran of the road and served as inspiration for countless Son Volt lyrics and songs. Hopefully that road leads him back to these parts again, where our pseudo-honky-tonks will welcome the band with open arms and raised glasses. —Alena Kastin