The Jayhawks with Everest Live at Taste of Chicago - 7/2/11

The Jayhawks with Everest Live at Taste of Chicago - 7/2/11

The Jayhawks played the Taste of Chicago for the third time last week as the headliners of WXRT’s annual free concert.

In 1993, the band performed in support of their acclaimed major label debut album Hollywood Town Hall with both Gary Louris and Mark Olson in the fold as the opening act for Matthew Sweet.  By the time they played The Taste again in 2000 (again as the opener for Matthew Sweet), Mark Olson had left the band to pursue solo interests.

However, the seeds of reunion were planted in 2007 when Louris joined Olson for three songs on Olson’s solo album The Salvation Blues.  The reunion went well and the duo’s continued collaboration resulted in Ready For the Flood a year later (an album credited to Mark Olson & Gary Louris… and not The Jayhawks).

As fans waited for a true reunion of the classic Jayhawks lineup, the proverbial floodgates finally opened with the release of Music From the North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology in 2009 along with festival dates featuring the band’s reunited Tomorrow the Green Grass lineup.

But the reunion took a major step forward with the announcement of the first new Olson/Louris album as The Jayhawks since 1995′s Tomorrow the Green Grass.  It’s in anticpation of the September 20th release of Mockingbird Time that The Jayhawks arrived in Chicago for their third appearance at The Taste last Saturday.  This time, it appears the third time actually is the charm.

From that new album, the band previewed tracks like “She Walks in so Many Ways” (the album’s first single continues in the poppier vein of the band’s Louris penned releases) and “Black-Eyed Susan.”

“Black-Eyed Susan” is a great track that finds itself right at home amongst some of the bands late 90′s hits.  Louris’s solo in this new track was drenched in feedback (not unlike Crazy Horse era Neil Young) and reminded me of 1992′s “Waiting For the Sun” another song the band performed live on Saturday and quite possibly the highlight of the afternoon.

Photo taken by Jim Ryan

While Olson showed his age a bit more than Louris, the two nevertheless picked right up where they left off with their trademark harmonies as sharp as ever.  Marc Perlman (bass), Karen Grotberg (keys) and Tim O’Reagan (drums) rounded out a  Jayhawks lineup that masterfully ran through hits like “Blue” and “I’d Run Away.”

Rootsy, California quintet Everest kicked off the festivities with a mix of songs from their 2008 debut Ghost Notes and their latest album On Approach.  The band’s current single “Let Go” (in heavy rotation locally on 93.1 FM, WXRT) from the latter was the live highlight of their set.

Photo taken by Jim Ryan

Having recently opened nationally for Neil Young, the band finds itself in Chicago for the better part of July playing virtually everywhere with shows at venues as random as the roof of the Wit Hotel on Tuesday, July 12th and the parking lot of Big Star Tacos in Wicker Park on Saturday, July 16th (and apparently even in somebody’s backyard).  You can also catch the band at more traditional venues like Uncommon Ground in Lakeview on Wednesday, July 20th or at Wicker Park Fest on Sunday, July 24th.

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