It took something extraordinary to get Son Volt's Jay Farrar and Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard together, and his name was Jack Kerouac. Icon of the Beat generation and author of the acclaimed stream-of-consciousness novel On the Road, Kerouac had lost his youthful exuberance and was burning out on celebrity, alcoholism, and depression when he sought refuge at Lawrence Ferlinghetti's cabin in the California woods. Although Kerouac was mostly unsuccessful in fighting off his demons, he did write a dark, powerful book about it: Big Sur. When Kerouac's nephew, film producer Jim Sampas, decided to make a documentary about the author's Big Sur period 50 years later, he asked Farrar and Gibbard to work on the soundtrack. Both strongly influenced by Kerouac, the unlikely pair dived into the project, despite having never met before, and eventually produced a full-length album, One Fast Move Or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur, released last fall as a CD/DVD package with the two-hour-plus documentary. The album's lyrics were all adapted from Kerouac's prose, written as he fought his own dissolution, and most of the music has the spare, haunting, alt-Americana feel of Son Volt. Farrar wrote the bulk of the material, but Gibbard contributed the title track, a folk-rock ballad with glimmers of light in Gibbard's high tenor despite Kerouac pondering the depths of the bottle and eternity. This is the last performance of a limited tour, and likely a unique event. Accompanying Farrar and Gibbard will be bassist Nick Harmer from Death Cab, Son Volt multi-instrumentalist Mark Spencer, and drummer Jon Wurster of Superchunk. 18+.
Sun., Jan. 31, 7 p.m., 2010