Former Jayhawks Mark Olson and Gary Louris swept through town yesterday to play a few different intimate shows in promotion of their new album, Ready For the Flood. After stopping in at Cities 97 for an interview and playing a closed-to-the-public set for fans who had purchased the album at Treehouse Records, the duo headed into St. Paul to play at the Current's UBS Forum.
The Forum, much like the rest of the inside of the MPR building, was impressive in its design and high quality craftsmanship; chairs were set up in a mini-amphitheater arrangement, with a floor-to-ceiling window behind the performance area that looked out at the State Capitol building. A small group of about 40-50 audience members, most of whom had won tickets to the event by listening to the Current, filed in quietly and waited with anticipation as Mary Lucia, Gary Louris, and Mark Olson walked to the front of the room and positioned themselves behind an array of microphones and video cameras.
The event started with an interview segment, and Lucia quickly veered off the beaten path of worn-out interview questions. At one point, referring to the feelings of chemistry he feels when harmonizing with Olson, Louris commented that he felt like a third person was in the room whenever the duo sang together. Lucia was quick to quip, "Does the third person have a name?" Pausing for a moment and smiling, Louris said, "Yes. His name is Tony."
In between bits of the interview, Olson and Louris played five different songs off of their new album, including "Turn Your Pretty Name Around," "Saturday Morning on Sunday Street," "When the Wind Comes Up," "Life's Warm Sheets," and "Rose Society." The intensity of their performance was palpable; armed with only two acoustic guitars, two microphones, and their voices, Louris and Olson held the audience captive. At one point, Mary Lucia looked out at the audience and mouthed "Oh. My. God." I rubbed goosebumps off my arms more than once. It's hard to describe to people who aren't already fans of the original Jayhawks lineup, but the way the duo's voices slip easily into unison and apart into harmonies is literally breathtaking.
The interview and performance will be broadcast on 89.3 The Current on Thursday at 5 p.m., the same day the duo appears on David Letterman as the musical guest.