With what has shaped up to be its best lineup in years, the Basilica Block Party will host an impressive array of talent this year, culminating with a reunion show by the Jayhawks. When founding members Mark Olson and Gary Louris began touring together in support of their acoustic duet album, Ready for the Flood, last year, diehard 'Hawks fans began to speculate about the possibility of a full band reunion. On July 10, Olson and Louris will round up former bandmates Marc Perlman, Tim O'Reagan, and Karen Grotberg for what is sure to be a historical performance; it will be the first time this lineup has played in Minnesota since 1995, when they opened for Bob Dylan at Target Center.
The band recently played a similar gig in Seville, Spain, near Gary Louris's part-time home, and the 17-song set list hints at what they have in store for their hometown fans. Favorites such as "Blue" and "Tomorrow the Green Grass" were sprinkled in among almost the entire track listing from Hollywood Town Hall, arguably the best album recorded while both Olson and Louris were still in the band.
For those unfamiliar with the Jayhawks' long and storied history, here's a brief synopsis of why this show is so significant: Co-founded in 1985 by Louris, Olson, and Perlman, the Jayhawks rose to national prominence as alt-country fans became privy to their harmony-heavy, rock-influenced sound. Most songs were co-written by Louris and Olson and featured the two singing together, and when Olson left in 1995 to focus on his new life with singer-songwriter Victoria Williams, it caused rifts in the band, both personal and sonic. Louris carried on the name without Olson, releasing three more albums with a rotating cast of musicians before disbanding the group, and the two former frontmen went years without speaking to each other, much less playing together.
A few years ago, Olson and Louris decided to put aside their differences and start playing together again. "Gary's always been a person in my life where good things have happened when I play music with [him]," Olson told us back in February, when he was in town to support their new duet album. "Things have never been better with us," Louris agreed. "We just realized how much we missed each other musically and as friends, and needed each other, in a way. We're full-steam ahead right now."
The Jayhawks will be in full-on celebration mode at the Basilica this year, as their performance coincides with the release of a two-disc compilation album, Music from the North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology. The compilation includes a "greatest hits" disc of sorts that provides a nice career overview, a disc of rarities and B-sides, and a DVD of unreleased music videos and interview clips. As if that wasn't enough, the rarities disc includes over 2,000 words of liner notes by longtime Jayhawks fan and archiver P.D. Larson.
Additional performers at the two-day block party include the Black Crowes, Counting Crows, the Hold Steady, Tapes 'n Tapes, and Mat Kearney. July 10 and 11. All ages. $35/$60 for both nights. 5 p.m. 88 N. 17th St., Minneapolis; 800.745.3000.