Son Volt brought their “Union” tour into Oklahoma City’s Jones Assembly on Tuesday June 18th.
June must be a good time for founder and frontman Jay Farrar to visit Oklahoma, as the band’s last visit was also in June, but some six years ago. This time found them playing a much larger room, and a significantly larger stage situated on the venues partially outdoor patio stage.
This was a night designed to celebrate the uniqueness that is Son Volt, as the setlist was nearly exclusively constructed from the band’s catalog. Those wanting to hear Uncle Tupelo songs were undoubtedly a bit disappointed, but the songs Farrar and band did play more than aptly made up for it. “Union” was most heavily represented, with six songs, with “Trace” at four, and both “Notes Of Blue” and “ Okemah and the Melody of Riot” sharing three songs each. The remainder of the set was rounded out from earlier Son Volt albums, a Gob Iron song, and a superb cover of the Rolling Stones, “Monkey Man” that closed out the evening. Highlights among the audience seemed to center around “Drown”, “Windfall” and the other songs from “Trace”. Yet for me, I found the edginess of Union’s “Devil May Care” and the jammed out “Medication” (from Okemah…) that followed it to be most memorable.
While he’ll never be a “high energy” frontman, Farrar obviously seemed to be having a good time, and made it a point to thank the appreciative audience at every opportunity. Over the years, Son Volt has seen a quite a few talented musicians back up Farrar, and the current lineup is no exception. Comprised of Chis Frame on guitar, Mark Patterson on drums, Andrew Duplantis on bass, and multi-instrumentalist Mark Spencer aptly swapping between pedal steel, guitar and keys, the band is exceptionally tight. The songs the band presented seemed to carry with them a bit more urgency on this night, with the threat of storms approaching, and a bit of the nervous energy that accompanies springtime in Oklahoma. Son Volt continues their tour with dates throughout the remainder of the year.
Much more information can be found visiting their page here: http://sonvolt.net/
Supporting Son Volt, and making a gaggle of new fans this evening was Old Salt Union. When I say new fans, I mean it, and I was one of them. Essentially a bluegrass band, this talented quintet might be better described as “progressive string music”. The band is Justin Wallace on mandolin and primary vocals, Jesse Farrar (Jay’s nephew] on upright bass and vocals, John Brighton on violin, newlywed Ryan Murphey on banjo and Graham Curry on guitar. Old Salt Union roared through an eight song set that elicited many a smile among the building crowd. Songs seemed to center around their most recent 2017 self-titled release and their upcoming new album, “Where The Dogs Don’t Bite”, both on Compass Records. Highlights for me were the opening punch of “Bruised” which flawlessly segued into “Tell Me”, and “Feel My Love”. By the set closing “Tuscaloosa” the area in front of the stage had been appropriately filled by grooving new fans like a moth to a flame. I can’t wait for these guys to make it back to OKC for a another show. The band’s new album is set to release on August 16th, and there are multiple bundle offers including signed LPs, CDs and more available through the bands website. Find out all the details about Old Salt Union and “Where The Dogs Don’t Bite” right here:https://oldsaltunion.com/