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Jan 5, 2012

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Jayhawk Flies Solo

Jayhawk Flies Solo

For 20 years, Gary Louris was the mainstay of the Jayhawks, a Minnesota band loved by fans and adored by critics.

Through comings and goings, including the departure of fellow founding singer/songwriter Mark Olson, Louris helped the Jayhawks compile an impressive body of work. But the Jayhawks died a natural death last year, and Louris has released a solo album, “Vagabonds.” He will play songs from that album, as well as from his Jayhawks career, in an Americana Showcase concert Aug. 5 at Rochester Civic Theatre.

For fans, perhaps the biggest news of the summer is that Louris and Olson have recorded a new album, “Ready for the Flood,” that will be released in September.

Louris, 53, talked about his solo career and his reunion with Olson by phone from the Twin Cities.

After all these years in a band, what’s it like to take the stage as a solo artist?

It’s a blast. You can pretty much do whatever you want out there. If you want to change a song, you can change it on the spot. It’s just you and the song and nothing else. I love it as a part of what I do.

Are you surprised you never got around to a solo album until now?

I never really had a plan. When I was in the Jayhawks, I thought ‘This is it, this is my band for my lifetime.’ We really had a good thing going.

Fans are probably most excited about the new album with Olson. Is this a one-time deal, or something long-term?

I think Mark and I have the feeling this is going to be an ongoing thing for us. We’re going to start small. We have a humble outlook. We plan on doing this on a regular basis, as much as anything else we do.

Did you write together, or write separately and bring in your songs?

We wrote them together, more than anything we’ve ever done.

Do you write songs all the time, or wait until it’s time for a new record?

I write when I’m on a roll. Then I get really lax. I’m out chipping golf balls with my son right now. But it’s August and I know I’m going to be busy in September, October, November. For me, it’s always nice to have a deadline. I’m not one of those people who gets up and writes everyday. I admire those who can do it.

Have you been able to look back and get a perspective on the legacy of the Jayhawks?

I’m very proud of what we did. I think we were an important band. On the other hand, sometimes I wonder. Our records are mostly out of print and there’s no best-of of the Jayhawks. If we were that important, why is there no best-of or a Jayhawks retrospective?

-Tom Weber, Rochester Post Bulletin

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