Son Volt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Son Volt
Son Volt playing at Wakarusa in 2005
Son Volt playing at Wakarusa in 2005
Background information
OriginBelleville, Illinois, U.S.
GenresAlternative rock, Alternative country, Folk rock, Americana.
Years active1994–present
LabelsTransmit Sound/Legacy
Warner Bros. Nashville
MembersJay Farrar
Andrew DuPlantis
Jacob Edwards
John Horton
Mark Spencer
Past membersMike Heidorn
Dave Boquist
Jim Boquist
Eric Heywood
Brad Rice
Derry deBorja
Chris Masterson
Dave Bryson
Gary Hunt
Chris Frame
WebsiteOfficial website

Son Volt is an American rock band formed in 1994 by Jay Farrar after the breakup of Uncle Tupelo. The band's current line-up consists of Farrar (vocals, guitar), Andrew DuPlantis (bass guitar), John Horton (guitar), Mark Patterson (drums), and Mark Spencer (keyboard, steel guitar). In addition to playing alternative rock, the band is considered a staple of the alternative country rock movement of the 1990s. The band's sound also is rooted in folk rock and Americana.


The group formed after the alternative country rock act Uncle Tupelo broke up due to tensions between Farrar and bandmate Jeff Tweedy. After Uncle Tupelo split, Tweedy formed the alternative rock act Wilco, while Farrar decided to form another act. While forming Son Volt, Farrar met Jim and Dave Boquist during the final Uncle Tupelo tour and teamed up with former Uncle Tupelo drummer Mike Heidorn to create the band. The group performed and recorded in the Minneapolis area in late 1994 and performed its first concert at the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis on June 16, 1995. While half of the band was rooted in the Minneapolis area, Farrar and Heidorn lived in the St. Louis area, and the band used both cities as bases for its operations during the first couple of years.

Early Years, Trace, Straightaways, and Wide Swing Tremolo[edit]

Son Volt's first album, Trace, met with critical acclaim and topped many "best-of" lists in 1995, despite not being a large commercial success. The first track "Windfall" became very popular in the alt-country scene, while the band released "Drown" as a single which charted #10 on the mainstream rock charts and #25 on the modern rock charts. 1997's Straightaways featured a more alternative rock sound, leading some music critics to give negative reviews, but strong and positive reviews came from outlets such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Chicago Tribune. 1998's Wide Swing Tremolo continued in the same vein and received mostly positive reviews from music outlets. Entertainment Weekly wrote that "many of the songs ... return to the power and purity of the band’s brilliant 1995 debut, Trace.

Hiatus and Return[edit]

Farrar announced a hiatus from Son Volt after their 1999 tour. Beginning in 2001, Jay Farrar released several solo efforts that postponed further releases from Son Volt. Farrar reformed with the original members of Son Volt to record a song for a tribute album for Alejandro Escovedo. The sessions reportedly went so well that Farrar and the other band members intended to record once again in the autumn of 2004. Just prior to the sessions, however, Farrar and the other band members abruptly ended negotiations.[1] Farrar formed a new version of the band with a different line-up and released an album on Transmit Sound/Sony Legacy, Okemah and the Melody of Riot, a folk-rock album based on protest music that had been influenced by Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan.[2] in 2005. That same year also saw the release of A Retrospective: 1995-2000, which gathered highlights from this era, along with previously unreleased recordings. 2006 saw the release of a live DVD, Six String Belief, which was recorded at The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC.

Band Reformed and New Music[edit]

In 2007 the band returned to an alternative rock and alt-country sound and released a studio album called The Search. The Americana- and folk-influenced album American Central Dust followed, released by Rounder Records on July 7, 2009. Their next project was a Bakersfield Sound influenced album aptly named Honky Tonk, which was released March 5, 2013 also by Rounder Records. A large scale tour followed the release of the album.[3] On February 17, 2017, the band released Notes of Blue on Farrar's label, Transmit Sound.

Union and Electro Melodier[edit]

The band's ninth studio album, Union, was released on March 28, 2019 on Farrar's Transmit Music label and distributed by Thirty Tigers Records. [4] The album consisted of songs that were highly critical of the election of US President Donald Trump and his administration. Many of the songs were commentaries on middle-class economics, freedom of the press, and immigration. Son Volt's tenth album, Electro Melodier, was released on July 30, 2021. In early summer 2021, guitarist Chris Frame announced that he would be leaving the band to pursue other interests and was replaced by former Bottle Rockets guitarist John Horton.

Musical style[edit]

Son Volt's music ranges from quiet folk ballads reminiscent of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, to heartland rock in the spirit of Neil Young with Crazy Horse. The band's sound features a heavy alternative rock sound in many places, all while basing their music in mostly an Americana style. [5] Reviews refer to the band as alternative country pioneers, a "staple in the ALT-Country Scene" or "a cult favorite", with their music "spanning a few musical niches", but based in Americana.[6][7][8]


Current members[9][edit]

Former members[edit]

  • Mike Heidorn (drums), formerly of Uncle Tupelo (original member of Son Volt)
  • Dave Boquist (banjo, fiddle, guitar, lap steel) (original member of Son Volt)
  • Jim Boquist (bass guitar, backing vocals) (original member of Son Volt)
  • Eric Heywood (mandolin, pedal steel)
  • Brad Rice (guitar on Okemah and the Melody of Riot, The Search)
  • Derry deBorja (keyboards on The Search)
  • Chris Masterson (guitar on American Central Dust)
  • Gary Hunt (guitar, mandolin, steel guitar on Honky Tonk)
  • Dave Bryson (drums on Okemah and the Melody of Riot, The Search, American Central Dust, Honky Tonk)
  • Jason Kardong (pedal steel on Notes of Blue)
  • Jacob Edwards (drums on Notes of Blue)
  • Chris Frame (guitar on Union, Electro Melodier)



Date Album US UK Indie Label
1995 Trace 166 - Warner Bros.
1997 Straightaways 44 - Warner Bros.
1998 Wide Swing Tremolo 93 - Warner Bros.
2005 Okemah and the Melody of Riot 89 - Transmit Sounds
2007 The Search 81 - Transmit Sounds
2009 American Central Dust 44 - Rounder Records
2013 Honky Tonk 67 - Rounder Records
2017 Notes of Blue - - Thirty Tigers Records
2019 Union - 5 Thirty Tigers Records
2020 Live At The Orange Peel - - Transmit Sound (2xLP)
2021 Electro Melodier - 19 Thirty Tigers Records



Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
1995 "Drown" Steven Goldmann


  1. ^ Jake Brown (22 September 2004). "Son Volt Reforms and Returns to the Studio". Glorious Noise. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  2. ^ Author Interviews. "Son Volt Is Back: 'Okemah and the Melody of Riot' : World Cafe". NPR. Retrieved 2015-12-02. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  3. ^ "Official Son Volt site". Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  4. ^ "Son Volt to Release 9th Studio Album, "Union" on 3/29". Music News Net.
  5. ^ Stewart, M (2017)."Alt-Country Pioneers Son Volt Hit Stride at D.C.’s 9:30 Club"Live Music Daily
  6. ^ Remz, J.B (2019). "Son Volt does it with music",Country Standard Time
  7. ^ Armstrong, C (2019). "Son Volt, ‘Reality Winner’ [Exclusive Premiere]", the Boot
  8. ^ Obenschain, P (2019). "REMINDER Don’t Miss Son Volt w/ Old Salt Union | TONIGHT @ The Basement East",No Country for New Nashville]
  9. ^ Brock Thiessen. "Son Volt Return with New Album 'Notes of Blue'". Exclaim!. Retrieved 2016-11-25.

External links[edit]