Golden Smog – Shelter From The Storm
Most bands, the good ones anyway, are formed between friends. The motivations to do so, especially in the case of young men, can be as simple as “It’ll be cool” and/or “It’ll make it easier to get girls.” Bands are also sanctuaries, places where those same young men, who often don’t quite fit in with their peers, find a place to escape day-to-day reality.
Five or more years into the life of a band, however, its defining characteristics can shift significantly. Refuge becomes isolation, a friendship becomes a business partnership, and the reality forged within a band can begin to supersede the daily existence the rest of the world is living. Perspective on why we started doing this in the first place is easily misplaced.
All of which may help to explain the appeal of side projects to established musicians. Dan Murphy, who has seen every rung on the ladder of success with Soul Asylum, some more than once, describes Golden Smog as pure. Born in the close-knit Minneapolis scene of the late-’80s, the Smog began as little more than a lark, an opportunity to goof off and play cover songs with friends, some in your other band, some not. While that still holds true on some level, Golden Smog has evolved over the years into much more: an outlet for songwriters like the Jayhawks’ Gary Louris and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy to record songs that didn’t “fit” their other bands; a place where musical collaboration was encouraged; and a company of peers that has supported each other through professional and personal hard times.
The Smog lineup for the band’s second album, Weird Tales (released Oct. 13 by Rykodisc), includes the founding core of Murphy, Louris, and Kraig Johnson (from Run Westy Run), plus Tweedy, the Jayhawks’ Marc Perlman, and new drummer Jody Stephens (of Big Star). The list of alumni, temps, and part-timers includes Chris Mars, Noah Levy, Dave Pirner, Tim O’Reagan, a Boquist or two, and surely several other Minneapolis musicians who stepped onstage at some point for at least one song.
Pinpointing exactly when the Golden Smog story begins is admittedly arbitrary, but Dan Murphy picks January 1987, when he, Dave Pirner, Martin Zellar, and future Son Volt bassist Jim Boquist put together an Eagles cover band. “We were called Take It To The Limit,” Murphy recalls. “It was at the height of hardcore…and we wore ponchos and had driftwood lamps [onstage] — just to kind of piss everybody off, you know? But it was fun and I thought we sounded really good.”
Gary Louris offers up a different perspective on the Smog’s origins. “I don’t know anybody else who was involved in that Eagles tribute who is involved in the Smog other than Dan,” Louris says. “But there was a band called Skid Mark, T-Square and Cue Stick, which was me, Dan and Dave. We warmed up for the Jayhawks as we unveiled our third drummer, Thad [Spencer], in 1987 up in Superior, Wisconsin. Before that, Dan and Dave were doing one-off acoustic gigs that included a lot of silly medleys, which spawned the idea of playing stuff that was quickly put together, tongue-in-cheek, for fun, and occasionally held a few gems.
“Later, we did some Rolling Stone tribute things, one called Exile On Lake Street, at the Uptown Bar, and His Satanic Majesties Paycheck, at the Cabooze. To me, that was the impetus of the Smog — doing a bunch of Stones covers. Next thing you know, we started doing different covers, and then there was a night when they needed a fill-in at the 400 Bar. That was the real Smog debut — it was Kraig, Danny and myself playing acoustically. We were called Golden Smog, and we had some guest stars.”
As for the origin of the name Golden Smog, Louris credits Murphy with that. “Dan knew some girl who said that if she ever had a band, she’d call it the Golden Smog. It comes from a Flintstones episode — the Golden Smog was like the Velvet Fog, Mel Torme.”
“The next gig was six months later,” says Kraig Johnson. “We got a bass player [Marc Perlman] and a drummer [Chris Mars, who had recently left the Replacements]. We would play twice a year when everybody was in town.”
Louris picks up the story from there: “It became a big party. Golden Smog was so much fun because we put so little work into it. It was all very fresh. Then somebody offered to record us, and we did the EP.” Released in 1992 on Crackpot Records, On Golden Smog featured covers of the Rolling Stones’ “Back Street Girl”, Bad Company’s “Shooting Star”, Three Dog Night’s “Easy To Be Hard”, Michelangelo’s “Son”, and Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song” (the last featuring Soul Asylum road manager Bill Sullivan on lead vocals). Mars drew the cover art. The EP also marked the first occurrence of the Golden Smog name game: In place of their real names, each member created a new moniker for the credits, inspired to do so by none other than Bon Jovi.
“I was at a hotel in Chandler, Arizona, with Soul Asylum,” Murphy explains, “and the hotel manager was like, ‘Hey, I had Bon Jovi in here last week. You know how they check into their rooms? You know what they use for their names? Their middle name and the street they grew up on.’ That’s where that came from.” Hence Dan Murphy became David Spear, Gary Louris became Michael Macklyn, Marc Perlman became Raymond Virginia, and so on.
Golden Smog gigged infrequently in 1992-93, a period during which Soul Asylum hit the big time with Grave Dancers Union and the Jayhawks released Hollywood Town Hall, their first album for what was then Def American. In December 1993, Perlman, Johnson, Louris, and Murphy were back in town for a Smog holiday show at the First Avenue. The set included one particularly prophetic cover choice: Uncle Tupelo’s “New Madrid.”
Some 550 miles south of Minneapolis lay the St. Louis stomping grounds of Uncle Tupelo, kindred souls to Twin Cities bands such as the Jayhawks. “They came to see us play sometimes,” says Louris, “so I got to know the band, and to know Jeff really well.” Louris was invited to play on Uncle Tupelo’s Still Feel Gone, recorded in Boston in the summer of 1991. (He contributed electric guitar to the tracks “Watch Me Fall”, “Postcard”, and “Cold Shoulder”.)
Curiously, Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy were leading something of a parallel existence to their Twin Cities brethren in terms of a cover-band side project. Joined by guitarist and friend Brian Henneman (then in the midst of forming the Bottle Rockets) and drummer Mike Heidorn (who left Uncle Tupelo after the recording of March 16-20, 1992), Farrar and Tweedy played shows in June 1992 and July 1993 as Coffee Creek. Henneman and Farrar split vocal duties on covers of primarily classic country and country-rock songs.
“Coffee Creek started happening around the same time Uncle Tupelo got a major-label record deal,” Tweedy remembers, “so there wasn’t a lot of time to entertain notions of doing anything other than just playing Cicero’s [the band’s home club in St. Louis]. It was a chance to play with Mike, because Mike was out of the band, and it was a chance to play with Brian in a context where it felt like we weren’t asking him to play our songs, and we weren’t having to play his songs. I don’t really remember that much about it. It just was kind of a boredom thing, which was like the original inspiration for Golden Smog.”
Though he doesn’t recall many specifics about the handful of gigs Coffee Creek actually played, something about the loose, supportive spirit of the short-lived lineup clearly stuck with him. “It was actually one of the sadder things about Uncle Tupelo breaking up, when I thought about it,” he says a bit wistfully almost five years after the fact. “It was like, ‘Oh yeah, that means Coffee Creek’s broken up too.’ That was a drag.”
The breakup of Uncle Tupelo and Tweedy’s arrival in Golden Smog don’t seem related on the surface, especially given that UT’s last show took place on May 1, 1994, and the first Smog record that included Tweedy wasn’t released until January 1996. But the invitation to come to Minneapolis and play with musicians he saw as his peers couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I was really happy and kind of shocked that they asked me to do it,” Tweedy acknowledges. “It dawned on me that it would be really cool to go play with other people, because everybody I’d ever been in a band with had kind of bled over from the previous band. It was like one long band, going through Wilco.
“It was also coming at a time when I didn’t have any idea at all what was gonna happen. I mean, when Uncle Tupelo broke up, I was surprised that I had a record deal….I didn’t have any firm belief in myself that they would follow through with that. It was a joke. I started playing with Jay when I was really young — in high school — and he played a lot better than I did. I felt like it was our band, but I always figured I was kind of fitting my songs into those records, and trying to pick songs and write songs that would fit with his stuff. I was always kind of generated by Jay, I think….That’s not to say I didn’t feel like I had any input.”
Tweedy’s description is something akin to a classic big-brother syndrome. “There was definitely something suppressed that I wouldn’t have addressed if we had stayed together.” He reconsiders. “Maybe I would have gotten frustrated at some point; but when Jay quit the band, I definitely wasn’t to that point yet.”
He also wasn’t entirely prepared to step in as the leader of the fragmented band that remained after Farrar’s departure. Tweedy knew he was responsible for what would happen next and welcomed the opportunity with equal parts excitement and trepidation, thrilled at the thought of getting to do “twelve songs instead of six,” and fearful it could all fall apart at any moment. “In a long, roundabout way, what I’m trying to say is that I wasn’t really banking on anything being anything more than just a laugh. And that’s the honest-to-God truth.”
Around the time he, drummer Ken Coomer, bassist John Stirratt and multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston were wrapping the recording of what would become Wilco’s debut album, A.M., Tweedy received an unexpected call. “I’d been an Uncle Tupelo fan,” says Murphy. “Soul Asylum had done shows with them, and I became friendly with Tweedy. He and I also had the same music publisher, so I got his number and left a message on his machine saying, ‘I don’t know if you remember me, I’m Dan. Hey, I’ve got a studio in my basement, if you want to come over and do some writing, you know, our publisher would pay for it. You could stay at the house.'”
In July 1994, Tweedy traveled to Minneapolis, and his collaboration with Murphy quickly branched out to other Smog members. Late in the month, Murphy booked a show for the band at the 400 Club, not as Golden Smog, but as Circle The Drain. The set included some of the new songs the pair had played for each other, as well as “Yesterday Cried”, a Kraig Johnson original. “Kraig was the first guy to write songs with the intention of writing for Golden Smog,” Murphy says.
Johnson had been penning songs with his brother for their band Run Westy Run, but Kraig wrote music, not lyrics. “I was down at Pachyderm one night,” he says, “and after everybody was gone, I sat with the engineer and demoed three songs that I had written lyrics for. I played them for Dan and he said, ‘Those are good songs. We should do some originals.’ Then everybody was saying, ‘I’ve got songs that I’m not using with my other band and these would go with the Smog.’ That’s how that happened.”
Louris had the Jayhawks as the primary outlet for his songs, but like Tweedy and Farrar, at times he too struggled to fit his songs with those of the Jayhawks’ other songwriter, Mark Olson. And in a true role reversal, today he finds himself in his former partner’s shoes, now that the other members of the Jayhawks have emerged as songwriters. “With Marc [Perlman], Tim [O’Reagan] and Karen [Grotberg] all writing now, I’m probably experiencing a bit of the Olson thing,” Louris concedes, “where he gave me free reign, and then he says, ‘Gee, there’s less room for my songs.’ But in the long run, it’s all worth it for me because I see people not just showing up to play drums or bass but to work on stuff they have a vested interest in. It’s really healthy for the band.”
When the idea was broached to have the Smog record originals for the band’s first full-length album, Louris, Tweedy, Murphy and Johnson each had songs at the ready that hadn’t fit with their other bands. Louris had “Won’t Be Coming Home”, a song the Jayhawks had played live, but whose “time had passed,” he says. Tweedy had “Pecan Pie” and “Walk Where He Walked”, both “A.M. rejects.” Murphy had “Ill Fated”, which “sounded kinda stiff” with Soul Asylum. Johnson had the solo demos he’d recorded at Pachyderm.
Murphy and Perlman collaborated on a couple other tunes, Louris helped Tweedy complete his half-finished “Radio King”, and with the addition of two covers (Ronnie Lane’s “Glad & Sorry” and the Paterson/Strickland soul classic “She Don’t Have To See You”), Golden Smog cut an entire album in five days in October 1994. Pachyderm fronted the money to cover production expenses and studio time.
“We went into the studio with all these songs,” Murphy recalls, “and we didn’t practice once….We’d just sit together and jam for a while and then say, ‘Let’s roll tape.’ The excitement of being in a new band — that was Down By The Old Mainstream. Our initial reaction to a song is what we were trying to record.”
The environment was particularly therapeutic for Tweedy. “I interviewed Dan when I was in high school. I had his records. And the Jayhawks were peers. I looked up to them and they were accepting me, and I didn’t really have any idea that that would happen. I don’t want to be all syrupy about it or anything, but it was a healthy kind of ego boost.”
“Jeff was really blown away by the respect and the support he got from us at a time when he was in a little bit of a fragile state,” says Louris. “I remember him playing us the first Wilco record before it came out and we were all really supportive and honestly thought that he was great. That helped him, and I think it helped me when we were doing stuff at the time when Olson left and we were kind of restarting the Jayhawks. Golden Smog seems to come to you at the right time.”
So is Golden Smog a fraternity on the outside but a secret group therapy session on the inside? “I don’t want to play it up as being this Robert Bly weekend,” Louris admonishes. “If that’s all it was, then we should just go and hang out together, but the fact that something happens when we play that’s…um…I’m not gonna say it’s mystical or magical, but it somehow it does work, and the chemistry is so good.”
After sitting on the shelf for more than a year, Down By The Old Mainstream was released by Rykodisc in January 1996 to a warm if not unanimously favorable response. “There were a lot of good reviews and there were also some bad ones,” Johnson is quick to point out. “We never said, ‘Let’s be a supergroup,’ because you gotta be super to be a supergroup. Murphy calls it a ‘stuporgroup.’ Some of these people thought because we have fake names, it must all be kind of a joke. I thought we made a good record, but some people thought that we were trying to ‘do’ something. It is what it is.”
“I think it’s a good record,” adds Murphy. “It’s pretty loose, which is hard to listen to. There are mistakes and warts, but I think that’s kind of charming. We had a gas touring. It was really, really fun.”
The tour was more than just fun, though. “I think in the Smog, everybody was kind of going through the same stuff in their lives,” Murphy says tentatively, knowing he is opening the door to the subject of the personal struggles he and others in the band have endured over the last four years. “Minneapolis is such an incestuous little town. It’s just sick. Yeah, there were some breakups. For me, I just moved out of my house and immediately went on the Smog tour….I was an emotional basket case, but I got it together. It was fun to go out and play music with your friends, and have that be your motivation — not to worry about how many seats you sold, or how many empty seats there were.
“It was really pure. It was playing little clubs where you could go out and talk to your fans. The bigger your band gets, the less you get to see people that matter. People come up to you and they want you to sign a photo or a ticket stub or their breast or whatever. It’s weird. In the Smog, you just sit at the club you’re playing and talk to people. I really miss that. I’d forgotten what that was like. We played a lot of East Coast and Southeast clubs, places I hadn’t been in years. It was just what I needed to get my head together….I think we all go through the same stuff in different years. It makes us really close.”
Murphy submits that hard times and personal struggles appear inextricably woven into the Smog story. “I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not,” he says with a laugh. “It’s hard to maintain a relationship, and then you kind of lose track of your guy friends. Smog is definitely a ‘guy friend’ kind of vibe. Kraig and Marc and Gary had been my friends for most of my adult life, and the last few years before we did the Smog record and started touring, I kind of lost track of them.”
So is the Smog a chance to be young again? “Younger,” Murphy suggests. “It’s a chance to be foolish again; to go out and have frivolous fun, to tour and not have any responsibility or any connotations, which is…kind of addicting. Good work if you can get it, you know?”
Frivolity may be the hallmark of the Smog road show, but when members reconvened at Ardent Studios in Memphis in February 1997 to begin work on another album (with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens now on board), the mood was considerably different, according to Johnson. “After we did the first session [for Weird Tales],” he says, “I went home and I listened to it and I thought, ‘These are some bummed-out guys.’ I don’t think sad songs are a bad thing — that was just what was coming out of us at the time. I guess people were going through some hard times.”
Louris knows where the conversation is headed and elects to turn the wheel. “There’s a lot of shit that’s been happening in my life for quite a while now, and I think with everybody else.” He pauses to gather his thoughts. “I don’t know if that’s what made this album different. Part of it is that we had a little more time and we were in a different place than we were back then. We all tried to push the envelope and the bubble that’s been created for us.
“Musically, nobody wants to be labeled. We as a group tend to get labeled, whether it’s by our own promo people or others. The Jayhawks still get previews of our shows that say, ‘This country-rock outfit put together this big hootenanny, and you’re all gonna be dancing on hay.’ And I think, ‘Have you see our shows lately? We’re more like, well, we’re not prog-rock but we’re not very country.’ As much as I love country, I think we were trying to show we had other sides.
“Down By The Old Mainstream was reviewed as sitting around with a bunch of guitars and having beers, and that was somewhat true. This record has a different feel to it and a different intent. And we were down in Memphis, too. But yeah, I guess we’d all been through the wringer at some point between the last record and this record.”
Louris’ contributions to Weird Tales, especially “Jane” and “Jennifer Save Me”, are the kind of aching and heartfelt stuff that might hint at his own recent trials and tribulations — but on the other hand, he’s always had a penchant for such melancholy material. “I don’t wanna be king of the weepers,” he says, “but I am still drawn to a beautiful melody, and most things that are beautiful have a sad tinge to them.”
Stephens, the newcomer, had his own hard times to deal with during the making of Weird Tales — but, as with the other Smogsters, he found the band to be a source of reinforcement. “Maybe this gets a little dramatic,” he says, “but when Maggie [McPherson, Golden Smog’s manager] called me in November of 1996, my dad had been diagnosed with lung cancer. That call from Maggie, and this sudden sense of picking up another family, was pretty emotionally elevating for me. It was a good time to feel wanted. The support that I got from those guys was pretty remarkable.”
Beyond any baggage brought to the studio, Golden Smog also faced the unenviable task of following up a record that had almost no intent behind it. “There was one point in the studio,” Johnson admits, “where we said, ‘Remember the last record where we sat in a circle and whoever had an idea would throw it out and we’d just play our acoustics and somebody would pick the bass?’ We tried that for an afternoon, and nothing really came out of it.”
“This one it wasn’t as much fun,” Murphy acknowledges. “I mean, it was fun, it was productive, but it wasn’t real goofy like the first one. I guess it was more serious of a record, and hopefully in a good way. You don’t really laugh and cry; there’s no joke songs, really. It’s darker, definitely; there is some really beautiful and kind of haunting stuff on there. And I think that reflects what was going on.”
“I definitely sensed that everybody was in a different place,” adds Tweedy. “Danny was coming off probably not the best year that Soul Asylum ever had. Gary was still in the process of getting the Jayhawks up and running again.”
In the 48 hours before the band was to begin recording, each member experienced a moment of serious doubt. “We drove down to Memphis to record,” Louris recounts, “and I met up with Tweedy, who I was rooming with for the first two weeks. We sat on our beds and watched TV the first night and talked about what was going on tomorrow. We had both gone through the same thing of driving down and thinking, ‘What are we doing here? I don’t remember what we did this for.’
“We did Down By The Old Mainstream, and it was quite a while ago. We played some shows, but the last ten shows we played weren’t really a tour. We just showed up; there was some cash involved; it was fun. But after awhile, we kind of forgot what we were doing it for. Then the next morning, we went in the studio for the first day of recording, and we both came back that night and sat on our beds and we were up all night talking because we were so excited. ‘Oh yeah, this is what it was. I remember now.’
Golden Years: A Smog Timeline
The following dates in Golden Smog history have been verified to the best of our ability, but like so many things associated with the band, recollections and details are a bit hazy. Thanks to Michael Shiner, Michael Pemberton, Shayne Stacy, and Maggie Macpherson for their assistance. — E.F.
Circa 1987: Belleville West High school student Jeff Tweedy interviews Soul Asylum guitarist Dan Murphy for St. Louis magazine Jet Lag.
January 1987: Dan Murphy, Martin Zellar, Jim Boquist and Dave Pirner perform Eagles covers at the Uptown Bar in Minneapolis billed as Take It To The Limit. (The show closes with the Bangles’ “Walk Like An Egyptian”.)
Circa 1987: Murphy, Pirner and Gary Louris play covers opening for the Jayhawks in Superior, Wisconsin, as Skid Mark, T-Square and Cue Stick.
Circa 1989: Murphy, Pirner, Louris and others perform two Rolling Stones tribute shows, first at the Uptown Bar in Minneapolis, billed as Exile On Lake Street, and again at the Cabooze, as His Satanic Majesties Paycheck.
Early 1991: Kraig Johnson, Murphy and Louris play an all-acoustic set at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis, billed for the first time as Golden Smog. “We did all covers,” says Murphy, “Jim Croce, the Monkees, Neil Diamond — a bunch of shit.”
Spring-Summer 1991: Marc Perlman, Chris Mars, Johnson, Murphy, Louris and others perform again as Golden Smog at the Cabooze in Minneapolis. Set includes “On The Beach”, “Walk Away Renee”, “Love Is The Drug”, “Loving Cup” and Ringo Starr’s “Photograph”.
Summer 1991: Gary Louris plays guitar at sessions for Uncle Tupelo’s Still Feel Gone.
December 1991: Jeff Tweedy, Jay Farrar, Brian Henneman and Mike Heidorn play a set of primarily country cover songs at Cicero’s in St. Louis billed as Coffee Creek. Henneman and Farrar handle most of the lead vocals.
January 1992: Perlman, Mars, Johnson, Murphy, Louris and Pirner perform as Golden Smog at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The set includes “We’re An American Band”, “Spooky”, “You’re So Vain”, “Back Street Girl”, “Easy To Be Hard” and “Revolution Blues”.
June 1992: Coffee Creek plays another set at Cicero’s, which includes covers of “Buckaroo”, “Is Anybody Going To San Antone”, “Sing Me Back Home”, “Powderfinger” and “She’s About A Mover”. Tweedy takes lead vocals on John Fogerty’s “Wrote A Song For Everyone”.
July-August 1992: The Jayhawks play a few dates as the backing band for Joe Henry. At Cicero’s in St. Louis, Uncle Tupelo is the surprise opening act.
Fall-Winter 1992: The On Golden Smog EP is released on Crackpot Records.
April 25, 1993: The reunited Big Star, featuring original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens, plays its first show in nearly 20 years at Missouri University. Jeff Tweedy is in attendance, and can be seen in the background of a photo from the gig that appears in the CD booklet to the Big Star live album, Columbia.
July 1993: Coffee Creek plays two shows at Cicero’s, including a gig on the 30th which features covers of “Willin'”, “Streets Of Baltimore”, “Wasted Days And Wasted Nights” and “A Good Year For The Roses”.
December 1993: Perlman, Johnson, Murphy, Louris and others play First Avenue in Minneapolis as Golden Smog. Besides ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”, the night’s other notable cover is Uncle Tupelo’s “New Madrid”, written by Jeff Tweedy.
March 1994: Gary Louris makes a guest appearance with Uncle Tupelo at First Avenue in Minneapolis — the band’s final gig in the city.
May 1, 1994: Uncle Tupelo plays its farewell show at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis.
July 1994: Jeff Tweedy travels to Minneapolis to try writing songs with Dan Murphy. On the 25th, Tweedy, Perlman, Johnson, Murphy and Louris perform at the Uptown Bar, billed as Circle the Drain. The set opens with a cover of Rosanne Cash’s “Seven Year Ache” and includes a few songs destined for Down By The Old Mainstream, including “Ill Fated”, “Glad & Sorry” and “Yesterday Cried”. The band also plays the then-unreleased Wilco song “Passenger Side”.
October 1994: Recording for Down By The Old Mainstream takes place at Pachyderm Studios in Minneapolis. On the 17th, Tweedy, Perlman, Johnson, Murphy, Louris and drummer Noah Levy (Honeydogs) play the 400 Bar and preview several songs from the album, among them “Won’t Be Coming Home”, “He’s A Dick”, “Pecan Pie” and “Red Headed Stepchild”.
March 1995: Golden Smog performs at the Electric Lounge in Austin as part of SXSW. Wilco and the Jayhawks also play during the conference.
Spring 1995: Wilco’s A.M. is released.
Late 1995: Mark Olson quits the Jayhawks.
January 1996: Rykodisc releases Down By The Old Mainstream.
February 1996: The Down By The Old Mainstream tour kicks off at the Lounge Ax in Chicago. The Geraldine Fibbers, including future Smog associate Jessy Greene, open several shows along the way.
May 1996: Rykodisc reissues On Golden Smog.
August 2, 1996: The proper Mainstream tour ends with a show at the LoDo Festival in Denver.
December 1996: The Smog reconvenes for a warm-up gig at First Avenue and a two-night New Year’s Eve stand at the Lounge Ax in Chicago. The Jayhawks’ Tim O’Reagan takes over behind the drums, spelled for a few songs by Jody Stephens. Greene also guests.
January 1997: Recording for Weird Tales commences at Ardent Studios in Memphis, home of new Smog drummer Stephens. Greene travels down from Minneapolis with Murphy and Johnson to play violin and viola at the sessions, which last just under two weeks.
February 1997: Golden Smog, minus Tweedy, but again with the O’Reagan, plays a surprise gig at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis, billed as the Broken Hippies.
March 1997: Stephens and Greene appear with the Jayhawks at Stubb’s in Austin as part of SXSW.
February 1998: Second recording session at Ardent for Weird Tales.
October 13, 1998: Rykodisc releases Weird Tales.
Erik Flannigan is the Senior Producer of Wall of Sound and co-producer of Alejandro Escovedo’s recent live album, More Miles Than Money. His middle name is Dylan.