In the early ’90s, alt-country had its moment in the sun with Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, and the Jayhawks leading the vanguard. Only the Jayhawks are still carrying on, a tremendous achievement given the turnover in the band’s lineup. The co-frontmen Gary Louris and Mark Olson first teamed up in Minneapolis in 1985, intent on writing classic country/pop songs in the vein of the Byrds and the Sir Douglas Quintet. The group’s third album, Hollywood Town Hall, was a minor hit in 1995, but the modest chart success has been a blessing in disguise for the Jayhawks. Nearly thirty years later, the Jayhawks are still going strong while many of their contemporaries have faded away. “When we started out, our main goal was just to get a Friday night gig,” Louris told KUTX’s Jody Denberg in 2011.
Reissues of their first few records came a few years ago, and now the Jayhawks are touring behind reissues of Sound of Lies (1997), Smile (2000), and Rainy Day Music (2003). The tour is an opportunity to put a fresh spin on their back catalog and bring their golden, jangly pop sound to a new generation. Minus original member Mark Olson, the Jayhawks stopped by our Studio 1A for an intimate live performance, and they dusted off the Smile cut “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”–today’s song of the day.