Musicians reinterpret tunes to make things interesting |

Musicians reinterpret tunes to make things interesting

Jay Farrar, known for his bands Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt, will perform three nights this week at the Egyptian Theatre with multi-instrumentalist Gary Hunt as the Jay Farrar Duo.
Photo by David McClister

The Jay Farrar Duo, featuring alternative-country pioneer Jay Farrar and multi-instrumentalist Gary Hunt, both of Son Volt, will perform at 8 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, April 5-7 at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. Thursday tickets range from $19 to $29. Friday and Saturday tickets are $23 to $35. Tickets can be purchased by visiting

Singer, guitarist and vocalist Jay Farrar cemented his legacy during the past 30 years in the roots and alternative country scene with his bands Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt.

Instead of sitting complacently, he has continued to make his own music as a solo artist with Son Volt multi-instrumentalist Gary Hunt as one half of the Jay Farrar Duo.

The pair will play three nights, April 5-7, at the Egyptian Theatre, and Farrar is looking forward to the shows.

“This is really the first time Gary and I have ever done more than one show, let alone three, in one place,” Farrar said with a laugh.

“My dad, inparticular, wasvery spirited in passing along any knowledge he had about differentinstruments…”Jay Farrarsinger and songwriter

The concerts will feature songs from Farrar’s career, going back to Uncle Tupelo, which hit its stride in the late 1980s.

“We have this situation to try these songs in a duo,” Farrar said of his partnership with Hunt. “We tried a bunch of songs, and if some of them didn’t work, we would move on with some others.”

Farrar cited Hunt’s ability to move from one instrument to another as key to the set list.

“We update them, if you will, and will pull out some deep Son Volt cuts that we haven’t played for a while in this setting,” he said. “Gary is steeped in the history of country blues. So playing with him is very conducive (for) reinventing some of the songs we are playing live.”

Hunt’s versatility also pushes Farrar to up the game.

“Since he has a more in-depth understanding of music than I do, I need to make sure I’m up to what he leads me to do,” Farrar said. “That allows me to try out different things.”

Still, Farrar’s musical training reaches back to his childhood.

“I grew up in a musical environment, and I fell into it,” Farrar said. “Everyone in my family played, and my dad, in particular, was very spirited in passing along any knowledge he had about different instruments. So it just seemed like the path that was laid out for me.”

Farrar met Hunt while the multi-instrumentalist was in a band with Farrar’s brother.

“I would sit in and play pedal steel guitar with the band,” Farrar said.

Farrar began writing his own songs when he got serious about music.

“I think early on when you’re first in a band you play a lot of covers, and then you realize if you want to take the next step you have to start writing your own songs,” he said. “That’s an exciting time, you know. Because you have an open canvas. You start to try a few things and then keep on doing it until something seems to work.”

Farrar’s creative process begins with the acoustic guitar.

“I’ll write some music and then add a few words to work with,” he said. “It’s more of a stream of consciousness until things start to fall into place.”

Anything is fair game when it comes to writing songs, Farrar said.

“Whatever has influenced me over the years gets put into the grinder,” he said. “It churns and I chew it up and spit it back out.”

Working with Hunt in the Jay Farrar Duo helps keep his creative juices flowing.

“It hard not to get complacent and not do the same thing over and over,” Farrar said. “Having a creative outlet has always been paramount to me. It’s a great thing to be able to do what you really like doing, in this case, playing music. I feel fortunate in that regard and hope to keep doing it.”

To do so, Farrar feels a responsibility to himself and to his fans.

“I certainly take in account what I hear from people who know my work,” he said. “I try to keep an open ear when they talk with me about my songs. So I hope those ideas come through when Gary and I dive deeper into the older songs.”

In addition to updating the older songs, Farrar is working on new material for a new album.

“I don’t think we’re going to play any of those songs, but that’s what I’ve been working on in my spare time,” he said.

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