You know your fans are dedicated when they make color-coded timelines charting your every move.
When Twin Cities-based band The Jayhawks debuted on the music scene in the 1980s they were considered alternative country: tight vocal harmonies, a pastiche sound pitched to distinctly separate them from the feeding frenzy of local music gurus which at the time featured the likes of Soul Asylum and Prince.
Their much-respected fusing of styles brought in an equally ambitious shifting kaleidoscope of influences, as well as band members (even their press notes proclaim they’ve had “enough personal drama to fill a couple of ‘Behind the Music’ episodes …”), hence the need for timelines.
But a core of the group have remained together (in an on-again-off-again fashion a little too common in the music industry) and have once again reunited, which is where the old faithful can find them when they play Minneapolis music mecca First Avenue Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
They’ve toughed it out so long they’re even seeing of their older releases come back into print, which is terrific news for those who have a soft spot in their hearts for the crazy geniuses who’ve collectively given us smash albums like “Tomorrow the Green Grass,” “Smile,” and “Sound of Lies.”
Their vocal timbre may have mellowed with age (compare 1995’s “I’d Run Away” with, say, their recent live performance on KEXP; sounding less Hank Williams than Bob Dylan to some ears), but their musical appeal is just as fresh as when Reagan was in office.
Apparently most of the 1997 tour lineup will be in evidence when they play First Avenue (where they’ll be joined by Red Daughters), and they’ll be reissuing, live, a set list covering their four decades of musical wizardry.
For The Jayhawks cognoscenti, there’s no better way to start off the New Year, even if it’s stomping on old ground. Stop waiting for the sun, it’s about to shine.