In 2020, Son Volt planned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of seminal album, Trace, with a tour
that played the album from top to bottom. The pandemic had other plans. Flash forward to
2023 and they are on the road with a setlist that features Trace from beginning to end, an
homage to Doug Sahm (Sir Douglas Quintet, Texas Tornados) and a celebration of 28 years of
Son Volt’s latest record, Day of the Doug, revisits the music of legendary Texas troubadour
Doug Sahm. But it’s much more than fond remembrance and colorful tribute. It is a summoning
and a celebration of a songwriter and performer whose work forged country, Tex-Mex, rock,
rhythm and blues, folk, and psychedelia into an utterly unique American sound.
Day of the Doug steps confidently on the trails Sahm blazed. Like any journey to find a grail, Day
of the Doug also seeks out all the things that make young artists fall in love with making music
in the first place: adventure, youth novelty, and a chance to snatch a bit of immortality.
“It’s like reconnecting with a hero,” says Son Volt founder Jay Farrar. “And getting back to the
same kind of perspective I had when I was starting out as a younger musician. I think it’s just
important to step back from what you normally do. Take stock. Take inspiration. And see where
it leads from there.”
The rare troubadour touches rock and roll with the depth and candor and scope of Anders Parker.
He entered the scene in the mid 90’s when a 4-track recording he made in his Portland, OR apartment, titled Man of Sin, got passed around. Doing it himself and his way and with the energy that album had to offer, Parker formed a band and began walking a trail that has defined his life. As the leader/songwriter/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist and under the moniker Varnaline, Parker toured, eventually released 5 albums under that name. Parker entered the indie lexicon.
As all things do, Varnaline ran its course, beginning phase two of Anders artistry, releasing albums under his own name. Tell It To The Dust and Anders Parker (s/t) set about to give air to Parkers unsettling need to explore genres, pushing forward his even more intensely weathered views on life and love. Skyscraper Crow is a double album exploring electronic instruments on one album, acoustic instrument on the other — dualities and double meanings, abstraction and fixed stars. With Cross Latitudes, Parker released his first fully instrumental album of electric guitar pieces. There’s A Bluebird In My Heart tracks back to formal songwriting veering from ballads to scorched earth rock.
Also in the mix and adding to his pedigree, a chance to put Woody Guthrie lyrics to music came around, resulting in New Multitudes. Alongside Jim James, Jay Farrar and Will Johnson (all tour mates individually, and as a collective) Parker soared on songs such as “Angels Blues” and “Old L.A.” and “Fly High” to great acclaim.
Not to belabor the many faces of Parker, yet to be mentioned also is a record of duets with Kendall Meade under the name Anders & Kendall. He was a member of the experimental rock band Space Needle. And he made an album of traditional folk songs with Jay Farrar under the moniker Gob Iron.
2017: Anders has once again decided it’s time to explore. To ruminate. To question things. The idea of a sparse record, one with string trio, pedal steel, acoustic guitar and voice, nothing else, was there to be mined. Titled The Man Who Fell From Earth, Parker quietly explodes with orchestration layered over his classically dark lyrics, hinting at new love and even more questions about the universe and our place in it all. Truly a stunning album from start to finish, it is the beginning of yet another phase in this outrageously gifted songwriters life.