Left to right: John Stirratt, Glenn Kotche, Mikael Jorgensen, Jeff Tweedy, Nels Cline and Patrick Sansone are Wilco. - Photo courtesy of Britt Festivals

Wilco plays Britt Festivals

Jeff Tweedy's primary relationship with music — more than writing and playing it — is buying and listening to records, he says. "In the canon of rock music, there are too many artists to name," he says. "I adore most of it. There's that quality of artistry. Yet after all of these years, I can't come up with a unifying philosophy of why I like something. It just hits my ears that right way."

The Chicago-based songwriter and his group, Wilco, have explored many perspectives of rock: classic, post, country, experimental, along with generations of songwriters that include Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and others.

"I think there's an esoteric vocabulary for rock music," Tweedy says during a telephone conversation from the Windy City. "I don't want to make music that is a direct derivative. There are those moments that remind people of other bands, but we only want to say something unique about ourselves using that vocabulary."

Wilco was born out of Tweedy's alt-country band, Uncle Tupelo, founded in 1987. Wilco's present lineup solidified in 2004 when guitarist Nels Cline and guitarist Patrick Sansone joined Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt, drummer Glenn Kotche and keyboard player Mikael Jorgensen.

The group will perform at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the Britt Pavilion, 350 First St., Jacksonville. Singer, songwriter and recording artist Jonathan Richman will open the show, and the Ashland-based Craig Wright Band will perform from 6 to 7 p.m. on the Table Rock City Stage. Tickets cost $49 for reserved and for the general-admission pit. Lawn seating is available for $39, $34 for ages 12 and younger. Visit the box office at 216 E. Main St., Medford, see www.brittfest.org or call 541-773-6077.

"When you play music with the same musicians over a long period of time, there's an unspoken communication that develops," Tweedy says. "That's the beauty of having the same lineup. You can turn your mind off and trust that the ship is going to steer itself. It's kind of like the way you feel comfortable in a roomful of friends. There's no other agenda."

Together, the alternative-rock group released the acclaimed "Sky Blue Sky" in 2007, the Grammy-nominated "Wilco (The Album)" in 2009 and 2011's "The Whole Love."

"The Whole Love" is Wilco's eighth studio album and the first to be released on the band's own dBpm label. The disc is both upbeat and experimental, with Tweedy and company cohesively reaching out in new directions.

At least one critic has called "The Whole Love" Wilco's most progressive work.

"Tweedy indulges in lyrics that blur the lines between nonsense and poetry, revelation and obfuscation," wrote the Chicago Tribune. "The lyrics are really mostly about sound ... Stirratt is an anchoring force ... the keyboards of Sansone and Jorgensen color in a wealth of detail ... Kotche's drumming adds orchestral flair, and Cline gets a bit more room to roam on guitar."

The band has been on the road pretty much since the record was released a year ago.

"We play music from almost every record at our shows, but the material we're the most excited about is the new album ... because it's the newest. It's the freshest and the most malleable to our moods."

"I don't believe music genres are things to guide a band by," Tweedy says. "Progressive rock wouldn't be that much of a stretch for Wilco, especially during live performances."

Share This Story