On its latest album, "Notes of Blue," Son Volt lead singer Jay Farrar gives a big nod to the heroes and icons of American blues music.
"It's aiming for where folk and blues and county converge," Farrar says. "There was the realization that blues were such an important part of early country music. Guys like Hank Williams and Jimmy Rogers, they were very much steeped in American blues music."
Where Son Volt's previous albums had a more alt-country focus, that recognition served as a sort of catalyst for Farrar to dig a bit deeper and learn some blues tunings by musicians he estimates to be the figures of American blues—guys such as Mississippi Fred McDowell and Skip James. He's created blues-influenced songs over the years, but this gave Farrar the chance to focus a bit more on classic styles.
"You know, one of the aspects of recording 'Notes of Blue' (what) I wanted to focus on was playing more electric guitar. That meant pulling out an old amplifier that I used on the very first Son Volt album, 'Trace,'" Farrar says.
Son Volt recently wrapped up the southern and eastern legs of their tour and is now headed west. An extensive touring schedule allows them to work on their craft and continue the evolution of their songs.
"The essence of the craft is when you're on stage and you have to produce," Farrar says. "There is that element to (playing live.) Another element that I think is great about taking songs out on the road is that you can change things from the way they are on the recording. The songs tend to evolve over time and playing them on the road is a healthy endeavor."
With a wide-ranging and extensive catalog of music, what can concertgoers expect to hear during this leg of Son Volt's tour?
"The set list is comprised of a handful of, or almost half of the songs off of 'Notes of Blue,'" Farrar says. "From there it's fairly representative of the whole catalog, maybe not every record is represented by a song, but we tried to pull a song from each time period going all the way back to Uncle Tupelo."
During the course of his lengthy career, Farrar and Son Volt have made Bend a regular stop on their tour schedule.
"(Bend) is a great stop in between San Francisco and Portland. It's convenient and the air is clean. I remember talking a lot of walks around town. It's a good place to put on the schedule."
Thursday May 4, 9pm
Volcanic Theatre Pub
70 SW Century Dr., Bend