Wilco frontman’s upcoming Sukierae features his son on drums

By Lynne Margolis

(LSM July/Aug 2014/vol 7 – issue 4)

Photo by John Carrico

Photo by John Carrico

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy is one of Austin City Limits’ most popular performers, but until June 20, he’d never appeared on the show without the band he’s been with for 20 years. This time around, he brought a brand new batch of players, including his son, 18-year- old drummer Spencer. The band, appropriately, is named Tweedy. And as it turns out, the kid’s a good time-keeper.

Both the ACL taping and the following night’s sold- out show at the Texas Union Ballroom showcased songs from Tweedy’s first-ever solo album, Sukierae, releasing Sept. 16 on Wilco’s dBpm label.

“It took 18 years to make a solo record because I had to grow a drummer,” the elder Tweedy joked during his ACL show, which featured more than a dozen of the album’s 20 tracks. Highlights included the beautiful “Desert Bell,” “Honey Combed” (with ethereal vocals by Lucius’ Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig) and “Where My Love,” a sweet, “California Stars”-like love ballad. Noting many of the songs have “love” in their title, he cracked, “There’s all sorts of love on the new album. … What else is there to write about?”

Another elegant tune, “Summer Noon,” appears on the soundtrack to Austinite Richard Linklater’s lauded film, Boyhood — coincidentally, about a child growing up (the soundtrack also includes Wilco’s “Hate It Here”).

Those well-received songs were followed by a catalog-spanning solo set that included Uncle Tupelo’s “New Madrid,” Golden Smog’s “Please Tell My Brother,” and Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” “Born Alone,” and, with the Lucius ladies, the divine “Jesus, Etc.” The encore included “Give Back the Key to My Heart,” a song Tweedy recorded years ago “in the greatest city for music in the world … with the guy who wrote it” — Doug Sahm, who joined Uncle Tupelo in the studio for their made-in-Austin swan song, 1993’s Anodyne. It was a sweet moment from a guy who not only appreciates his history, he seems to be doing a fine job of passing it down.