The Jayhawks

The Jayhawks
Gary Louris and Mark Olson of the Jayhawks in May 2009.
Background information
OriginMinneapolis, Minnesota
GenresAlternative country, alternative rock
Years active1985–present
LabelsBunkhouse Records
Twin Tone
Def American
Rounder Records
Gary Louris
Marc Perlman
Mark Olson
Karen Grotberg
Tim O'Reagan
Past members
Norm Rogers
Thad Spencer
Ken Callahan
Kraig Johnson
Jessy Greene
Jen Gunderman
Stephen McCarthy
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The Jayhawks are an American alternative country and rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They have released several studio albums. The band formed in 1985. They did not work together between 2005 and 2009, but reunited in 2010.[1]


The band formed with Mark Olson (acoustic guitar and vocals), Gary Louris (electric guitar and vocals), Marc Perlman (bass) and Norm Rogers (drums).[2]

The Jayhawks

Their first album The Jayhawks was released in 1986. Their music at the time, mostly written by Olson, showed a strong roots/country-rock influence. It was released on the Bunkhouse Label, a small independent label.

Blue Earth

Blue Earth, the second album, was released in 1989 on the Twin Tone label. Gary Louris shared more of the songwriting together with Olson for this album. After touring the U.S. in support of Blue Earth, Spencer left the band. He was replaced by Ken Callahan in 1988 who stayed with the band until 1993.

In 1991, Dave Ayers, the president of Twin Tone, was on a phone call with A&R representative George Drakoulias from Def American while Blue Earth played in the background. Drakoulias asked about the music, and eventually met with and signed the band to the label later that year.[2]

Hollywood Town Hall

In 1992 album Hollywood Town Hall was the first to be released on the major label Def American.[2] The album was produced by Drakoulias. The album was a hit, powered by the single "Waiting for the Sun", and it brought the Jayhawks more fans.[3] With Karen Grotberg on the keyboards and vocals, the band toured a lot.[2]

Tomorrow the Green Grass

In 1995 they went into the studio to make Tomorrow the Green Grass. It was released on the renamed American Recordings label. Lead track "Blue" turned out to be a Top 40 hit in Canada (peaking at #33). The record's production had been very expensive and the album did not to sell as was expected in the U.S. Among the album's songs is "Miss Williams' Guitar," a love song for Olson's then-girlfriend, singer-songwriter Victoria Williams (the pair later married, but divorced in February, 2006). Drummer, singer and songwriter Tim O'Reagan joined the band for the 1995 tour.

By the end of 1995, Olson unexpectedly left the band to spend more time with Williams (with whom he would later form the Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers). The band continued to record as The Jayhawks, adding Kraig Johnson on guitar.

Sound of Lies

The album Sound of Lies was released in 1997. It has Gary Louris composing most of the songs. The album mixed straight rock (the ironic "Big Star"), psychedelic elements, acoustic elements and even some dub elements. The album did not sound like the band's country-influenced earlier work.


The 2000 album Smile was produced by Bob Ezrin. It had more of a pop music feel, which some fans did not like. Though still a member through the recording of the album, Grotberg left the band before the Smile tour, and was replaced by Jen Gunderman. The song "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" appeared in a Ralph Lauren commercial.

Rainy Day Music

Rainy Day Music (2003) was stripped down and more acoustic. It was generally seen as a return to their alt-country roots. The band now consisted of founding members Louris and Perlman, along with drummer O'Reagan, and touring band member ex-Long Ryder Stephen McCarthy, from Richmond, VA. McCarthy added pedal steel, lap steel, banjo, guitar and backing vocals to the album and subsequent live shows. This lineup toured in 2003 and early 2004.

Mockingbird Time

After not playing together for a number of years, the Jayhawks reunited in 2010 and released Mockingbird Time in 2011. The album sees both Mark Olson and Karen Grotberg playing with the band again. Gary Louris also produced the album.

Other recordings

In addition to their studio albums, the Jayhawks released Live From the Women's Club, an all-acoustic live recording of Louris/Perlman/O'Reagan from 2002. It was sold only at concerts as an "Official Jayhawks Bootleg."

Olson and Louris toured together in the winter of 2005 and spring of 2006, billed as "From the Jayhawks: An Evening with Mark Olson & Gary Louris, Together Again."[4] Both old and new Jayhawks members progressed to solo efforts and side projects, and the band as a whole was generally considered to be broken up, and not expected to produce new material soon. However, the band members appear to keep in touch, tour together in their other projects, and have been known to "reunite" on occasion.

In September, 2008, the 1995 lineup of Louris, Olson, O'Reagan, Grotberg and Perlman reunited[5][6] for the Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.

In January, 2009, Olson and Louris released an acoustic album titled Ready for the Flood.


Studio albums

Year Album Peak chart
1986 The Jayhawks Bunkhouse
1989 Blue Earth Twin/Tone
1992 Hollywood Town Hall 192 11 American
1995 Tomorrow the Green Grass 92 41
1997 Sound of Lies 112 61
2000 Smile 129 60
2003 Rainy Day Music 51 70
2011 TBA

Compilation albums

Year Album details
2009 Music From The North Country - The Jayhawks Anthology


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US Main US Mod US AC Canada (RPM 100) [8] UK
1992 "Waiting for the Sun" 20 29 Hollywood Town Hall
1995 "Blue" 33 83 Tomorrow the Green Grass
"Bad Time" 70
1997 "Big Star" 162 Sound of Lies
2000 "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" 40 163 Smile
2003 "Save It for a Rainy Day" Rainy Day Music

Mark Olson & Gary Louris

Other appearances

Year Song Album Notes
1996 "Waiting for the Sun" ONXRT: Live from the Archives Volume 3 Recorded at The Vic Theatre, Chicago, 7/15/1995


  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Template:Cite book
  3. Flannigan, Eric (May–June 2000). "The Jayhawks: Outside the Wall". No Depression. Retrieved October 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. "Jayhawk harmonies soar again". The Capital Times. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  5. "Azkena Rock Festival". Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  6. "The Jayhawks Reunite in Spain: 9.6.08". Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Chart Log UK: Candy J. - JX". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2010-07-24.

Other websites