Gary Louris: Sideman in the Spotlight


Gary Louris (300)

Gary Louris. Darren Ankenman hide caption

itoggle caption Darren Ankenman

Music fans may know Gary Louris' voice even if they can't place his face or name. For many years, Louris was a singer and songwriter for The Jayhawks, shaping the sound of alt-country while also becoming a sought-after side-man. He's contributed to records by Lucinda Williams, Dixie Chicks, and The Wallflowers and remains in demand as a producer, too. So it's no surprise that plenty of friends showed up to play on his first-ever solo record, this spring's Vagabonds.

Despite Louris' high profile and popularity in the industry, his demeanor is downright low-key, bordering on shy. Perhaps a lifetime spent in the Midwest has helped make him circumspect. Far from being a self-promoter, he rarely mentions the name of his own record in this session, but makes a point of repeatedly stressing his sidemen's other band, Vetiver.

That modesty must endear him to others in a business dominated by big egos. Louris readily admits that success as a solo artist is a long shot, and he reveals for the first time here that legalities are likely to prevent any real reunion of his former band. Still, the quality of his work is undeniable, and with any luck, the name Gary Louris will continue to grace the liner notes of many artists' work, regardless of whose name is on the cover.

Listen to the previous Favorite Session, or see our full archive.

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