close
close

Big Star Quintet ready to rise at Codfish Hollow Barnstormers near Maquoketa

Big Star Quintet is coming to the Codfish Hollow Barn near Maquoketa on July 15, 2024,, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the band's seminal album, "Radio City." The original band formed in 1971 in Memphis. And with lone surviving member, drummer Jody Stephens, in the lineup, joining him on tour are former Posies vocalist/guitarist Jon Auer; Wilco's John Stirratt and Pat Sansone and the DBs' Chris Stamey. (Luis Troner)

Big Star Quintet is coming to the Codfish Hollow Barn near Maquoketa on July 15, 2024, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the band’s seminal album, “Radio City.” The original band formed in 1971 in Memphis. And with lone surviving member, drummer Jody Stephens, in the lineup, joining him on tour former Posies vocalist/guitarist Jon Auer; Wilco’s John Stirratt and Pat Sansone and the DBs’ Chris Stamey. (Luis Troner)

“I never travel far without a little big star.”

The Replacements’ songwriter Paul Westerberg tucked that phrase into the lyrics of “Alex Chilton,” on the Minneapolis alt rock/punk band’s 1987 album, “Pleased to Meet Me.”

Westerberg paid tribute to Big Star frontman Alex Chilton when crafting the under-the-radar gem bearing the late singer/songwriter’s name. However, Westerberg was just one of many recording artists who inspired by the exceptional cult band.

Cheap Trick, Guided By Voices, and Wilco are just some of the prominent bands impacted by Big Star, which, in turn, was influenced by the melodies of the Beatles, the harmonies of the Byrds and the power generated by the Who.

If you go

What: Big Star Quintet

Where: Codfish Hollow Barn, 5013 288th Ave., Maquoketa

When: 8 p.m. Monday, July 15, 2024

Tickets: $55; codfishhollowbarnstormers.com/buy-tickets

Band online: facebook.com/BigStar/

The Posies, a band about as unsung as Big Star, was influenced by the Memphis band’s album “Radio City.” The seminal Big Star album just turned 50 and former Posies vocalist/guitarist Jon Auer now is part of the Big Star Quintet, which will perform tracks from “Radio City” and other Big Star tunes Monday, July 15, 2024, at the Codfish Hollow Barn near Maquoketa.

Chilton, guitarist Chris Bell and bassist Andy Hummel have died. The lone surviving Big Star member is drummer Jody Stephens, who is part of the Quintet, which also includes Wilco’s John Stirratt and Pat Sansone, and the DBs’ Chris Stamey.

Auer was part of the prior Big Star collaboration from 1993 to 2010, and has remained close with Stephens.

“I’ve been friends with Jody Stephens for a long time,” Auer said while calling from Seattle. “I’ve been so fortunate to have been in a number of Big Star projects with him. Big Star is one of the greatest bands that never received the attention they deserve.”

Big Star, which formed in 1971 in Memphis, wasn’t a commercial success story, but the group inspired so many recording artists to become musicians a la the Velvet Underground. All three of the band’s albums from its initial iteration from the ’70s — “Radio City,” 1972’s “#1 Record” and 1974’s “Third/Sister Lovers” — are included in Rolling Stone’s Top 500 albums of all time.

Finding new fans

Big Star is one of those rock rarities, a band that ended as it was still ascending.

“With the internet, music fans have finally discovered Big Star,” Auer said. “Back in the day, it wasn’t so easy to know about them. You had to dig for Big Star, but it was worth the effort.”

Auer didn’t learn about Big Star until the Posies made its first album, 1988’s “Failure.”

“Some people who heard ‘Failure’ said, ‘You must be big fans of Big Star,’ ” Auer noted. “But I never heard Big Star songs at that point. Then I heard their songs and I was blown away. I couldn’t get enough of those songs.”

The Posies covered a number of Big Star tunes and then became friends with Chilton and Stephens, and before they knew it, was part of Big Star Volume 2.0.

A number of common denominators run between Big Star and The Posies. Both groups crafted literate and infectious power pop. Each is criminally underheralded. However, the Posies broke up in 2021 but left behind a healthy batch of well-constructed, hook-laden songs.

However, Big Star lives on 14 years after Chilton died.

“There are no songs like Big Star songs,” Auer said. “Big Star songs still sound fresh today.”

Like many significant recording artists like Nirvana, Big Star’s peak was relatively short. The group’s early to mid-70s fun was driven by consistent creativity.

“It’s amazing looking back at what Big Star accomplished,” Auer said. “It’s so much fun playing the Big Star songs.”

Hats off to Auer and company for keeping the Big Star songs alive for a new generation of fans.

“I love it when people discover Big Star,” Auer said. “I know personally what it’s like to love music and discover Big Star later on. There’s nothing like Big Star.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *