Download: Jay Bennett’s Best Shows

3561245959_384f52b52a1As news of his passing spread across the Internet, many people made sincere and moving tributes to Jay Bennett, the polarizing but astoundingly influential former member of Wilco who died unexpectedly on May 24, 2009.

In the search for our own fitting tribute to Jay Bennett, we decided to round up some of his best live performances from the Wilco Archive and let his talent speak for itself. We polled members of Wilco’s ViaChicago fan community, and they obliged with eloquence.

Jay Bennett with Wilco
May 23, 1995 (DVD)
– “Early show. Some of the A.M. and Uncle Tupelo tunes hit a little harder w/Jay’s guitar work.” (ChooChooCharlie)

October 29, 1997 & October 30, 1997 – “On the Being There tour. Great energy from the band, stellar electrified country-pickin’ from Jay and pedal steel work from Bob Egan. An early version of ‘She’s a Jar’ here!” (ChooChooCharlie)

September 4, 1998 – “A rockin’ show of Mermaid Avenue & Being There tunes w/some Summerteeth early stuff thrown in. ‘James Alley Blues’!” (ChooChooCharlie)

April 20, 1999 & April 21, 1999 (DVD) – “[These] New York shows are among the best of the Summerteeth tour nearly everything on the album is played, the DVD is excellent, and the keyboard innerplay between Bennett and Leroy is superb.” (mpolak21)

November 5, 1999 – “Long set on the Summerteeth tour. Simply amazing show. Just look at that setlist.” (ChooChooCharlie)

July 27, 2000 – “Highly recommended…great version of ‘Remember the Mountain Bed’.” (mpolak21)

July 29, 2000 – “Must have.” (Högsta Domstolen)

July 30, 2000 – “Perhaps the pinnacle of this version of live Wilco. Diverse setlist and great instrumentation. Loud, rockin’ show.” (ChooChooCharlie)

July 31, 2000 – “Must have.” (Högsta Domstolen)

July 4, 2001 – “Jay’s last show with Wilco. This might be my favorite live recording of Wilco. It essentially serves as a greatest hits of that lineup…almost everything you’d want to hear them play, save for Misunderstood, is touched upon…all of the songs sound great, particularly the Mermaid Avenue and Summerteeth songs with Glenn Kotche.” (mpolak21) “Rather than the awkward 4-piece version of YHF that toured pre-release, you get the widescreen version: what could have been sonically had the personality conflicts not intervened.” (m_to_the_c) “It’s not the song it’s the Pants!” (Barbarino)

September 16, 2000 – “This is simply a terrific rock show! Jay is on fire throughout, and the show really demonstrates what an amazing live player he was.” (radiowilco) “I agree, especially The Who riff at the beginning of “Outtasite (Outtamind)” that follows the “Casino Queen/Hoodoo Voodoo/Casino Queen (Reprise)” played near the end. Jay’s guitar playing comes through loud and clear…I’ve been listening to it most of the day.” (nudie)

Jay Bennett with Jeff Tweedy
April 14, 1995
– “I quite enjoyed that Jeff/Jay show at McCabe’s in ’95.” (Francis X. Hummel)

November 20, 1996 – “Jeff on guitar and Jay on guitar, banjo & piano, playing mostly A.M., Being There and a few covers. Great sound quality, setlist and vocal harmonies.” (ChooChooCharlie)

July 25, 1999 – “Jeff on guitar and Jay on guitar, keyboards, mandolin, playing mostly Summerteeth & Mermaid Avenue tracks, including the first time ‘Blood of the Lamb’ was done live. Also amazing versions of ‘Down in the Willow Garden’ and ‘The Auld Triangle.’ Funny hearing Jay’s keyboard bubbling w/weird effects on some tunes, considering it was a folk festival. Good banter from Tweedy.” (ChooChooCharlie)

Kay-Settes (Jay Bennett/Jeff Tweedy/Leroy Bach)
September 11, 1999
– “Includes not only the first time Kamera was played, but also some nice rarities like Cajun Angel.” (ObliviousToMyself)

Photo by Jim Herrington

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