In the late 1980s, Jeff Tweedy, Jay Farrar and Mike Heidorn were students at Belleville High School, playing 60s era cover songs in their parents’ garages. But somewhere around the time they became known as Uncle Tupelo, they transitioned into a new sound. Today it’s called Alt Country, but at the time they just knew it was different.
Mike Heidorn, the original drummer for Uncle Tupelo put it this way: “Even though we had the same instrumentations as country bands….we didn’t forget to bring the electric guitars and the distortion pedals too in order to really punctuate the urgency and angst we had flowing through our latter teens.”
Heidorn described their musical influences as a combination of those 60s era upbeat garage covers, acoustic guitars and “Jay’s bonafide Ozark, Mo. upbringing,” including the harmonica and mandolin.
The band’s early sound is highlighted in a new edition of their first album: “No Depression: Legacy Edition,” released earlier this month. The re-release includes a second CD of demo songs recorded in the band’s early days before they signed with a label.
Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer, hosted by Steve Potter and funded in part by the the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.