All-Star Tribute to Big Star at Alex Theatre in Glendale to include Wilco, Yo La Tengo Players

Wilco band members are among those to pay tribute to Big Star - Photo by Greg Dunlap
Wilco band members are among those to pay tribute to Big Star - Photo by Greg Dunlap
Wilco band members are among those to pay tribute to Big Star - Photo by Greg Dunlap
Wilco band members are among those to pay tribute to Big Star – Photo by Greg Dunlap

By JOHN DALY – Wilco band members Jeff Tweedy and Pat Sansone and Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo are among an all-star lineup to perform a concert of the music of Big Star April 27 at the Alex Theater in Glendale.

The fabled group’s sole surviving original member, Jody Stephens, heads an amazing cast, whose membership includes latter-day Big Star alumni Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of the Posies, R.E.M’s Mike Mills, Let’s Active’s Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey of the dB’s, and others.

Joining the lineup for the evening are Robyn Hitchcock and Dan Wilson of Semisonic; Benmont Tench from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; and Jessica Pratt; Brett Harris; Django Haskins and Skylar Gudasz.

Kronos Quartet helms a full chamber orchestra that performs scores created directly from the original multitrack tapes from Ardent for this event. Carl Marsh, who wrote the original orchestrations, will conduct.

Alex Chilton - Photo credit unknown
Alex Chilton – Photo credit unknown via

Among Big Star favorites expected to be performed are “In the Street,” “September Gurls” and “Thirteen,” as well as the entire Third album.

The concert will be filmed by Yes Equals Yes as part of a Concord DVD release, slated for Spring 2017.

Big Star‘s third album, Third/Sister Lovers, has long been revered by artists and critics as one of the most influential albums ever produced. Written and recorded when the legendary 1970s band was primarily a studio project consisting of Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens, the third album was never performed in public with the original string and wind orchestrations. That changed in December 2010, when an ace ensemble unearthed the original scores, assembled an orchestra and performed Big Star’s Third at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina. Stamey notes: “Now, to have Carl Marsh conduct his own original exacting, unearthly orchestrations for the first time—and to have the amazing Kronos Quartet joining all of us in bringing them to life on stage—is a dream come true.”

Much like Nick Drake, the Velvet Underground, or other critically esteemed artists whose work only gained commercial traction long after its initial release, Big Star’s trademark mix of shimmering jangle pop with a side of elliptical melancholia was originally let loose into a world that just wasn’t ready for it.

Nonetheless, an underground core of fanatical enthusiasts kept the fire burning.

The Replacements released “Alex Chilton,” a song that paid tribute to his songwriting genius. R.E.M.’s Peter Buck said, “Big Star served as a Rosetta Stone for a whole generation of musicians.”  Third is included as one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

Presented by Concord Bicycle Music, the event will be filmed for Thank You, Friends, a DVD and CD release in 2017.  Alex Theater is located at 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Doors open at 7 p.m.