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Check shirts at the ready

IF you happen to be in Temple Bar on Tuesday night you could be forgiven for thinking that there's a checked-shirt convention taking place in the area.

In a mouth-watering double-bill, alt.Country darlings The Jayhawks return with original co-vocalists Mark Olson and Gary Louris, while Willy Vlautin and Dan Eccles from the great Richmond Fontaine grace the support slot.

Formed in Minneapolis in the mid-80s, The Jayhawks couldn't have sounded more different from that city's musical flag-bearers of the time such as Prince, The Replacements and Husker Du.

Sticking to their country roots they released two albums before a chance encounter with Def Jam producer George Drakoulias led to a contract with his Def American imprint and an increase in profile on this side of the world.

The first two albums with Def American, 1992's Hollywood Town Hall and 1995's Tomorrow the Green Grass, are classics, with Drakoulias introducing a rockier edge while retaining the essential purity of Louris and Olson's harmonies.

In the early 90s the pair played an acoustic gig in Whelan's and everyone in the packed venue knew that they were in the presence of something truly special.

Alas, Olson had left the fold for 1997's The Sound of Lies, but with the pair reuniting for last year's Mockingbird Time, the natural line-up of this great modern American band is well and truly restored.

Regular readers of this column will know how highly I regard Richmond Fontaine, one of the finest Americana acts today, so this has all the makings of a great night. >George Byrne

The Jayhawks and Richmond Fontaine play the Button Factory on Tuesday night.