- Danny Clinch
- My Morning Jacket accomplishes the difficult task of taking a photograph in a room filled with mirrors.
Whatever images you may associate with the rock 'n roll lifestyle, My Morning Jacket keyboardist Bo Koster is about to blow your mind.
A recent call to his cell phone finds the professional musician in Dallas at, of all places, a Macy's department store.
"We're not buying anything," Koster stresses. "We're just walking through and turning up our nose at everything. I got street cred."
A moment later, he admits that he's actually looking for some shoes, which conjures up images and thoughts of the US Weekly tabloid's "Just Like Us" section. Rock stars have to shop? For shoes? At Macy's?
"Yeah," Koster says, trying to save face. "But we did get a ride here, though."
My Morning Jacket's ride began in the late '90s with the vision of singer-songwriter Jim James. The band has been drawing more attention in recent years with the release of one critically acclaimed album after another. This includes 2003's It Still Moves and its 2005 follow-up Z, and the band's recently released double-disc concert effort Okonokos. There've also been Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza appearances, and an opening gig for Pearl Jam last spring.
"It's kind of been a gradual growth," says Koster. "So now, it's even bigger than it was the last time we toured. We've almost doubled in size in some places in terms of attendance. There have definitely been a few shows on this tour where I felt like The Beatles, where the crowds have been really rabid and standing up screaming the whole show. But we feel kind of normal, like everyday people."
Not too long ago, Koster really was an everyday person. Prior to joining the band in 2003, he was a struggling musician living in Los Angeles. He worked television production jobs to make ends meet. It was on a recommendation from a friend of his that the My Morning Jacket opportunity came about.
Because Koster's musical tastes were all over the board, he proved a perfect fit for James' eclectic My Morning Jacket. Indie rock kids enjoy the band's grooves and unique soundscapes, while jam band fans are equally enthralled with the group's improvisational vibe.
Take, for instance, the Z track "Off the Record," which opens with a hip-hop feel, blossoms into a breezy reggae jaunt and somehow metamorphoses into a Pink Floyd mind-bender. There's also the It Still Moves fan-favorite "One Big Holiday," which ends with a big Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar jam.
"There is no limit or label we put on anything we do," Koster says. "We play something and, if we like it, whatever. If it's a good song, we don't care where it fits."
On the band's current tour, Koster says, fans can expect to hear a few obscure gems from My Morning Jacket's 1999 debut effort, The Tennessee Fire.
"'They Ran' is kind of a quirky little song that sounds like an old soul tune, but we kind of reworked it, and it's now hard to describe." Koster says. "It's like this James Brown lounge-y kind of thing. We've been ending the first set with that song which is weird, to end the first set with an obscure track we never played before. But it's cool. I'm glad to do stuff like that."
As for where the band will stylistically head next, Koster laughs.
"I'm sure it'll be somewhere we've never been."
My Morning Jacket
Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
Friday, Jan. 12, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25, 16-and-over; visit ticketmaster.com.