The third edition of the Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner-curated Eaux Claires festival happened this weekend in Vernon’s hometown of Eau Claire, WI. Eaux Claires puts an emphasis on collaborations between musicians performing, and this year one of the most notable was a set billed as ‘Bon Iver presents John Prine and the American Songbook.’ Justin Vernon, Jenny Lewis, Spank Rock, Jeff Tweedy, and others covered songs from John Prine’s catalog, before Prine came out to play a few himself. City Pages reports:
Vernon served as ringleader for the Prine tribute on Friday, starting with a solo acoustic turn on “Sabu Visits the Twin Cities Alone,” then calling out one “good friend” (his words) after another to join him. Phil Cook rocking the hell out of “Please Don’t Bury Me” was a highlight, and lewd Baltimore rapper Spank Rock uncorking a pitch perfect Prine impression while Amanda Blank came just as close to Iris DeMent’s part on “In Spite of Ourselves” was a big surprise. But the surprises were to get bigger: Midway through Jeff Tweedy’s take on “Sam Stone,” the great soul eccentric Swamp Dogg, resplendent in a canary yellow suit, emerged to take over the song, which he’d recorded nearly a decade before Vernon was born, contributing an impassioned sermon against our neglect of veterans. All this was an extended prelude to the appearance of Prine himself, who came out in dark suit and bolo tie, glowing with benign seniority, just as a thunderclap announced the weekend’s first downpour.
Pictures of John Prine and the American Songbook are in the gallery above; more Eaux Claires pictures HERE. Watch some of the covers, including Jenny Lewis’s take on “Christmas in Prison,” Justin Vernon’s covers of “Fish and Whistle” and “Sabu Visits the Twin Cities Alone,” Justin joining Mountain Man on “That’s The Way the World Goes Round,” Jeff Tweedy covering “Sam Stone,” Spank Rock and Amanda Blank on “In Spite Of Ourselves,” and Chris Porterfield of Field Report covering “Unwed Fathers” with Anais Mitchell, below.