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Wilco to bring alternative rock to Columbus stage

Courtesy of Zoran Orlic

Alternative rock band Wilco has undergone a number of lineup changes since its formation in 1994. But its latest addition to the guitar, Nels Cline, says he always considered the band a success, despite its rocky start.

Wilco is scheduled to perform Saturday at Lifestyle Communities Pavilion’s outdoor venue. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Cline replaced guitarist Leroy Bach in 2004 after Wilco’s fifth studio album “A Ghost is Born,” which garnered the band two Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Recording Package. 

Also joining the band’s founding members Jeff Tweedy, on vocals, and John Stirratt, on bass, were drummer Glenn Kotche, pianist Mikael Jorgensen and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone.

The six members now make up the longest standing lineup of the band and have produced three studio records and a double live album. Cline credits the band’s chemistry for the combination of band members.

“There’s real chemistry and mutual respect in the band. We are friendly, have a good time, have high standards for ourselves, our performance and our recordings,” Cline said. “We’re in the zone. That itself perpetuates a band. It’s kind of like playing for all the right reasons.”

Even though he’s one of the band’s more recent additions, Cline calls himself “the old man of Wilco” for his age. Cline, who struck an interest in the guitar when he was 11 from listening to Jimi Hendrix, said Wilco was an excellent career move for him.

“The big switch was that they are successful, and so my life got a lot easier at that point because everybody was really nice, well treated, well respected and they have a tour bus. Things like that were new,” Cline said. “Getting into a group is something I think I might be good at.”

Referring to himself as a “psychedelic and blues rock kind of guy,” Cline said he started playing professionally with his twin brother and drummer Alex Cline around 1967.

Prior to joining Wilco he played with several bands including his own The Nels Cline Singers and musicians such as Carla Bozulich.

“After joining Wilco, certainly my life changed dramatically in that I became a lot more noticed for playing the guitar,” Cline said. “I seem to be known for using what are called effects pedals.”

Reasoning for the fascination over his pedals, Cline said, “People are fixated on gear,” something he doesn’t commend as much as using imagination to make music.

 “Imagination is the most important thing. Don’t get fooled by all this stuff that is encouraging an environment for consumerism,” he said.

Now with a “daunting list” of side projects and collaborations with musicians such as Jenny Scheinman and groups Pillow Wand and Fig with his wife Yuka Honda, Cline said he can’t count how many records he’s played on so far in his career.

 “People are guessing its 150 or more (albums). Sometimes it’s just me playing on one song, so it’s not all that impressive,” he said.

Cline seems, however, to be bashful of the fame, admitting he was glad when the band was on the road during the 2004 Grammy Awards.

“If we ever get nominated for any more Grammy’s I hope we’re on the road and don’t have to go to the show,” he said, laughing. “It’s just my own personal discomfort level.”

Cline said Wilco is hoping to do some recording next year, but as he and Jorgensen don’t live in Chicago, where the band was founded, “The chances of us just sort of dropping in to record some tracks between tours is sort of less of an option.”

Lauren Hurd, a second-year in art and employee at Used Kids Records, located at 1980 N. High St., said she owns several Wilco albums and Used Kids sees a high circulation of its albums sold and traded in.

She recalled the first time she heard “A Ghost is Born,” her favorite album by the group.

“I remember my mom bringing home ‘A Ghost is Born’ when I was younger. She picked it up when it came out at the record store. We played that one a lot,” Hurd said. “We liked a lot of different songs on there, thought they were kind of catchy. I liked that they would go off and do longer instrumental parts within their songs and not just set it up as a typical song. That’s kind of cool.”

Hurd also said she’ll likely go to Saturday’s show.

For Cline, the concert will mark one of many tour stops he’s made in Columbus, some of which have also been at “that beautiful concert hall right on campus,” the Wexner Center.

Tickets are $45 for the show and available through Ticketmaster.

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