Watch Wilco Jam with Nick Lowe and Mavis Staples

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 10 2012 11:00 AM

Did You See This? Wilco Jams with Nick Lowe and Mavis Staples

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Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.

Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Wilco had another good year in 2011, releasing their eighth studio album, The Whole Love, to “universal acclaim” (according to the metrics of Metacritic; our own readers declared it the fourth-best album of the year). Still, the real legends in this dressing-room jam session are Nick Lowe—an English singer-songwriter who produced Elvis Costello’s first five albums and whose own compositions include “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding”—and, especially, Mavis Staples, the most famous member of the incomparable Staple Singers, a hit-making gospel group that was comprised of her father, her sisters, and herself. Another music legend is there in spirit: Robbie Robertson, who wrote the song this impromptu super-group performs, “The Weight.”

On his verse, Jeff Tweedy does a surprisingly passable Levon Helm impression. Still, it’s Staples who undeniably steals the show—which shouldn’t be surprising: She did the same when performing the song with The Band as part of the concert filmed by Martin Scorsese for the best of his music documentaries, The Last Waltz.

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This clip was filmed backstage at the Civic Opera House in Chicago in December, and uploaded by Wilco to YouTube late last week. Enjoy. (Via Very Short List.)

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.