I was never into Deadhead-style tape trading, but back when I had time, I used to casually collect live recordings of Uncle Tupelo and Wilco shows that were available through BitTorrent. Somewhere I have Uncle Tupelo's 1992 show at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City, for example, and Wilco's 2004 performance on New Year's Eve at Madison Square Garden, and even one live show by Coffee Creek, which was a very occasional side project featuring Uncle Tupelo with the Bottle Rockets' Brian Henneman playing a bunch of old-school country covers at a little bar in St. Louis. They're fun to listen to.
These days, there's almost no need to go looking for Wilco shows: the band has put out 69 live recordings as part of their Roadcase series, including the quickly withdrawn covers set the group played the first night of the 2013 Solid Sound Festival. Kind of makes you wonder what else Wilco has in the can that predates the first Roadcase set, from Red Rocks in 2012. Quite a bit, apparently.
The band on Friday launches Wilcoworld Radio, a 10-hour program featuring music from recent expanded reissues of the band's albums "A.M."(1995) and "Being There" (1996), contemporaneous live sets and an hour of Wilco performing cover tunes. Wilcoworld Radio also features interviews with Wilco singer Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt, and what they're calling "guest segments" hosted by Rolling Stone writer and Sirius XM radio host David Fricke; Omnivore Recordings’ Cheryl Pawelski, who produced the reissues and Wilco's 2014 box sets "Alpha Mike Foxtrot" and "What's Your 20?"; and Spencer Tweedy, drummer, collaborator and son of Jeff Tweedy.
Disclaimer: I write about Wilco fairly often (including in this story for Paste), and people in their management office are friends and neighbors here in western Massachusetts. That said, this strikes me as an excellent way to make use of material from the band's archives. In fact, it's hard to believe that every act of Wilco's vintage isn't doing something like this — it's a way to promote the music without an intermediary, while offering fans something unique. Here's hoping there's plenty more to come, especially more pre-2012 live shows.
Wilcoworld Radio begins Friday, Feb. 2, at 10 a.m. Central through the band's website, wilcoworld.net, and will rebroadcast on the 10 o'clock hour through Sunday, Feb. 4.