Olson’s new life in Oslo

Mark Olson’s old alt-country outfit The Jayhawks may have been on hiatus for five years, but it will be at the eye of a veritable hurricane of U.S. reissues this fall.

It starts with Lost Highway’s remastered “The Jawhawks” (aka “The Bunkhouse Album”), then two Sony Legacy releases — 1991’s “Hollywood Town Hall” and a deluxe edition of 1995’s definitive “Tomorrow the Green Grass,” including a second disc of 18 “mystery demos.”

It’s too bad Olson won’t be around to savor his own renaissance.

For most of this year, the Minneapolis-bred, Joshua Tree-based singer — who has a quirky new folk-rock solo set, “Many Colored Kite,” he’ll be promoting in concert at Cafe Du Nord tonight — has been residing in Oslo, Norway, with his new Norwegian paramour/bandmate Ingunn Ringvold.

It’s been quite a culture shock.

“In Norway in the summer, I go to bed around midnight and it’s still broad daylight outside,” says Olson, who’s been basking in the California desert for the past 15 years. “Then the sun comes up again at 3:30 a.m., so that’ll pop me up too. So I’ve been going for days and days sometimes with only three, four hours of sleep.”

Olson’s life already had turned fairly surreal.

Most of the charming, whimsical “Kite” was composed on the road, he says, on nonstop juggernauts backing his first 2007 solo album, “The Salvation Blues” (200 dates), and with old Jayhawks partner Gary Louris for their 2008 collaboration, “Ready for the Flood” (70 dates).

“So for me the past couple of years, home has definitely been on the road touring,” Olson says.

His current jaunt with djembe and harmonium player Ringvold is streamlined, he says.

“We can just pick up and go. We can carry everything — the merch, the suitcases, the musical instruments,” Olson says. “You can last a long time on the road that way.”

In Oslo, Olson has been attending an international summer school and is learning to speak and write Norwegian.

None of his classmates recognized him, but the professor did.

“We did sell some ‘Salvation Blues’ records in Norway, so there is a fan base for me there,” Olson says. “But the instructor kept bringing in all these Norwegian songs and getting us all to sing along. We even sang one in Nynorsk, this language of the people that none of us understood.”

The man is cool about missing his own re-releases as well.

“That’s just the Jayhawks name,” Olson says. “So people don’t necessarily know that there was a ‘Mark Olson’ in the group.

“All part of my 20-year career, out of the spotlight!”

IF YOU GO
Mark Olson

Where: Cafe Du Nord, 2174 Market St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today
Tickets: $15
Contact: (415) 861-5016, www.ticketweb.com

artsentertainmentJayhawksMark OlsonOther Arts

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