Our Dads Rock in Wilco Tribute Band Wilclone

The band’s first-ever show took place in June 2021, and they’ve been at it ever since.

Wilclone (Michael Backus)

Most of the people who went to Riviera Maya, Mexico, to see Wilco at the band’s first Sky Blue Sky festival in 2020 came home with a poster or a T-shirt. Brian Sussman wound up with a Wilco cover band.

“I came back from that festival on this Wilco high,” Sussman, 52, says. “Then a friend took me to see a [Grateful] Dead tribute band. And I was like, man, everybody’s having such a good time. This is so great! Oh my God. I’ve got to start a Wilco tribute band!”

Wilclone’s formation happened in the early days of lockdown, with Sussman and bassist Mike Team rehearsing distanced and outdoors. More than a year later, in June 2021, the band’s first-ever show took place on The Fixin’ To’s indoor stage behind a showcase window, with the audience and speakers outside on the porch. They’ve been at it ever since, at such clubs as Mississippi Pizza, the Laurelthirst Pub and the White Eagle Saloon, where they next play March 22.

Similarly inclined outfits in Oslo, Norway, (Art of Almost) and Chisago County, Minn., (Via Chisago) have popped up since then. But does the world need a Wilco cover band when there’s still Wilco?

“It’s a great question,” says Sussman, who has also worked as a composer for films and advertising and plays drums in a “soul jazz” instrumental band, The Business of Pleasure. “The experience that I had seeing the festival was so joyous that I just wanted to find a way to extend that experience to the people here in Portland. It’s really as simple as that.”

Sussman’s favorite song to play is a no-brainer: the singalong-inspiring “Jesus, Etc.,” which Tweedy himself has said is probably his most beloved tune. Spotify streaming counts confirm this.

“It’s pretty common for a hush to fall on the room when we start playing that,” Sussman says. “And that’s obviously Wilco’s doing, not our doing. I can only imagine what it’s like to actually be in Wilco and be able to perform that for people.”

GO: Wilclone plays at the White Eagle Saloon, 836 N Russell St., 503-282-6810. 8 pm Friday, March 22. $10. 21+.

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