wilco_flyer_sm.jpg Not many bands recording today have a documentary about them available on DVD, a wake of musically and lyrically genius albums, multiple books written about (or by) them and even a genre of music named (indirectly) after them. You'd imagine that a band recording today with that kind of appeal would be, sort of, the Wyld Stallions of the future, the band that brings us all together, but, alas, life is not Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and Wilco are still a (relatively) unknown band.

Last night, Wilco and PictureBox had a release party for their new book, THE WILCO BOOK, at the surprisingly fitting James Cohan Gallery.

We got there early to get a sense of the scene, to talk to the band and to get a copy of the signed book, which happens to include a 40-minute CD of previously unreleased material collected during the recording of their most recent album, "A Ghost Is Born". The gallery was initially empty, with Wilco's centerpiece, Jeff Tweedy, awkwardly standing outside among a couple friends, smoking an American Spirit. Inside, the book table was arranged, an iPod was playing Tom Waits, and the walls were sparsely covered with huge, spanning landscape photographs, stunningly framed and each about the size of a mid-size car.

People slowly began to fill the gallery, wandering around sipping white wine or coca-cola, conversing in their small groups, taking photographs, musing about the overwhelming art hanging isolated on the walls. Over the noise, you could hear bits of refrains of Wilco songs, Jeff Tweedy's voice coming out of the small merchandise table's speakers, occasionally intruding on conversations between a well dressed, generally older audience.

Tweedy, who in April had to admit himself to rehab because of an addiction to painkillers he used to fight his recurring migraines, wandered through the crowd sipping soda, making pleasant conversation, and seeming to be generally pleased with the event.

wilco_tweedy_sm.jpg Tweedy's previous band, Uncle Tupelo, put him and high school friend Jay Farrar into the spotlight of the alt-country music scene in the late-80's/early-90's until 1994, when Jay Farrar quit the band, and Tweedy and the remaining members began Wilco. Ten years and five albums later, they find themselves to be widely considered amongst music aficionados as one of the most amazing bands recording today.

As the gallery really began to swell and the hosts were bringing out new bottles of wine to keep up with the demand, the diversity of the band's fan-base became clear. Young and old, professional and casual, celebrity and blue-collar; everyone was represented, seemingly happy to have been somehow able to be a part of another Wilco event.

wilco_monica_sm.jpg A very (understandably) camera-shy, suspicious and hesitant Monica Lewinsky arrived with Perry van der Meer (that's him on the far left if you pop-up the full picture), the previous Managing Editor of Harper's Bazaar. When we suggested to Tweedy that we'd like to get a shot of he and Lewinsky together for Gothamist, he told us that she was a big fan, but her attendance at their events had caused journalists to dive over each other for a photo of them, and he'd really rather not.

wilco_jl_sm.jpg Representing a completely unrelated spectrum of musical proliferation was one half of They Might Be Giants, John Linnell, who was happy to have his picture taken in a strange pose in front of a strange collage with a strange cut-out of a strange human eye.

The event lasted from 6pm-8pm and after those two hours, wine and society had adequately set in, and we packed up our Wilco books, said our goodbyes and wandered into the early evening in search of dive bars with Wilco on the jukeboxes.

"THE WILCO BOOK" is a strange, stunning collection of photography and interviews, writing and art, by the band with additional text by Henry Miller and Rick Moody and photography by Michael Schmelling. It goes on sale November 1, and pre-orders are available at musictoday.com for $29.95.