When I first decided to go to Joe Pug’s show I knew nothing about him other than his friendly looking demeanor on his posters plastered down 12th, both his first and last names are only three letters, and his last name is a kind of dog. Needless to say, I knew very little.
Now I know, Joe Pug is a guy with a guitar and a harmonica to which I immediately anticipated a Bob Dylan Neil Young tribute and rightly so. He does throw back to that folk ballad sound with a simple harmonica riff inserted at just the right time. He’s the kind of music you want to listen to while sipping sweet tea rocking on a chair on your front porch while staring at the stars above you and reflecting on your life that’s been and possibly patting the head of your…pug? (Sorry I had to.)
Even if this does not sound like your mason jar of sweet tea, the simplicity of the music and clearness of his lyrics are much to be appreciated. I too was a doubter at first (sweet tea isn’t my thing) until “Nation of Heat” grabbed me right from the beginning with its opening bluesy harmonica solo for which I am a sucker, and for those of you who feel the necessity of a drum set, I would start with “Messenger” or “Neither Do I Need a Witness.”
Joe’s first album was released in 2008 and from then on he began to fill up his shows more and more, eventually signing a record deal with Lightening Rod Records out of Nashville. He was incredibly successful on tour and then simply lost his spark. With a tour cancelled he decided to take time to himself (Ignatius would be proud) to really discern what music still meant to him.
Today, as a phoenix rising from the ashes, Joe has released his newest album Windfall really proving what he says in “Deep Dark Wells,” “as long as you’re not finished, you can start all over again.” This newest album really does seem to be coming from a source refreshed and renewed to do music again.
Opening for Joe Pug is, as listed on the Crocodile website, “Field Report (solo)” which translates to front man Chris Porterfield from Field Report, a folk/ballad/pop-ish quartet from Milwaukee, WI. They seem like they will be a perfect opener for Joe with their deep lyrics and hypnotic instrumental accompaniment that builds wonderfully.
With a similar story of struggle and return to simplicity, they released their album, Marigolden, last September after cooping themselves up in Canada to focus on their music. Let me tell you, this album has some gems on it such as “Home” (warning: this will make you feel feelings) and “Pale Rider.”
With these two solid folk acts demonstrating some of the range of the genre, I highly anticipate the upcoming show this Friday.