Joe Pug
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Joe Pug

Chicago, Illinois, United States | MAJOR

Chicago, Illinois, United States | MAJOR
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter

Calendar

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Feb
03
Joe Pug @ Joe's Pub

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Jan
30
Joe Pug @ Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Jan
29
Joe Pug @ Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


"Fans of quality songwriting need to hunt down a copy of Nation of Heat." - My Old Kentucky Blog


"In Pug's hard plucking, exaggerated choruses, and lyrical vignettes you can draw a pretty straight line from Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan to Johnny Cash to Bruce Springsteen to Steve Earle to Josh Ritter. Like all of them, Pug is a populist at heart, a singer who can't help but talk about all of us when he sings about himself and can't help but sing about himself when he's talking about all of us......"Hymn 101" is full of lines that will fill you with both heartbreak and euphoria. It's good to be reminded that that's why we listen to music in the first place." - 3 Hive


"Umpteen repeat listens later and you'll still be marveling at Joe's amazing stream of consciousness lyrics, simple acoustic accompaniment, and timeless voice. Every word here is just amazingly beautiful...packed with symbolism and pure poetry.....Let Joe Pug give you back faith in folk music and truly marvelous singer-songwriters." - Delusions of Adequacy


"Much in the way of Josh Ritter’s recent breakthrough, Joe Pug is able to sound like a wise old sage with a million stories and a memory that captures each detail and refuses to let them dim." - Twangville


"Pug is the real deal. The kid’s got that weariness in his delivery that you can’t smoke or drink your way to because it comes from somewhere deeper than the vocal chords. It’s the same gritty, spirited voice that made Hank I, Kurt Cobain, and Bob Dylan iconic, and we as Chicagoans will be privileged enough to watch the kid develop from precocious youngster to out and out star." - Chicagoist


"One of the most unfathomably masterful debuts I've heard in recent memory." - Captain Obvious


"I found it hard to make it past the first track, “Hymn 101,� just because it is so damn good. After taking that song off repeat and listening to the rest of Nation of Heat, I knew I’d be addicted. Here I am, almost a week later, and the album has still not left my player. It will be one of the best EP’s of 2008." - Hear Ya


"While most singer/songwriters are content to warble out a few semi-clever turns of phrase, Pug's scorching poetry and soulful, 'every phrase could be my last' voice will stop you cold. If you want to read the actual endorsement, touch the braille stretching up my arms. Twenty years from now, lazy journalists will compare every halfway decent songwriter to Joe Pug. Mark my words." - Deputy Editor, Paste Magazine


Discography

Nation of Heat EP--2008
In the Meantime EP--2009
Messenger--2010
TBA--Spring 2012

Photos

Bio

For the moment, Joe Pug has it figured out, career if not life: Just write the songs that have to be written, play them for anybody who will listen, tour as if you had no home. Oh, and give your music away. Which isn’t to say he won’t be selling his debut full-length offering, Messenger ( Released 2/16/2010 on Lightning Rod). But free is how he came to make it, more or less.

It worked like this, for Joe Pug anyhow: The day before his senior year as a playwright student at the University of North Carolina, he sat down for a cup of coffee and had the clearest thought of his life: I am profoundly unhappy here. Then came the second clearest.

Pug packed up his belongings and pointed his car towards Chicago. Working as a carpenter by day, the 23 year-old Pug spent nights playing the guitar he hadn’t picked up since his teenage years. Using ideas originally slated for a play he was writing called “Austin Fish,” Pug began creating the sublime lyrical arrangements that would become the Nation of Heat EP.

The songs were recorded fast and fervently at a Chicago studio where a friend snuck him in to late night slots other musicians had canceled. He was short on money, but his bare-boned sincerity didn’t require much more than a microphone and it dripped off of each note he sang.

The early rumblings of critical praise for the EP were confirmed when his first headlining gig sold out Chicago’s storied Schubas Tavern in 2008. As word spread, Pug struck upon an idea that would later prove to be one of the most significant in his young career. He offered his existing fans unlimited copies of a free 2-song sampler CD to pass along to their friends. He sent the CDs out at his own expense, even covering the postage. Inside each package was a personal note thanking the fan for helping to spread the word. The response was overwhelming, and to date he has sent out over 15,000 CDs to 50 states and 14 different countries. Without access to radio, Pug managed to turn his fans into his very own broadcast system. The offer still stands, and to this day it’s featured prominently on www.joepugmusic.com.

“Look, in the end, I just trust my fans, and the nature of people in general. I need to pay my bills like anyone else does. But I also don’t think it’s right to ask someone to pay $15 when they don’t know what they’re getting. So in a way by sending out these CDs, I’m wagering that they’ll like my music, and that if they do they’ll come to shows, buy CDs, and help me spread the word even further. And so far I’ve been proven right. Without question, the more sampler CDs I send out, the more music I sell.”

Nation of Heat took on a life of its own, passing from friend to friend and iPod to iPod. The crowds swelled and the media took notice. Tours with Steve Earle, M. Ward, and Josh Ritter followed, as did invitations to Lollapalooza and the Newport Folk Festival. He crisscrossed the country incessantly, traveling mostly alone in his 1995 Plymouth Voyager with no stereo or air conditioning. As the tours went on, he became closely linked to the burgeoning indie-folk scene that was coalescing loosely around Pug and his young contemporaries in bands such as The Low Anthem, Langhorne Slim, and Horse Feathers.

After over 200 shows, Pug took a brief respite to record his full-length debut. If Nation of Heat heralded the arrival of a talent to watch, Messenger assigns Pug a deserved spot among the finest songwriters of his generation. From the opening notes of the title track that leads off the record, it’s clear that the artist has no intention of retreating to the comfortable or the familiar. While the scathing war indictment “Bury Me Far (From My Uniform)” and the sparse, poetic “Unsophisticated Heart” illustrate that Pug is still a master of the guy-and-guitar song, it’s the supporting cast Pug brought on board that truly brings out the record’s subtle beauty.

From the haunting, ethereal pedal steel guitar that sneaks delicately under “The Sharpest Crown” to the barrelhouse rhythm section that propels “The Door Is Always Open”, it’s clear that Pug is as comfortable exploring this new territory as he is solo. “The first record, it was a breeze,” he says. “Didn’t even know we were making it, just me and a guitar…the songs completely unadorned. This one, it’s like that thing where there’s an explosion and you realize how many options there are in the world.”