Sawmill Joe

Sawmill Joe


Sawmill Joe is a rare breed. A country-blues hybrid with wisely worded and powerfully delivered songs. Think Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, John Lee Hooker, and Waylon Jennings decided to form a band, and that they all worked at a sawmill together.


Sawmill Joe doesn't care enough about his image to come up with some fancy band name. His name is Joe and he works at a sawmill. There you have it.
Originally from Maryland, "Sawmill" Joe Cheves moved out to Colorado "for the hell of it". He spent some time roofing in northern Minnesota. He wrote some songs. It was a bit cold for his taste. He wanted to live somewhere where the snow melted every once in a while. Plus, the law had his number.
He moved to the Colorado high country because, as he puts it, "why the hell would I move to Colorado to live in a city?". He got a job at a sawmill. Well, after a few years and another run in with the law, Joe couldn't afford to live the high life anymore. Denver dragged him in. He wrote a few more songs. Some years passed and now he runs the sawmill. He spends his weekends in the dive bars. He lost a finger.
Along the way, Joe ran into some fine folks. He rubbed elbows with some of Denver's finest musicians, The Lumineers started playing his song. He decided to start a band. Joe wanted good people, people he could trust, in his band so he spent 6 months recruiting them. One by one.
Lief was the first. A skilled cellist and guitarist, Joe knew he was a good man. The promise of cello-spiked blues was too good to pass up.
Matt came second, a fellow mill worker and amputee. Joe had personally escorted his severed digit to the hospital in a Dodge flatbed years before. They played on the same bill the next day. Matt's a hard worker and a hell of a bass player.
Trent Jackson just sort of appeared. Quiet type. Installs windows or something. Plays the drums exactly when they need to be played. And he looks ragged enough to be mistaken for Sawmill Joe himself oftentimes.
These guys got together and began putting together some good tunes. Joe's songs mostly. 75% of them written in an old piece of CASE machinery at the mill over the past five years. They're not pop candy, the kids probably won't go for em. It would be a cruel world indeed if they did. Maybe in some other country. These are songs about hard-times, heartbreak, whiskey, work, and war.
Joe's not a bitter guy. He's just been around a bit and sings about the stuff that affects him. He likes drinking, but he loves his band. And his little dog Memphis, she's one hell of a pup. He loves her too.
He says he's gonna name his next album JeffCo. That's the county he lives in, and a moniker for the grandiose courthouse/jail complex that stands on the edge of town. "It's a blues album. We've all spent enough time there. That's where lots of our blues come from. Call it a tribute."

- John Spade


Sawmill Joe (Self-Titled Solo EP) - April 2012
Sawmill Joe - JeffCo (First full-band album) - May 2013