Just like every artist featured on this blog, Joe lives in Austin. I know this because he mentions it in his tweets sometimes. And because the same friend that introduced me to his music creepily e-mailed him and asked to go to lunch (to which Joe politely declined.) Anyway, his story is certainly an interesting one. According to his bio, the day before his senior year of college in North Carolina, he realized he was profoundly unhappy. That was all it took for him to pack up and boldly move off to Chicago. There, he worked as a carpenter by day and at nights he began playing guitar again for the first time since high school. A friend began sneaking him into late night slots at a recording studio, and it was there that his first EP, Nation of Heat, was born - which he gave away freely to anyone who was interested.
Pug still gives away free music, trusting that his fans will buy more. So far, he's been proven right.
Personally, any price couldn't do justice to how much his music means to me.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Joe Pug perform three times in Austin, each time equally as unique and special. My favorite memory took place in the Cactus Cafe. As he sang Hymn 101, Joe stepped away from the mic and stepped off the stage to sing the last couple of stanzas:
And I've come here to ignore your cries and heartaches;I've come to closely listen to you sing.
I've come here to insist
That I leave here with a kiss
I've come to say exactly what I mean
And I mean so many things
And you've come to know me stubborn as a butcher,
And you've come to know me thankless as a guest,
But will you recognize my face
When God's awful grace
Strips me of my jacket and my vest
And reveals all the treasure in my chest
I don't think I'll ever forget his look of utter sincerity and passion as he sang those words. It brought a song I had always loved but heard a hundred times before new life.
Yes, when I hear Pug's music, I'm reminded of everything I love about folk music. Lucky for me, his second album The Great Despiser will be released next month - accompanied by a free in-store show at Waterloo Records. Check out some of his music below, and join me at the show on April 19th.