8:00 PM, Doors at 7:30 PM
Joe Pug’s rise has been as improbable as it has been impressive. After dropping out of college and taking on work as a carpenter in Chicago, he got his musical start by handing out CDs for his fans to pass along to their friends. This led to a string of sold-out shows, a record deal with Nashville indie Lightning Rod Records (Jason Isbell, Billy Joe Shaver), and hundreds of shows on the road, including stops at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and The Newport Folk Festival.
The relentless grind of four years of nonstop touring had taken its toll though, and by late 2013 he was ready to call it quits. The tour that fall was a runaway success, but his personal and creative lives were a different story. “It was this surreal dichotomy. Everyone kept congratulating me on how well the tour was going. Meanwhile my relationship was in shambles and there was absolutely no joy left in playing music. So we walked off stage and pulled my manager aside in the green room and told him to cancel the rest of the tour dates and that I was essentially through.”
Pug’s time off seems to have righted the course for his career. When he set up camp in Lexington, KY, in 2014 to record, he did so with some of the best songs he has ever written. The agenda was much simpler than previous albums. “The aim on this one was very straightforward. We wanted to capture the music just the way we play it, with minimal production. It was a very back to basics approach because ultimately that’s what I love about making music.” The result was “Windfall,” an album of wistful, brooding, yet ultimately optimistic songs, that received favorable reviews in Rolling Stone, Paste, PopMatters, and No Depression. The album’s final song, “If Still It Can’t Be Found,” featuring Wilco’s Pat Sansone on mellotron, premiered exclusively on Rolling Stone Country.