Joe Pug is a fabulous storyteller with a sly sense of the absurd. Besides that, he is a wry and warm folk singer/writer carrying on a tradition of singing his own songs and bringing others songs to life.
Another Tuesday evening at The Landsdowne in Sydney brought out some fans of Pug’s and of live music. Joining Joe tonight was Courtney Marie Andrews, originally hailing from Phoenix, but who has been a touring/recording musician for a good decade with Jimmy Eat World and Damien Jurado. Her voice is a mixture of folk and country and if you want to make a comparison to her style, throw Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris into the blender and you come up with a Courtney cocktail
Honest Life, her latest release on Fat Possum records, is worthy of a listen, so check it out.
Mr Joe Pug is a raconteur with a keen eye on the human condition, no matter how messed up it might be. Tonight while displaying an excellent set list of his own material, including “I Do My Fathers Drugs”, “Not So Sure” and “Veteran Fighter”, he touched on a couple of covers.
The first cover was “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal” written by the Texas born Billy Joe Shaver. The song itself is a diamond. Prefacing the song with the story of Billy Joe’s shooting of a man in Lorena, Texas, was hilarious and probably enlightening to most in the audience. I highly advise you google Billy Joe and check out his quote about shooting his harasser in the face. It is definitely worth a laugh.
Pug has rediscovered himself, moderated his touring schedule, and has found joy in eating healthy, being at home and connecting with life outside of the honky tonks and hotel rooms. He seems to be having a joyous time connecting with his fans and playing live and that is a boon for all of us who care for his music.
Pug has a melodic delivery that is reminiscent of John Hiatt, one of his influences and it came across as clear as a brightly lit room tonight. After stating that “Hymn 101” was the climax of the show, and someone yelled out “Play some old stuff”, to which Pug answered, “No, I am going to play Carole King’s Tapestry from start to finish”, he proceeded with a short encore.
Andrews came out for a song of her own and then Courtney and Joe became Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty with a cover of “Insider” from Petty’s Hard Promises record. It was a splendid end to a sweet evening of folk and for this listener, who is off to see Tom Petty in NYC in 2 weeks the joy of synchronicity was lovely.