Celebrated singer-songwriter Joe Purdy in concert, with opening act Brian Wright.
“Gorgeous, beautifully-rendered acoustic-based folk songs—pop music with a gently-rounded edge.”Pop Matters
When Arkansas songwriter Joe Purdy was told to evacuate his California home because of nearby forest fires, he didn’t pack up his dog Smalls and a couple favorite guitars. Instead he sat down and started writing a song: “Warn all the horses, warn all the riders, that the fire is coming down.” He finished the song and the evacuation warning passed. The song is the title track on Eagle Rock Fire, his thirteenth record and is being released on his label Mudtown Crier Records.It turns out Joe Purdy is not easy to evacuate.
“All I want to do is make good music,” says Purdy, age 34, who runs a staunchly independent music career in spite of getting major TV placements and having sold over 1,000,000 singles so far. “Anything that gets in the way of making good music, I cut it out.” On Eagle Rock Fire, he’s taken an analog stance. Not only did he make the record on tape, mix on tape, and cut the lacquer mastered from these tapes, he had all computers removed while recording and mixing down the record. “We didn’t want any screens in the room,” says Purdy. “It allowed us to just use our ears.”
This is Purdy’s second time living in the Los Angeles area. He had moved back to the comfort of Arkansas living, but a couple years ago realized he just couldn’t stay away from a city where people really valued making art. He found himself a hilltop spot surrounded by Pine trees—a place that feels a little like Arkansas in the heart of a creative city—and spent the past few years carefully collecting vintage audio equipment and working with bassist and analog audiophile “Matty D” DelVecchio painstakingly restoring each component. They even got pedal steel guitarist “Jolly” Chris John Hillman—who Purdy met while touring with Billy Bragg—soldering on the porch.
The three are the only musicians featured on the new album, whose songs tell of the life of a country boy living in the city. A song like “L.A. Livin” has Purdy barely holding back starting a bar fight with loud punks not respecting a singer’s performance. In “Ba’ Girl,” Purdy’s heart is broken when a girl runs off to join the Blue Man Group. He sings, “I used to like watching hippies dance till mine traded me in for Burning Man; chances are it wasn’t meant to be. So I’ll keep writing cowboy songs and being me.” Purdy sings what Johnny Cash would if he was 30-something in L.A.
It’s no wonder Purdy did not heed the fire alarms. Finally being able to record music exactly the way he heard it in his head is not something he would let go easily. “I looked outside and didn’t see any fire,” Purdy says matter-of-factly, “so I figured it would probably be alright.” This sober attitude is infused throughout the album and throughout Purdy’s career. He takes the hardworking, practical perspective of living in the country, combined with the highest standards of songwriting.
Opening for Purdy, is Brian Wright whose bare-boned lyrics and achingly beautiful songs that seem both distant and intimate at the same time. Wright new album Rattle Their Chains is also sure to enhance Wright’s reputation as an amazing live performer who doesn’t so much sing his songs as he leans into them, rides them bareback … telegraphs them with the intensity of a Steve Earle and the go-get-’em spirit of locomotive driver feeding one more coal scoop to his steam engine.