Joe Pug and Strand of Oaks Release Split Single, Begin North American Tour

Joe Pug and Strand of Oaks Release Split Single, Begin North American Tour

Indie-folk songsmith Joe Pug kicks off a 47 date North American tour on March 31st in Austin, TX, joined by Philadelphia's Strand of Oaks on all dates. In anticipation of the tour, the artists took a pass at each others music, with Pug covering Strand of Oaks' "End in Flames", and Strand of Oaks offering his take on the Pug's Hymn #101". Both tracks are available as free downloads.

Listen to and Download Both Tracks Via Soundcloud

North American Tour Dates

March 31 Austin, TX--Mohawk**
April 1 Houston, TX--Mucky Duck**
April 2 Dallas, TX--The Loft**
April 3 Knoxville, TN--Rhythm and Blooms Festival
April 5 Asheville, NC--The Grey Eagle**
April 6 Atlanta, GA--The Earl**
April 7 Birmingham, AL--Workplay**
April 8 Nashville, TN--The Basement**
April 9 Charlotte, NC--The Evening Muse**
April 11 Chapel Hill, NC--Local 506**
April 12 Charlottesville, VA--The Southern**
April 13 Washington, DC--The Black Cat**
April 14 Philadelphia, PA--Johnny Brendas**
April 15 Brooklyn, NY--The Rock Shop**
April 16 New York, NY--The Mercury Lounge**
April 18 Boston, MA--Middle East Upstairs**
April 19 Williamstown, MA--House Show**
April 20 Toronto, ON--The Horseshoe**
April 21 Buffalo NY--9th Ward**
April 22 Cleveland, OH--Beachland Tavern**
April 23 Pittsburgh, PA--The Club Cafe**
April 26 Columbus, OH--Rumba Cafe**
April 27 Champaign, IL--The Canopy Club**
April 28 Bloomington, IN--The Bishop**
April 29 Chicago, IL--Lincoln Hall**
April 30 St. Paul, MN--Turf Club**
May 1 Madison, WI--High Noon Saloon**
May 2 Iowa City, IA--The Blue Moose**
May 3 St. Louis, MO--Off Broadway**
May 4 Lawrence, KS--The Bottleneck**
May 6 Denver, CO--Hi Dive**
May 7 Colorado Springs, CO--Fuel/Friends House Show
May 8 Salt Lake City, UT--Kilby Court**
May 10 Pullman, WA--BellTower**
May 11 Bellingham, WA--The Green Frog**
May 12 Vancouver, CAN--The Media Club**
May 13 Seattle, WA--Tractor Tavern**
May 14 Portland, OR--The Doug Fir**
May 15 Willamina, OR--Wildwood Hotel**
May 17 San Francisco, CA--Bottom of the Hill**
May 18 Santa Cruz, CA--The Crepe Place**
May 19 San Diego, CA--The Casbah**
May 20 Los Angeles, CA--The Satellite** (formerly Spaceland)
May 21 Tempe, AZ--The Sail Inn**
May 22 Albuquerque, NM--Low Spirits**
May 24 Oklahoma City, NM--The Blue Door**

**Strand of Oaks supports


or the moment, Joe Pug has it figured out, career if not life: Just write the songs that have to be written, play them for anybody who will listen, tour as if you had no home. Oh, and give your music away. Which isn't to say he won't be selling his debut full-length offering, Messenger ( Released 2/16/2010 on Lightning Rod). But free is how he came to make it, more or less.

It worked like this, for Joe Pug anyhow: The day before his senior year as a playwright student at the University of North Carolina, he sat down for a cup of coffee and had the clearest thought of his life: I am profoundly unhappy here. Then came the second clearest.

Pug packed up his belongings and pointed his car towards Chicago. Working as a carpenter by day, the 23 year-old Pug spent nights playing the guitar he hadn't picked up since his teenage years. Using ideas originally slated for a play he was writing called "Austin Fish," Pug began creating the sublime lyrical arrangements that would become the Nation of Heat EP.

The songs were recorded fast and fervently at a Chicago studio where a friend snuck him in to late night slots other musicians had canceled. He was short on money, but his bare-boned sincerity didn't require much more than a microphone and it dripped off of each note he sang.

The early rumblings of critical praise for the EP were confirmed when his first headlining gig sold out Chicago's storied Schubas Tavern in 2008. As word spread, Pug struck upon an idea that would later prove to be one of the most significant in his young career. He offered his existing fans unlimited copies of a free 2-song sampler CD to pass along to their friends. He sent the CDs out at his own expense, even covering the postage. Inside each package was a personal note thanking the fan for helping to spread the word. The response was overwhelming, and to date he has sent out over 15,000 CDs to 50 states and 14 different countries. Without access to radio, Pug managed to turn his fans into his very own broadcast system. The offer still stands, and to this day it's featured prominently on<

"Look, in the end, I just trust my fans, and the nature of people in general. I need to pay my bills like anyone else does. But I also don't think it's right to ask someone to pay $15 when they don't know what they're getting. So in a way by sending out these CDs, I'm wagering that they'll like my music, and that if they do they'll come to shows, buy CDs, and help me spread the word even further. And so far I've been proven right. Without question, the more sampler CDs I send out, the more music I sell."

Nation of Heat took on a life of its own, passing from friend to friend and iPod to iPod. The crowds swelled and the media took notice. Tours with Steve Earle, M. Ward, and Josh Ritter followed, as did invitations to Lollapalooza and the Newport Folk Festival. He crisscrossed the country incessantly, traveling mostly alone in his 1995 Plymouth Voyager with no stereo or air conditioning. As the tours went on, he became closely linked to the burgeoning indie-folk scene that was coalescing loosely around Pug and his young contemporaries in bands such as The Low Anthem, Langhorne Slim, and Horse Feathers.

After over 200 shows, Pug took a brief respite to record his full-length debut. If Nation of Heat heralded the arrival of a talent to watch, Messenger assigns Pug a deserved spot among the finest songwriters of his generation. From the opening notes of the title track that leads off the record, it's clear that the artist has no intention of retreating to the comfortable or the familiar. While the scathing war indictment "Bury Me Far (From My Uniform)" and the sparse, poetic "Unsophisticated Heart" illustrate that Pug is still a master of the guy-and-guitar song, it's the supporting cast Pug brought on board that truly brings out the record's subtle beauty.

From the haunting, ethereal pedal steel guitar that sneaks delicately under "The Sharpest Crown" to the barrelhouse rhythm section that propels "The Door Is Always Open", it's clear that Pug is as comfortable exploring this new territory as he is solo. "The first record, it was a breeze," he says. "Didn't even know we were making it, just me and a guitar...the songs completely unadorned. This one, it's like that thing where there's an explosion and you realize how many options there are in the world."


In 2003, Tim Showalter's house burned down, his fiancée broke up with him, and he resorted to writing songs on an acoustic guitar while living on park benches in suburban Philadelphia. Those events informed the entirety of his arresting debut, Leave Ruin , an album about loss and brokenness and lack of faith. But as affecting as it was, Showalter is leery of being stuck in the past. After all, the first word of that record's title is "leave," and one of the first thing he asks when contacted for this interview is, "Can we kind of re-do my bio? I don't want to keep being the sad sack whose house burned down."

These days, Showalter is happily married and comfortably settled in Philadelphia, and he's staring down the release of his second record, Pope Killdragon, an album that's even stranger and more singular. Where Ruin was stark and autobiographical, Killdragon - which features odd, laser-beam synthesizers and one bona fide stoner metal track - is wild and fantastical. Showalter either invents characters whole cloth, or takes an approach to history so liberal even Tarantino would give pause (John F. Kennedy authors a fable about a knight; Dan Aykroyd carries out a revenge killing for the death of John Belushi). It's a bold, eerie, mighty work - though the man responsible for it couldn't be more affable or good natured.