True Endeavors presents:
Chuck Ragan (of Hot Water Music)
Jamestown Revival, Christopher Gold & The New Old Things
701A E. Washington Ave
Madison, WI, 53703
This event is 18 and over
Chuck Ragan (of Hot Water Music)
Simply put, they don't make musicians like Chuck Ragan anymore. For nearly two decades Ragan has traversed the country and the world—first with his celebrated punk act Hot Water Music and later as a solo troubadour—to bring his music to the masses.
Correspondingly, aside from the seemingly endless singles, splits and collaborations, Ragan's third solo album Covering Ground is as much of a love letter to his transient lifestyle as it is a concession to the loved ones he often has to leave behind and is also undeniably his most honest and accomplished album to date.
Featuring longtime friends and tour mates, fiddle player Jon Gaunt and bassist Joe Ginsberg. In addition are guest performances from the Gaslight Anthem's Brian Fallon, Squirrel Nut Zippers' Chris Phillips, Frank Turner, Audra Mae, Lucero's Rick Steff and Todd Beene as well as Blind Melon's Christopher Thorn, who also engineered, produced and mixed the project.
Covering Ground is the sonic equivalent to Jack Kerouac's On The Road and could only be created by someone bred into road life and who requires a release like this in order to stay sane doing it. "The majority of these songs were written on the road," Ragan explains. "We've been running hard and burning the candle at both ends for years. It's been amazing in many ways but just as well extremely harsh when you end up making a massive amount of sacrifices to sustain in that type of nomadic lifestyle."
This duality lies at the core of Covering Ground and when Ragan sings about "ten cylinders that fire and a woman at the end of the road" on the driving acoustic song "Wish On The Moon," it's dripping with so much authenticity that it's hard not to imagine yourself behind the wheel alongside him. "Writing has always been a form of therapy for me and something that I feel like I need to do rather than something I'm supposed to do," Ragan responds when asked where the fire behind these songs originated.
"Since 2005 I've focused more on my own music than ever before," he continues, "I've been consistently writing, learning and reflecting and not so much worrying about whether I finish a song or not but more so keeping myself moving with it no matter what. Whether it's heard or not, I find that I simply need to get things off my chest in that way to take the next step forward, contribute or pay tribute to the pioneers that paved the path the majority of us take."
The story of Jamestown Revival feels suited for the dog-eared pages of a timeless American novel.
Chapter one opens with Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance meeting in Magnolia, TX at 15-years-old. Fast friends, the duo attended college together, started Jamestown Revival, and traded their home state for Los Angeles, CA in late 2011. By 2014 they released their debut album UTAH (which included the hit single ‘California’), built a committed fan base with countless road shows, and received critical acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone and The Wall Street Journal. They were named iTunes “Best of 2014: Singer-Songwriter Album of the Year,” graced the sound stages of Conan and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and performed at some of America’s legendary music festivals including Coachella, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Bottlerock Festival, and Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic.
“UTAH opened a lot of doors for us and put us on the road for the first time,” says Zach. “We learned how to play for a crowd and how to perform.”
But when it came time to record a second album, the band found themselves in a different place.
“This album is like chapter two,” agrees Jonathan. “The story begins at the point where we decided to head back to Texas. We wrote many of the songs when we were entering a different phase of our lives. We settled back into Austin, and my wife and I had our first child. That was a big shift. It was all about leaving behind our last bastion of adolescence, if you will.”
This process resulted in The Education Of A Wandering Man [Republic Records], an album that looks back at the journey of the band’s past. The record chronicles the lessons learned and the experiences that color the life-lived along the way.
“This album is a snapshot of our observations and learnings over the past four years. Our education has been gained not in a classroom, but in our experience,” Zach and Jonathan write in a letter to fans announcing the album.
Musically, the record remains loyal to Jamestown Revival’s indie rock/alt country aesthetic while also reaching into new creative territory.
“You can hear all of our influences on the new album. It feels like a late night drive after a show. There’s some Motown, rock ‘n’ roll, and even a little country. We paid homage to a lot of the people we listened to while stuck in a car between gigs,” says Zach.
Tapping into almost a lifetime of natural chemistry, the band started sharing musical ideas while sitting on Jonathan’s porch before holing up in a Hill Country farmhouse a few hours from Austin for recording. Producing themselves alongside longtime collaborator Ryan Lipman, the sessions lasted only two weeks, and Jamestown Revival emerged with 12 new tracks.
“It was a bunch of good friends in a relaxed setting making a record,” says Zach. “It never felt like a nine-to-five. We could have a smoke outside, play horse on the basketball hoop, and hang out and wait for the muse to find us.”
Though the record came together quickly, nailing down the first song proved more difficult. After wrestling to overcoming the pressure, the band emerged with their first single “Love Is A Burden,” kick-starting the creative process.
“We wrote that song about our last single ‘California’,” admits Jonathan. “When we started writing, all we did was compare every song we wrote to ‘California.’ We never thought anything lived up to it, and that started to squelch our creativity. This piece of music that did amazing things for us became like a lead weight. ‘Love Is A Burden’ is about the successes, the failures, the triumphs, and the fears of the past really starting to weigh you down and having a hard time moving on. It’s a metaphor we related to a relationship you can’t move past in the lyrics. As far as inspiration goes, the chorus just popped in my head, and we ran with it. After all of that overthinking, it was done in ten minutes.”
Album opener “Company Man” captures the heartbreak of corporate greed. “My family’s got some land where we birthed the idea of Jamestown Revival, and we’ve both been going there together since we were kids,” says Jonathan. “"One day my family gets a call that there’s an oil company who wants to put a pipeline right through the property. They were doing it under the protection of ‘public domain’. That piece of land is sacred to us, but ironically, nobody else cared about it until there was something to gain.” Company Man speaks to that feeling of helplessness and frustration.
“American Dream” comments on similar themes, while “Head On” explores the claustrophobia of the concrete jungle. Elsewhere, the acoustic-driven “Back To Austin” serves as an upbeat love letter to their hometown. Throughout, the record speaks to themes inherent to the meaning within its title The Education Of A Wandering Man.
“The Education Of A Wandering Man is actually an autobiography by classic western novelist Louis L’Amour,” Zach says. “He traveled the world and lived a fascinating life. Jonathan and I read the book years ago and fell in love with it. It’s like looking back on a life unplanned. That really resonated with us when we were making the album. The more you travel, the more perspective you get. Our travels have been an education.”
For Jamestown Revival, the album is simply a continuation of their ongoing story. “We’ll be writing and telling stories until we’re six feet under,” Jonathan leaves off. “This album is just the next step on the path.”
Christopher Gold & The New Old Things
Christopher Gold was born in Owensboro, Kentucky. The son of a bluegrass musician, he didn’t have to go far to find a passion and available instruction on the mandolin, banjo, and guitar. It wasn’t long before he started writing his own songs and playing them in public. He now splits his time between the folk and bluegrass from his childhood and the punk music from his adolescence, playing and releasing albums under his own name, fronting a blues-punk band called The Dirty Rotten So & So’s, and occasionally being fortunate enough to join in on other peoples songs, including The Wandering Sons, S.S. Web, RedHawks, Holly & Plastic and just about anybody else who asks. He also curates the annual “Dirty Rotten Toy Drive”, a live music event in Appleton that collects money and Christmas gifts for abused children.
$15 adv / $17 dos