As Joe Pug opened with “Hymn #35,” he certainly didn’t appear bashful about his admiration for late 1950s folk music. With raspy voice, guitar in hand, and harmonica snuggly fastened around his neck, it’s to dismiss Pug as a Bob Dylan fan boy. But to do so would be lazy.
Musically, Pug showed off his range when he crooned the country ballad “Call It What You Will,” complete with signature twang from electric guitarist Greg Touhey. The deep cut “O’ My Chesapeake,” was a real treat to see live, performed solely by Pug and J. Tom Hnatow on pedal steel guitar. Pug also covered, Harvey Thomas Young’s “Deep Dark Wells,” adding his own raw folk sound while staying true to the original sound.
“If you haven’t been to one of my shows before, this is what you’re in for: relatively sincere songs with asshole commentary,” Joe Pug announced to the sold out crowd. He was true to his word, as he would periodically break from a beautiful acoustic set to playfully tease rowdy fans. He even shared a hilarious anecdote about his dad hitching a ride with “the nicest Iranian man I’ve ever met” just to make it to a gig.
That the night, Joe Pug proved that he could successfully combine his musical influences and his crowd relatability to create a completely unique act.
– Joanna Hurley