After dropping out of college the day before he was to start his senior year, Joe Pug moved to Chicago and picked up the guitar he hadn’t played since his teenage years. With no publicist and no access to radio, Pug decided to recruit his fans to help spread the word. He took his most popular songs, printed up CDs, and offered to send them free of charge to anyone who wanted to share his music with their friends. While skyrocketing demand eventually forced a switch over to a digital version, the offer remains to this day at joepugmusic.com, and has been downloaded over 30,000 times.
The momentum attracted the attention of Nashville indie label Lightning Rod Records, who signed Pug and released his full-length debut "Messenger" in 2010. He toured incessantly behind the album, which included appearances at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and the Newport Folk Fest as well as tours with Josh Ritter and Levon Helm. A higher profile did nothing to dull his independent streak, though. He experimented extensively with ticketing his shows directly with very low service fees, and often none at all.
In 2011 Pug was lured to Austin, Texas by its storied songwriting tradition. The first album he wrote there, 'The Great Despiser,' was released April 24, 2012 on Lightning Rod Records.
(Session recorded at Kent State University's Franklin Hall.)