With a lyrical world defined by a wry and restless romanticism, and a knack for homespun melodies on a par with the greats, Chicago's Joe Pug has quickly become a favorite son in the No Depression crowd. Unlike alt-country talents who mistake authenticity for writing songs about John Henry — here's looking at Justin Townes Earle — Pug crafts tunes that resonate without resorting to heartland cliché. His just-released sophomore album, The Great Despiser, rightly places the emphasis on his winning wordplay and gritty twang. An aspiring playwright before he became a critically acclaimed songwriter, Pug has a way with big-hearted and vivid vignettes that continues to serve him well, whether he's chronicling the critical communion between small-town outcasts ("Ours") or hard-luck low-income lovers' declarations of faithfulness ("Stronger Than the Whole Damn World"). With Bailiff. 18+. (Photo by Todd Roeth)
Thu., May 17, 8 p.m., 2012
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