Arts & Entertainment, The Muse

Messenger of folk

Joe Pug, a Chicago-based alternative folk singer/songwriter, will showcase his first full-length album, Messenger, tonight at Great Scott in Allston. Released February 16th, Messenger offers a variety of sounds and styles, connected by subtleness, soulfulness and sincerity.

“How Good You Are” features simple guitar picks and harmonica interludes, while the lo-fi feeling of “Unsophisticated Heart” emphasizes Pug’s mature voice. Other songs offer folk with a punk sensibility. “Bury Me Far (From My Uniform)” takes a political stab not unlike the seventies war protest songs of his forefathers.

Pug (shortened from Pugliese) attended University of North Carolina with an interest in theater. Before his senior year, he quit school and made his way to Chicago, where he set up a close fan base by handing out his first EP, Nation of Heat, free of charge, sometimes along with personalized notes thanking his fans. He’s played alongside Steve Earle, M.Ward and Josh Ritter, with performances at Lollapalooza and the Newport Folk Festival.

Headlining the tour is Justin Townes Earle, whose troubled relationship with his father, alternative country legend and recovering addict Steve Earle, contributes to some of the most poignant songs on his new album, Midnight At the Movies. His song “Mama’s Eyes” gives a clear indication of which of his parent’s attributes he’s proud he inherited.

After releasing his own first full-length album in 2008, The Good Life, Earle has created his own popularity separate from his father’s, with performances at SXSW, Bonnaroo, Hardly Strictly Music Festival, Chicago Country Music Awards and the Grand Ole Opry.

And although Joe Pug doesn’t have a famous parent to draw inspiration from, his songs are no less resonant and his passion no less striking.

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