John Moreland

Codfish Hollow Barnstormers and Moeller Nights Presents:

Sold Out: John Moreland

Will Johnson, Early James and The Latest

Sat, Jun 17, 2017

7:00 pm

$20.00 - $25.00

This event is all ages

Doors at 5 PM

 Music at 7 PM

John Moreland - (Set time: 7:00 PM)
John Moreland
Some days, being John Moreland has to hurt. As others bury experiences and stifle regrets, Moreland pokes old wounds until you're sure they've got to be bleeding again. It's painful. But in Moreland's care, it's also breathtakingly beautiful. With the release of his highly anticipated third solo album High on Tulsa Heat (out April 21st via Thirty Tigers), he offers another round of the lyrics-first, gorgeously plaintive songs that have earned him devoted listeners across the country.

Moreland started writing when he was 10 years old, the same year his family moved from Kentucky, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he still lives today. He turns 30 this year, but he's been slinging songs for more than half his life. He started fronting local punk and hardcore bands in high school. After graduation, he had an epiphany. "I'd just overexposed myself to punk and hardcore to the point that it just didn't do anything for me anymore," he says. The remedy? He ditched his music for his dad's: CCR, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Steve Earle.

"I think what appealed to me about it was lyrics," he says. "In hardcore, there might be great lyrics in a song but you have to read them off a piece of paper to know it. I was 19 in 2004, and Steve Earle had put out 'The Revolution Starts Now,' and I remember hearing the song 'Rich Man's War' and totally feeling like somebody just punched me in the chest."

Moreland's been chasing the chest punch ever since, composing pointedly and prodigiously. "I've always written to make myself feel better, I think," he says. "It's my way of figuring stuff out — figuring out where I stand. You can't do that without emotion. You can't do that insincerely."

When Moreland released In the Throes in the June of 2013, the album didn't just charm listeners — it stunned them. American Songwriter proclaimed that "[t]hose not familiar with the Oklahoma City singer-songwriter should remedy that pronto," while No Depression declared the collection "isn't so much songwriting as alchemy with words and music." MSNBC host Rachel Maddow heard his songs and joined the chorus, tweeting: "If the American music business made any sense, guys like John Moreland would be household names."

If In the Throes ignited Moreland's 2013 summer, FX's Sons of Anarchy poured gasoline all over the fire that fall. The hit series featured three Moreland-penned and -performed gems: "Heaven," off of his Earthbound Blues, the second of two full-length albums he released in 2011; and "Gospel" and "Your Spell," both from In the Throes.

As word continued to spread and Moreland played more and more shows, a pattern began to emerge: his songs hit listeners hard. While his precise, evocative lyrics often get the credit, his voice — a scritchy-scratch baritone capable of soul-shouting but especially potent in its subdued default register — ensures his lines linger.

"I got so used to playing in bars where you're just kind of in a corner," he says. "You're just background music, and nobody gives a fuck about you. It was so soul sucking. I would try to sing in a way that would get people's attention."

For Moreland, that didn't mean screaming or gimmicks. "If you just sing it like you mean it — like so hard that people can't ignore it…" He trails off for a second, then concludes: "That's what I was trying to do."

These days when Moreland performs, rooms ordinarily buzzing with drunken chatter and clanging glasses fall silent.

When he decided to head back to the studio to record the follow-up to In the Throes, Moreland admits he felt more pressure than in previous sessions. "I just tried to ignore it because I figured it's probably not a good way to make a record," he says. "But yeah. It was in the back of my mind."

High expectations must agree with him. High on Tulsa Heat is a triumphant sequel, pulsing with the sharply drawn imagery and cutting vulnerability that his listeners have come to expect. Produced by Moreland, the 10-song collection features a strong cast of players including Jesse Aycock (Hard Working Americans, Secret Sisters), John Calvin Abney (Samantha Crain, The Damn Quails), Jared Tyler (Malcolm Holcombe), Chris Foster, and Kierston White.

Stripped-down arrangements rooted in gritty rock and roll punctuate and cushion Moreland's compositions. Tracks including "Hang Me in the Tulsa County Stars," "Heart's Too Heavy," and "Cleveland County Blues" set the tone, trafficking in relentless honesty and folk.

Buoyant lament "Sad Baptist Rain" tackles internal conflict. "I was just trying to grab this scene of being a 16-year-old church kid in the parking lot of the punk rock show trying to reconcile having some fun with my Southern Baptist guilt," he says, with a hint of a laugh. If "Sad Baptist Rain" is about self-acceptance, "White Flag" warns of self-destruction. "It's a song about wanting or needing somebody so bad that you're willing to destroy yourself for it," he explains.

"American Flags in Black and White," grapples with nostalgia, and while Moreland initially seems to condemn it, he ends up acknowledging its comfort, framing the past as everyone's guilty pleasure. He never really condemns or judges anyone — except himself. "Anytime I do write a song that I feel like is more like pointing a finger at somebody, it never feels good and I always just end up throwing it away," he says.

The album also includes the first recording of live show staple "Cherokee." Based on a vivid dream, the song explores longing, shame, forgiveness, and love. "I want it to be open ended," he says of "Cherokee" and his songs in general. "I don't want to be told what happened or how to feel."

"You Don't Care for Me Enough to Cry" proves once again that Moreland does intoxicatingly sad as well or better than anyone, but the concluding title track rollicks victoriously, relishing the thought of a safe place — an idea Moreland says serves as a loose theme for the album. "A home is something I've really wanted," he says. "But that means you have to figure out what that really means and what it is. The record is about those questions."
Will Johnson
Will Johnson
Over the course of his quarter-century-plus career, Will Johnson has dealt with every challenge a musician can face. The silver lining, however, is that the Austin-based songwriter excels at taking bumps in the road and turning them into gold.
A week before Johnson was to begin tracking his fifth solo album, Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm, he hit one such bump: His usual studio haunt, the Echo Lab—where he’s recorded solo work, albums by his beloved former band Centro-matic and side projects such as South San Gabriel—suddenly became unavailable due to a fire. Luckily, a friend and collaborator, Britton Beisenherz (Monahans, Milton Mapes) stepped in and offered up his Austin, Texas, studio, Ramble Creek Recording.
The last-minute switch was a blessing in disguise. First, the session now brought together both old friends (his Centro-matic bandmate Matt Pence, a pal of 27 years and the Echo Lab’s manager) and newer friends (Beisenherz, Ricky Ray Jackson, who’s worked with Phosphorescent and Steve Earle).
In addition, this combination of musicians ended up unexpectedly adding more depth to the album’s desolate, folk- and Americana-leaning songs. Anxious soundscapes—specifically, hushed harmonies and a mélange of drums and splintered acoustic guitars—give “Hey-O, Hi” cinematic tension. Elsewhere, mournful, coyote-howl pedal steel wafts through the country croon “Childress (To Ogden)”; “Ruby Shameless” is a gentle, lullaby-like song with a chiming melodic backbone; and on the easygoing “Predator,” winking piano peeks out from layers of burnished guitar strums and sparking percussion.
“Having Britton’s personality and his fingerprints on this record definitely added more to it,” Johnson says. “At first, I thought Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm was just going to be Ricky Ray and me holed up in the live room, making a really subdued, largely acoustic, pedal steel-type of record. But it wound up turning into a more involved and layered affair, and one that was even more rocking in places than it might have been had we done it at the Echo Lab.”
The latter development is most evident on “Every Single Day Of Late,” which has a creeping sense of dread thanks to shuddering distorted guitars and rhythmically off-kilter percussion, and on the roaring, hurricane-like “Heresy And Snakes.” These moments might remind some people of Centro-matic, although Johnson says that band’s absence is more of an influence.
“When Centro-matic was still intact, my solo records were usually really subdued,” he says. “I would take them in a completely different direction than the cascade of guitars and feedback that we were really into. Now that Centro-matic is not in existence anymore, there are going to be moments where I just want to turn everything up and kind of go for it.”
On some level, his ability to let loose stems from his chemistry with Beisenherz and Jackson, both of whom added prominent instrumental contributions to Johnson’s last album, 2015’s Swan City Vampires. However, this approach also reflects his comfort level with Pence. Although Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm marked their first full session together since 2012, their creative and studio relationship always tends to pick up right where it left off.
That enduring connection especially helped this time around, since the crew only had five days to make Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm. Although Swan City Vampires was almost as economical—it was recorded over six days—that record found Johnson navigating both the loss of his mother and the 2014 breakup of Centro-matic. Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm is a different animal: The record largely revolves around fictional narratives featuring vibrant, well-defined characters dealing with “situations of tension,” as Johnson puts it.
On “Every Single Day of Late,” the protagonist finds much more than spiritual fulfillment after seeking out religious counsel, and soon becomes addicted to the taboo relationship. Milaak’s titular song demonstrates the anguish which often goes hand-in-hand with human connection, while on “Heresy and Snakes,” misunderstood Mazie May’s actions are perceived to be more nefarious than dignified. The keening “Filled With a Falcon’s Dream,” meanwhile, namechecks the ill-intentioned trio of Lucius, Timmy and Steve.
“I was in a mindset of exploring risky connections between people, and their willingness to look the other way and just go through with them, for the simple need of human affection and an almost devil-may-care attitude,” Johnson explains.
Still, he is a benevolent songwriter. For example, the narrator of “Ruby Shameless” looks at the song’s main character, a stripper, with tenderness and humanity; he sees her as a person worth cherishing, rather than a devalued object. Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm’s characters aren’t “morally bankrupt,” Johnson says, just dealing with a devil and an angel perched on their shoulders, whispering in their ears.
“I’m sympathetic to all of these characters, even though they’re flawed and maybe a little confused,” he says. “A lot of the time it’s good people making bad decisions. And they may just need some affection, and then will move on. It’s more coming to terms with, ‘I’m going to be alone in this world, and I’m okay with it. I’m totally okay with this solitary situation, and this empty bed.'”
As a solo artist, Johnson also knows all too well the balance required to navigate solitude and collaboration. However, on Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm, finding this equilibrium helps him discover nuanced and intriguing sonic directions. The album ends up a thought-provoking meditation on what it means to exist in a world that often misunderstands (or chooses to ignore) emotional complexity.
Early James and The Latest
Early James and The Latest
Early James & The Latest Early James plays a mishmash of Blues/Folk/Jazz/Country with dark, rusty crooner-esque stylings. While drawing influences from both old and new, We attempt a unique spin on something that has been spun many times over. A combination of Blues, Folk, and Jazz that will not only knock your socks off, but put them back on for you afterwards.
Venue Information:
Codfish Hollow Barnstormers
5013 288th Ave
Maquoketa, IA, 52060
http://codfishhollowbarnstormers.com/