Chicago’s Panoramic & True to play Iowa City May 9th
Chicago folk artist Al Scorch to play The Mill on 5/22; will play Daytrotter on 5/22
Al Scorch’s is touring the country in support of his newfull-length album, Tired Ghostly Town (out May 21 on Plan-It-X South). He’ll be playing in Iowa City on 5/22 at The Mill. He also has a confirmed date with the illustrious Daytrotter early that day!
Tired Ghostly Town
(free + legal for download/posting)
Stream/download full album here:
MP3 single “Working Dream” download here:
In his new full-length CD release, Tired Ghostly Town (out May 21 on Plan-It-X South), Chicago-based songwriter and instrumentalist Al Scorch and his backing band, the Country Soul Ensemble (featuring Elephant 6 collective member Laura Carter on clarinet), chart a new musical topography with a five-string banjo. Grafting literate, character-driven song craft and Mid-American roots with a post-punk DIY attitude, Scorch delivers jubilant anthems and poignant reflections in 10 songs populated with a cast of vibrant characters that has drawn comparisons to artists like William Elliot Whitmore.
5/22 - Rock Island, IL @ DayTrotter
5/22 - Iowa City, IA @ The Mill
The protagonist wishing for a pair of gold cuff links to accompany his beau to her daddy’s funeral; the deserting Civil War soldier headed across destroyed cotton fields beckoning to “Miss Rosie”; or a hearse driver bound for the cemetery accompanied by a sonorous clarinet. Scorch doesn’t just introduce these denizens, he inhabits them.
“It’s all composites – myself and people I see on the street,” he professes. “As I watch people walk by, I can stare at each of them and come up with a story of who they are, where they’re going, why their jacket is that color, why the stain is on the front of it, why they’re holding that stack of papers in front of the retirement home. I think my characters come from creating this feeling I want to get across when I write songs.”
Both solo and with a close family of musicians, Al Scorch is very much a live performer at clubs, festivals, and other venues. He embraces the independence of house concerts –a loose circuit that extends from New Orleans to Portland; Missoula to San Francisco and all points in between.
Creating songs for Tired Ghostly Town, Al woodshedded in a Georgia farmhouse, jogging in the morning, drinking copious cups of coffee and working for up to eight hours a day. “Songs and ideas float in the air past your mental eye until you’re struck with a feeling that is summed up in one phrase,” he says of his writing process. “It’s been said before, but sometimes a song can write itself in 20 minutes.”
As a student of musical history, Al Scorch appreciates tradition, but he is not bound by it. “Sitting in on an old time session, the musicianship is incredible, but it’s almost like there’s no mystery to it. I don’t want to know, that’s what gives me chills and makes the eyes well up –It sounds like an Irish ghost on a gypsy pirate ship drinking beer with a cowboy – what the hell is it? Where is it coming from?”
The same might be said of Al Scorch and a traditional instrument brought to these shores by African slaves. With sepia glimpses of the recent past, the high definition immediacy of the present and kaleidoscopic visions for the future, Tired Ghostly Town reveals a young man with an old soul and something new to say.
Why I Believe in College Radio
A few weeks ago, I was listening to KRUI 89.7 FM in my car when a live version of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You in the End” come on. This is not the first time this has happened to me while listening to this station. I do not mean to imply that KRUI is repetitive or that I dislike this particular song. In fact, I love Daniel Johnston and think this particular version did justice to his style and incite to Johnston’s personality. The reason this makes an impression on me, is because I got harassed for listening to Daniel Johnston in high school. My peers didn’t understand how I could tolerate his voice and confusing subject matter, despite my attempts to describe the raw beauty that emits from his schizophrenic mind. In that environment, it was unfathomable that anybody I had contact with could understand the mythical Daniel Johnston, which reigned true until this summer when I heard this song on KRUI.
I am not trying to convince people to listen to Daniel Johnston (though they should), and I am not saying the hosts of KRUI are smarter than my high school peers, because they play music I like (though they do carry more appealing conversations), what I am attempting to say is that college radio stations are a haven for music lovers.
I come from an area that has a couple new age country stations, a repetitive pop station, and a handful of 80s hair band worshiping classic rock stations. I have heard everything they have to offer and therefore isolated myself from the radio, when I realized they weren’t playing music I was into, not to mention 97X wouldn’t take my requests, because junior high hardcore music obsession didn’t “fit their image.”
Upon moving to Iowa City, I found KRUI was hosting shows and advertising the music that I liked. Last year KRUI hosted Baths’ performance at Gabe’s and I won tickets to the Fitz and the Tantrums’ show at Blue Moose. Not only do they host and play great music, but they also have live performances at Public Space One (co-sponsored by Little Village) on Wednesdays, and also “Live from Prairie Lights” for those literature living listeners. I also found out, according to KRUI’s Wikipedia page, Diablo Cody (Writer of Juno and Jennifer’s Body) was a dj at their studio during he time at The University of Iowa.
One of my favorite programs is Emily Kane and Kelly DePalma’s show, which airs Mondays from 3 to 5pm. Be sure to check out and tune in to KRUI.