Celebrated singer/songwriter Joe Purdy is more aptly described as a troubadour—the term, as archaic as it may seem, refers moreover to the idea of a communicator of folklore through song– one who travels and tells stories using the effective medium of music. Purdy understands that his own live music tradition has as much to do with commanding captivated, pin-drop silence as it does prompting roars – which it most
definitely has – because in those hushed moments, a solemn and crystal-clear voice, the resonance of acoustic guitar strings into the reverberant din of a music hall, his stories are being heard. It is a pure experience. It’s about Joe and his audience.
This direct communication with his fans has, year after year, album after album, translated from the stage to the further dissemination of his folklore. Purdy has chosen to release his albums on his own independent label, Mudtown Crier Records, and with the help of national TV placements and that constant conversation with a strong and evergrowing fan base, he has been able to sell a staggering 1 million direct track downloads in the US on iTunes without ever signing to a label. Joe and those people, all over the country (and beyond) perpetually willing to hear his stories.
Case in point, he released his 11th album 4th of July on the 28th of June 2010 at four o’clock in the morning, because that’s when he finished it.
Joe’s writing process is heavily influenced by his environment. His albums act as a travel guide for his experiences. Last Clock On The Wall (2009) was recorded over 6 days at Old Mill Studios, located in a 17th Century mill converted into a live arts theater in Strathaven, just outside of Glasgow, Scotland. Take My Blanket and Go (2007) was recorded in NYC following a UK tour in 2006, You Can Tell Georgia (2006) was recorded outside of London, immediately following a European tour with Tom McRae, while Paris in the Morning (2006) was recorded during a short visit to Paris a few months later. And, in contrast, Canyon Joe (2007) was recorded at his home in California, after being stranded in New Mexico during a blizzard over New Years Eve.
Purdy’s last album, This American , is rich with imagery, haunting and utterly unique, filled with warm American folklore and real storytelling. Reflections of moving about underscore more of the ‘travelogue’ motif (“Highways,” “Oregon Trail”), through plaintive acoustic arrangements perfectly appropriate- with audible count-offs, unedited breaths, whistling, etc and melodies channeled through Purdy’s distinctive yearning voice.
Adding to his arsenal, Purdy has been embraced by a broader audience through Prime Time network television. His song “Wash Away (Reprise),” from the Julie Blue album, was chosen by J.J. Abrams for an episode of Lost in its first season. S hortly after, Joe’s, “I Love the Rain Most” (also off J ulie Blue ) was featured in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, which led to “The City (Only Four Seasons)” being included in the show, as well as on the Grey’s Anatomy Season I soundtrack.
Additionally, Purdy landed five more songs in Grey’s… episodes including “San Jose” (Take My Blanket and Go),” “Suitcase” (Only Four Seasons), “Can’t Get It Right Today” (You Can Tell Georgia), and “Rainy Day Lament” (Stomping Grounds), which was featured on an episode of House. “Can’t Get It Right Today” was also featured in a national KIA ad, and “Wash Away (Reprise)” was very notably used in a Dawn Soap Wildlife ad, helping to raise a significant amount of money to rescue wildlife and the gulf spill clean up.
In 2016, Purdy will be heading into the studio to turn more of his experiences into what are sure to be thought-provoking and heart-tugging songs, and back out on the road to be the traveling troubadour for all his fans. As we have come to expect the unexpected with Joe Purdy – a new album (or two?) could be just a day away.