Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bloodshot Records -- While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records

Flashback to fall 2007. I'm in the basement of my college's cafeteria, sifting through our radio station's (supposedly the first in the country) library of CDs and LPs. I never could figure out where the light switch in the library was, so going in there all alone required nerves of steel even though the room was only accessible through keycard access. I knew that playing nothing but Cowboy Mouth and the Refreshments was going to get real old real fast, so I was browsing through our miniscule "country" section (2 shelves in a large room that was wall-to-wall CDs) and came across a double album from some record called Bloodshot Records. That was their fifth anniversary compilation.

Let's just say the thing never made it back to the library. I'm pretty sure nobody missed it at all.

On Tuesday, Bloodshot released its twentieth anniversary album. Starting an outlaw-ish country-ish label must've seemed crazy back then. It's even more preposterous now. But talent always finds an appreciative audience eventually, and here we are. The album features covers from Bloodshot's vast stable by non-Bloodshot artists -- bringing the best of our community together to celebrate excellent songwriting.

I was bad at my pop music history when I stumbled upon the fifth compilation, and I haven't gotten much better. The only cover/original pair I was familiar with was Frank Turner covering Cory Branan's "Down On the Corner" -- turning a bittersweet little shuffle into a full-throated piano ballad. Other performers of interest are Chuck Ragan, Blitzen Trapper, Chuck Prophet, Possessed by Paul James, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, Superchunk, and the NC Music Love Army covering many iterations of Ryan Adams and his labelmates.

There's a lot of music to dig through on here -- both tracking down the source material to see what it "really" sounds like, and pursuing the performing artists whose styles I enjoy. Hopefully I'll be all caught up when the 25th compilation comes out.

Purchase the album here.

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