In the summer of 1994, For A Life Of Sin: A Compilation of Insurgent Chicago Country was released on a “label” started by a few music geeks. This fool’s errand was sketched out on bar napkins from Lottie’s to the Crash Palace, the Ten Cat to Danny’s, the Rainbo Club to the Bucket O’ Suds, with late nights at the Diner Grill or early mornings at Sophie’s Busy Bee. Our simple—and possibly ludicrous—premise was to chronicle a scene percolating unnoticed in the city’s nether regions, far from the gaudy expense accounts of the indie rock boom. It embraced the pathos and quotidian hardships of classic country music with the energy and immediacy of punk. Or was it the other way around? Or did it even matter? Regardless, we were too naïve to be worried, too dumb to know better, and too excited NOT to—as we said in the liner notes of that first release—find artists and fans who “lose themselves in resonant tales of disheartening fear and sodden joy.”

Since then, we’ve screwed up, gotten lucky and, every now and again, done something right. We’ve released hundreds of records, traveled the world, seen thousands of shows, worked with some of our heroes and been privileged to be present at ground zero for some remarkable artists’ careers. We’ve been accused of being influential as well as committing pure butchery. And we’ve done it working without a net, on our own terms and with that initial mission intact.

For our 25th anniversary, we wanted to come back home, to shine a light, once again, on Chicago, ever-changing, ever-vibrant, ever—as Nelson A. put it—on the make; to champion the storytellers who keep the city a vital place, plying their trade beyond the shadows of company towers and in the glow of the neighborhood taverns.

Some of the artists you may have heard of; some are woven so tightly into the fabric of the city, it’s hard to imagine a time without them; some we’ve claimed, whether they like it or not, as natives; some you might be hearing for the first time; and some you may never hear from again. And while Chicago is too motley to have a signature sound, it does have a signature hustle, the hope-against-hope drive that a small-timer can beat it past the big shots and catch a break. No matter what may change, move on, or get bulldozed, as long as the city IS, that spark will never be snuffed out. Someone or something will always be here to fan it.

So, even though you can no longer get a take no shit stare from Dan the Doorman at Lounge Ax, you can still get Hot Nutz and a sweaty bear hug from Mike Miller at Delilah’s. While you can’t cap off a night of unholiness at the Augenblick with one of the best “Hat Dogs in Tawn,” you can still get 3AM pancakes at the Golden Apple or lengua tacos at Arturo’s. While you can’t experience the anarchic energy of the Fireside Bowl or pre-gentrification Maxwell Street, you can still get a faceful of Studs Terkel quotations from the Hideout’s Tim Tuten or memorialize poor decisions in the Empty Bottle photo booth. While you can’t stand in line for a Tessio or Elvis at Hot Doug’s, you can still stand in line at Harold’s Chicken Shack. And, for everything that is gone, for every skeleton or ghost of what was, there are always new hustles and hustlers keeping the city as vibrant and weird and wonderful as we found it. 

As we laid out in that first release, it’s still all about the stories, about solace and community among those who find joy in resonant tales of disheartening fear and sodden joy.

Thanks for having us. It couldn’t have happened anywhere else.

 

Bloodshot Records

Chicago IL, 2019

 

Credits:

  1. Wild Earp & the Free for Alls “The Last Honky Tonk in Chicago” 

W. Earp (ASCAP)

Drums - Alan Maniacek, "Alanbama"

Bass - Charlie Malave, "Ace"

Rhythm Guitar - George Hurden, "Gorgeous George"

Lead Guitar - Jedediah Taylor, "Valentine"

Pedal Steel - Robert Daniels, "Big Tobacco"

Piano - Sean Hughes, "Ponyboy"

Backup Vocals - Kiley B. Moore, "Sweet Sassy Molassey"

Acoustic Guitar and Vocals - Wild Earp

Recorded by Robert Daniels and Charlie Malave in 2018 at El Goodo Audio and Maestro-Matic Studio in Chicago. Mixed by Robert Daniels.

 

  1. Tammi Savoy and the Chris Casello Combo  “If It’s News to You”

S. McCoy; Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc. (BMI)

Vocals - Tammi Savoy

Guitar, pedal steel - Chris Casello

Bass - Jesse Woelfel

Drums - Russ DeLuca 

Produced and engineered by Chris Casello at Magic Basement in Chicago, IL

 

  1. Jon Langford’s Hillbilly Lovechild “I Am a Big Town” 

J. Langford; Pigsville Publishing (BMI)

Vocals, acoustic guitar - Jon Langford

Guitar - Steve Albini 

Bass, synth, keyboards - Tony Maimone

Drums - John Szymanski

Produced by Jon Langford

Recorded and mixed by Blaise Barton at Joyride in Chicago, IL

 

  1. Half Gringa “Wearing White”

I. Olive (ASCAP)

Guitar, vocals - Izzy Olive

Violin - Lucy Little

Guitar - Sam Cantor

Bass - Andres Fonseca

Drums - Nathan Bojko

Mixed by Nick Papaleo

Produced by Izzy Olive and Nick Papaleo at Decade Studios in Chicago, IL

 

  1. Brendan Kelly & the Wandering Birds “Lay Me Down”

M. Marchetti; Sony/ATV Tree Publishing (BMI)

Vocals, guitar - Brendan Kelly

Drums, bass, guitar, backing vox - Nick Martin

Guitar and production - Dan Tinkler

Arranged by Nick Martin

Mixed by Dan Tinkler

Recorded by Nick Martin and Dan Tinkler at Nick’s house in Chicago and Dan’s house in rural Michigan

Brendan Kelly & the Wandering Birds appear courtesy of Red Scare Industries

 

  1. The Family Gold “The Sun Is Going Down”

B. Miles (ASCAP)

Vocals, acoustic guitar - Benjamin Miles

Upright bass, backing vocals - Michelle Morales 

Fiddle - Jeff Yonkus

Drums, backing vocals - Seth Bohn 

Trumpet - Gerald Bailey 

Produced by Benjamin Miles

Engineered and mixed by Doug Malone at Jamdek Recording Studio in Chicago, IL

 

  1. Big Sadie “You Never Told Me”

E. Bergman (BMI)

Bass and vocals - Elise Bergman

Guitar and vocals - Collin Moore

Banjo - Andy Malloy

Fiddle - Matt Brown

Engineered and Mixed by Alex Hall at Reliable Recorders in Chicago, IL

 

  1. ROOKIE “Head Over Heels”

R. Orzabal, C. Smith

Christopher Devlin - Engineer & Producer

Max Loebman - Vocal, Acoustic Guitar, Lead Guitar, Organ

Dimitri Panoutsos - Lead Guitar

Joe Bordenaro - Drums, Rhodes, Tambourine

Kevin Decker - Bass Guitar, 12 String Guitar

Engineered and produced by Christopher Devlin at The Workshop in Chicago, IL

 

  1. The Dyes “Liza Jane”

L. Conn; Universal - Songs of Polygram International Inc. (BMI)

Guitar, vocals - Lisa Louise

Bass - Jill E. Bean

Drums, background vocals - Charlie Crane

Engineered and mixed by Charlie Crane

Recorded at ButterBean Studios in Des Plaines, IL

 

  1. Robbie Fulks “Lonely Ain’t Hardly Alive”

R. Fulks; Lorne Rall Music (ASCAP)

Mandolin - Don Stiernberg

String bass - Todd Phillips

Banjo - Charlie Cushman

Fiddle - Shad Cobb

Guitar, vocals - Robbie Fulks

Tenor singing - Ron Spears

Engineered by Dave Ferguson at the Butcher Shoppe in Nashville, TN

 

  1. Freakwater “Sway”

M. Jagger, K. Richards; ABKCO (BMI)

Vocals, banjo - Catherine Ann Irwin

Vocals - Janet Beveridge Bean

Recorded at LaLa Land in Louisville, KY

Engineered by Kevin Ratterman

 

  1. David Quinn “Long Time Gone”

D. Quinn Tiritilli; LowDownPublishing (ASCAP)

Acoustic guitar, vocals - David Quinn 

Electric guitar, harmonies - Shane Allen

Electric bass - Andy Holcomb

Drums, percussion - Tommy Veronesi 

Pedal steel - Jeff Lyman  

Engineered and mixed by Barret Guzaldo 

Recorded at TreeHouse Studios in Chicago, IL

 

  1. The Hoyle Brothers “A Little Bit of Buck”

M. McVeigh and The Hoyle Brothers (ASCAP)

Lead vocals - Myles McVeigh

Guitar - Steve Doyle

Pedal steel, acoustic guitar - Brian Wilkie

Bass guitar - Josh Piet

Drums, background vocals - Lance Helgeson

Recorded and mixed by Blaise Barton at Joyride in Chicago, IL

 

  1. Bethany Thomas & Tawny Newsome “Dinosaur”

B. Thomas (ASCAP) T. Newsome; Sidebar Music (BMI)

Vocals - Bethany Thomas

Vocals - Tawny Newsome

Guitar, bass, percussion - Packy Lundholm

Recorded and Mixed by Packy Lundholm at Sound Vault Studios in Chicago, IL

 

  1. Sima Cunningham “Weeds and Daisies”

S. Cunningham (ASCAP)

Guitar, keys, vocals - Sima Cunningham 

Bass, drums, electric guitar - Dorian Gehring

Recorded and mixed by Dorian Gehring at Foxhall Studio in Chicago IL

 

  1. The Lawrence Peters Outfit “I Wrote You a Song”

L. Peters (ASCAP)

Vocals, snare drum - Lawrence Peters 

Acoustic guitar - Matt Gandurski 

Engineered by Cris Burns 

Recorded in One Take at Wat-Sun Studio in Memphis, TN

 

  1. Kelly Hogan “Gotta Have My Baby Back”

F. Tillman; APRS C/O Peermusic (BMI)

Vocals - Kelly Hogan 

Hammond B3 - Scott Ligon 

Guitar - Joel Paterson 

Drums - Dan Leali 

Remixed by Phil Palazzolo and Kelly Hogan at Seaside Lounge Studios, Brooklyn NY

Recorded by Barry Phipps, and mixed by Kelly Hogan and Barry Phipps at North Branch Studios, Chicago IL

 

  1. The Saluda Moonlighters “Honky Tonkin’ in the Moonlight”

B. Dee; Darling Fortune Records (BMI), M. Hobson; Eight Legged Love Songs (ASCAP)

Acoustic guitar and vocals - Bailey Dee 

Bass, percussion and vocals - Spider Mike Hobson 

Electric guitar - Dave Sisson

Fiddle - Greg Hirte 

Pedal steel - Gabe Stutz 

Produced by Mike Corcoran at Legendary Recorders in Chicago, IL

 

  1. Los Gallos “Yeah Yeah Yeah”

M. Gonzales, R. Guaderrama; BMG Bumblebee OBO Man-Ru Music, Y Guales Music (BMI)

Lead vocals, guitar - Ric Salazar

Jarana, vihuela, backing vocals - Enrique Fajardo 

Lead guitar - Joaquin Fajardo

Bass - Jose Galarza

Drums - “Tear It Up” Tito Tejeda 

Recorded and produced by Joaquin Fajardo

 

  1. Joybird “The Sweetness” 

J. McIntosh (ASCAP)

Vocals - Emily Nott

Guitar, fiddle, vocals - Jess McIntosh

Upright bass, synth, vocals - Aaron Smith

Percussion - Bill Harris

Engineered by Dorian Gehring at Foxhall in Chicago, IL

 

  1. The Western Elstons “Toast That Lie”

C. Ligon; Record Roundup c/o Chris Ligon Publishing (BMI)

Vocals, acoustic guitar, piano - Scott Ligon

Vocals, electric bass - Casey McDonough 

Electric guitar, pedal steel guitar - Joel Paterson

Drums - Alex Hall

Recorded & mixed by Alex Hall at Reliable Recorders in Chicago, IL

 

  1. The Handsome Family “Tower of Song”

L. Cohen (SOCAN); Sony/ATV Songs LLC (BMI)

Vocal, organ, bass - Brett Sparks

Guitars, gadgets - Alex McMahon

Keys - Rennie Sparks

Recorded by Brett Sparks at La Casita Studio in Albuquerque, NM

 

Front cover art: "Backstage in Opry Heaven" by Jon Langford

Design by M Greiner

Photography by Anthony Nguyen

Mastered by Collin Jordan at The Boiler Room, Chicago, IL

Pressed at Smashed Plastic Record Press, Chicago, IL

 

Thank yous:

Thanks then, now and evermore to:

Any and all clubs, halls, festivals, rooms, house parties, sponsors, DJs, writers, bloggers, vloggers or taggers who have helped spread the word of Bloodshot in a time of clutter and short attention spans.

All the musicians and performers who have entrusted us with their work. Many people may have “better” record collections, but few have ones that are more loved.

Any person—past, present or future—good-hearted and foolish enough to volunteer, intern or overwork in our humble abode on behalf of the artists and music we love.

All the bartenders, door people, booking agents, sound engineers, ice-toters and gear loaders, and any other under-appreciated folks who keep any vibrant scene moving along smoothly.  Without them, the whole thing grinds to a halt. 

Randy and Jann and the crew at Yard Dog in Austin TX for enabling our improbable run of parties at SXSW.

Our Irving Park neighborhood pals like Tano’s Pizza and Lizard’s Liquid Lounge—small businesses doing good things in the particular patch we’ve called home for so long.

Tamale Guy, wherever you are. We’ll take one pork and one cheese. Extra salsa verde.

And lastly, and MOSTLY, the people whose ongoing support continues to both humble and drive us every day. A bartender at The Hideout once referred to a packed room of Bloodshot fans as “polite, sloppy and big tippers.” We are hard-pressed to think of higher praise. Our appreciation for the community of which you’ve let us be a part is boundless.

 

Onwards!

Bloodshot Records, Chicago IL

 

November 2019