Joe Stamm Band’s newest country-rock album is as brutally authentic as the Midwestern plains and people that inspire these songs. A year-round working musician, Stamm has become something of an anthropologist of the tiny towns dotting middle America. Thanks to his fondness for this so-called flyover country, and his crew of down-home troubadours, Stamm has created the soundtrack to the heart of America: Midwest Town (release date 9-10-21).
JSB, established in 2013, offers distinct storytelling mixed with a signature Black Dirt Country Rock sound – a sound that Stamm defines as “a nod to our Midwestern roots, as well as the Red Dirt music scene, which has had a big influence on our music.” Fans can expect the fearless Black Dirt Country Rock sound from Dave Glover’s inventive lead guitar, Bruce Moser’s fortifying bass, and Tim Fiers’ heart-pounding drums on the new album.
Cutting his teeth playing in middle-of-nowhere dives, Stamm earned the stage presence and grit it would take to support artists like Chris Knight, Blackberry Smoke, Sunny Sweeney, Tyler Childers, Whiskey Myers, Jamey Johnson, and more. It’s the same blue-collar outlaw spirit from his early days that Stamm brings to any stage and every audience today.
“There’s a sinewy, rootsy texture to his inflections, always evocative and drenched in a rock ‘n roll spirit.” — B-Sides & Badlands
As a native to the creek banks, cornfields, and barstools of central Illinois, Stamm quite literally represents the Midwest’s collective story. Taking his high school football team to state, suffering an injury in college, learning to play guitar in his downtime – it’s all part of Stamm’s journey to the stage. Yet, throughout Midwest Town, he solidifies that he’s more than the heartland’s football-star-turned-rockstar. Stamm digs deeper, unearthing relatable stories of a Vietnam vet, a long-haul trucker, a medicine man, a family broken apart. Storytelling at its rawest? Yes. Biographical to America? Absolutely.
Describing the band’s second full-length studio album, Stamm explains, “Midwest Town isn’t about one kind of person. It’s about all of us and our shared experiences. It’s about relating to someone else’s story–maybe even someone you’ve never met before.”
Obviously curated with care, the album kicks off with a chugging, distorted guitar and Stamm’s friendly twang. Whether or not you’ve experienced a tour across the middle of America, “Pocketful of Quarters” will sit you down on that stool in a roadside diner, swapping stories with a seasoned trucker. The narrative stream continues into the album’s namesake, “Midwest Town.” This single will make you think of Turnpike Troubadours in their prime, cicadas buzzing on a hot summer day, and a place – maybe a “two-lane Midwest town” – you left long ago.
“Empty Places,” a ghostly ballad many will recognize from Stamm’s acoustic album, Stories: Live & Unplugged, spotlights his gift for place and character formation. An eerie reminder of America’s darker qualities, this song is as honest and unforgiving as the January wind blowing across snow-scorched plains.
Stamm also delivers the two-steppin’ drinking songs that pair well with classics like James McMurtry’s “Choctaw Bingo” and Garth Brooks’ “Ain’t Goin’ Down’ (‘til the Sun Comes Up).” And throughout the middle of the album, his words will make you see yourself as a blue-collar worker just trying to get by, a wild townie chasing down a dream, and a father who finds that “it pays more to fill a pipe with smoke.”
Toward the end of the record, Stamm and the band take a subtle detour in time and place. While the album was produced in Iowa and Nashville, “The Ghost” could’ve just as easily been written, recorded, and mastered in the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. This bayou rock anthem is as menacing as it is bluesy, betraying a strong Whiskey Myers influence on the band’s sound.
Finally, Stamm makes his way back home, ending with a lonesome acoustic track that’s probably as autobiographical as any song on this record. A song that reinforces Midwestern Gentleman’s musing: “[Stamm’s] story is an American tale.”
Joe has honed his craft for writing the way folks speak, using specifics to relate universally, and finding happiness in the little things. Joe Stamm Band has taken those words and stories and matched them to country-rock riffs that will keep Midwest Town spinning round ‘n’ round your turntable.