If you’re a music lover then there probably is a group or an artist that has served as a sense of stability throughout the journey of life thus far. Their songs lift you when you have fallen and fuel the fire of inspiration when you’re on top of the world. Just like a friend they’ve been there when you need them and no matter what the distance, you know they’re always within reach. For me, and likely for many others, that artist is Chuck Ragan.
In the beginning it was Hot Water Music. We were young and still full of the angst of teenage youth. It was a time for deciding what to believe in and where to go at an age when we really had know idea what we were doing. A HWM show was a place where you knew your friends would be and a deep breath away from the general chaos of growing up. An HWM show was a couple hours of cramming in a dirty club with a few hundred sweaty voices and calling it home.
Since then HWM has disbanded, reunited and Chuck has been releasing a wealth of solo material sharing the spirit of folk music to fans new and old. He’s brought his friends along for the ride by creating The Revival Tour in 2008. The tour has been a yearly collaboration of artists such as Tim Barry (Avail), Ben Nichols (Lucero) and Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem) performing folk music together across the US and this year in Europe. Whatever incarnation Chuck’s music takes on, the heart and soul has remained the same.
Last night Chuck took a break from his current tour with Social Distortion to head on down to Chicago and play a headlining show for us at the Mayne Stage. Ragan came to hang out and deliver some great tunes with Jon Gaunt on fiddle and Joe Ginsberg on upright bass. They played a little HWM, Chuck’s Alkaline Trio cover of “Bleeder”, gave us a taste of new material off the upcoming album due out in September and ended with a crowd roaring “California Burritos”.
Now we’re a little older, still don’t really know what were doing, but know that we can find our friends at a Chuck Ragan show. For where else would we rather be then listing to some good tunes with good friends on a Thursday at midnight? A Chuck Ragan show is always a little reminder to live from the heart, love what you got and be humble.