Chicago native Al Scorch is a mighty presence. With a rich, powerful voice and a sure and precise hand on guitar and banjo, he leads the spirited Country Soul Ensemble. Scorch is an entertainer, roadwarrior and, above all, master storyteller in the vein of classic artists like Woody Guthrie, John Prine or Billy Bragg.
“I like to write things that are thoroughly composed,” says Scorch. “There are not a lot of repeat choruses or anything. Our music is an ensemble sound where everyone is playing at once like in string band or punk music. A lot of the arty post-punk music is like that, such as the Minutemen or Wire.”
“I emailed owner Rob (Miller). ‘I like your label, maybe you’ll like my music. Come to the show.’”
Prior to signing with Bloodshot Records, Al Scorch released an independent album entitled Tired Ghostly Town. True to form, he approached his second recording with honest and pragmatic forethought. “I was very much a D.I.Y. artist and realized I wanted some help with this stuff,” explains Scorch. “I’m not very commercially minded with my music. It was not so much about selling myself as finding more people to listen to it. I thought Bloodshot would be a good fit for that because they line up with my ethics. They don’t treat the artist as a product and include them in a lot of decisions.”
The journey to signing with Bloodshot Records seemed like a natural process on so many levels. When Scorch was searching for that perfect artistic and like-minded fit, he didn’t have to look much further than literally down the street. “I wasn’t doing an exhaustive search to find labels or anything,” admits Scorch. “Bloodshot’s in Chicago and so am I. I knew my music would appeal to their fans. They have a really good system in place to grow my fan base and they are in a storefront that I can ride my bike to two miles from my house.”
And, just like his transparent and poignantly direct vocal delivery, Scorch speaks the simple truth of ultimately connecting with his current label. “I emailed owner Rob (Miller) and label people to come to a show. My advice is not to include a long email. Mine was two sentences; ‘I like your label, maybe you’ll like my music. Come to the show,’” says Scorch. “The label is interested in the music, not you and all your accomplishments. If they’re interested in your music they’ll care about you later.”
Al Scorch's Bloodshot Records debut Circle Round the Signs is available everywhere now.
Photo by Nick Karp
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