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Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons – You’ve Got The Wrong Man (album release)

It’s been nearly four years since the last Joe Fletcher release, White Lighter. In that time, Fletcher’s life has changed drastically. He quit his day job as a teacher to become a full-time musician, toured the country extensively, recently had his music featured on the HBO show “True Blood,” and moved to Nashville. How these changes affected his art is always difficult to quantify, but Fletcher’s new release You’ve Got The Wrong Man is more of a stripped-down folk record compared to his previous two. Recorded on a mobile unit over a period of months in Rhode Island, Georgia and Tennessee, most of the recordings consist of just Fletcher on acoustic guitar, which lends itself to a rawness that is both haunting and intimate. You’ve Got The Wrong Man kicks off with “Florence, Alabama” that comes across as an early Dylan-style tune. Whether it’s the upbeat folk on a tune like “Oceanside Motel,” the scraped to the bone rawness of “The Promise,” or the sea shanty blues of “I Promise (Reprise),” You’ve Got The Wrong Man is a collection of tunes about different characters at the crossroads of America. Echoes of Leadbelly, Hank Williams, acoustic Bruce Springsteen, and Woody Guthrie reverberate throughout. My favorite tune on the record is Fletcher’s cover of Toy Soldier’s “Heart in a Mousetrap” that he undresses to make it his own. From folk to outlaw country to blues, with You’ve Got The Wrong Man, Fletcher has succeeded in crafting a love letter to history of the roots of American music.

I had the chance to talk to Joe Fletcher while he was playing a music festival in a remote area of Pennsylvania where he had to stand still in one spot to get any reception on his cell phone. We talked about the creation of You’ve Got The Wrong Man, life on the road and his thoughts on what is happening in music.

Marc Clarkin: Was the style of a stripped-down folk record something you’ve always wanted to do?

Joe Fletcher: At least for the last year or so. I really like records that are recorded that way. I play a lot of solo shows and those are equally as popular as the full band shows. I wanted to get those people something they could listen to like a record. I felt like these songs, once I started demoing, them sat fine on their own. The only other people who play on them are a drummer who plays on two tracks. We just wanted drums for those sing- along songs. I just threw a party to get the sing-along songs down. The only other people are on it are Dan Blakeslee and Danny Roman, who happened to be staying at my house when I recorded that song so I put them to work.

MC: What were some of the artists, records or shows you’ve attended that have left the biggest impressions on you?

JF: As far as rock ‘n’ roll band, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds has been my favorite live band for at least the last 10 years. They just encompass everything I like to see in a rock ‘n’ roll show. As far as solo acoustic kind of people, I’m obviously a big Bob Dylan fan. I’ve been to, like, 28 Bob Dylan shows. I’m a big Leonard Cohen fan and seeing him a few times in the last few years has been inspirational. There are so many of my friends, like Willy Mason, who is one of my favorite solo acoustic, man with a guitar. My friend Christopher Paul Spelling has been endless inspiration as far as a solo acoustic show when it comes to bringing energy and not just being a guy with a guitar pouring his heart out. I like people who are engaging. That is certainly what I strive for rather than some guy sitting on a stool. I like for there to still be some kind of show.

MC: Over the years you’ve played in all kinds of bands from punk rock, rockabilly, to Americana. Does it seem weird to you when you see a young kid in their 20s gravitating to the Americana?

JF: I don’t think so. I started playing in bands at a time that I was really into garage rock records. So that’s what my first bands sounded like. I was like 20 when I became part of my first band, Sinner’s Club. Garage rock was just what we all listened to and brought us together so that was the type of music we did. If I were to have started a band earlier, say when I was 16, it would have sounded like REM, U2 and maybe some Guns N’ Roses.  It’s all what you’re listening to. I don’t think it has any bearing on age or where you live, which is another popular question. The why do you play this type of music if you are living in Rhode Island? It’s like what am I supposed to sound like, Aerosmith or Boston? What is my music heritage? It’s what you listen to and what you like that ends up influencing what you play no matter where you live or how old you are. When I see bands like Smith &Weeden from Providence, and we fit on a bill very well together, I think they are listening to cool shit a lot sooner that I was! I still love the garage rock that I loved when I was 21, but I don’t really seek out new bands in that genre anymore. I’m sure there are some great ones, but it’s not where I’m at musically.

MC: Do you have any favorite or most sentimental track off the new record or anywhere in your catalog?

JF: The most sentimental to me is “Every Heartbroken Man” off White Lighter. I play that at about 98 percent of the shows I play. Even if the room doesn’t need a slow song, I will force that one down their throats. It’s something about the way that song came together. Whether it’s the recorded version or playing it live, solo or with a band, I usually get at least one person afterward who will come up to me and ask about it. As far as the new record, I’m really glad the Brown Bird song (“Mabel Gray”) is on there. It’s important for people to know that it was recorded before Dave Lamb got sick. I had recorded that in February when he was very much on the mend.  He was the first person to hear it other than the people who were there. He didn’t know I was recording it. I was recording it initially for a Brown Bird tribute album and asked his permission to put it on my record and he said, “Absolutely.” It’s a tribute to Dave. As far as a song I wrote, there is one called “The Wilsons” that I’m really proud of. I saw a headline on a newspaper in The New York Daily News while in line in a 7-11 about a house in Long Island exploding and meant check out the article. Then I got halfway down the street and realized I forgot to check it out and read why the house exploded. I decided to write my own song about why the house exploded. It starts with the line we don’t know why the house exploded because I didn’t know why the house exploded. I wrote the song to fill in the blanks.

Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons and TJ Kelly (from The Silks) will play the Columbus Theatre on September 5.  

The Dictators NYC
The Dictators NYC is essentially the legendary punk rock band The Dictators minus songwriter/bassist Andy Shernoff hence the NYC slapped on at the end. It’s been a long time since Dictators have come to Rhode Island to play their classics like “The Next Big Thing,” “Baby Let’s Twist” and “I Live For Cars and Girls.”  For the 40-plus-year-old punk rockers, attendance at this show is what separates the ballers and got no game so I’m sitting at home complaining that I’m lame. Get up off the couch!

The Dictators NYC, Neutral Nation, and We Own Land bring the punk rock to The Met Café on September 6.

Rosie Flores
Often described as raucous and rebellious, Rosie Flores is one of the most entertaining female singers and guitarist in town. From her beginnings in the late ’70s with the rockabilly band Screamin’ Sirens, Flores has crafted a pioneering career in the roots underground. Flores is touring behind a new album called Working Girl’s Guitar that shows she’s still shredding as good as ever!

Rosie Flores will rock the Knickerbocker in Westerly on September 10th.

Thee Fabulous Itchies 20 Year Anniversary Party
It doesn’t seem like it’s possible that it has been 20 years since the Itchies started, but the calendar says otherwise. Regardless, let’s party! Come catch the elder statesmen of go-go, garage rockin’, soul thumpin’, rump shakin’ rock ‘n’ roll when the Itchies celebrate turning 20!

Thee Fabulous Itchies 20th Anniversary Party will go down at Dusk in Providence on September 19. The show features live performances from Itchies, Atlantic Thrills, and the Neutrinos with the Wyld Card DJs spinning in between bands and after!  

Midday Release Party
Midday Records is throwing another party, this one with a record release theme. Bands putting out new material this night include Brother Ghost, The Sweet Release, The Quins, Bros., and SEXCoffee. The show starts early with The Can’t Nots kicking off the festivities around 5pm. In addition, it will be Jessica Prouty’s 21st birthday and her band will close the night’s festivities.

Midday Release Party featuring performances by SEXCoffee, The Sweet Release, Bros., The Quins, Brother Ghost, The Can’t Nots, and Jessica Prouty Band will hit Fete on September 20.

Fishbone
Fishbone have dabbled in a bit of everything from punk to ska to funk in their 30-plus years, which are some of the more colorful in rock ‘n’ roll. How many bands have had a member press charges against the other member for kidnapping like has happened with Fishbone? The more amazing part of this is that years later he rejoined the band. Fishbone have made a habit in recent years of stopping in Rhode Island and they’re still money for a good time!

Fishbone, Brunt Of It, and The Copacetics will rock Manchester 65 in West Warwick on September 28.  

Life’s A Gas 2
John White’s Life’s A Gas benefit for the J. Arthur Trudeau Center’s Children Rec Program returns to The Parlour for four nights of great music. The event kicks off October 2 with a singer songwriting night featuring sets by Dylan Sevey (Dylan Sevey & The Gentlemen), Allysen Callery, Billy Moretti (Denver Boots), Steve Delmonico (The Quahogs), John Faraone, and Tammy Laforest. Friday’s show is an early show, running from 6 to 9pm, featuring sets by Northeast Traffic and Able Thought. Saturday’s show promises to ratchet things up a notch with sets by M.O.T.O., Cactus Attack, The Neutrinos, Guttersluts, and an opening burlesque performance by Maiden X. Sunday’s show closes this year’s Life’s A Gas run with performances from 7 – 11pm by Bad MotherF**ker, Hector3, Red Sneakers, and Junior Beat.

Life’s A Gas 2 will take place at the Parlour from October 2nd thru October 5th.  

Rough Francis
Hailing from Burlington, Vermont, Rough Francis are literally the sons of Death. The band, that is. Rough Francis more than live up to the family legacy on their new record called Maximum Soul Power. Rough Francis take their cues from late ’60s/early ’70s Motor City rock ‘n’ roll. Think MC5, The Stooges, and of course, Death. Rough Francis channels that raw power of the motor city in cuts off like “Ruffians,” I-90 East” and “Not A Nice Guy.”

Rough Francis will rock the Columbus Theatre in Providence on October 3.

The Thurston Moore Band
Thurston Moore is a legend in indie rock circles for his time in Sonic Youth. Since the hiatus of Sonic Youth, he’s released an album with his band Chelsea Light Moving, and has another one coming as the Thurston Moore Band, which features his old Sonic Youth cohort Steve Shelly on drums. Expect a lot of guitar-driven improvisation and noise sculpting that will forever be Moore’s calling card.

The Thurston Moore Band will rock The Met Café on October 24.

Cass McCombs/Meat Puppets
Cass McCombs is an enigmatic songwriter touring behind last year’s powerful release, Big Wheel and Others.  Country punks the Kirkwood brothers formed the Meat Puppets  over 30 years ago and have a long twisted history from their acclaimed SST release in the ’80s to their ’90s alternative radio hit, “Backwater.” Despite all they have accomplished, the Meat Puppets will forever be most known for having Nirvana cover two of their songs on the Unplugged album. If Kurt Cobain was a fan of the band, they are worth checking out. It is also the 30th anniversary of the release of their classic 2nd record, II. McCombs and Meat Puppets have recorded a split 7-inch for the tour, which they’ll have available at the show.

Cass McCombs and Meat Puppets bring the thump to The Met Café on October 28.  

Mastodon
Mastodon are considered one of the preeminent metal bands the 21st century, mixing alternative/stoner/sludge into their canon. Mastodon released their 6th record, One More ‘Round the Sun, earlier this year that continues their commitment to progressive metal with lyrics that are out there. Mastodon are famous for the intensity of their live performances. You won’t want to miss them!

Mastodon, Gojira, and Kvelertak bring the metal to Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on October 30.  

Pentagram
Pentagram are one of those rock ‘n’ roll tragedies that has been revived late in life. Pentagram started as a stoner metal rock ‘n’ roll band in the early ’70s. They should have been huge, but it took 16 years to release their debut. Drugs and more drugs capsized the band’s commercial potential. The movie Last Days Here, a documentary of the band, picks up with singer Bobby Liebling living in his elderly parents’ basement and addicted to crack. Liebling gets sober and married during the film and since then Pentagram has become active again. If you ever want a reason not to do crack, check out Pentagram live because Liebling is one grotesque-looking fellow. If that’s not enough of a reason to go, the band rocks too!

Pentagram, Radio Moscow, Bang, and Kings Destroy will rock The Met Café on November 2.

Email music news to mclarkin33@gmail.com

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