I've got a whole city to hold down

March 01, 2005

Bloodshot: Exodus or rebirth?

North Carolina-based Yep Roc Records announced last week that it will release a new album from Chicago countryconoclast Robbie Fulks in May. The label says the disc, entitled Georgia Hard, represents a "return to [Fulks'] musical roots."

It's a departure, however, from his label roots. Fulks released his first two albums on Chicago's Bloodshot, left for an ill-fated fling with a major, then returned to the local fold. (Technically his last two slabs, The Very Best of Robbie Fulks and Couples In Trouble, were self-released by Fulks with distribution via Bloodshot.)

The loss of Fulks continues a trend of acts fleeing the self-styled home of "insurgent country." Bloodshot alumni Neko Case, Sally Timms, the Bottle Rockets, the Sadies, Trailer Bride and the Legendary Shack Shakers all issued albums elsewhere last year. Also in '04, the Old 97s (who like Fulks built a following on Bloodshot before moving up to the majors) returned to the indie ranks but with New West Records, and the Alejandro Escovedo tribute album Por Vida came out on Or Music.

Maybe, though, that exodus is really just a change of focus - back to nourishing local acts and up-and-comers, after a few years of taking on midcareer or veteran artists like the Yayhoos, Graham Parker, Ryan Adams and the previously noted Bottle Rockets. Bloodshot stoked the home fires with discs by Chicago acts Dollar Store and Nora O'Connor last year and there's a new Devil In A Woodpile album on the way; meanwhile they've inked two lesser-known national acts in Austin rockabilly/blues dude Scott Biram and bluegrass-based youngbloods Jim and Jennie & the Pinetops. Their Bloodshot debuts are expected this spring.