News Column

Have you ever heard of "Pulp Americana"?

August 26, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 26--The way Jason Shogren describes his music is peculiar.

The long explanation goes something like this: "1907 parlor and dancehall music filtered through a contemporary catawampus dissonant transmitter. Music for your inner grafter from a life lived in loud proportions."

The short answer: "Pulp Americana."

"Pulp Americana is a little bit of everything that makes up American music," Shogren said. "Country, rock, blues, folk, soul, R & B. All of that is filtered through the lens of our band, and the pulp is what's left."

Jack Kerouac-styled descriptions aside, it's hard to not like Shogren's music. Based in Laramie where Shogren teaches at the University of Wyoming, the band, fully known as J. Shogren Shanghai'd, has earned a steady following across the state. Their sound takes from groups like Wilco and Woody Guthrie, among others, as you may well expect.

Shogren and his band will kick off the Snowy Range Music Festival next weekend in Laramie. Headliners for the weekend festival this year include Canned Heat, LeAnn Rimes and A.J. Croce as well as local favorites like Jalan Crossland.

The three-day festival features two stages, and visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to set out on the Astro Turf that covers the arena floor.

It was started four years ago with the goal of becoming one of the premier music festivals in America by featuring a diverse set of acts that Shogren's group sort of exemplifies.

Shogren is joined on stage by a revolving cast of musicians, drawn from the ranks of Wyoming's most popular bands. That's how he got the Shanghai'd portion of his band's name. The images of waking up on a strange boat after a night of drinking in an exotic land and having to work your way home seemed like a good comparison for how he went about assembling his crew.

"I had to convince a lot of talented musicians to play with me when they already had bands, one way or another, because I wanted to play with the best," he said. "But in all seriousness, they are more than my band. They are my colleagues and friends who really shape my music."

Shogren has four albums and is working on his fifth right now. He isn't exactly sure how to describe it and has been asking for ideas at his live sets.

"One guy said, 'Well, I think it sounds like Tom Petty,' and I was like, 'Wow, that's not something I was really planning on,'" Shogren said. "I think that they may just be a little more modern than the other stuff."

Shogren said the album would probably be out next summer. In the meantime, he is looking forward to playing The Snowy Range Music Festival and seeing some of the other acts come through.

"Wyoming is starting to get a couple of really good festivals, and it is nice to have one of those here in the southeast part of the state with such a high caliber of talent," he said.

PARTIAL LIST OF ACTS

LeAnn Rimes

Canned Heat

Roy Rogers

Tab Benoit

A.J. Croce

Soul Rebels

Pimps of Joy Time

Jalan Crossland

J. Shogren

Glen David Andrews

Reverend Peyton and His Big Damned Band

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(c)2013 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, Wyo.)

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