Joe Pug first performed in Colorado Springs in 2011 at a house concert organized by Heather Powell Browne, who for more than a decade wrote the influential local music blog, “I Am the Fuel, You are Friends.” That May, Pug recorded a gorgeous three-song acoustic session at Shove Chapel in Colorado Springs, available for download at fuelfriendsblog.com.
“He was one of the first house concerts I attended, in Boulder, and at the time I just reached out and asked if he wanted to play one in Colorado Springs,” Powell Browne recalled. “Joe agreed, and he’s been through here several times since, playing a couple of house concerts and MeadowGrass Music Festival (in 2013). He’s amazing live. It feels like he’s birthing the song new every time he sings it. He has so much joy and purity when he performs.”
The singer-songwriter’s career has taken off, with his studio albums “Messenger” (2010), “The Great Despiser (2012) and “Windfall” (2015) receiving critical acclaim, and a new one in the final recording stages and set for release next year.
He will perform at Ivywild School Gymnasium on Thursday after an 8 p.m. opening performance by Kittredge-based Patrick Dethlefs.
The 34-year-old Pug has a toddler son at home in Prince George’s County, Md., and finds his songwriting much more focused and efficient than before fatherhood.
“I think most first-time parents learn you continue to do your job, and you get the same stuff done in less time. I guess I was wasting a lot of time before,” he said. “I’ve learned to become a little less precious with songwriting. I’ve learned not to be so superstitious as to how a song should or shouldn’t be, what frame of mind you can or can’t be in when writing.”
Pug devotes a good chunk of time to his monthly podcast, “The Working Songwriter.” Since 2016, he’s interviewed quite a few of “today’s best songwriters.” Recent guests have included The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, Lee Ann Womack and Gregory Alan Isakov.
“It has made me more connected with the community of songwriters, has made me feel less isolated and more useful — and that has been profoundly meaningful for me,” he said.
Pug said he’s “very, very, very close” to being done recording his new album, as yet unnamed, which he produced with the Milk Carton Kids’ Kenneth Pattengale in Nashville.
“This is my first time making an album with studio musicians I’ve never met before. They would take a few notes and go to their battle stations and just knock out take after take. Musicians that are capable of playing music like that on their feet blind is rare. I find it exists almost exclusively in Nashville,” Pug said. “My first album was just me, and the others had more of a full band sound. This one will be in between.”
He plans to play some of the new album’s songs at the Ivywild show, and also fan favorites including “Hymn #101,” the unforgettable anthem off his 2009 “Nation of Heat” EP.
His favorite part of performing? “When I’ve finished a show and it’s gone successfully, I can hear people as they’re leaving the theater. If they’re talking to one another, I know the show has hit its mark and there’s that kind of buzz as they’re leaving the room. If I’ve done that well, then I can loosen up — I can crack a beer and listen to people murmur in the hall talking to one another, inspired.”
MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM