I’ve never been particularly good at picking favorites, but when it comes to catching a concert in the Ocean State, Joe Fletcher is without a doubt my top billing. One part Americana rock, one part folksy blues and one hundred percent good for your soul, Joe’s music is the kind that brings people together and spreads a smile and a good shoe stomp across the room. His album White Lighter by Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons is the soundtrack to the better part of my late nights and Sunday morning cups of coffee, and harkens back to older times with rich lyrics and full-bodied musicianship. See him perform just once, and you can tell that this man was made to play music. His husky voice, riling guitar rhythms, and earnest stage presence demand an audience, and I dare you to try and stay still during a dose of his rambling rock and roll.
A lover of all things live music, I’ve been lucky enough to see Joe go from playing Sunday sessions at my favorite hole in the wall in Brooklyn to taking the stage to a packed lawn at Fort Adams State Park during this past summer’s Newport Folk Festival. After his set, on what was easily the biggest day of his musical career to date, Joe joined a group of kids from the local Boys and Girls Club and myself under the trees. We sat in a circle on the damp grass, with Joe leading a Woodie Guthrie sing-a-long before answering questions. His girlfriend Mackenzie Holway sat behind him, snapping photos. Offstage, stripped of the lights and sound equipment and surrounded by inquisitive pre-teens, Joe’s passion for his craft remained just as poignant.
It has been a huge year for Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons. After leaving a job teaching high school English to put a full-time effort behind his music, Fletcher has gone nothing but full steam ahead, embarking on his first cross country tour and sharing the stage with friends and musical heavyweights alike including Providence bands Deer Tick, The Low Anthem and The Devil Makes Three. A self-booked and self-promoted touring success, making his own artwork advertising each show and sharing his travels and love for all things Americana through Instagram, Fletcher has started selling out venues.
So what’s in store for 2013? Joe is currently on tour with Warren neighbors and fellow folk fest alums Brown Bird. He will be returning to Rhode Island for two South County dates in February before heading out for another run along the East Coast and a March appearance at Austin, Texas’ nationally billed music festival South By Southwest. Joe’s new solo album, You’ve Got the Wrong Man, is slated for release this spring, and I can’t wait to add it to heavy rotation.
Catch him while you can. I have a feeling national tours are soon going to sweep Mr. Fletcher away his home state. Joe plays the Jamestown Art Center on February 22 and Peace Dale’s Roots Hoot House on February 23. For more information on the latter show, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Put on your black studded dancing boots and come on out. You’ll find me up front and stage center singing along.