Under The Radar: The Juleps

I thought Chicago was Second City - who knew?

I thought it was Second City - who knew?

I guess I could also call this a blast from the past, as it was ten years ago that I came across The Juleps and wrote about them for a similar column focusing on artists you might be missing out on. But since I don’t think they ever got the credit they deserved, let’s go with this category, shall we?

I don’t even remember how I first came across them, but no doubt I was up late following tangents on sites like CD Baby and Amazon, a practice that has yielded many rewards over the years. But this was, and is, a real keeper. From that article back in 2000, and my first take on this great band:

It’s pretty hard to find a band who can play a Billy Joe Shaver song better than ‘ol Billy Joe himself, but their live version of “Hottest Thing In Town” might be the track that changes that theory forever. It’s from a CD called Live At Thurston’s that’s only available via the MP3 site. If you’re wondering where you’ve heard that voice before, vocalist Gary Yerkins (as well as a couple of Juleps) is also a member of The Insiders, who released a couple of albums for Columbia and had an FM hit with “Ghost On The Beach”.

While The Insiders focus more on solid pop and rock and roll, The Juleps are more strum and twang territory. When Yerkins and vocalist Cathy Richardson harmonize, it’s like Steve Earle and Emmylou ripping it up – “Wild Beautiful Thing” and “Can’t Back It Up” are nothing short of fabulous! Many of the live tracks are available on the studio CD Kickbutt City, USA, which is also available from the band. Yerkins says that the band was formed as an “anti-agenda, anti-biz, anti-career band” where he could write music along the lines of his favorite artists and feature duets with a female voice. It turned out to be much cooler than anyone anticipated.

I don’t believe The Juleps still exist as an ongoing effort anymore, but their recordings still stand. Gary Yerkins has continued to record; his wonderful solo CD Compass is available here. And John Siegle – who was in Screams with Brad Elvis (“Imagine Me Without You”) – also released a great solo album; check it out here. Ah, fertile Illinois…more on The Elvis Brothers and John Siegle another day…

Link to The Juleps webpage

“If Wishes Were Horses”, live in 2006

“Ghost On The Beach”, still killer.

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Filed under Features and Interviews, Music, Reviews

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