It’s not every band that has a lead singer who has published three books of poetry and whose literary criticism has appeared in The Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Twentieth Century. In addition, Joe Doerr teaches English at St. Edward’s University in Austin and is a member of the LeRoi Brothers with older brother Steve Doerr.
So it’s not surprising that his quintet, Churchwood, describes its music as “poetry-driven, alternative blues-rock.” The guitar tandem of Bill Anderson and Billysteve Korpi might churn out Bo Diddley or Howlin’ Wolf riffs Captain Beefheart would be proud of while Doerr spits out a stream of lyrics like Tom Waits without the gravel and occasionally blows a mean harp.
Anderson was Doerr’s partner in Austin bands Ballad Shambles and Hand Of Glory, while Korpi learned from watching older brother Mark Korpi, an alumnus of Evan Johns, Gary Primich, Ted Roddy, and Guitar Lin. Billysteve’s Crack Pipes embraced funk, punk, folk-rock, soul, blues, psychedelic, garage, and a sense of humor.
Literary references pop up, as in “One Big White Nightmare,” populated by Tashtego and the rest from Moby-Dick. The music is challenging, often hypnotic, usually undanceable, but occasionally actually radio-friendly. “Original” is an understatement.
This article originally appeared in VG November 2017 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.