By Chris Doxtator
Sawmill Joe does not just talk the talk. He works at Olde Tyme Lumber near Boulder, and actually lost a finger to the work. But even if he hadn’t, even if that weren’t already the makings of the perfect musician bio, Sawmill Joe is a fucking badass name for what he is doing. His music has two main ingredients: grit and love—hard work and the man that does it.
It doesn’t take more than the first raspy word from his untitled track at Head Room Sessions 11 to hear the lumberyard in this man’s throat. His raspy and raw vocals sound just like the rough work he does, but he manages to make it into music that isn’t short of sweetness, thoughtfulness, and an overall awareness that the most battered and worked-over of us, still hope and yearn for the comfort of another.
In “Take Me as I am,” Joe sings, “Out here in the timber, chopping through the frost, ain’t got no warm bodies, babe, just the heat of my chainsaw.” The song is from the perspective of a worker over a hundred miles from home thinking of warmer times and company. But he can’t come home until his work is done. Joe’s vocals compliment this picture perfectly. Not unlike a chainsaw, his voice pleads with a wood splintering crack that he won’t be gone for long. Joe’s music is reminiscent of a simpler time, where hard work and dedication were the two forces that built a home. However, Joe isn’t relying on old stories for his material. He is a living, breathing example of the strength that comes from working for your love and loving that work. He puts both of these efforts into his music, which lend themselves to his gritty sound that’s softened by the realization that all his effort is for a softer woman and place to lay his head.