For most of us the phrase Gold Country evokes memories of the 49ers who flocked to California by boat and covered wagon in order to seek fortune for themselves and their families. Chuck Ragan’s latest disc may be coming out a few lifetimes after the gold rush of the mid-nineteenth century, however there’s a timeless quality to the album that embodies the hope and hard work that helped define that period in the American consciousness. That has a lot to do with the fact that there’s nothing preconceived about Gold Country. It’s simply the sound of a talented songwriter doing what his kind has been doing for centuries: playing simple songs alongside a close group of friends not for hope of financial gains, but because he literally has no other choice.
“We recorded the record at Flying Whale Studio up on this six acre mining claim called Arrowhead Mines. It’s an old local mine that was pretty well known back in the day,” Ragan explains. “The record is just another page in the book and another chapter in life and it’s documenting where we are in that moment of time. Right now Gold Country is what I’ve lived for, everything I’ve worked to achieve and hold sacred and everything I strive to get home to.” Ragan knows a thing or two about paying his dues: since the early nineties he’s co-fronted the legendary punk act Hot Water Music and over the past few years he’s released a string of well-received solo acoustic efforts in the spirit of fellow folk troubadours like Steve Earle and Pete Seeger.
Harkening back to the early folk era, last year’s Revival Tour also featured songwriters from Avail, Lucero and Against Me! and was one of the year’s most unique concert experiences. “You go on a tour for two months and the last three days of the whole tour you’re playing songs together and having a blast. Why can’t we get together and rehearse before the tour starts and do that from the beginning?” Ragan explains when asked where he got inspiration for the Revival Tour. Correspondingly, that idea also ties back into his sense of family and community that’s inherent in his own music. “Some of our set is scripted [on the Revival Tour] but pretty much everything else we just see what happens,” he elaborates. “It’s truly one of the most special tours I’ve been a part of.”