The August's members include a dog walker, a substitute teacher, a South African professional arm wrestling champion, and the great-great-grandson of a deep-sea Arctic fisherman. Everyone brings something different to the band's laid-back mix of roots rock, folk and country. "We all have different styles and tastes, but our differences are complementary," says the band's singer and rhythm guitarist, Jacky Dustin.
The Midwest quartet - Dustin, Wojtek Krupka (guitar/vocals), Petey Kapp (bass/vocals) and Tim Good (drums) - came together in a northern suburb of Chicago, where they developed their sound in a local bar filled with a mix of hard-to-please regulars who weren't afraid to speak their minds. Within these walls, The August perfected its distinctive folk-rock songs tinged with a Nashville patina. Within the year, the band was playing to capacity crowds in some of Chicago's most famous venues.
The August's debut, Thistle, Sparrow, and the Tall, Tall Grass, unwinds gracefully through an emotional, 12-song journey colored by bittersweet three-part harmonies and timeless songwriting resonating with heartache and desire.
The album opens with the wistful pedal steel melody of "Gatsby" and his "washed up dream for two," written when Krupka's longtime friend and bandmate abruptly left town. "The lyrics are like the kind of letter you write when you're mad, but never send," Krupka explains. "I was bitter at the time - mostly because I was losing one of my best friends - but in the end it worked out for both of us. We're still friends and his leaving helped put this album in motion." An early version of the song was featured on Aware Records' Aware 11 Compilation in 2005.
The rest of Thistle, Sparrow, and the Tall, Tall Grass covers the full spectrum of Americana, including a regret-filled waltz ("Mr. Right"); a jazzy torch song ("Call You Up"); a cathartic rave up ("Drunken Picture"); a mellow groove about a fresh start ("On Your Way to Gone"); and a tight South African-influenced rhythm ("Don't Worry.")
The emotional songs about life's twists and turns that populate Thistle, Sparrow, and the Tall, Tall Grass build to a poignant crescendo with the last track - "Single Room House." While Dustin's vulnerable voice laments a broken heart, her sadness is carried away by the transcendent swell of a gospel choir, an addition dreamt by Kapp. "I'd imagined their voices," Kapp recalls, "but standing in the studio hearing them bring my dream to life gave me chills."
After months in the studio, the members of The August share a burning desire to hit the road. The stripped-down ballad "Outside" encapsulates that yearning with the lyric, "We gotta get out, we gotta leave here and see what's outside...see just how far this guitar can take us." "We believe in what we're doing and are passionate about these songs," says Good. "Making the record was a lot of fun, but now that it's done we can't wait to get back on the road and put some miles on these songs."
The August will tour extensively to support Thistle, Sparrow, and the Tall, Tall Grass.