Souled American is a pioneering alternative country band from Chicago that was active mostly in the late 1980's and early 1990's. The band has its origins in Normal, a college town in central Illinois and revolves around vocalists Chris Grigoroff (also guitar) and Joe Adducci (also bass) who previously played in a band called The Uptown Rulers. Souled American recorded four albums for Rough Trade Records, which initially stirred a modicum of critical and popular attention both in North America and Europe. In 1991 drummer Jamey Barnard left the band, releasing their fourth album (and last for Rough Trade), Sonny. After four albums, a tour with Camper Van Beethoven, and a wealth of critical acclaim (though very little commercial success, one Rough Trade employee later claimed, "The band sold less and less records with each consecutive release") Rough Trade folded and Souled American seemingly disappeared. The band re-emered in 1994 with Frozen and 1997's Notes Campfire, both released on the obscure German label Moll Tonträger. Sometime after 1996 guitarist Scott Tuma also left the band leaving the duo of Adducci and Grigoroff still intact. The remaining two members have since made sporadic appearances in their hometown and brief tours including shows in New York City and Ohio but new studio material has been sparse. A re-release of their first four albums on Tumult Records in 1999 brought some belated attention. In 1997, New York artist Camden Joy created a poster project called "Fifty Posters About Souled American" (the ultimate number exceeded the originally planned 50), consisting of typewritten comments and stories by various artists and musicians on mostly forgotten band. Joy then distributed the posters around Greenwich Village.
The band's sound evolved rapidly from the release of their first records, becoming more introspective and avant-garde. The one constant is Adducci and Grigoroff's passionate and twangy singing and Adducci's immediately recognizable bass playing on a Fender Bass VI, a rarely used six-string bass. While Fe is a fairly straightforward rock album, their second album Flubber hints at where the band would end up on Notes Campfire. The drums become less active, until disappearing altogether after Barnard's departure, the guitars become more heavily effected, and the tempi of their songs slow. It's possible that Frozen, the first of the post-Rough Trade albums, is among the most sluggish and languid music ever made. This style affords the listener moments of crushing misery but also intense beauty, the music being unlike anything made before or since its release. "Notes Campfire" continues in roughly the same spirit and style.
Since his departure, Scott Tuma released two solo albums entitled Hard Again (Atavistic) and The River 1234 (Truckstop Records). He also recorded a CD under the name Good Stuff House in 2006 with members of the Chicago band Zelienople and occasionally performs and records with Chicago's Boxhead Ensemble.
The only studio material available since 1997 is a cover of Kris Kristofferson's "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends" on a 2002 tribute album and "Ringside Suite", a brand new song (as well as an interview) found on a compilation CD in issue #4 of Yeti Magazine. It is the band's only available original recording in almost a decade and the only recording to feature the current duo line-up of Adducci and Grigoroff.
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