Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Cafe Joli” by Clodhopper from the 1998 album Red’s Recovery Room on My Own Planet.
Generally, our Song of the Day selections are taken from recent releases, but today’s selection, “Cafe Joli”, has been receiving airtime on the Morning Show for nearly 15 years. A favorite of John Richards, the track is from Clodhopper’s long out-of-print album, Red’s Recovery Room. A project of Danny Pearson (ex-American Music Club), Clodhopper played music that was as influenced by early 20th century folk music as it was by the ’90s alt-country movement. Resting on a steady groove and a dancing clawhammer banjo lead, “Cafe Joli” is a modern take on early 20th century folk music. Weary yet optimistic, Pearson’s conversational vocal style tells a quasi-stream of consciousness tale of his daily adventures around the town. When the rousing chorus comes around, Pearson rallies his bandmates around a refrain of the titular restaurant. “Cafe Joli” captures the intimacy of a campfire singalong and translates it into something much bigger - a folk song that sounds just as great, if not better, today as it did fourteen years ago.
Save for a pair of articles on No Depression, Clodhopper seems to have unfairly faded in music’s annuals. Red’s Recovery Room is unavailable in digital form and a rare find on online physical music outlets. In the years following Clodhopper, multi-instrumentalist Tim Bierman became the manager of the Ten Club, Pearl Jam’s fan club, while frontman Danny Pearson released a solo album in 2003. Recently, though, drummer and producer Tim Mooney (also of Sun Kil Moon, American Music Club, and other bands) passed away. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends, and our memories will always live on in this song.