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A singer/songwriter whose songs offer an updated version of the country-folk archetypes that Bob Dylan and John Prine made famous, Joe Pug was born and raised in Maryland, and began playing guitar when he was in grade school. Pug formed his first band on a dare from his sixth-grade science teacher, who didn't believe Pug and his friends would be able to pull something together in time to appear at a school dance. The boys were able to deliver a presentable version of a tune from the first Foo Fighters album, and Pug was on his way; before long he began writing songs, convinced at an early age that a real band should play its own original material. After graduating from high school, he traveled south to North Carolina to attend college. Pug was studying writing plays, but in time his growing passion for songwriting overwhelmed his interest in drama. Pug dropped out of school and relocated to Chicago, where he supported himself as a carpenter while he wrote songs and began working his way into the city's club circuit. He released his debut EP, Nation of Heat, on his own label in 2008.