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Born and raised in Iowa City, IA, singer and songwriter Kelly Pardekooper waited until the ripe old age of 32 to record his first album, but his maturity and life experiences show in his music, which matches rough-hewn but tuneful alt-country with honest, emotional tales of life in the Midwest. Pardekooper (who likes to describe himself as "a guy from Iowa with bad hair and a funny name") cut his first album in 1998, a stripped-down affair called 30-Weight, which was released through his own Leisure Time Records imprint. Iowa City's independent Trailer Records label signed a deal with Pardekooper for his second album, 2000's Johnson County Snow, which featured frequent Greg Brown and Lucinda Williams sideman Bo Ramsey on guitar, as well as Pardekooper's backing group, the Devil's House Band. Pardekooper collaborated with guitarist Teddy Morgan for his third album, House of Mud, recorded in Florida in the fall of 2001 and released in the spring of 2002. Pardekooper pulled up stakes and relocated to Nashville in 2004, where he cut Haymaker Heart, but by the time it was released in 2005, he'd settled down in Madison, WI, where he got married and began working as a housepainter and ad salesman for a local newspaper. However, Pardekooper, who had gained a sizable cult following in Europe, wasn't about to give up music completely, and after signing to Sonic Rendezvous Records in the Netherlands, he released his fifth studio set in 2007, Brand New Bag. ~ Mark Deming