With a tireless work ethic and a show itinerary that—in normal times, at least—is typically overflowing with bookings, every year is an accomplished one for Chicken Wire Empire. That being said, it’s hard to imagine a more productive year in the venerable Milwaukee bluegrass outfit’s long tenure than 2019. Last year started with the release of What Moves Mountains, an album Chicken Wire Empire officially put out January 1. That release was chased with a wide number of Midwest performances, summer festival appearances, and a pair of sold-out shows at The Back Room @ Colectivo in fall.
Though that would already be more than enough for most bands, Chicken Wire Empire ended what could be its biggest year yet with a month-long tour in Germany (with brief stops in Switzerland and Austria as well) during a large-scale event known as Bluegrass Jamboree. Thankfully, they decided to record a great deal of those performances and, after combing through 22 live set recordings, the band decided there was enough material to populate two live albums. The first of those, the soon-to-be-released Live From Deutschland Vol. 1, features material taken from eight different performances. When combined, the 13-song release serves as an outstanding encapsulation of the band’s unforgettable month overseas.
“We’re really proud of this live album and all of the work that went into it,” Chicken Wire Empire bassist and vocalist Jordan Kroeger says. “It was a really fun adventure in Germany and this album is a great representation of our live energy on stage. We could not be more thankful for Rainer Zeller and his wife for this unforgettable opportunity and for giving us a great tour.”
Zellner, the band’s tour manager during the run of shows, introduces Chicken Wire Empire to the German-speaking audience (a practice he did every night of tour) in the first track. Following that unique album outset, the experienced bluegrass quintet can be heard treating those in attendance to rousing contemporary renditions of time-tested covers like “In The Gravel Yard,” as well as public domain favorites like “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” and “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad.” Over the course of the 80-minute release, Chicken Wire Empire also wins show-goers over with lively versions of “Shady Grove” and a heartfelt take on “Peggy-O.”
Chicken Wire Empire’s Live From Deutschland Vol. 1 will be available on all major streaming platforms and purchase digital download at the band’s website on Friday, August 14. Before the unique German tour album is released anywhere else, you can stream it in its entirety below.