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Bloodshot Records is an independent record label based in Chicago, Illinois that specializes in roots-infused indie rock, punk rock, and alternative country.[1][2]

Bloodshot Records
Bloodshot Records logo
Founded1993 (1993)
FounderNan Warshaw
Rob Miller
Eric Babcock
(former partner from 1993–1997)
GenreAlternative country
Insurgent country
Country of originUnited States
LocationChicago, Illinois


Bloodshot Records was founded in 1993 by Nan Warshaw,[3] Rob Miller,[4] and Eric Babcock.[5][6] Warshaw and Miller met in 1992 when they bonded over a passion for country music and began to regularly deejay[7] on Wednesday country nights at a Chicago bar called Crash Palace, now called Delilah's.[8] Both Warshaw and Miller had played in bands, had deejayed at their local college radio stations, and had worked in different areas of the music business. Warshaw had booked tours for bands she was friends with and had worked as a publicist for the band Killbilly who released a record on Flying Fish Records, where co-founder Babcock worked.[8] Active in what was then a burgeoning underground country-roots music scene in Chicago, Warshaw and Miller made a wishlist of unheralded bands and musicians they loved on a cocktail napkin while having drinks at a bar.[9]


That cocktail napkin list eventually became the label's first release, a 1994 compilation called For A Life of Sin: A Compilation of Insurgent Chicago Country that Warshaw, Miller and Babcock self-funded.[10][11] The album, which documented the Chicago music scene Warshaw and Miller saw at the time, included artists such as The Bottle Rockets and Robbie Fulks as well as long-time local Chicago band, The Sundowners.[6] Using the compilation format, Bloodshot organized record release shows in multiple cities with four or five bands on each night's line up, which allowed a wide press presence for the small label, where the bands could sell what turned out to be some of the bands' first records at the multi-band lineup shows. The record was self-distributed and sold on consignment, with enough success that the record was paid for and there was funds to do another compilation.[8]

A year later, in 1995, the label released their second compilation album Hell Bent: Insurgent Country Volume 2. The album included band from all over the country, and Bloodshot continued to put on events showcasing the bands involved with the making of the record.[8] Although well received by critics, Bloodshot had very tight financial constraints, and worked under the model of not starting a new project until the prior project had paid for itself. Also challenging was establishing Bloodshot's brand, a mixture of country, punk, and folk that had no prior precedence.[12][13] The name of the music genre was a point of contention, with some grouping the unique, hard-to-classify singer-songwriter music under the alternative country and some grouping it under the Americana label.[14]

In 1997, co-founder Babcock left Bloodshot, eventually relocating to Nashville where he founded Catamount Records.[15]

In 2014, Bloodshot released their 20th anniversary album, While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records.[16] The album is a 2-CD set with 38 artists that include bands like Andrew Bird, Blitzen Trapper, Superchunk and Diarrhea Planet covering songs by some of Bloodshot's stable of artists (i.e., Ryan Adams, Old 97's, Cory Branan, Justin Townes Earle).[17] Bloodshot spent the year celebrating their success at surviving during a period when most independent record labels were going out of business.[8]


While Bloodshot built its catalog of releases of both compilation and records by an ever enlarging roster of artists and bands, the cost of running a record label was very challenging, requiring both Warshaw and Miller to work supplemental jobs to keep afloat. The label was initially run out of Warshaw's basement. When Bloodshot released Ryan Adams' record Heartbreaker, the popularity of the record created a more stable financial base for the label, and allowed Warshaw and Miller to dedicate themselves full-time to running the label, move to a bigger office space in the northwest side of Chicago, and begin to have employees.[1] Singer Kelly Hogan was the first paid employee, working as the label's publicist.[8] The Chicago twang, country, and punk scene, often described as a sort of an anti-Nashville, continued to expand, often led by various projects involving The Mekons' Jon Langford.[18]

Chicago communityEdit

Bloodshot has close ties to the Chicago community[19] and particularly to the Hideout.[20]

Since 2002, Bloodshot has put on a free BBQ and music day-long showcase at both Austin, Texas' SXSW and New York City's CMJ music festivals.[21][22] The annual SXSW BBQs have often been anchored by performances by The Waco Brothers[23]


Some of the early artists who started out on Bloodshot went on to sign with larger major record labels, specifically Old 97's and Ryan Adams.[24] Ryan Adams had one of the label's best selling albums with the 2000 release Heartbreaker, having sold almost 500,000 copies.[9] Neko Case had a licensing deal with Bloodshot Records in the United States and Mint Records in Canada before she signed with ANTI-.[25]

Bloodshot includes a diverse roster of artists. The roster includes Andre Williams, who wrote "Shake a Tail Feather," faced challenges, and then had a career renaissance making records at Bloodshot.[26] Bloodshot includes bands and projects by many members of The Mekons, including Jon Langford, Sally Timms, and Rico Bell.

‡ denotes active Bloodshot artists



Bloodshot Records began its life as a label by releasing compilations.[27]

  • 1994: For a Life of Sin: A Compilation of Insurgent Chicago Country
  • 1995: Hell Bent: Insurgent Country Volume 2
  • 1996: Nashville, The Other Side of the Alley
  • 1997: Straight Outta Boone County
  • 1999: Poor Little Knitter on the Road: A Tribute to the Knitters
  • 2000: Down to the Promised Land: 5 Years of Bloodshot Records
  • 2002: The Bottle Let Me Down
  • 2002: Making Singles, Drinking Doubles
  • 2003: The Slaughter Rule (Original Movie Soundtrack)
  • 2004: Hard Headed Woman: A Celebration of Wanda Jackson
  • 2005: For A Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records
  • 2006: Bloodied But Unbowed: The Soundtrack
  • 2007: Just One More: A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown
  • 2011: No One Got Hurt: Bloodshot's 15th Anniversary @ The Hideout Block Party
  • 2014: While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records

Bloodshot RevivalEdit

Bloodshot Revival/Soundies: A series of historic transcription acetate recordings that were leased to radio stations for airplay but never sold at the time of recording.[28]



The label planned to release a 10th anniversary DVD (Bloodied But Unbowed: Bloodshot Records' Life In The Trenches) in 2004, but it was not released until late 2006.[29][30]

  • 2006: Bloodied But Unbowed: Bloodshot Records' Life In The Trenches - 10th Anniversary DVD

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Maurice, Raphael (14 November 2014). "While No One Was Looking: Twenty Years of Bloodshot Records". The Bluegrass Situation. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  2. ^ Loerzel, Robert (12 April 2014). "How Bloodshot Records has lasted so long (One hint: Lydia Loveless)". Crain's Chicago Business.
  3. ^ "Meet an FMC fan: Nan Warshaw of Bloodshot Records". Future of Music Coalition. 20 August 2012.
  4. ^ Chamberlain, Dave (11 April 2002). "So you wanna start a record label? Bloodshot Records shares the inside information on starting--and keeping--a music business". New City Chicago. Archived from the original on 10 February 2003.
  5. ^ Chipps, William (17 September 2009). "Bloodshot Records: An Indie Music Label's Take On Sponsorship". Archived from the original on 7 October 2013.
  6. ^ a b Dickinson, Chris (3 June 1994). "Fledgling Country Label Opts For `Life Of Sin'". Chicago Tribune.
  7. ^ Townsend, Audarshia (19 June 1997). "Women Put A New Spin On Deejay Job". Chicago Tribune.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Karpowicz, Katie (20 November 2014). "Bloodshot Records Celebrates 20 Years: An Oral History Of Its Beginnings". Chicagoist. Archived from the original on 5 October 2015.
  9. ^ a b Kot, Greg (28 December 2014). "Bloodshot duo hits 20 without compromise". Chicago Tribune.
  10. ^ Finn, Timothy (12 October 2000). "Country Confessions: Oh, it's country time again for industry". The Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on 18 January 2001.
  11. ^ Smith-Lindall, Anders (11 October 2000). "Sweethearts of the Rodeo: Chicago transplants Neko Case and Kelly Hogan carry the torch for 21st-century twang". City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul). Archived from the original on 4 February 2001.
  12. ^ Margasak, Peter (15 June 2000). "Bloodshot Eyes the Future". Chicago Reader.
  13. ^ "Bloodshot Records Week: Rob Miller on 10 Years Since Heartbreaker". The Line Of Best Fit. 14 September 2010. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012.
  14. ^ Wener, Ben (29 July 2001). "Americana, what art thou? Pop: The word has replaced alt-country and No Depression as the new label for roots music - but does that mean it's a real genre?". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on 5 August 2001.
  15. ^ Kot, Greg (30 January 2004). "They might be Bloodshot, but not tired at all". Chicago Tribune.
  16. ^ Dickinson, Chrissie (17 November 2014). "Celebrating 20 years at Bloodshot Records: Venerated Chicago indie label toasts 2 decades of music with special release". Chicago Tribune.
  17. ^ Sullivan, James (14 November 2014). "Bloodshot Records Celebrates 20 Years of 'Insurgent Country' With Double Album". Rolling Stone.
  18. ^ Kot, Greg (16 January 2000). "You Call This Country? Chicago's Crowd Is Maverick, Direct -- And True To The Honky-tonk Spirit". Chicago Tribune.
  19. ^ Margasak, Peter (7 January 2015). "Where is Bloodshot Records going now that 'insurgent country' has outgrown it?". Chicago Reader.
  20. ^ Kot, Greg (21 September 2017). "Hideout revives block party as small but potent". Chicago Tribune.
  21. ^ Bishop, Robert (29 March 2001). "Split Decision". The Pitch.
  22. ^ "Bloodshot Records Week Interview: Elia Einhorn (Scotland Yard Gospel Choir) interviews Jon Langford". The Line Of Best Fit. 15 September 2010.
  23. ^ Sisario, Ben (18 March 2012). "Seeking Comfort, and Innovation, at South by Southwest". The New York Times.
  24. ^ Strauss, Neil (17 June 2001). "MUSIC; A Future So Bright, He's Already Seen It". The New York Times.
  25. ^ Hill, David (23 August 2001). "A Special Case: Neko Case has yet to make the Opry, but her reputation as a new country pioneer is grand". Denver Westword.
  26. ^ Knight, Meribah (20 November 2010). "A Soul Singer's Life of Highs and Lows Soars Anew". The New York Times.
  27. ^ "Label Spotlight: Bloodshot Records". plug in music. 11 August 2008.
  28. ^ "Bloodshot Revival at Bloodshot Records". Bloodshot Records.
  29. ^ Carlozo, Louis R. (7 November 2006). "Bloodshot DVD celebrates label that's insurgent". Chicago Tribune.
  30. ^ Perlich, Tim (19–26 October 2006). "Bloodied but unbowed". Now (Toronto).

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit