Twenty years ago, Nan Warshaw, Rob Miller, and Eric Babcock started Bloodshot Records to document the budding alternative country scene in their hometown of Chicago. Their first release–a compilation of local and national like-minded artists, from the Old 97’s to the Handsome Family–gave a home to roots bands that didn’t fit the “roots” mold. These groups spiked their Carter Family-isms with punk and rock, tipping their hats to the old while making something uniquely new. Ryan Adams, Neko Case, and Justin Townes Earle all called Bloodshot Records home at one point. Austinites like Alejandro Escovedo, Rosie Flores, and Scott H. Biram were also scooped up into the label’s orbit.
Two decades later, Bloodshot is celebrating their birthday with a bang. While No One Was Looking hints at the tongue-in-cheek attitude always taken by the label, who’s constantly swam upstream since its inception. But it’s worthy of celebration, partially due to the diverse set of artists they’ve touched over the years. Andrew Bird, Chuck Prophet, Ted Leo, Shakey Graves, Ben Kweller, Shinyribs, and Samuel Fogarino of Interpol all appear on the compilation, tackling a wide range of songs. And today, we’re turning the spotlight on Blitzen Trapper, fellow rootsy outsiders who cover Ryan Adams’ classic “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High).”