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Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean (Eleventh Dream Day)'s band -- they've been writing and singer together off and on for 16 years! -- have released their fifth record, Springtime on local indie label, Thrill Jockey Records. After discussions with Steve Earle's E Squared label (distributed by Warner Bros.), Freakwater decided to eschew the Nashville makeover, sticking to their spare, but interesting modern country. Despite limited time (parenthood takes a good bit of Bean's time), they manage to play reguarly in Chicago, and make occasional tours of parts of the country.

Irwin and Bean have known each other since their Louisville childhood, when when Irwin regularly teased Bean. They've since become good friends, and developed musically from covering Woody Guthrie songs to original work. In the excellent "Picture In My Mind", my favorite track from Springtime, the lyrics run: "Whiskey is not evil when it's sitting on the shelf / I'm as sweet as I can be when I'm all by myself / A shotgun never shot no one when it's haning on the wall / I got itchy fingers and you got knees to crawl." Max Johnston (ex-Uncle Tupelo) and David Gay (Astro Naughts), and a varying group of others round out the band.

They also appear on the 2-CD compilation, Exposed Roots: The Best of Alt-Country.

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