Trimming the fat


Achilles Tenderloin croons at Yellow Cab’s WinterFolk fest

By Joey Ferber

Photo: Joe Augustin of Achilles Tenderloin sings the blues Jan. 28 at Yellow Cab’s Winterfolk festival; photo: Jennifer Taylor

The Dayton area is ripe with the blues. And perhaps the best quality of the region’s take on this historical line of music is that each artist seems to be comfortable iterating the music in his own, unique way. Such is the case with Achilles Tenderloin, a one- (and sometimes two-) man act emerging from Richmond, Indiana, whose music is informed with interest in Greek mythology and the intention to connect with fellow human beings on a universal level. Dayton City Paper spoke with the founder and leader of the group who describes the act:

“Achilles Tenderloin, for the most part, is me, Joe Augustin, a folk-blues guitarist and singer-songwriter from Richmond, Indiana. I draw a lot of my musical inspiration from pre-war blues artists like Skip James and Sun House and I also listen to a lot of new music and the American folk movement.”

While Augustin was in college, he “stumbled” upon the work of Skip James: “It inspired me to slow down a little bit and dig a little bit deeper inside myself to connect with the music I was singing. And, it rubbed off naturally on the way I play guitar and think about songwriting.”

But why the blues?

“Well, just in the way that it resonates with me. I’m not connecting with it as much from a historical perspective, although it does interest me, and I have studied it some. I look for what it does to me when I listen to it, and I try to continue with that feeling when I’m producing my own stuff.”

For Augustin, songwriting is a conduit, helping him connect with parts of himself that he can then push to the surface for others to hear.

“It helps me connect to universal elements of the human experience,” he says. “The feelings under the feelings. My goal in any performance is for the audience to connect in some level with what I’m feeling. The song is designed to help me find my way back to a feeling that I was experiencing at a time when I wrote it. The ultimate goal would be for the listener to find that place in themselves. So, it’s kind of an expressionist performance in that way.”

To his credit, Augustin is able to use the nomadic nature of musicianship as inspiration and work time for songwriting.

“It’s an inward process,” he explains. “I’ll find a phrase or a line that strikes a chord with me and I just follow the rabbit hole. If it takes me somewhere interesting, I’ll stick with it and keep working on it until it’s a song. A lot of times, a huge chunk of that process happens to me when I’m driving. Whatever the phrase or line is, I’ll just keep going over it, letting ideas stick to it or fall off to the point where there’s enough of it, where I’ll have to stop and write it down. If it isn’t essential in the end, I’ll cut the fat.”

Looking ahead, Achilles Tenderloin will venture on a tour more expansive than it’s ever endeavored. The tour begins in April and will traverse Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York. “This is a big step for me,” Augustin acknowledges.

While the tour will feature Augustin as a solo act, Achilles Tenderloin can be seen around the Dayton area as a duo.

“When I’m playing in this region, I’m doing about half the time [with] a friend of mine who plays trumpet and fiddle and accordion […] called Aaron Nell. And I’m very lucky he’s able to play with me as much as he does. And he has other projects in his own work […] so when I make the longer trips, it’s difficult for him to jump in the car with me and go. “

Finally, Augustin sheds light on the inspiration for the band’s name.

“Achilles Tenderloin started out kind of as a joke about a food allergy I had when I was a kid. I couldn’t digest meat without throwing up. And Achilles tendon or Achilles heel is sort of an obscure weakness. I also have a lot of interest in Greek mythology, so I connected with the name on that level too,” he shares. “He was a figure defined by the control that his passion had over him—in his particular case—anger. I think it fits with the more expressionist quality that I’m doing.”

Achilles Tenderloin performs for the 2017 Winterfolk festival on Saturday, Jan. 28 at Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. Fourth St. in Dayton. The Repeating Arms, OldNews, Honey&Houston, and The Devil Doves are also on the bill. Shows start at 8 p.m., doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10; admission for children 12 and under is free. For more information, please visit or

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Joey Ferber works out of St. Louis and Dayton as a musician and writer. You can hear him on electric guitar with St. Louis jazz-rap collective LOOPRAT at and on his original theme song for the Dayton-based podcast series Unwritten at, for which he also contributed to as a scriptwriter. Reach him at

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