Category Archives: Preacher Boy: General News

What Great Blues Music Is NOT: A Lil’ Somethin’ From The Wee Bully Bulpit

“The point is, if you hear Blues Musicians writing and singing about the same old thing over and over, that’s not universal truth, that’s just willful mediocrity.”

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As an old acquaintance used to say, here’s a lil’ somethin’ from the wee bully pulpit:

Great Blues Music is NOT about the things we ALL share and experience. To borrow a concept from the late, great Cultural Anthropologist Alan Dundes, Great Blues Music is not some sort of catalog of jump rope rhymes that transcend geography to express a kind of universal unconsciousness.

Rather, Blues Music is about the totally unique, personalized, rough-hewn translation of immediate experience into an almost haiku-esque poetic form. Put another way, it’s about musician’s turning their lives, and the lives around them, into song, with a Haiku master’s flair for capturing direct and immediate experience.

Think of Charley Patton’s “High Water Everywhere.” Sleepy John Estes’ “Fire Department Blues.” Skip James’ “Washington D.C. Hospital Bed Blues.” These songs represent the very best of what Blues Music is capable of.

Robert Pete Williams once said his songs came to him on the wind. Bukka White famously called his songs “Sky Songs” because they came to him from out of the sky.

The point is, if you hear Blues Musicians writing and singing about the same old thing over and over, that’s not universal truth, that’s just willful mediocrity.


Coming Soon: Black Market Crow

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Release Date: 2.1.18

“Black Market Crow” is a legacy edition offering from Coast Road Records, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the original release of Preacher Boy’s groundbreaking album “Crow.” This special collection features eight remastered tracks from the original album, plus seven never-before-available outtakes.

Originally released in the UK in 1998, “Crow” was by every measure the most ambitious album of Preacher Boy’s career. Featuring the virtuoso talents of The Backyard Funeral Band (Daniel Andrews, Brendan Rush Dance, Paul Johnson, and Danny Uzilevsky), the album offered a multi-instrumental soundscape that pulled together elements of blues, folk, jazz, and rock to provide a darkly textured complement to Preacher Boy’s rough-edged vocal delivery. The songs featured lyrically brooding narratives, with a dark theatricality that lent a junkyard noir effect to album as a whole. Famed music publication Melody Maker perhaps captured the album’s eclecticism best when they published the following review of “Crow”: “Country blues that marry Nick Cave, Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie and Tom Waits, honeymoon in the barroom with accordions and banjos and line the wedding bed with sheets of mutant folk, deviant campfire country and beatnik jazz.”

Despite earning some of the best reviews of Preacher Boy’s career, the album ultimately got lost in an unfortunate series of record label shuffles. It was never released beyond a small geographic circle, and ultimately went out of print. Not only would the songs on the official release disappear into the past, but so too would a number of outstanding outtakes.

The release of this legacy edition marks the first opportunity for Preacher Boy fans to finally acquire remastered tracks from the original release, as well as a selection of never-before-released outtakes.

The original artwork that graces the cover is by artist Amy Marinelli.


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Dec 31

Dylan Thomas – Reading His Complete Recorded Poetry

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For 364 days, I have been writing about albums that have moved me in my life. And today, finally, it comes to an end. Day 365.

I have been thinking for a long time about how I should end this series.

Ultimately, I realized that this whole effort has been one long celebration of beauty; the beauty of artistic creation, and the sharing of it with others who will hopefully be moved, as I have been moved.

I am still stunned by how many have followed along as this series has progressed—literally thousands of you. Thank you to each and every one of you.

I can think of no better way to distill down the essence of what this effort has been all about, than to present as a final recommendation, an album that is in itself a distillation, down to the bare essentials of artistic creation.

Here, we have just a poet, and his words. No adornment of any kind.

And yet, the album is mysterious, ambitious, and so, so beautiful.

In less than 24 hours from now, in California, where I live, it will be 2018. Someone else will perhaps take up the challenge in the new year, and recommend 365 more wonderful albums. As for me, I am now done.

And so, with that, this series goes gentle into that good night.

 


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Dec 23

Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True

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It’s honestly really hard to just pick ONE early LP from Costello to recommend. A greatest hits culled from his first 9 albums would give you one of the greatest collections of modern, literate, angular rock n’ roll songs the world has ever known.

But on an album-by-album basis, ol’ Declan does manage to throw a few duds onto just about everything. But that’s fine. It just makes it harder to pick an as-released release.

So his debut is the obvious choice. Alison is obviously just a staggering accomplishment for a young songwriter, and with the now-canonized inclusion of Watching the Detectives, you can double that compliment. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes is no slouch either.

I’m Not Angry is perhaps the album’s legit sleeper, and not only are the performance and arrangement stellar, but the lyric is rock n’ roll perfection for being both so poetic, and so dumbly macho, simultaneously:

You’re upstairs with the boyfriend while I’m left here to listen
I hear you calling his name, I hear the stutter of ignition

 


Ralph Carney

Ralph Carney - Preacher Boy

I had the great pleasure and honor of writing, recording, and performing with Ralph Carney for many years. Those were remarkable and often magical times for me. I was surely one of the luckiest musicians in the world, to stand beside Ralph Carney on stage for so many performances.

Regrettably, I’m afraid it all happened at a time when I was still too young, too inexperienced, too immature, to really comprehend the full measure of his singular genius.

I knew he was extraordinary. Anyone who heard him knew that.

But I was trying to build a career for myself then, and too busy making too many of the mortifying mistakes one often makes in that process.

I’m much older now, and the temptation towards regret is almost overwhelming—if I could have known then even a fraction of what I know now, I would have preserved every minute I had with him. I would have recorded every sound that emerged from his instruments. I would have made as much music with him as he would have let me.

I believe Ralph Carney was a multi-instrumentalist because he had to be—there was simply too much music in him.

As to myself, I was a fraud then, certainly. There were nights I’d look to my left and I’d see Jim Campilongo, and I’d look to my right and I’d see Ralph Carney, and I’d think to myself, what the hell am I doing here?

I know now, that Ralph was a gift to me, as he was a gift to anyone who had the pleasure and the honor of making music with him—he gave of his genius so generously.

It’s often said that “catching” a yawn from someone is indicative of an empathetic connection. The feeling of making music with Ralph Carney was like the feeling of “catching” a laugh from a giggling toddler—it just felt too good not to smile.

As I have grown into my life, I have learned that the people I admire most are those who are deadly serious about doing those things that are ultimately very fun. I think of Ralph Carney, and I think of ancient Zen poets running laughing through the mountains.

Deep bows to you, Ralph Carney. What else could I possibly do but weep, and say thank you?

 


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Sep 8

Townes Van Zandt – For The Sake Of The Song

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I got to spend an afternoon in Nashville with Jack Clement once. It was overwhelming. I couldn’t believe it was him. Among other things, we talked about this album, and all the arguments over whether it was over-produced. As he has often done publicly, he reiterated his concession that he may have overdone it a bit. I disagreed. I like it just as it is.

As far as I’m concerned, with songs this good, there IS no right production touch. They contain so much, and every setting highlights different facets. When Townes played ’em solo, certain things moved to the fore, other things receded. As they are here, they show other sides of their personalities.

In his book A Grief Observed, written after his wife passed, C.S. Lewis talks about his anger at himself for not being able to hold a single image of his wife in his mind, convinced his love for her must be flawed. He ultimately comes to console himself through realizing that his knowledge of her was so nuanced, that how could a single image possibly even exist, that could show her in her full measure? Of course he couldn’t hold a single image. There wasn’t one.

That’s how I feel about these songs. How could one performance, one recording, one arrangement, possibly hold all they contain? When I hear these songs, I experience the production the way I might a dress on my missus; she looks lovely, I am reminded of something special about her, but it’s just the dress, it’s not the totality of HER.

Townes explains this all in the title song:

Maybe she just has to sing, for the sake of the song
And who do I think that I am to decide that she’s wrong?


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Aug 1

Blind Blake – All the Published Sides 1926-1932

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If the success of a musician can be assessed via the influence they have on ensuing generations, then Blind Blake must surely be considered a towering figure in the history of country blues.

He’s been credited as an influence by no less a player than Rev. Gary Davis, himself surely one of the greatest guitarists this country has every produced. Also citing him as an influence are Ry Cooder, Leon Redbone, Bob Dylan, John Fahey, and more.

Like far too many black musicians of his era, he died young, from an illness that should have been easily preventable and/or treatable. Despite having bequeathed some 100 outstanding musical recordings to the world—recordings that would inspire generations of virtuoso players to come—he died young, poor, and under-appreciated.

Far too many sins remains as stains upon our national conscience, for having treated so many so poorly.

Blind Blake was at best a conventional vocalist, and his solo performances are notable largely for his guitar playing. But, oh, such guitar playing! West Coast Blues is literally a textbook on ragtime blues, and honestly the only one you need to listen to, should you wish to want to try to master the sound.

His work as an accompanist is understandably uneven, by definition being dependent on whoever he was playing with. But when the combinations are great, they’re truly great. A personal favorite is Grievin’ Hearted Blues, on which Blake backs the great Ma Rainey.

Blind Blake’s recording life lasted all of 6 years, but in those 6 years, he changed the future of music, and the lives of countless musicians as well.


365 Days of Album Recommendations – July 20

Mance Lipscomb – You Got To Reap What You Sow, Texas Songster, Vol. 2

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I love every single thing Mance Lipscomb ever recorded. I’ve already recommended Volumes 1 & 5, and his oral autobiography, I Say Me For A Parable.

Now, I’ll happily recommend Volume 2!

Some GREAT songs and performances on here. Personal favorites? All of them, but especially:

  • Come back baby (been tryin’ to play this in me own sets for, what, 20 years?)
  • Cocaine done killed my baby (love these happy-go-lucky dyin’ songs!)
  • Silver city (such a killer vocal)
  • You rascal you (best version of this ever, even better than Armstrong’s!)

Navasota’s finest. You can’t go wrong!


July 11 is Dollar & A Dime Day!

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Welcome to Dollar & A Dime Day!

On July 11, download any Preacher Boy album
direct from Coast Road Records @ CDBaby
and pay only a Dollar & A Dime!

Visit preacherboy.com/dollardime, and save!


365 Days of Album Recommendations: January – June

181 Recommended Albums so far!

365 Days OfAlbum Recommendations Jan-Jun

Here you go people, every recommended album so far—all 181 of ’em, in chronological order! How many have YOU heard?

  1. Muddy Waters  – Rare & Unissued
  2. Skip James – She Lyin’
  3. Albert King – I’ll Play The Blues For You
  4. Dave Van Ronk – Folksinger
  5. Robert Pete Williams – Louisiana Blues
  6. The Best of Nina Simone
  7. Johnny Winter Progressive Blues Experiment
  8. Don’t Mess With Miss Watkins
  9. Lightnin’ Hopkins – Autobiography in Blues
  10. Howlin’ Wolf – His Best – Chess 50th Anniversary Collection
  11. Chris Whitley – Dirt Floor
  12. Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley
  13. Janis Joplin – I Got Dem Ol Kozmic Blues Again Mama
  14. Stevie Ray Vaughan – Couldn’t Stand The Weather
  15. Kelly Joe Phelps – Shine-Eyed Mister Zen
  16. Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces of a Man
  17. Oliver Nelson – The Blues and the Abstract Truth
  18. The Victoria Spivey Collection 1926-1937
  19. Phil Ochs – All The News That’s Fit To Sing
  20. Joseph Spence – Good Morning Mr. Walker
  21. Clara Smith – The Essential Clara Smith1924-1929
  22. Mazzy Star – So Tonight That I Might See
  23. John Mooney – Comin’ your Way
  24. The Pretenders – Learning to Crawl
  25. Manifesto Mix Tape Vol. 1
  26. Robert Johnson – King of the Delta Blues Singers, Vol I & II
  27. Jimmy Smith – Back at the Chicken Shack
  28. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
  29. Greg Brown – Slant 6 Mind
  30. Tim Buckley  – Dream Letter, Live in London, 1968
  31. Muddy Waters – Folk Singer
  32. Bukka White  – Sky Songs
  33. The Brothers Johnson  – Look Out For #1
  34. Ivie Anderson – It Don’t Mean A Thing
  35. Oscar Levant  – Levant Plays Gershwin
  36. Blind Willie McTell – Last Sessions
  37. Leon Redbone  – On the Track
  38. Guitar Slim – I Got Sumpin’ For You
  39. Soul Coughing – Ruby Vroom
  40. Fred McDowell  – Levee Camp Blues
  41. John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers – Crusade
  42. Angelique Kidjo – Oremi
  43. At Home With Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  44. Bobby Rush – Porcupine Meat
  45. Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain
  46. Horace Silver and The Jazz Messengers
  47. Stray Cats – Built for Speed
  48. Charley Patton – The Complete Recordings 1929-1934 (Disc 1)
  49. Lonnie Johnson – Vol 1. 1937-1940
  50. The Electrifying Aretha Franklin
  51. Chuck Berry – After School Session
  52. Junior Kimbrough – Sad Days, Lonely Nights
  53. Mississippi John Hurt  – 1928 Sessions
  54. Stevie Nicks – Bella Donna
  55. Jelly Roll Morton – Oh, Mister Jelly
  56. The Mississippi Sheiks – Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vols 1-3
  57. Kokomo Arnold – Restored and Remastered Hits
  58. Roy Rogers – Chops Not Chaps
  59. Irma Thomas – Wish Someone Would Care
  60. Woody Guthrie – The Asch Recordings, Vol 1-4
  61. James Brown’s Funky People (Part 3)
  62. Doc & Merle Watson – Down South
  63. Dolly Parton – The Grass Is Blue
  64. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River
  65. Albert Collins – The Complete Imperial Recordings
  66. Dolores Keane  – May Morning Dew
  67. Bessie Smith – The Complete Recordings Vol. I
  68. Lyle Lovett – Joshua Judges Ruth
  69. The Modern Lovers – The Modern Loves
  70. Robert Petway – Catfish Blues
  71. B.B. King – Live in Cook County Jail
  72. The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues
  73. Grant Green – First Session
  74. Son House – Father of the Folk Blues
  75. Alvin Youngblood Hart – Big Mama’s Door
  76. The James Cotton Blues Band
  77. The American Graffiti Soundtrack
  78. Willie Dixon – I Am The Blues
  79. Memphis Minnie – All The Published Sides 1929-1937
  80. Charlie Christian & Dizzy Gillespie – After Hours
  81. Blind Lemon Jefferson – The Complete Classic Sides Remastered Chicago 1926 Disc A
  82. Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan
  83. The Yardbirds For Your Love
  84. Bukka White – Mississippi Blues
  85. Hank Mobley – Workout
  86. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Safe as Milk
  87. Rickie Lee Jones – Rickie Lee Jones
  88. Mance Lipscomb – Texas Sharecropper & Songster
  89. The Beat Farmers – Van Go
  90. Sleepy John Estes – I ain’t gonna be worried no more
  91. Eric Dolphy – Outward Bound
  92. Cowboy Junkies – The Trinity Sessions
  93. Rev. Gary Davis – At Newport
  94. Bob Dylan – Bringing it all back home
  95. Robert Wilkins – The original Rolling Stone
  96. Edwin Starr – War & Peace
  97. Ma Rainey – Mother of the blues
  98. Jessie Mae Hemphill – She-Wolf
  99. Little Jimmie Dickens – Raisin’ The Dickens
  100. Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones
  101. Grant Green – The Complete Quartets With Sonny Clark
  102. Emmylou Harris – Wrecking Ball
  103. Louis Armstrong – The Complete Hot Five & Hot Seven Recordings
  104. Dock Boggs – Country Blues : Complete Early Recordings
  105. Thelonious Monk – Plays Duke Ellington
  106. 16 Horsepower – 16 Horsepower
  107. Dvorak: Symphony No. 9, “From The New World” / Symphonic Variations
  108. Bix Beiderbecke – 20 Classic Tracks
  109. Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
  110. Willie Nelson – Teatro
  111. Billie Holiday & Lester Young: Complete Studio Recordings
  112. Fred McDowell – Long Way From Home
  113. Dwight Yoakam – Guitars Cadillacs Etc, Etc.
  114. Benny Goodman – Complete Capitol Trios
  115. Blind Boy Fuller – Volume 1: 1935-1938
  116. Ella Fitzgerald – Sings the Cole Porter Songbook
  117. Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps – Blue Jean Bop
  118. Los Lobos – Kiko
  119. Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen
  120. Johnny Horton – The Spectacular Johnny Horton
  121. Hungry Dog Brand – Boy Meets Dog
  122. DI3 – Torch
  123. Eagle-Eye Cherry – Living In The Present Future
  124. Colin Brooks – Blood and Water
  125. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy – Soundtrack
  126. Dusty Wright – Elevened
  127. Will Scott – Gnawbone
  128. Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um
  129. Billie Holiday – Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia, 1933-1944
  130. The Clash – The Clash
  131. Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left
  132. Sam & Dave – Hold On, I’m Comin’
  133. Cream – Fresh Cream
  134. Big Mama Thornton – Essential Recordings
  135. Frank Sinatra – sings for Only The Lonely
  136. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Extra Width
  137. Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
  138. Tracy Chapman – Our Bright Future
  139. Bob Log III – My Shit Is Perfect
  140. Joe Cocker – Mad Dogs & Englishmen
  141. Tomasz Stańko – From The Green Hill
  142. Paul Chambers – Whims of Chambers
  143. Booker T. & the MGs – Green Onions
  144. Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
  145. J.J. & Kai: The J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding Trombone Octet
  146. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
  147. The Shangri-Las – The Complete Collection
  148. Furry Lewis – In His Prime 1927-1928
  149. Phil Ochs – A Toast To Those Who Are Gone
  150. The Clash – Give ‘Em Enough Rope
  151. Skip James – Greatest of the Delta Blues Singers
  152. The Original Sonny Boy Williamson
  153. Leon Redbone – Champagne Charlie
  154. Curtis Mayfield – Superfly
  155. Gillian Welch – Hell Among The Yearlings
  156. Beth Gibbons – Out of Season
  157. Buddy Holly – A Rock & Roll Collection
  158. Mance Lipscomb – Vol. 5, Pure Texas Country Blues
  159. Jimmy Reed – Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby – Singles As & Bs 1953-1961
  160. Fats Navarro – The Fats Navarro Collection, 1943-50
  161. Jeffrey Halford & The Healers – Lo Fi Dreams
  162. Lennie Tristano & Warne Marsh – Intuition
  163. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Let Love In
  164. Bill Withers – Just As I Am
  165. Jacques Brel – Enregistrement Public à l’Olympia 1964
  166. Leroy Carr – The Essential
  167. Etta James – At Last!
  168. Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders
  169. John Mayall – Bluesbreakers (w/ Eric Clapton)
  170. Ted Hawkins – The Final Tour
  171. Elmore James – Slide Order of the Blues, The Singles As & Bs 1952-1962
  172. Ida Cox – Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1, 1923
  173. Hoagy Carmichael Sings Hoagy Carmichael
  174. Blind Willie Johnson – The Complete
  175. Thelonious Monk – Monk Alone: The Complete Solo Studio Recordings of Thelonious Monk 1962-1968
  176. The Replacements – Tim
  177. Bad Company – Bad Company
  178. Duke Ellington – Money Jungle
  179. Bill Evans – Interplay
  180. Big Joe Williams – The Essential
  181. Kiss – Love Gun

 


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