Category Archives: Recordings | Albums

Jeffrey Halford – West Towards South – Liner Notes

West Towards South - Liner Notes

This is really one of the most exciting things that’s ever happened to me. I wrote liner notes!

Jeffrey Halford’s new release, West Towards South, is such a beautiful album, and to be accorded the honor of penning liner notes for the vinyl edition is something I will remain proud of—and humbled by—for the rest of my life.

Liner notes have really been a kind of school for me; I think I’ve learned more about music from the backs of albums than just about any other source I can think of, and with this album, I did my very best to live up to my heroes: Samuel Charters, Chris Strachwitz, Dick Waterman, and oh, so many more …

I can’t encourage you enough to listen to this record, and if you’re able, please get the vinyl. Not because of my liner notes (though I’ll of course be thrilled if you read them!), but because these are the kinds of songs that should be savored the way we used to savor our LPs; we listened to them over and over again, song by song, in order, as we read, and pondered, and felt, and were moved.

Congratulations to you, Jeffrey Halford, on a remarkable musical achievement, and thank you for inviting me to play a small role in the story of Ambrose and Cyrus …

Jeffrey Halford – West Towards South

liner notes by Christopher “Preacher Boy” Watkins

Mostly, there is the story.

West Towards South recalls the work of Sam Shepard or William Goldman who do similarly expert jobs of transporting us to other tragic worlds with fierce degrees of rustic authenticity. But this is music, and there is of course precedent for what Halford has done here—after all, it’s not the first time we’ve heard rebel tales in roots leathers rendered with dirty slide guitars and trash can drums. But Halford has something that sets him apart; something at his disposal reserved only for the true masters of the form—a life deeply lived, and a craft finely honed.

Where Halford hits his most killer musical stride is on songs like “Three-Quarter Moon,” with its laudanum-laced shamble ambling along like an opioid “West towards South”; or on “A Town Called Slow,” with its percolating minor-chord syncopations swinging out a warning: “This is how this deal goes down.” In both cases, the lurching grooves and atmospheric spackling act as sonic enactments the broken narratives they share.

As he sings on the beautiful folk ballad “The Sea of Cortez”:

I got a notion I can’t explain
I never been here, but I feel like I’m home again

One of the great pleasures of gifting yourself the experience of repeated deep listening to an album such as this one is the opportunity to discover little kernels of magic not necessarily consciously registered the first time around; little repeating tropes, little bits of flavor and color that recur in blurring whirls that last only long enough to provide a sense of fragile continuity. One such reappearing motif is the notion that something won’t end well. I’ll offer no spoilers as to how the story actually ends for the brothers—you’ll need to listen to the record for yourself to find out—but picture the scene: Ambrose with a noose around his neck, spitting invective at his judges:

Any last words Ambrose?
Well, you can all go to hell
But I just want to tell you
That this might not end well

Three bell chimes later, the hangman is dead, the preacher is face down on the ground, and the music goes careening off into a sadistic spaghetti western march. I got chills the first time I listened to “Gallows.” You will as well

Jeffrey Halford’s reputation as a songwriter is hard-earned and well-deserved, and his rough-hewn voice and urgent slide guitar are hallmarks of his soulful sound. But with West Towards South, Halford can now confidently add “storyteller” to his byline, for he’s created something so many strive for, and yet too few achieve—a genuine Americana concept album that is simultaneously devoid of pretension, and richly authentic. If Cormac McCarthy played guitar, he’d have a regular slot at The Sad Cafe, and folks would come from miles around to hear him sing “The Ballad of Ambrose and Cyrus.”

—Christopher “Preacher Boy” Watkins

Christopher “Preacher Boy” Watkins: A Songwriter’s Biography


Christopher “Preacher Boy” Watkins began his professional songwriting career working with a string of legendary producers who mentored his early endeavors, including Sandy Pearlman (The Clash, Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath), Norm Kerner (Jewel, American Music Club), and Todd Rundgren.  Absorbing all he could from these early influences—while simultaneously digging ever deeper into the country blues that were his first true musical love—Preacher Boy slowly forged the singular songwriting style that would eventually earn him international acclaim.


This style was first heard on his debut release for Blind Pig Records, the album Preacher Boy and The Natural Blues. The album ignited a not-insignificant degree of controversy in the Roots & Blues community, released, as it was, long before “Americana” even existed as a modern genre. But while controversial, it was also a critical success:

“With some of the most innovative roots music on the scene today, Preacher Boy will make a believer out of even the most skeptical. The album creates dusky lyrical landscapes littered with hobos, ghosts, drunks, loneliness, love, and salvation. The result is a totally unique twist on roots music.” –Blues Access


Publications as diverse as Rolling Stone, Living Blues, and Sing Out gave it glowing reviews, and by his second Blind Pig release (Gutters & Pews) Preacher Boy had won a coveted Bay Area Music Award (a “Bammie”), shared stages with everyone from Chris Isaak, Cracker, and Counting Crows, to Jimmy Vaughan, Los Lobos, J.J. Cale and John Lee Hooker, and been anointed “Charlie Musselwhite for the Lollapalooza Generation.” (This quote would become a running joke between Preacher Boy and Charlie when they toured together some 10 years later!)

Touring took Preacher Boy regularly to the UK, and he eventually signed with an English record label, once again working with extraordinary production mentors –Jon Astley and Andrew McPherson (The Who, Eric Clapton)–on the album that would lead to his greatest success yet as a songwriter:

“Preacher Boy is a songwriter of startling originality.” –MOJO 


His genre-bending album Crow was the debut release for the new label, and upon hearing it Eagle-Eye Cherry –then riding high on his breakthrough single “Save Tonight” as well as his contributions to Santana’s Supernatural album– personally invited Preacher Boy to join him on tour.

Preacher Boy would go on to co-write two albums with Eagle-Eye. The first –Living In The Present Future– saw him working with yet another legendary producer/mentor, Rick Rubin. These sessions were recorded at New York’s famed Magic Shop, and one of the songs –“Long Way Around” (featuring Eagle-Eye’s sister Neneh Cherry on vocals)– would earn Preacher Boy his first Gold Record.

Co-writing become a consuming passion, and the Preacher Boy name began to appear on more and more projects, including albums by Bryan Miller (two-time Nashville Songwriter’s Association award-winner), Colin Brooks (Band of Heathens), Will Scott (Independent Music Awards winner for Gnawbone, an album produced by—and co-written with—Preacher Boy), famed Nashville guitarist Dave Isaacs, English art-punks The Hungry Dog Brand, and more.


Brooks returned the songwriting favor for Demanding To Be Next, the first solo-acoustic Preacher Boy release, co-writing both “My Gold Canoe” and “Whistleman.” This album earned Preacher Boy some of his most effusive critical praise to date, with “Whistleman” even being compared to the great man himself:

“(Preacher Boy’s) voice, a cross between those of Kelly Joe Phelps and Tom Waits, has an otherworldly quality that makes him sound like no one else and suits his quirky songs well. ‘Whistleman’ packs detailed, offbeat imagery that recalls Dylan’s best.” –Blues Revue

Preacher Boy’s songwriting has appeared on a number of soundtracks as well, including “Approaching Union Square” the critically-acclaimed independent film by writer/director Marc Myers, and “Smallville, the long-running, award-winning TV show.

Preacher Boy eventually took a musical hiatus to focus on another written form: poetry. He received two writer’s grants (one of which saw him working alone for 3 months in the house where Jack Kerouac was living when “On The Road” was published and where he wrote “The Dharma Bums”) and earned an MFA in Creative Writing. He saw his debut volume of poetry published –Short Houses With Wide Porches (Shady Lane Press)– and received significant critical support from the poetry community:

“The poems of Christopher Watkins are, at once, tender, shrewdly observed and enormously vital.” -Baron Wormser (former Poet Laureate of Maine, a Guggenheim grant recipient, and the author of many award-winning collections of poetry.)

Preacher Boy then returned to music, and to songwriting. He recorded and released a new album—The National Blues (Coast Road Records)—and is regularly performing both solo and in various group formats.



#NowPlaying: Music You Probably Aren’t Listening To, But Should Be

Joseph Spence. Yep. That’s right. Joseph Spence. Caribbean Country Blues. Trust me. And here’s the best way to get your head wrapped around the gloriously bent and magic acoustical muttering beauty of this strange and incredible artist. Listen to his version of Sloop John B. Because you know the song, but you have NEVER heard it like this. And it’s so, so phenomenal … I mean, literally cool beyond imagining. Seriously. Dig this.

Dock Boggs. I am a firm believer that proper Country Blues needs to occasionally be a bit creepy. And there is little music in the world that is more creepy than Dock Boggs’ original version of  Sugar Baby.

Freddie, by Mance Lipscomb. Mance is associated with a great many fantastic things, and rightfully so. But not often with one chord drone songs. And let’s digress for a moment to note that one chord drone songs are the ultimate measure of a musicianer. And Country Blues does it best. Yeah, take that, modal jazz! (which I happen to love, btw). Anyhow, Mance hypnotizes on this one, so dig:

And here’s one from the newden days. Chris Whitley (RIP) laying into Spoonful with the Billy Martin & Chris Wood, the esteemed Medeski, Martin & Wood rhythm section. Just when you thought an ol’ blue chestnut like this one couldn’t be reimagined successfully, here comes this motherfu&*er of a rendition. This, people, is modern country blues. Not … that other stuff. This.

To be continued, but please. Listen to this music. Listen to this Country Blues.

As Rare A Pair Of Preacher Boy Tracks As You’re Ever Likely To Find


After decamping to England to sign with Manchester-based indie WahTup Records, the whole Preacher Boy carnival underwent a fairly radical sonic transfiguration, emerging as Preacher Boy and The Backyard Funeral Band, and featuring the multi-instrumental talents of Danny Uzilevsky, Paul Johnson, Dan Andrews, and Brendan Rush Dance.

Crow was the album born of the change. It was the result of months of rehearsal, and a progressive whittling down from some 60+ songs rehearsed, nearly 50 basic tracked, over 20 songs completed, and 14 songs mixed and mastered.

The album was a sort of glorious disaster, a kind of Captain Beefheart folk opera, as if Nick Cave had produced the Captain recording his own version of Neil Young’s Harvest, with lyrics by Carson McCullers. The reviews were priceless:

“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.” –Melody Maker

“Preacher Boy is a songwriter of startling originality.” – MOJO

In retrospect, it could have been a lot of different albums. With so many songs to choose from, it could have been a blues record, a folk record, a gypsy record, a rock record, a cabaret record. Gothic acoustic chamber blues. Ultimately, it was all of that.

The point being, a lot of great performances were left on the cutting room floor. I’d like to share two of those with you here today. I discovered them recently on an old cassette that was hastily run down at the end of a long day’s session (the sound quality is not great, but the songs are there!). The cassette has been sitting in storage for nearly a decade-and-a-half, and the songs have never been heard publicly before; they were never played live, and never re-done on any other projects. The first is “Cold Trials Of The Dispossessed” and it features outstanding horn from Brendan Rush Dance. The second is “Veleaux.” Check out the outro (don’t be fooled by the long pause!) for some classic Telecaster work from Danny Uzilevsky. The rhythm section (Paul Johnson on drums and Dan Andrews on bass) is exemplary throughout.

Cold Trials Of The Dispossessed


How rare is Crow today? Well, there is a brand-new copy of it currently available on Amazon. Only $75!


It’s worth noting, that despite never having been released stateside, the album had an amazing impact on my career. Among other things, it earned the band a spot at Glastonbury, sharing stage space with the likes of Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, and Portishead. And it was the album that led Eagle-Eye Cherry to invite me on tour.

Anyhow, lyrics below, should you wish them …

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Everytime I hear “Preachin’ Blues” I think of Will Scott

From the moment I heard Will Scott play, I have esteemed him greatly. I have for him a love that is brotherly, and a competitor’s admiration. I have been both his student and his teacher, and I remain the former forever more. I am proud to call him friend, and put simply, as a musicianer, he is a motherf&*#er.

We got to do an album together. It’s called Gnawbone, and it’s an incredible bloody record. If you don’t own it, own it.

Will Scott: Gnawbone

His next album is Keystone Crossing. It’s essential listening.

Will Scott: Keystone Crossing

Here’s the thing about Will and I. When I heard him sing, I knew I was f&#*ed. He came from a RL Burnside, Johnny Shines kind of thing, whereas I was more Bukka White and Blind Willie Johnson. We met in the middle at Son House. He could sing like Son House, and that was hard for me, cuz I couldn’t. But, I could PLAY like Son House, and that helped.

We started doin’ shows together, and it was one night in some weird place in Williamsburg (of 15 years ago, mind you), and here he comes out with the slide lick from “Preachin’ Blues” and I about fell about the place. Cuz now he was singin’ like Son, and playin’ like Son, and everytime I hear that lick I think of Will. Everytime I hear “Preachin’ Blues” I think of Will Scott.

So this song, really, is several notes of appreciation for Will Scott, because when I play it, I think of him. He’s a couple thousand miles away from me right now, but I’m thinkin’ on him. This is a brand-new song called “Obituary Writer Blues.” And if you know your Son House, you might think I copped a lick from him to build this song on top of, but honestly, I stole it from Will Scott.

Obituary Writer Blues

I’m gon’ quite writin’, gon’ lay down this pen I use
Oh, now I’m gon’ quit writin’ gon’ lay down this pen I use
And you know by that I got the obituary blues

I been at the typer, lord, honey, ’til my fingers sore
Honey, I been at the typer, lord, ’til my fingers sore
I ain’t gon’ write no obituary anymore

Black was the color, one after another
They lay down on sheets of white
Time may erase me, but I ain’t so crazy
That I don’t know my wrong from right

Oh, sweet mama don’t ‘low me to stay out all night long
I may act like I’m crazy, but I do know right from wrong

It was rock, paper, scissors ’til the sword get the better of the pen
Oh, it was rock, paper, scissors, ’til the sword got the best of the pen
I seen it printed in the paper, somebody shot up some poor kids again

Black was the color, one after another
They lay down on sheets of white
Time may erase me, but I ain’t so crazy
That I don’t know my wrong from right

Oh, sweet mama don’t ‘low me to stay out all night long
I may act like I’m crazy, but I do know right from wrong


On the subject of thievery, I owe nods to Sleepy John Estes and Nina Simone as well. Dig.


16 Essential Country Blues Recordings By 16 Essential Country Blues Artists

In which I list the 16 indisputably greatest country blues performances ever recorded.

Country Blues Music is aural American Haiku.

Country blues isn’t any of the things anyone says it is.

Country blues is these 16 songs. Rippled out in a funky pond …

These are recordings by Country Blues masters.

Anyone who says Country Blues isn’t poetry doesn’t know a damn thing about anything worth knowing …

How does a song make this list? By bein’ juju-laden with groove and rawness and swamp funk and pathos and lyrical mystery and perfect mystery and perfect lyrics and transformative soul-crawl and rawness and wry gruffness and hair-raiser powers and grease and swamp and funk and weirdness and genius and earth-raw American Swamp Haiku funk soul mojo…

in alphabetical order

  1. Blind Lemon Jefferson: Matchbox Blues

Virtually every Blind Lemon Jefferson recording is a master class of Country Blues. But certain moments within certain songs vibrate your mind’s tuning fork in unprecedented ways. This is such a song. The lyrical pivot from “standin’ here wonderin’ will a matchbox hold my clothes” to “i ain’t got so many matches but I got so far to go” is just magisterial…(recommended recording, the JSP masters version)

  1. Blind Willie Johnson: God Moves On The Water

This’ll mess you up for gettin’ cocky with Mother Nature … dang. Not just the vengeance of the Lord, man, but God MOVES … on the water. As far as I’m concerned, the Country Blues has just a few truly genius slide guitar players. Willie Johnson is one of them. And the Country Blues has only 4 truly great voices, and they’re all on this list, and Willie Johnson is one of them.

  1. Blind Willie McTell: Dying Crapshooter’s Blues

It’s as good a story song as any ever written in the folk tradition. Sophisticated, narrative, compelling, moody, idiosyncratic, sly, somber, perfect. A total masterpiece, a tour de force. The guy was a bloody genius. The 1940 version, recorded in a hotel room, is so raw. The guitar out of tune, the voice creaked and ailing but still all suave and wry and hip, and the delivery so sly, so masterful. It’s incredible. Every version of this song is incredible, but if you get the chance, listen to the 1940 recording.

  1. Bukka White: When Can I Change My Clothes?

“I wonder how long, ‘fore I can change my clothes?”

It simply doesn’t get more powerful than this song. The riff, the taut growl wail, the lyric. Listen to the Takoma recording, by the way. Not the 1940 one. Takoma will put the hurt on ya…

  1. Charley Patton: High Water Everywhere

I can think of a thousand authors on book tours right now who can’t tell a story worth a shit, and here’s Charley Patton with a song about a flood that’s as good as anything Carson McCullers ever wrote, which makes it better than most anything ever written… People don’t talk enough about what a vocalist Charley Patton was, but this vocal is incredible … just urgency incarnate.

  1. Lightnin’ Hopkins: Mama And Papa Hopkins 

You just go listen to the opening verse of this tune, and then just don’t talk to me about Lightin’ Hopkins anymore, about anything, ever …Listen to this one on vinyl. From the album “Autobiography in Blues.” My grandpa gave me this recording on vinyl when I was 16. I’m many, many years older than that now, and it’s STILL changing my life…

  1. Mance Lipscomb: Freddie

He got mad. He got bad. With a gun. In his hand.


You got a lyric like that, on a groove like this, you don’t need more than one chord. From Mance’s first album, released on Arhoolie. Get it on vinyl, man…

  1. Mississippi Fred McDowell: Levee Camp Blues

If you work on somethin’ until you go stone blind?  Yeah, man. Fred McDowell just makes the spooky. This song will haunt you. Just grease and dark and soulful and earthy and river-y stunk up and so much slide & vocal voodoo, it’s a masterpiece of unwound pathotic soul fable…

  1. Mississippi John Hurt: Stagolee

Mississippi John Hurt doesn’t sound much like anyone else on this list, but he’s Mississippi Blues, man, and this is canonical American folklore right here …personally, I’ll take one of the later recordings on Vanguard, but the 1928 Okeh version will sure do too…

  1. Reverend Gary Davis: Death Don’t Have No Mercy

What can you say about a song like this? This version, from Newport, is quite simply one of the greatest recordings of American Song ever preserved. Period. And don’t fall for the staged Newport video version, by the way. Gary Davis still kills it, but the version you want to listen to is the concert one. Get it from the “Great Bluesmen at Newport” collection on Vanguard …

  1. Robert Johnson: Love In Vain

Maybe oddly enough, I don’t actually listen to Robert Johnson that much. He’s almost too good. And this song is almost too sophisticated. But this is genuine weird America, man, because how do you craft up so hard on a song like this, and have it end up so perfectly, weirdly, rawly excellent? It’s just a bloody weird blues song, is what it is, and it’s a must-listen…

When the train, it left the station
with two lights on behind
Well, the blue light was my blues
and the red light was my mind
All my love’s in vain

That’s just weird, man. What happened to weird in the blues? Gimme some more weird…

  1. Robert Pete Williams: Ugly

Mama, why I gotta be so ugly in this world?
Son, that’s just a mark that God put on your face.

A mark that God put on your face.

Take that, every other writer of anything.

And here’s a secret for you that I’m gonna let you in on. This was recorded on Fahey’s Takoma album, but it’s seemingly impossible–literally impossible–to find. Except it’s not. You can actually hear it on Spotify. But you’d never know it. It’s one of those horrible albums-without-an-album-cover album covers. But don’t be fooled. Click this link, and go listen to this whole dang album. It’s funky as hell, and very, very, very, very true.

Spotify has the album listed as “Freight Train Blues.” And it says all the songs are “live.” Which is actually right, just not how they mean it…

  1. Skip James: Hard Time Killing Floor Blues

How do you pick one Skip James song? Simple. You pick the best one. And for my money, the first “post-rediscovery” version of this is actually better than the original 1930 version… There’s nothing in the world like Skip James. He’s like the VanGogh of Country Blues, you just wonder, where on earth did this come from? And that voice? I didn’t put it as one of the 4 great country blues voices, because it’s not. It one of the one great Skip James voices. Of which there is no other…

You know that people are driftin’ from door to door
Can’t find no heaven, don’t care where they go

And that ghosty hum after? I been listenin’ to this song for 30 years, I still get chills…

  1. Sleepy John Estes: Mailman Blues

Sleepy John Estes is Country Blues’ greatest short story writer, and one of its greatest voices. He is in fact one of Country Blues’ four great singers. The others being Son House, Tommy Johnson, and Willie Johnson. His is the great broken, cracking plaintive sound that the country blues always wants when it’s not busy gravelin’ itself up. But as a writer, man, Sleepy John just wrote the daily history of his life, and just made it so damn beautiful and compelling and simple in a haiku-simple –read, not simple—way. Just a blues about a drunk mailman. Except it’s fully existential and about death. Sartre in A. I coulda put Lawyer Clark, or Martha Hardin, or Floating Bridge, or Fire Department. But I chose this one, cuz it’s the best.

  1. Son House: Death Letter Blues

The king high motherf&%$er of all Country Blues songs. And you want the 1965 Columbia Records version. Just trust me.

  1. Tommy Johnson: Cool Drink Of Water Blues

Honestly, he could be singin’ about anything, and when that yodel-howl-falsetto thing comes on, man, I just faint. And so what if the lyric is a tossed-around shared couplet. You sing it like this, it’s all yours, man. I asked for water, she gave me gasoline. He sings it better than Howlin’ Wolf, and nobody sings anything better than Howlin’ Wolf. Except Tommy Johnson does. So there.


Live Recording! Country Blues w/ Virgil Thrasher


I had the great pleasure of bein’ joined on stage last night at Aptos St. BBQ w/ blues harmonica legend Virgil Thrasher (you may recall him from decades of mojo-laden music w/ country blues icon Robert Lowery). We did about 2 hours straight, and amongst other things, hit on some lovely ol’ country blues songs that have been real close to my heart for a real long time … Here’s some raw, guerrilla audio of two of those tracks (recorded last night); hope you dig:

Maggie Campbell

Motherless Children

The first is a tune by Delta man Tommy Johnson, and it’s worth noting that it opens with what I think is one of the great haiku-spirit blues couplets of all time:

Who’s that yonder, comin’ down the road?
Lord, it look like Maggie, but she walkin’ slow

That’s a whole lot of pathos right there … so simple, but I get chills even typin’ it out … so much meaning writ into those few words …

The next song is a staple of a kind, and this arrangement is a bit of a modge podge worth of versions, drawin’ mainly on a cocktail of Blind Willie Johnson, Mance Lipscomb, and Dave Van Ronk …

Anyhow, hope you dig, and thanks as always fer listenin’…


Live & Raw: Preacher Boy & The National Blues at JJ’s

Need Mo’ Blues & Dead, Boy. Nasty …

Preacher Boy & The National Blues_2


From left to right: Jonathan “Captain Ahab” Dryden on the keys, Zack “The Olsen Twin” Olsen on the drums, Ben “Gentle Ben” Herod on the Baritone Saxophone, Virgil “Dr. V” Thrasher on the Harp, and yours truly on National and Vox. This was us at The Pocket (i.e. in the pic above), and this was the very same line-up we took over the hill to JJ’s one July 3rd in America.


cue: “I’m Goin’ Over The Hill” by Mississippi Fred McDowell


I’ve been very privileged to have assembled some of the nastiest, funkiest, grooviest, zennist ensembles imaginable over the years, but I’m hard put to recall one more spontaneously dangerous than this one … it’s a strange one, to be sure: keys, bari sax, harmonica, national, no bass … but damn, it grooves, and it’s just very, very, very nasty … diseasedly subversively mojo’d … It’s like Tony Joe White meets Morphine meets 16 Horsepower meets Bukka White meets Motorhead meets Captain Beefheart meets Blind Willie Johnson meets Joe Cocker meets … Whistleman.

So we took to JJ’s recently, and dropped down 2+ hours of completely raw swamp … and I invite you to bend an ear to it, if you would. Mind you, these are unmixed, unmastered, unedited … they’s just straight from the stage into yer ears … but I hope you dig!

First up, just a downright sleazed and brutal take on “Dead, Boy” and I mean wicked. Just 9 minutes of asphalt:

Preacher Boy & The National Blues: Dead, Boy, live from JJ’s
just click to dig the stream)

Hear a bit of squall & wail weavin’ in there? That’s Ryan “The Home Town Hero” Acosta on some git …

And fer yer second course, the National takes a ride on the Crybaby Train as the ensemble burns up a workout of Sleepy John Estes’ “Need Mo’ Blues.” Check it out:

Preacher Boy & The National Blues: Need Mo’ Blues, live from JJ’s
(just click to dig the stream)

I hope you dig, man! Let me know what ya think …

And for any of y’all that go WAY back, tell me the first time an iteration of Preacher Boy & Co recorded a live version of “Need Mo’ Blues.” Get it right, and I’ll buy you a bike!



Goin’ Down South

Sleepy John Estes. For my money, one of THE voices of country blues. The reason why we have the cliche “cryin’ the blues.” So plaintive, so heartbreaking, so present, so cool, so real, so powerful, so compelling. An almost laughably clumsy guitar player, and yet the perfect accompanist for himself. With Hammie Nixon and Yank Rachel of course. But really, who’d want a whole mess of guitar gettin’ in the way of that gorgeous voice?

As for myself, I can’t sing like that. And actually, I love guitar like that. Which essentially explains the arrangement of “Down South Blues” that I’ve landed on. And by landed on I mean played endlessly, over and over, year after year, stage after stage, night after night. I’ve been playin’ this song almost since the beginning of Preacher Boy. I’ve had the pleasure of playing this song with SO MANY great musicians: Jim Campilongo, Ralph Carney, David Immergluck, Big Bones, Jamie “Beatnik Beats” Moore, Tim Luntzel, Virgil Thrasher, and many, many others that I’m regretfully not name-checking here but am nonetheless very grateful to …

The point being, I love this song, and I always have, and I’m really excited about the opportunity to commit it to recorded posterity. And with that, a video to share; a wee bit o’ raw behind-the-scenes footage from a recent recording session in the wilds of the Santa Cruz Mountains:

By way of comparison, and if for no other reason than to hip you up to this beautiful song if ya don’t yet know it:

See ya Down South …


One Of The Old Songs


I played 3 hours straight, no break. Solo acoustic. Just me and my two Nationals. It was a night of rarities. Preachorum Obscurata. In no particular order, I am pretty sure I played:

De Vamp (from debut album Preacher Boy & The Natural Blues)

Dead, Boy (ditto)

The Cross Must Move (ditto)

Like Me (PBATNB again)

Down & Out In This Town (from 2nd album, Gutters & Pews)

In The Darkened Night (G&P again. Last time I played this live? 2001, in Boulder, CO, methinks …)

Railroad (from G&P. This was my Grandpa’s favorite Preacher Boy song …)

Ugly (G&P)

Old Jim Granger (from The Tenderloin EP)

Black Crow (from Crow)

A Golden Thimble (from The Devil’s Buttermilk)

At The Corner Of The Top & The Bottom (fromTDBM again. Written about a lil’ corner just up the street from Biscuits & Blues in SF)

Friend’s Lament (also from TDBM. As far as I can recall, I only ever performed this song once live before tonight. On a radio show in Brighton, England)

Whistleman (from Demanding To Be Next)

Rock Skipper (also DTBN)

My Gold Canoe (DTBN again. Written with the very great Colin Brooks)

Comin’ Up Aces (DTBN)

Jackson Street (DTBN)

99 Bottles (DTBN)

West of the River (new/unreleased. NEVER performed this live EVER before)

Envelope (I think the last time I performed this live was at Two Boots in Park Slope)

My Car Walks On Water (unreleased)

Down The Drain (unreleased)

Cornbread (unreleased)

A Little More Evil (unreleased)

Blister and a Bottlecap (unreleased)

… and some other things as well, which I cannot currently remember. Other than “Sliding Delta.” I know I played that too …

The show was at Jerry’s Front Pocket in Santa Cruz. The cleanest dirty bar in world. Jerry is fantastic. We talked Nick Cave after the show, and MC 900 Foot Jesus.



It was epic.

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