Tag Archives: Biscuits & Blues

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.

The Bottle And The Pen -or- The Secret History of Joe Louis Walker’s Mean Streets Records

I have a new column that has just debuted on Grape Collective, entitled “The Bottle & The Pen: An Exploration Through Wine & Literature,” and I wanted to offer a little bit of backstory to the title, as it’s actually derived from a Preacher Boy song.

After completing the sessions for “Crow,” I stayed on at Revolution (the English studio outside Manchester where we recorded the album) laying down a bunch of publisher demos of additional songs I was working on at the time. Among these tracks was a song called The Bottle & The Pen. I recorded a solo acoustic version with just voice & The National, thinking I’d revisit it at another time to explore arrangement possibilities with the band.

Fate intervened, however, in the form of Frank Klein, and Biscuits & Blues. Frank was the manager of Biscuits at that time, and was pushing hard, and with great imagination, to broaden the ways in which B&B could contribute to the world of blues music.

The answer was a record label! Frank launched Means Streets Records, as presented by Joe Louis Walker, with this release:

Mean Streets Blues – A San Francisco Collection – 13 Stompin’ Tracks

Mean Streets Blues - A San Francisco Collection - 13 Stompin' Tracks

The album reads like a Who’s Who of Bay Area Blues from that era, and to the endeavor’s credit, nearly all of these artists are STILL vibrant presences on the scene. Check it out:

Mean Streets Blues - A San Francisco Collection - 13 Stompin' Tracks

Tommy Castro, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Lavay Smith, Mark Hummel, Rusty Zinn, Big Bones, James Armstrong, and more; it’s a remarkable collection.

Remarkable all the more for the fact that, like so many great blues projects with great blues intentions, this would prove to be the only Mean Streets Records release.

That said, I am extremely proud to have been a part of this project, and was honored and humbled both when Frank asked for a song. Having just completed the Revolution sessions I mentioned earlier, I had quite a few new recordings to consider, and The Bottle and The Pen, in its original solo acoustic format, was the final selection.

Strange journey, that it now lives on as the title to an article about wine & literature. Prophetic in a way, I suppose. The chorus lyrics:

If you wanna know where I come from
I’ll tell you this my friend
I was born beneath a bottle and a pen

You can here this recording of The Bottle & The Pen by clicking here.


Big Bones and I recently reunited for a very special show at Biscuits & Blues: you can see footage from that performance below:


NEW! Live video from the Preacher Boy & Big Bones Special Reunion Show at Biscuits & Blues!

Brand-new footage of Preacher Boy & Big Bones, with Zack Olsen on drums, performing “Shake ‘Em On Down” live at Biscuits & Blues, December 8th, 2014!

I first heard Bukka White perform this song on a vinyl album from the Takoma label, and it literally changed my life. That was when I was probably 16, maybe 17 years old, and probably 4, maybe 5 of those songs have been in just about every set I’ve ever played since. Shake ‘Em On Down, Poor Boy Long Ways From Home, Fixin To Die, Baby Please Don’t Go, Aberdeen Mississippi Blues, etc.  The point being, I’ve been playing Shake ‘Em On Down, for a LONG time … and I still love it. I LOVE to play this song …

For you guitar heads, it’s a pretty straightforward I-V-V progression, with a couple of arrangement twists. The National is tuned to Open D, and most of the action is actually on the low end, designed to mimic (albeit with a different rhythm) Bukka White’s original descending bass line …

The lyric is straight up raw blues poetry; sexy as hell:

She got somethin, I don’t know what it is
But it sure make me drunker than any ol’ whiskey still …

Bones takes an awesome approach with his harmonica on this version, opting to largely play a minor vibe, which ties to the main riff cleanly,  but then darkens up the IV and V which, on the National, are major. Killer manipulation of the abstract flatted third …

Anyhow, check it out, hope you enjoy!

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