Q: Where does the name Preacher Boy come from?
A: Well, it started out essentially as a demi-derisive nickname a good friend used to call me when I’d get to soapboxing too much; sort of a Hazel Motes call out.
Q: How many Preacher Boy albums are there?
A: 6, if you include the 4-song Tenderloin EP:
Q: Best gigs ever?
A: Too many to count! How about favorite acts I’ve gotten to perform with? Some highlights:
- Opening for Taj Mahal in Denver, Colorado
- With Los Lobos at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, and then with JJ Cale at The Catalyst
- Opening for Shane MacGowan (The Pogues) at his annual X-mas show in London, ON my 30th birthday!
- The San Francisco Blues Festival, the same day and stage as John Lee Hooker
- Guesting in the set with Eagle-Eye Cherry, for his live concert film at Shepherd’s Bush, in London
- Opening for Clarence Gatemouth Brown at The Great American Music Hall
- With Sonny Landreth at The Great American Music Hall
- 4 different shows at Slim’s in SF, opening for Bob Geldof, Peter Wolf, Jimmy Vaughan, and The Texas Tornadoes
- With AJ Croce at Moulin Blues in The Netherlands
- Opening for Cracker at The Warfield
- Playing the Glastonbury Festival on the same bill as Portishead, Nick Cave, and Bob Dylan
- Opening for CJ Chenier in LA, and for Buckwheat Zydeco at Bimbo’s in SF
- Opening for Chris Whitley in Portland, OR
- Playing opposite Chris Isaak at The Paradise Lounge in SF
- Opening for Charlie Musselwhite at The House of Blues in New Orleans
Q: How old is your National?
A: 1936! And actually, I’m so fortunate, I have two now, both from 1936!
Q: What tunings do you use on your Nationals?
A: Well, as I said, I have two, and I use them differently; what I call “The National” (the one my Grandpa gave me) is my slide instrument, so on that one, I use primarily Open G and Open D, and the minors of each as well. My second National (the one that belonged to my Grandpa, and was passed down to me when he passed) I keep mainly in standard, though I’ll occasionally do Drop D or something like that. I have one tune for which I use a really strange tuning (Open C, essentially, but with no 3rd: CGCGCC), and I generally do that on this second National as well.
Q: What do you think about all the Tom Waits comparisons you’ve received over the years?
A: Well, two things, I suppose: 1) High praise, and 2) A lot of people need to go listen to Blind Willie Johnson, Bukka White, Charley Patton, Dave Van Ronk, Lemmy, Louis Armstrong, and Captain Beefheart.
Q: What’s the most successful song you’ve ever recorded?
A: Depends on the criteria for judging, really, so, four answers:
- If you ask my bank account, it’s “Long Way Around” which I wrote with Eagle-Cherry. We recorded it at The Magic Shop in New York with Rick Rubin producing, and Eagle-Eye’s sister Neneh sung on it, and it went on to be certified Gold in Europe.
- If you ask iTunes, it’s probably the version of “Old Boyfriends” I did for a Waits tribute album. Per the question above, I was a little put out by the request initially, but decided to do it as I found what I thought was a clever way to circumnavigate the vocal comparisons; Waits never sung “Old Boyfriends,” Crystal Gayle did, on the One From The Heart Soundtrack. So that’s the one I covered!
- If you ask my discography, it would probably be “I Won’t Be There” from Gutters & Pews, as I think that’s the one that’s been anthologized the most. Or perhaps “This Is New York,” because that made it onto the Approaching Union Square soundtrack.
- “Dead, Boy!” Because that was the first “professional” song I recorded with my National, and it was for my debut album, for my first record label! Thus, the beginning of it all …
Q: What got you into this music in the first place?
A: Simple. Side 1, song 1, of a Vanguard Twofer that collected all the great country blues performers who had performed at the Newport Folk Festival in the 60s. I put it on my record player with NO idea what to expect, and along came the first song: Mississippi John Hurt playing “Sliding Delta.” And that was it, man. I heard it, and I said, “I’m sorry Joe Strummer, but THAT! I want to be able to do THAT!”