Tag Archives: Mississippi Fred McDowell

365 Days of Album Recommendations – Apr 22

Fred McDowell – Long Way From Home


Back on February 9th, I recommended the album Levee Camp Blues by Fred McDowell (or “Mississippi Fred McDowell” as he’s sometimes termed). In that post, I mentioned that Levee Camp Blues is tied with one other Fred McDowell album for my all-time favorite. This is the other album.

It’s oddly a very different album. It’s shorter, the songs are more “familiar” in terms of their origin stories being in the general country blues canon, and most notably of all, it’s recorded very, very differently.

Levee Camp Blues is notable for its intimacy, its warmth, its clarity, its “naturalness.”

Long Way From Home is very different. It’s sparse, loaded with reverb, and flat-out haunting.

It’s a pretty hard collection to find, actually. It’s part of the Original Blues Classics series on Milestone, and it was recorded in 1966. I got it on vinyl when I was still in high school, and I was floored by it. It was just SO fuckin’ cool.

This album has always been—and continues to be—a huge influence on my songwriting and my playing. Honestly, if you go listen to “Preacher Boy and The Natural Blues”—my debut release on Blind Pig Records—after listening to this record, it’ll be REAL obvious whose spell I was under at the time.

Recommended track to start with: Milk Cow Blues. For my money, it’s the best version of this song ever recorded.

365 Days of Album Recommendations -Feb 9

Fred McDowell – Levee Camp Blues


There are a LOT of great Fred McDowell recordings out there. This is one tied for being my favorite. Both my favorites are #DesertIslandDiscs.

With this album, it’s largely to do with the songs themselves. The poetry of them—lyrically, musically, vocally—is extraordinary.

The production quality is worth noting as well. This was recorded by Pete Welding in 1968 for the Testament label—the label Welding founded—and it’s really exceedingly well done. There is a clarity here, and an intimacy, that is so natural, so present, and so real.

I can’t recommend just one track, you simply must listen to the whole thing.

There are a handful of records out there that indisputably stand as evidence of the true high art that is country blues music. This is one of them.

It Was A Set Your Daddy Dug Tonight [Live Tracks Included]

Preacher Boy - Virgil Thrasher - The National Blues

The inestimably excellent Virgil Thrasher brought his groovily moody and soulfully squallfull harmonica to the stage this evening, and together we ran down a set list which—upon retrospecting—I rather dig.

Here’s the full list of the songs we spelunked in and out of over the course of two solid hours tonight (please click the hyperlinked tracks to hear live, guerrilla-live recordings straight from the stage to vibrating drums:

If I Had Possession Over My Judgement Day (arr. PB, after Robert Johnson)

Rollin’ Stone (arr. PB, after Rev. Robert Wilkins)

Evil Blues (arr. PB, after Mance Lipscomb)

Revenue Man Blues (arr. PB, after Charley Patton)

Levee Camp Blues (arr. PB, after Mississippi Fred McDowell)

Settin’ Sun (PB, from “The National Blues”)

Comin’ Up Aces (PB, from “Demanding To Be Next”)

I Just Hang Down My Head And I Cry (trad., arr. PB, after Mance Lipscomb)

Catfish Blues (trad., arr. PB, after Willie Doss)

Jackson Street (PB, from “Demanding To Be Next”)

The Dogs (PB, from “The Devil’s Buttermilk”)

Obituary Writer Blues (PB, from “The National Blues”)

Down And Out In This Town (PB, from “Gutters and Pews”)

Red Cedar River Blues (PB, new-unreleased)

My Car Walks On Water (PB, from “The National Blues”)

99 Bottles (PB, Demanding To Be Next”)

That’s No Way To Get Along (arr. PB, after Rev. Robert Wilkins)

Casey Bill Weldon (PB, new-unreleased)

You’ve Been A Good Old Wagon (arr. PB, after Dave Van Ronk)

Death Letter Blues (arr. PB, after Son House)


Yeah man. I dig. I dug. I dig.

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!



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