New Year, New BCB (sorta)

2020 is off to a good start already… I’ve cut a station ID for Cowboy’s Juke Joint, which is a bad ass podcast supporting all kinds of gritty blues and swampy southern rock.

The band has been getting in a few practice sessions with the all-star lineup for the shows I have booked. Capt Brett Anarchy from Ernie Clark & the Magnificent Bastards, Jason Jankowski from Saint, and Spencer Chestnut have agreed to help me out on a couple these first few shows. Jay and Brett will back me up in Reed City on January 18, 2020, and Spencer will join us on January 31 at the Tip Top Deluxe show. Below is some video of our first session.

For 2020 I will focus on writing some new material, recording new and unreleased songs, and booking some shows in different venues. I am reaching out to a couple different musicians to build a roster of people I can rely on for shows and recording and taking things to new levels. I will be shooting video of it all as well, so look for that coming down the pipeline in 2020.

Scott/Black Cat Bone

4 new shows in 2020

Ernie Clark & the Magnificent Bastards are on a wild streak of shows and have been very kind in bringing Black Cat Bone along for the ride on a bunch of them. They’ve put together 4 shows for 2020 that were announced today, and of course they’ve booked your favorite Rustbelt Blues band on the bill as well!

Ernie and his Bastards are about to release their debut album in 2020, in addition to playing as many shows as possible. This 4 show portion of their schedule is “the Cats & Dogs & Bastards Tour”.

It’s getting us out of Grand Rapids for 3 of the 4 shows, which fits nicely with my goal of not playing the same town all the damn time for the new year! 2020 will be fun year for BCB…. we have some songs in rehearsal for a recording project…. and a potential video shoot is in the works as well!

-Scott/Black Cat Bone

Cowboy’s Juke Joint Podcast on Spotify

Mike and Mitch from Cowboy’s Juke Joint have been playing a few tracks from Black Cat Bone on their podcast on the interwebs lately. They play a pretty kick ass mix of “Gritty Blues Rock and Southern Rock bands from around the world; you’ve never heard before, and sharing them with passionate music lovers the world over . ”

It’s nice to get a little appreciation from people outside of my tiny little universe here in Grand Rapids, MI. It’s especially cool that they help spread the work to like-minded music fans I would never find on my own! Folks like these are keeping the independent music revolution going strong.

Give them a little listen. Submit your favorite independent artist’s link to them. Help keep independent music alive!

-Scott/Black Cat Bone

the 3 crossroads in a man’s life

In 2015 I was in Clarksdale, Mississippi with my wife (and Black Cat Bone’s original drummer) Jewly. I showed her the infamous crossroads (Highway 61 & Highway 49) where many people believe Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for musical prowess.

I also took her to see Ground Zero (the club owned by Morgan Freeman), but since it was closed we took a tour of the Delta Blues Museum. That is where we met Josh “Razorblade” Stewart.

He was really friendly and talkative. I could tell that he saw himself as an ambassador of the blues, making sure to let every soul he encountered his story. He was a Vietnam Vet, a former cop (I think he said he was the 1st black cop in Clarksdale), a truck driver, and of course a bluesman that has experienced a lifetime of struggle and sorrow during the relentless pursuit of happiness.

The video of Razorblade I posted above is one I found while deep in the Youtube rabbithole looking for stuff about the crossroads and Robert Johnson meeting the devil. I have seen another video or two of pretty much this exact conversation, and is pretty much the same conversation we had with him back in 2015.

In his ad-hoc role as Clarksdale’s Ambassador to the Blues, whenever he meets a new person he always gives a rundown on his theory that a man reaches a “crossroads” at 3 specific stages in his life. This is illustrated by a drawing of a Dollar Sign Snake to show the 3 crossroads.

The first crossroad a man comes to is in his 20’s as he becomes his own man, and has to decide what kind of man he will become. 2nd in his 40’s as he develops a stronger understanding of his own life, and his role in this world. Finally the 3rd crossroads in his 60’s as a man turns towards more important matters in his remaining years.

Unfortunately Razorblade has since passed away, but his lesson about the 3 Crossroads in a Man’s Life has stuck with us. RIP Razorblade!

New Album Release: the 4-track tapes

The new album “The 4-track Tapes” has been released on our Bandcamp account today, June 13th. 2019. The album is also available on our site, as well as Spotify and other streaming services.

Featuring 11 tracks captured with a Tascam 4 track digital recorder and a Behringer cardiod microphone. All tracks were exported to Cakewalk and mixed down with a minimal amount of production in an effort to maintain that “analog tape recorder” vibe present on old school cassete tape porta-studios.

Those analog tape recorders were cheaply made. They didn’t have anything visual to inform you of what you were recording, except a few LED indicator lights to keep you from clipping the sound while recording. Mixing down was a matter of running an RCA cable into another tape deck to record what your recorder played while you manipulated a few volume or tone knobs in real-time. You physically had to adjust the knobs to bring down the bass while you raised the guitar up for a solo, or smoothly turn all four volume knobs at the same time to achieve a full band fade at the end of the track.

The primitive design of the machines left plenty of room for mistakes. But that was kind of what made everything so fun. Those mistakes made for some pretty interesting sounds.

“The 4-Treack Tapes” invokes the spirit of when I first started to learn open tunings and using the bottleneck slide. I was sitting in my tiny apartment with a broken Tascam tape recorder that I dug out of the trash and repaired. I started layering tracks to see what combinations of guitar riffs I could throw together to make sense of that brass slide bottle. Eventually I found my true voice on the guitar, and figured out how to write songs in the process. That crappy tape recorder was what allowed me to transition from just a guitar player to an actual songwriter.

Before I started Black Cat Bone, I had nobody to help me make the kind of music I make today. The 4-track tape recorder was my band.

A few years later I started the band with my wife Jewly, on cajon and djembe, using the material I created on that old 4-track Tascam as the starting point of what this band would eventually evolve into. The band I wanted had finally become a reality, transitioning from the tape deck to the stage (at Mulligan’s!). She was the first of a dozen friends/band members to come over the years. That is why I released this album today, June 13th, our anniversary.

Currently, Black Cat Bone is operating as a one man band. Our work schedules weren’t lining up, and I was ready to take a step back from the routine we had been maintaining as a band for the last few years. So while I figure things out, I decided to just focus on writing new songs, and playing shows whenever the mood hits me. I am just taking the time to enjoy going back to the woodshed and getting ready for whatever the next step in the evolution of Black Cat Bone brings my way. I hope you enjoy the new music.

-Scott/Black Cat Bone