Cowboy’s Juke Joint is a podcast radio show that plays “the harder side of blues and southern rock” from all kinds of great bands from around the world. They’ve played almost the entire Black Cat Bone 616 discography in the last several months, and recently requested that I come on the show for an interview. The interview can be found in the first segment of Episode 112 and is available on their archive
The interview covers some of the history of the band, how we developed our style, and our approach to songwriting. At the time of the interview we are already at 6 weeks or more into the Covid-19 pandemic, so the ramifications of that on the band also are discussed in the interview. We talked about the possible future projects on the horizon for the band as well.
Michigan’s governor announced today that we are under “Shelter In Place” orders until April 13th due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I will definitely take advantage of all of the time off I can get to dive deep into my playing and writing exercises and make some progress with my music. I have already been off work for a week and putting that spare time into trying to break past my current state of writer’s block that I am struggling with.
This weekend I sat down with my camera and some instruments and just rotated thru songs I liked and recorded as much as I could. I managed to pull 12 videos from two sessions to post on Youtube under a playlist called “The Covid-19 Playlist“. I will keep contributing to this list for the duration of the quarantine.
The goal is to take old songs and dust them off. Maybe I will rework some of my songs for mandolin, or banjo. Maybe I will do a cover song or two. Maybe if I am lucky, I will end up writing a few new songs in the process! By the time life is “back to normal” and the band can start practicing again, I should have a stockpile of material ready to pick thru and start working on as the band gets up to speed. This version of Black Cat Bone is so new that we haven’t even had the opportunity to start writing new material together yet. With the songs on this playlist we will have plenty of ideas to work with.
I posted a short video on our Youtube channel the other day to share a few of the things we have going on with Black Cat Bone. We currently have 5 shows on the books, and have been working on a new song or two, and with all the new blood in the mix some of the old songs are getting reworked a little as well.
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.
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.
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.
We are on most of those sites under the moniker “Black Cat Bone 616”, using the Grand Rapids area code to separate us from the other artists out there using the name Black Cat Bone. There’s at least one in every country…. The oldest seems to be from the 70’s in Canada, the current big deal is out of the UK… but the best Black Cat Bone is from the heart of the Rust Belt…. dirty ol’ Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA!
Black Cat Bone has just released our new recording on Bandcamp for immediate streaming and download. CD’s are in the plans for the near future.
Jealous Is Poison was recorded live at a local screen print shop, Bad Mojo Design, in Grand Rapids, MI.
The album consists of 9 tracks. The album was recorded by our drummer David Schofield. Every track was captured in less than 3 takes to maintain the intregity of Black Cat Bone’s rough cut style, with minimal overdubbing, and minor post-production editing to clean up the tracks