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.
It has been a few years since we created our mini documentary about Black Cat Bone, and even though the spirit of the band remains, none of the musicians from back then are in the band in 2020. So I put together a new intro video about what we have going on musically these days.
While we are on a break dealing with work and life in the times of COVID-19, some songwriting has been happening, as well as gathering some material for future videos and recording in 2020. Until then, stay safe!
I recently picked up a handful of crazy picks and some really cool ceramic slide bottles from Rocky Mountain Slide Company, courtesy of Todd Reeves, a friend of the band and recent contributor to the musical mayhem (you can see his debut with us Thursday May 7th).
The picks are made of bone, coconut shells, and some other mysterious space age materials. I found them to be interesting to play with, and liked the way that they altered my sound as a result. I am not sure if I will actually incorporate the picks into my sound, but the ceramic slide bottles were pretty interesting, and I am feeling more inclined to mix these into the set for recording and live shows. Here is a video review I made
We couldn’t be more excited to do this show. Its a break in between runs of our Cats & Dogs & Bastards Tour that we have been playing with The Neighborhood Dogs, and Ernie Clark & The Magnificent Bastards. We have some hired guns helping out as BCB builds up back into a full band after a year of being a one man band. Brett Booher from Ernie Clark & The Magnificent Bastards has been holding down the bass for us while Jay Jankowski from Saint has been laying down the drums. We are also contemplating bringing in a surprise guitarist, and our go-to harmonica man, if things work out for everyone.
Bloodshot Bill will most likely play solo again when he comes to town. When he plays as a one man band he is like a man possessed! Drums are wailing, guitar is squealing, greasy hair is flying everywhere, and the sweat is pouring as Bill makes sweet, sweet love to the microphone. Its a whirlwind of beer soaked psychobilly feakout. John Waters said Bloodshot Bill is like “Roy Orbison with a head wound”. We think thats a compliment…. and its pretty damn accurate!
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.
Facebook live video from Bemo’s Bar in Bay City MI. Black Cat Bone dida one man band set opening for Ernie CLark & the Magnificent Bastards and The Hellbound Drifters . Scott played on an amp borrowed from Ernie Clark, and used the house drum set.
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.
Local Rigs is a bad ass project that focuses on local musicians and the gear that they utilize in making their music.
Recently they had Scott come out and do an episode, which is shot at River City Studios in Grand Rapids, MI. Scott took 4 guitars and his trusty Marshal amp and spent an afternoon talking shop with the crew
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!
We ran into Farmer John who helps out with a lot of the shows at the Tip Top Deluxe. Farmer John is also the founder of the Cowpie Music Festival in Alaska, Michigan. They host some of the best live music to be found around yonder parts and are something you should check out.
He asked us to do a short interview, which he then posted on his Facebook account. Farmer John also captured our first song in the set in a separate video.