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.
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 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.
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!
Ass Shakers & Heartbreakers is the first song written in 2020. It comes from an improv jam at the Old Dog Tavern that we performed as our soundcheck on January 25th 2020. The words are essentially my mantra, my idea of what the musical philosophy of Black Cat Bone should be. That there are only really 2 kinds of songs. If you can’t make them dance, you better make them cry! It’s really the reason I ever picked up a guitar in the first place. I am looking forwrd to recording this one with the band soon.
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.
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!
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.