We are republishing features on some of the returning makers for 2017. This piece first went up on 04.08.16. Stay tuned for features on our new exhibitors!
Preacher Boy’s music is a hyphenated thing — country-blues, alt-blues, folk-blues, and acoustic-blues. It all comes out of the country blues tradition, although much of the music he makes sounds more like an eclectic interpretation of Americana and roots music.
His love for music began with his grandfather’s influence, a bluegrass musician who played folk and blues on the record player. His parents were also hip; they listened to the Beatles and Stones, and his father was into Motown and early girl groups. When Preacher Boy discovered Eric Clapton, they pointed him to The Yardbirds, and off he went on a journey that took him back to Howlin Wolf, Mississippi John Hurt, and the music of the delta. “I was a 16 year old white kid living in Seattle, son of a Marxist english professor. How I got into the blues is pretty amazing.”
Preacher Boy’s newest album “The National Blues” was released just a few months ago on Altco Recordings out of Austin. He took some time away from music to return to graduate school and get a degree in creative writing, but the lure of making music remained strong. Composed of 11 brand new songs, the album draws its title from his favorite guitar and the one he played on the album. In the studio, it was just him and a drummer, who agreed to no overdubs and no editing. They did 3 takes of every song live and picked the one they liked most. This live-and-raw approach forms a strong bookend with his first album, Preacher Boy and the Natural Blues, which was very layered and composed.
When he plays live in solo settings, Preacher Boy pulls songs from throughout his catalog, and sprinkles in old blues tunes. “I like playing solo because I don’t have to teach anyone the arrangement — I can drop into a tune I haven’t played in 10 years. Playing solo, I think of the music through jazz brain; country blues is very in-the-moment, so I wind up flipping verses or making one up because I’m talking to someone in the front row, or using whatever I have like stomping on the floor.”
Preacher Boy likes to commit to being fully present during a performance. “It’s the haiku constraint — all you have is the acoustic guitar, so what you gonna do?” He also takes the work of performing as a very personal obligation. “I feel the ambassadorial responsibility to present the music the way it was originally made, not through rote note-by-note performance, but by making it real and live and raw, just the way it was originally created.”
Once you hear him at the Mini Maker Faire, you’ll be hooked. Don’t miss his performance on the main stage! Fortunately, you can check out more Preacher Boy at his pair of local residencies, Tuesdays at Mission St BBQ and Thursdays at Aptos St BBQ.
All photos and music courtesy of Preacher Boy