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I open Spotify and type in The Blues Preachers.
I know from their Facebook page that they’re a two piece band out of Sydney, but other than that my opinion is based purely on what I see of their pictures.
Now, with a name like The Blues Preachers, I was assuming a hot Chicago sound, all Muddy Waters and whisky, Eric Clapton, and not in a good way. Middle class, white blues. Thank the good lord I was wrong!
With slide guitar, honest lyricism, and harmonica galore, The Blues Preachers are 2016’s answer to Sonny Boy Williamson, and the pre-war greats
The music that The Blues Preachers are purveying is from a time before the blues had reached Chicago, and electricity. Ragtime, harmonica, open tuned slide guitars and the truth. You can almost smell the hours these guys have spent immersed in this stuff. You don’t sound like this without having done the hours, and probably done some time too.
What’s amazing about this duo made up of Brother John on guitar, banjo, and vocals, and Captain Bluetongue on harmonica, mountain dulcimer, and vocals, is that it is very easy to play this kind of music and end up sounding like a juke box playing Blind Willie Nelson records, losing any originality whilst trying to mimic the ones that did it first. The Blues Preachers don’t do this.
They take the style and tropes but somehow bring it up to date. They’re not Alabama 3 obviously, there are no acid house beats here, but the subjects of the songs are up to date. They’re singing about the mountains, and the valleys, but they’re the Blue Mountains and the Barossa Valley. Their strife is the banking crisis, and the battle against materialism.
They released their first album – Next Stop Beulah Land in 2007, swiftly followed up by Dry So Long in 2008, and then their most recent release, Dead Catz Can Bounce in 2010. Which is somehow 6 years ago. Jeez where does the time go? Gents, please, for me, do another album.
As I listen more, I hear the Sonny Boy Williamson inspiration, they channel Bob Dylan in Arrivals and Departures, and at moments they remind me of The Hot Club of Cow Town, minus the fiddle.
The standout track of theirs, for me, is Divine Justice Coming Down. It encapsulates this band. The music is honest, and true to the prewar protest and work blues, but the lyrics are bought bang up to date, talking of corrupt banks, military expansion, and I am pretty sure the song features a mouth harp, which is just brilliant.
You can catch these blues brothers on one of their many tours ’round the country, but before you do so, do us a favour, and join the congregation of The Blues Preachers.
Oh, and Yoko Ono chose this song as a runner up in the John Lennon 70th birthday song writing competition, and who am I to argue with Yoko?
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