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Demanding To Be Next

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Album Review

Preacher Boy might be a young white boy singing the blues, but think Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart more than Led Zeppelin and Bad Company, and throw in some Townes Van Zandt and Gillian Welch as well. For his fifth album, Preacher Boy (known to his mother by the decidedly less bluesy moniker Christopher Watkins) for the first time performs in a strictly solo and acoustic setting: just his agreeably smoky voice and vintage National slide guitar. Waits and Beefheart come immediately to mind because of Watkins' fearlessness when it comes to bending melodies to suit his own whim, not to mention the husky low register of his singing voice. But he's not really out to warp or subvert the blues, as shown by reverential but idiosyncratic readings of standards like Son House's "Death Letter" and Skip James' "Nehemiah James." Watkins understands that the idea is not to mimic one's influences, but to put them in the service of something new. That "old wine in a new bottle" context makes Demanding to Be Next Preacher Boy's best album yet.


Born: 1968 in Iowa City, IA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Christopher Watkins, a twenty-something rocker from the San Francisco Bay area, is turning a whole new generation of teenage and twenty-something alternative rock fans on to the eternal hipness of the blues. Watkins, who uses the stage name Preacher Boy, is backed on his club shows around the Bay area and other parts of the West Coast by his band Natural Blues. Watkins was born in Iowa City, but lived in Michigan, Kansas, Italy, and Washington before moving to San Francisco. At 16, his mom brought...
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Demanding To Be Next, Preacher Boy
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