Thursday, August 06, 2009
A Bloody Ol' Mule Interview!!!!
Welcome to our first Deep Blues Thursday. We'll be having interviews and overviews with some of our favorite artists in the Deep Blues tradition. Check out the end of the post for a special offer, and some swell tunes.
Our first featured artist is a feller what goes by the name of Bloody Ol' Mule. Real name's Shilo, and he was one of our favorite finds at the Deep Blues Festival, his two performances keeping us riveted and awed with awe at his brilliance.
Bloody Ol' Mule's a big man, with a bigger voice, and a stage presence built to beat the devil at his own game, brimstone fried salvation between the bottle and the deep dark pit. That voice, a hiccuped, dustbowl twang suddenly possessed by the ghost of Howling Wolf, is a thing of hellish beauty.
And, oh bloody hell, what he does to his guitar is probably illegal in a least 48 states, a shredding, rhythmic honky blues holler, heading southbound to the end of the line, speeding like a hound on fire.
Lyrically, Bloody Ol' Mule covers all the things we love: God and Satan, booze, love'n'hate, loneliness and lust, sex and salvation, more booze. Even a touch of truckin'. He's a master of the turned Country'n'Blues phrase, and throws off lines of poetry couched in the language of the common man. That's a fuckin' compliment that we usually reserve for old Hank Williams.
But don't take our word for all this. Shilo (Bloody Ol' Mule hisself) was kind enough to grant us an interview. So without further slobbering on our part...
The Bloody Ol' Mule Interview (in which we learn many things)
1. First off, give us your generic origin story. Where do you come from? Why are you? Feel free at this point to give the god's honest truth or create your own mythology.
I come from Grady County, Oklahoma, just a little west of Norman, Oklahoma. I live on 10 acres of land nestled somewhat in between a valley. It is the same land that I’ve been on and off of since I was about 5 or 6 years old. I don’t live in nothing really fancy, just a trailer house.
2. Where is Hell's Fringe Oklahoma?
To some of the locals of where I live, we still call this Hell’s Fringe, a name given to the area by the rangers and lawmen back in the 1800’s when outlaws came to Hell’s Fringe to hide out and such. The law never did like going into Hell’s Fringe, and preferred to just stay away, due to all the Indians that lived out there.
3. Describe your style.
I call my music “Feel Good”, meaning that I feel good playing, and from what I gather from others, they feel good listening to it. I just play music. I’m 33 years old, and the majority of the music that I listen to, and have grown up listening to for most of my life has been old country and honky tonk, and delta, and hill country blues. When I was a teenager, I also listened to a lot of 70’s and 80’s punk, as well as a lot of old 1960’s garage rock, but for the most part, the country and blues out weighs the rest of my personal music collection. I own about 3000 c.d.s, about 1000 or so records ranging anywhere from blues, to country, to punk to garage rock, and experimental music, etc. My country record collection being from about 1977 or so back to Jimmie Rodgers, one of my biggest inspirations, along with Hank Williams Sr. and Lefty Frizzell.
4. You sing a great deal about Satan/the Devil. Do you believe that "satan is real"? And if so, where does he live?
I feel that the devil exists inside of every living human-being, there inside of our minds, and our hearts, and that we as human-beings are constantly trying our best to not give in to his temptations. We are always battling the devil that exists there inside of us. The devil that appears in the songs that I write is nothing more than ourselves, or a metaphor for the things that don’t go our way in life, such as in my song “My Woman Got The Devil” or my song “Satan’s Farm”
5. In keeping with the thematic track, your songs often deal with the darker side of life (murder, drinkin', bad men doing bad things, etc.). Is this something that springs from your mind/imagination or do you pull from real life experiences.
I would have to say that my songs are a cross between my own imagination, experiences that I’ve had myself, as well as experiences that other people have had. For the most part, I don’t feel that they are necessarily about the darker side of life, they are just about life in general. These subjects are an element that I’m around everyday of my life, I do not seek them out, for the most part they tend to seek me out whether I want them or not. If I had the choice of writing great songs about the heart-ache and sadness that I have experienced, or the choice of being able to live in a life of bliss and at peace with myself, I’d choose to live at peace with myself. Writing songs, or stories is the only way for me to release all of that which has been building up inside of me, whether it be right or wrong, and that inspiration comes from all directions in my life.
6. This might be redundant based on the previous question, but your onstage persona is vastly different than your offstage persona (at least based on our interactions at the Festival). Are Shilo Brown and Bloody Ol' Mule two completely separate individuals, or do they feed off each other , the real life person and the created stage persona?
When Howling Wolf used to perform, he was the Wolf on stage, and pretty much Chester Burnett off stage, and Daddy to his kids. When I perform, there is a sort of possession that comes over me when I’m playing music, I am somewhat possessed when I’m up there on stage playing.
7. Tell us about your experiences at the Deep Blues Festival.
It was one amazing experience. When I got home from the festival, 2 to 3 days laters, I was having dreams every night that I was still at the festival, either playing, or hanging out with all the great people that I got to hang out with and meet. So, I definitely feel that the Deep Blues Festival had a great impact on me. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life, and I hope to be able to do it again next year. Chris Johnson is a bright spirit, and a beautiful human-being, who takes good care of each one of us musicians with a personal touch, as if we were all his children. The Deep Blues Festival is the most comfortable I’ve felt playing at a festival.
8 . Your records seem to tend towards more of a Country/Hillbilly style, while your performances at the Blues Fest highlighted, obviously, your more Blues oriented stylings (while maintaining a bedrock of Country). Do you find these styles mutually exclusive, or do you find Country and Blues almost two sides of the American coin? Which style do you feel more comfortable with?
I think that real country music, and real blues are pretty much one in the same. Hank Williams Sr. learned how to play from Tee-Tot a black street musician, as well as Jimmie Rodgers doing the same with all the black street musicians that fascinated him growing up. Lightnin’ Hopkins once said that country music ain’t nothing but white man’s blues. I feel that these two styles of music go hand in hand. I, myself don’t classify my music as either one or the other, for me it is just music. I play what I like to play and that is all.
9. You're also a writer. Tell us about yr stories and poems. Who are your influences? What separates your written pieces from you music?
I would have to say that I am more of a story-teller than a writer. I’ve got a spoken word album called Good Greasy Meat that will be coming out sometime in the fall of this year. The stories, just like the songs that I write, usually spawn from either my own experiences or from the things that I’ve been told over a few cold beers in some beer joint. I write about the elements of life that I know about. One should always write about what they know. I am mostly interested in Southern writing, and mostly southern grit-lit, writers such as Larry Brown, Harry Crews, Tom Franklin, etc. I seem to relate more to their story telling as opposed to other genres of writing. They write about the characters that I know, and have grown up with all my life. I relate to what they are writing about, and it makes me feel good to know that there’s people out in the world who are just like me, and that I’m not alone in my ways of thinking and living.
I’ve owned and operated a new and used bookstore and record store in Oklahoma City since 1997 called Book Beat & Co. where I’ve also held live shows in the bookstore as well as artshows and such.
10. What's next? Plug your next record and/or shows.
Before I left for the Deep Blues Festival, I recorded a sessions of songs for an album that I’m calling Lonesome Midnight Bawlers, a collection of sad and lonely tears in your beer country weepers that I’ve written. A collection of pure honky tonk material. Then I’ve got another recording session set up in a few months to record 18 to 19 songs for the new Bloody Ol’ Mule album that will be called Between Pig’s Ditch and Blood Creek. Also, I’m working on publishing a new collection of short stories and poems as well.
Now then, if that aint enough for y'all, and the following tunes aren't enough either, and more tunes at his myspace page, here's what we're gonna do. If you buy an album from Bloody Ol' Mule (check his myspace page for contact info), we here at the Mountain will personally make you mix cd or mp3 mix in whatever style/genre/theme of your choosing. Shilo's also a damn good writer, and we'd count buying one of his books as eligible too. All you gotta do is tell us you bought something, and we'll get you hooked up, we trust all y'all that much. More and different promotions to come in subsequent Deep Blues Thursdays.
Bloody Ol' Mule: Truck Stop Whore (mp3)
Bloody Ol' Mule: Snake Hunt Holler (mp3)
Bloody Ol' Mule: Holy Ghost Power (mp3)
Please support these artists. They're keeping real, non-crap, non-watered down music alive. The sound of a deeper American ghost. We'll do what we can to help.