Preacher Boy – Bio
Preacher Boy (aka Christopher Watkins) is a pioneering blues artist who arrived on the scene with a career-making performance at The San Francisco Blues Festival in 1995—the San Francisco Examiner wrote that, “Those who arrived late may have missed what could well have been the top act on the entire bill next to John Lee Hooker himself.”
More than two decades later, Preacher Boy continues to deliver his raw, powerful brand of the blues. Of his most recent release, 2018’s The Rumble Strip (Coast Road Records), Rev. Keith A. Gordon wrote that, “Simply put, Preacher Boy’s performances on The Rumble Strip leave nothing but scorched earth in their wake.”
Preacher Boy’s recording career began with his genre-defying debut on Blind Pig Records. Rolling Stone was an early convert: “Preacher Boy is somewhat like Keb’ Mo’ in his jazzing up of Delta blues styles, but with a more contemporary sound akin to Kelly Joe Phelps or Chris Whitley. The best cuts highlight his wonderful work on National Steel.”
In the wake of the album’s release, Preacher Boy hit the road, sharing stages with everyone from Chris Isaak, Cracker, Cake, and Counting Crows, to Jimmy Vaughan, Los Lobos, J.J. Cale, and John Lee Hooker. He then delivered his Blind Pig follow up, described by Blues Access as: “Howlin’ Wolf meets Tom Waits by way of Cab Calloway.” The San Francisco Guardian called Preacher Boy the “Charlie Musselwhite for the Lollapalooza Generation.”—a quote that would become a running joke between Preacher Boy and Charlie when they toured the U.S. together!
Preacher Boy’s next releases were written, recorded, and released from Europe, where’s he’d relocated and begun touring. His music was described by Melody Maker as: “Country blues that marry Nick Cave, Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie and Tom Waits.” And legendary music publication MOJO declared that, “Preacher Boy is a songwriter of startling originality.”
Preacher Boy next settled in Brooklyn, on the heels of co-writing and recording with Eagle-Eye Cherry and Rick Rubin at New York’s fabled Magic Shop. Preacher Boy earned a Gold Record for his work on Cherry’s “Living in the Present Future” album, and went on to record his own next album in the city, “Demanding to be Next,” of which Sing Out said: “Accompanied solely by his keening, propulsive National and Martin guitar playing, Preacher Boy compulsively unwinds a series of often startling, narcotic tales, that prove image-rich and packed with an aura of sweeping drama.”
After a break to focus on writing poetry (courtesy of a grant to live and write in Jack Kerouac’s old house!), Preacher Boy returned to music with a vengeance, as detailed by That Devil Music: “Preacher Boy came roaring back strong with three new albums filled with inspired original songs and choice classic blues covers. Although his country-blues influences are evident in these grooves, Preacher Boy’s sound is entirely of his own making, and he’s been busy making vibrant and electrifying music that stands outside of the mainstream of the insular and tradition-bound world of the blues.”
Today, Preacher Boy is riding high on the strength of The Rumble Strip’s early success, and his boot-pounding live performances make clear that this relentlessly pioneering artist continues to deliver some of the most compelling modern blues music available anywhere. After a recent performance, Santa Cruz’s Good Times had this to say: “As he beats his long leather boot, four to the floor, his National steel guitar slides and spits a devious storm of gothic Americana and gritty country blues.”
Learn more about Preacher Boy.