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Text: Martin van der Velde Firefighter and care provider Ned Bollé, with more than twenty years of experience in his profession, is back in the music scene. Not so long ago his album 'The Box 1' was released and now there is already 'Dumpster Fire' (container fire) with which he builds a bridge to his work as a firefighter. Ned Bollé plays banjo, mandolin, bass, percussion and guitar. The Mean Old Fireman also has a nice, heavy, raw voice, but his slide playing dominates 'Dumpster Fire', as can be heard right away in the groovy sounding opening track 'Tour Three'. Drummer Joey Pafumi (Walter Trout, Paul Nelson Band) is once again present with drumming in 'McArthur's Cunning Ruger', in which we also hear saxophonist Marty Phillips and keyboardist John Wadkins performing excellently. 'Barefootin' is built around a wonderful New Orleans beat. Ned's banjo playing in 'Stack O Lee' provides the authentic atmosphere in this old folk song, first recorded in 1923 by Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians. The short solid shuffle 'Your Mind is on vacation' is provided with solid slide play and is over in no time. No, then in the intro of 'Got No Spoons' things go a lot quieter, in which the band gradually works towards a languid shuffle and in which guest guitarist Toby Soriero is given plenty of space to solo. The much-covered 'Cold Women With Warm Hearts' by lyricist Mack Rice is presented here in a nice pumping shuffle version. But also the next two covers 'Too Much Alcohol' by H.B. Hutto and Jackie Brenston's 'Rocket 88' are completely customised. With the self-penned 'Outrun The Blues' we arrived at the last song of 'Dumpster Fire' nice and groovy and rocking. A wonderful CD by this slide-playing firefighter, who has found his roots again by browsing through the work of Robert Johnson and Charlie Patton, among others, and during a search for his love for New Orleans music, which took him via Robert Palmer to Lowell George and then The Meters, The Nevilles Brothers and Dr. John brought. In short, a surprising album by a band that knows how to connect rock, jazz, bluegrass, funk and country elements to the blues in a refined way and of which I did not know the existence before. An absolute must! Eric Schuurmans - October, 2021

Translation by Google Translate:

“Slide guitar is Ned's sonic paintbrush…” Multi-instrumentalist Ned Bollé studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the 1970s and was also active in the local music scene. He performed as a (fanatic) slide guitarist with, among others, Tom Hambridge and Matt “Guitar” Murphy. After temporarily putting aside his musical ambitions to be a firefighter/ambulancer, in his spare time he started working as the Mean Old Fireman with The Cruel Engineers, some veterans like bassist Rick Plourde (Brian Maes Band), drummer Joey Pafumi ( XYZ, Walter Trout, Paul Nelson Band) and keyboardist Chuck Whiting for the recording of their debut album, 'The Box 1'. Box 1 (2019) became an instrumental album with “innovative work on slide guitar and with original work by Nollé and classics, spanning various genres such as blues, rock, Latin and meth-grass…”. Lady Lupine's Christina Lacoste on accordion can also be heard on several tracks. “He brings his varied life experiences that are as diverse as his instrumental influences to this release and it features some of Boston's finest musicians…” Meanwhile, a second album has been recorded. Dumpster Fire was re-recorded with co-producer Alex Allinson and more local Boston musicians. The roots of the eleven songs they recorded are in the blues. Very bluesy and with a lot of slide guitar, the album opens with “Tour 3”, an original song that Ned found his inspiration for during a field internship, which he did with fellow paramedics in Brooklyn. On harmonica you can hear one Dana Andrews grooving. “McArthur's Cunning Ruger” is the story of McArthur Wheeler, a man who robbed banks in Pittsburg, PA. The man believed that putting lemon juice on his face would make him invisible to cameras. For this kind of thinking, the concept of “anosognosia” was invented, which summarizes a common symptom of certain mental illnesses. Also sometimes (referring to the researchers) called the “(David) Dunning-(Justin) Krueger Effect”. For the Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers, the reason for a relaxed jam. “Barefootin'” with Martin Philips on saxis a swampy cover of a Robert Parker song, “Stack O Lee” the well-known classic, a popular folk song about the murder of Billy Lyons by "Stag" Lee Shelton and "Your Mind is on Vacation ”, the Mose Allison classic. What he saw on the street inspired Ned to write “Got No Spoons”, a blues à la lettre under the motto “addiction does not discriminate”. A lesser known song by Albert King is "Cold Woman with Warm Hearts". Here starring Phillips and keyboardist John Wadkins. Not Rory Gallagher but J.B. Hutto wrote “Too Much Alcohol”. Hutto spent the last part of his life in Boston, where he performed a lot in clubs and received a lot of attention. Like many compatriots, Ned is also a fan of muscle cars. “Rocket 88” is a spicy update of the Brenston/Turner composition. “Outrun the Blues”, the closing track, is a much requested song from the band. If you listen for a moment, you'll know why! “For their new release 'Dumpster Fire' the Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers found enough inspiration around them, to make it another successful roots album with lots of bluesy sides…” “For their new release 'Dumpster Fire' the Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers found enough inspiration around them, to record another successful roots album with lots of bluesy frills…“ (ESC for Rootstime) Eric Schuurmans

As published:

“Slide guitar is Ned’s sonic paintbrush…“ 

Multi-instrumentalist Ned Bollé studeerde in de jaren ’70 aan het Berklee College of Music in Boston en was daarnaast actief in de plaatselijke muziek scene. Hij trad als (fanatiek) slide gitarist op met o.a. Tom Hambridge en Matt “Guitar” Murphy. Nadat hij tijdelijk zijn muzikale ambities wat opzijschoof om brandweerman/ambulancier te kunnen zijn, ging hij in zijn vrije tijd als de Mean Old Fireman samen werken met The Cruel Engineers, enkele veteranen als bassist Rick Plourde (Brian Maes Band), drummer Joey Pafumi (XYZ, Walter Trout, Paul Nelson Band) en toetsenist Chuck Whiting voor de opnames van het debuutalbum, ‘The Box 1’. 

‘Box 1’ (2019) werd een instrumentaal album met “innovatief werk op slide gitaar en met origineel werk van Nollé en klassiekers, dat verschillende genres als blues, rock, Latin en meth-grass omvat…”. Op meerdere tracks is ook Lady Lupine’s Christina Lacoste op accordeon te horen. 

“He brings his varied life experiences that are as diverse as his instrumental influences to this release and it features some of Boston's finest musicians…” 

Ondertussen is er een tweede album opgenomen. ‘Dumpster Fire’ (brand in een afvalcontainer) werd opnieuw opgenomen met co-producer Alex Allinson en nog meer lokale muzikanten uit Boston. Van de elf nummers die ze opnamen liggen de wortels in de blues. 

Heel bluesy en met veel slide gitaar opent het album met “Tour 3”, een origineel nummer waarvoor Ned zijn inspiratie vond tijdens een veldstage, die hij met collega ambulanciers deed in Brooklyn. Op harmonica hoor je hier ene Dana Andrews grooven. “McArthur’s Cunning Ruger” is het verhaal van McArthur Wheeler, een man die banken overviel in Pittsburg (PA). De man geloofde dat als hij citroensap over zijn gezicht deed, hij voor camera’s onzichtbaar werd. Voor dit soort denken vond men het begrip “anosognosie” uit, dat een veel voorkomend symptoom van bepaalde psychische aandoeningen samenvat. Wordt ook soms (naar de onderzoekers verwijzend) het “(David) Dunning- (Justin) Krueger Effect” genoemd. Voor de Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers, de aanleiding voor een relaxte jam. “Barefootin’” met Martin Philips op saxis een swampy cover van een nummer van Robert Parker, “Stack O Lee” de gekende klassieker, een populair volksliedje over de moord op Billy Lyons door "Stag" Lee Shelton en “Your Mind is on Vacation”, de Mose Allison klassieker. Wat hij zag op straat inspireerde Ned bij het schrijven van “Got No Spoons”, een blues à la lettre onder het motto “verslaving discrimineert niet”. Een minder bekend nummer van Albert King is “Cold Woman with Warm Hearts”. Hier met Phillips en toetsenist John Wadkins in de hoofdrollen. Niet Rory Gallagher maar J.B. Hutto schreef “Too Much Alcohol”. Hutto verbleef op het laatst van zijn leven in Boston, waar hij veel in clubs optrad en hij de nodige aandacht kreeg. Ook Ned is als vele landgenoten fan van muscle cars. “Rocket 88” is een gepeperde update van de Brenston/Turner compositie. “Outrun the Blues”, de afsluiter, is een veel gevraagd nummer van de band. Als je even luistert, weet je waarom! 

“Voor hun nieuwe release ‘Dumpster Fire’ vonden de Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers genoeg inspiratie rondom hen, om er opnieuw een geslaagd roots album van te maken met veel bluesy kantjes…” 

“For their new release 'Dumpster Fire' the Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers found enough inspiration around them, to record another successful roots album with lots of bluesy frills…“ (ESC for Rootstime) 

Eric Schuurmans

Link to review - Peter Lauro. August, 2021

I first met the Mean Old Fireman, a.k.a. Ned Bolle, in 2018 at the "Blues Speed Networking for Musicians and Industry" seminar put on by the Blues Foundation during IBC week. It's a workshop in which IBC participants are invited to participate in networking opportunities/mentoring sessions with blues professionals across all areas of the music business. It's set up like a speed dating event where every ten minutes a bell goes off, and the participants must then move to the next professional they have registered to see. My agenda consisted of discussing the importance of providing often overlooked information on album jackets that are very helpful to reviewers. It was my first time mentoring and Ned was my first registrant. Since that time, both of Ned's releases have left absolutely no guessing as to who wrote the songs; which of the three listed guitarists are doing what, and on which tracks they are doing it on; which tracks each of the two bass players are playing on; etc; etc. In retrospect, I can now say Ned got a "A" in my class... lol. 

"Dumpster Fire" is the second release from Mean Old Fireman and the Cruel Engineers, with four of the disc's ten tracks being originals - some of which come from Ned's real life experiences as a first responder. Although he's not really old and certainly not mean, Ned Bolle is indeed a fireman in the Boston, MA area. Musically, he plays slide guitar, guitar, banjo mandolin, bass, percussion, and sings the lead vocals. The Cruel Engineers consist of: Joey Pafumi on drums and percussion; John Wadkins on keyboards; Marty Phillips on saxophones; Dana Andrews on harmonica; Lou Spagnola and Rick Plourde on bass; Christina Lacoste and Chat de Rouelle on backing vocals; "Shockwell" Morency on backing vocals and percussion; and Toby Soriero (of Rosedale Junction, reviewed in March) on lead guitar. 

Saying "Tour 3", the disc's opening track is a Ned Bolle original, just doesn't quite cut it. Perhaps, telling you that the song was inspired by characters - some civilians and some co-workers - that Ned came in contact with during his field internship while working tour 3 on an ambulance that covered the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY; further explaining that tour 3 is the midnight shift and that East New York, plagued by poverty and drug addiction, has the borough's highest crime rate and is commonly called its murder capital; may give you more insight as to how original the song actually is. Musically, the dramatic rhythm feel Joey and Rick are laying down on the drums and bass, along with the eerie vibe created by Dana's harp leads and Ned's slide guitar chords, are the perfect accompaniment for Ned's gravely and gruff vocal presentation which encompasses the tiresome and worrisome mood that I'm sure a shift like this is conducive of. 

This original track, titled "McArthur's Cunning Ruger" is a satirical approach to a very true story. The title combines McArthur Wheeler, a Ruger wielding bank robber who Ned says "is an unmistakable man, a little short on smarts but he did have a plan"; and Dunning & Krueger, researchers of "Why People Fail to Recognize Their Own Incompetence" - case in point, McArthur Wheeler. The fact that this dude rubbed lemon juice on his face because knowing that lemon juice could be used to make invisible ink, he figured it would have the same effect on his face, making it invisible to surveillance cameras is hilarious enough, but hearing Ned tell it is a flat out riot. Not that it needed it, but adding Marty's scorching sax and the extra rhythm of Shockwell's percussion work definitely put a little more smoke (no pun intended) into this one. 

For as long as I've been listening to the blues, I honestly believe I've heard every description of what's caused them. Some, like "my baby ran off with my Muddy Waters records" were clever, and even if they were true - quite lighthearted; while others, that came from real life experiences about tragic incidents, were indeed painful to hear. That said, I'd have to do some serious digging to find one as gut wrenching as what Ned describes on "Got No Spoons", a song he wrote from his twenty-two years of seeing way too many lives destroyed by the opiod crisis. The true story being told here is of a father finding his 'baby daughter' overdosing in the gutter. Although Ned was able to prevent the young woman from dying, it's her father's belief that the Narcan didn't save her, it just kept her alive. The songs gripping lyrics end with dad's powerful message to his daughter's doctor... "They say that no man can judge, I gotta leave that to old Saint Pete. But if our paths should ever cross, I'm gonna make damn sure you two meet". Having no children of my own, the tears that are now rolling from my eyes have me feeling that poor man's pain. On a much brighter note, the lead guitar work by Toby, that starts at about one minute into the song then turns into a mind blowing minute-and-a-half solo that in addition to being the disc's best guitar work - could very well be the best I've heard since reviewing his "Stompin' On The Front Porch" CD back in March of this year. Then, having been inspired by Toby, Ned breaks out into his own minute-and-a-half slide guitar solo that in spite of the tears in my eyes, put a huge smile on my face. Worthy of my ultimate compliment, let me now say that if I were still a nominator, "Got No Spoons" would most definitely appear on my "Song Of The Year" ballot. 

"Cold Women With Warm Hearts" is a cover of an obscure Albert King song. Oddly, but certainly not disappointingly, instead of string bending guitar leads, the musical highlights on this rendition include fabulous piano and saxophone leads by John and Marty, well fitted slide guitar leads by Ned and of course a powerful rhythm from Joey's drums and Lou's bass. 

Being a big fan of J. B. Hutto, Ned wanted to make sure he included a song of his on the disc. The one he chose was "Too Much Alcohol" which was actually popularized by Rory Gallagher. That said, with Rory's rendition being a solo on a resonator, the Mean Old Fireman and the Cruel Engineers are rockin' it like J. B. did on his original. Giving the song a 2020 vibe, Ned's reasoning for sucking down all that booze is to "kill the virus off". 

The liner notes about this track said "If you're gonna play a song about a car, it needs to move." Saying that the guys delivered on that statement, along with telling you the song is titled "Rocket 88" (Jackie Brenston/Ike Turner), should pretty much be all you need to know. 

The disc closes with the last of its original tracks and it's titled "Outrun The Blues (Album Version)". On the one sheet, Ned proudly boasts that on their streaming services, the single version of this song is their most popular. He also says that you'll only know why after you listen, but I'll just go ahead and tell you that with it's frantic rhythm; wailing horns; piano keys that are being pounded, not tickled; guitars getting shredded; and boisterous backing and lead vocals; it's a full scale three alarmer (again, no pun intended). 

Other tracks on this dynamite disc include: "Barefootin'" (Robert Parker); "Stack O Lee", a.k.a. "Stagger Lee" - a song that depending on where you look could be credited to any one of a dozen people and spelled differently that many times as well; and "Your Mind Is On Vacation" (Mose Allison). 

To find out more about the Mean Old Fireman and to get a copy of "Dumpster Fire" for airplay, just go to - When you do, please tell Ned that his friend the Blewzzman sent you. 

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro 
Blues Editor @ 
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

Playlister Club - 11/24/2020

" A highly melodious and festive track that is exceptionally polished to perfection. From the outset, listeners can get into the groove. There are exhilarating and infectious piano melodies amongst a lively whirlwind of bright tones. The solid texture enhances the track and adds to the creative brilliance. The track captures the essence of the iconic rock n roll era and evokes nostalgia. The track is danceable and thoroughly entertaining across the board. "  Gerldine Taylor, Spotify Playlist Curator

Hypelist Music - Facebook 5/20/2020

Mean Old Fireman & The Cruel Engineers are back with a new track titled 'Stack O Lee.' Ned Bollé, the band's frontman, brings you traditional bluesy sounds with raspy, soulful vocals in a style all his own. 

Despite the unfortunate delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ned is back in the studio working on his full length album which is expected to drop by the end of this year. If you like artists such as The Allman Brothers Band, Muddy Waters or The Avett Brothers and then we highly recommend you check out Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers on Spotify now!⁠ 
Don't forget to follow Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers to stay updated on all their latest news and releases! - May 14, 2020

Reminisce With Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers in Song "Stack O Lee" 

Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers is the heart and soul of music artist Ned Bollé. The rhythm of Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers music is smooth yet full of enriching properties. You can expect to receive a real and raw old-school sound with the group. With the combined surplus of instrumentals, the group flourishes with their collective melody alongside the deep and musky lead vocals. We're entranced, but honestly by the simplicity of Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers, and the joys that come from that. Listeners are in for a real Motown treat with Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers latest single, "Stack O Lee." You can physically hear the thick rasp in the delivered vocals, and once it's combined with the bluesy instruments, a reminiscent and reflective environment is manifested. We imagine "Stack O Lee" being played on those laidback, lax kind of days. Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers give off a natural sense of harmony; it's inherent to their style. That's why you can always expect authenticity with them, and also why you can expect every single release to be full of that rich, characteristic melody. The bright and thriving unity within Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers sound is incredible, and you'll catch us listening to "Stack O Lee" on a kick-back kind of day. 

Discover "Stack O Lee" by Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers here. 

Welcome, Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers! "Stack O Lee" recently debuted, and the song featured an incredibly homey atmosphere, along with some of our favorite old-school sounds. What inspired the theme for the production of "Stack O Lee"? 

When you take on a song that’s as old as “Stack”, you’re faced with a few options: you can take it update/modernize it. You can try to recreate an earlier, historical arrangement. You can stand it on its head: change the lyrics, the story, the pace or you can “move sideways, into another genre. Ultimately, I did several at once. The legend of “Stack” has been told in every conceivable genre, folk, big band, rock, R & B, even Hip Hop. It is, arguably the oldest Gangsta song, after all. The arrangement is fairly traditional New Orleans, but the banjo, mandolin and baritone slide give it a more rural flavor. The electric slide guitar takes the fill and solo lines that probably would have been sax or clarinet a hundred years ago. I wanted it to evoke an “Old” feel, but by relying on like “old vinyl” or “AM modulation” effects. They have their place. I really wanted the instruments and the playing to speak for itself. Alex (engineer and co-producer) has a great ear and an amazing collection of mics. We relied on old school ribbon and condenser mics, as well as a lot of vacuum tube outboard gear to capture the warmth of the instruments. I’ll assure your readers that no tubes were harmed in the making of this single. 

Let's talk more about the traditional sounds you incorporate into your music, especially so in "Stack O Lee". Can you elaborate more on some of the prominent styles incorporated into the song? How did the vision for "Stack O Lee" come to fruition? 

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of swampy grooves. You throw a rhythm like this at Rick and Joey (Rick Plourde and Joey Pafumi, Bass and drums, respectively) and they’ll dig out a pocket so deep, you could lose your car keys in. We had played it live a few times and it evolved into a very solid feel. It always had the place rockin’. Once in the studio, I wanted to keep that feel and give it a more textured… a more nuanced sound. The story is based (loosely) on actual events in St. Louis, on Christmas, 1895. The song’s origins are from further down the Mississippi, so a New Orleans arrangement was a natural. When you hear slide played on a swampy resonator, you instantly think of the Delta and there is nothing swampier than a baritone reso. 

Do you feel that parts of your music reflect the multitude of musical influences you have? Are there any visions stemmed from the musical creation of others? 

Although I was born near Chicago, I’ve lived in the Northeast since I was 8. My first experiences playing publicly were with square dance bands. The music had a heavy Acadian tinge, French Canadian, with heavy Scottish, Irish, and English influences. A friend’s older brother introduced me to Zydeco and other music from New Orleans, including Clifton Chenier. It sounded familiar and different all at once. It wasn’t until years later that I realized why. Afterall “Acadian” is “a Cajun”. I like to think of my take on this style as “North Country Cajun”. In terms of my personal playing style, Sonny Landreth has been an enormous influence, especially in terms of technique. In terms of the arrangement and production approach, Ry Cooder comes to mind. Ry loves taking an old tune, reworking it, and making it sound “old” and brand new, all at once. 

What do you believe will be the next move for Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers? Considering the resonant traditional sounds Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers are known for, what can listeners expect to hear next with future music to come? 

Like nearly every band and artist, the ‘Rona virus shutdown was a big setback for us. In fact, we had just finished tracking “Stack” when the Governor shut everything down. The mixing and mastering for “Stack O Lee” was all done remotely. I got the master file at about 11:30 one night. I listened to it on earbuds, got dressed, and ran down to the car and drove around the block so I could crank it up. As far as style-wise, we always like to mix things up. Our first album, Box 1 was a smorgasbord of styles: Blues, Americana, Country/Methgrass, Rock. Fusion, Zydeco, and that diversity of styles and influences aren’t going away. While I love instrumental music, I’m focusing more on vocal tunes moving forward. 

What can we expect to see from you through 2020? Now that we’ll have access to the studio again, I’m looking to finish up several more singles in the next month or so. Like nearly every artist, we’re waiting to see when gigs will become available, but we’re still on track for a full-length album later this year. 


Hypelist 1/29/2020

Hypelist on Facebook 1/29/2020 

Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers is not just a band name as it may seem. From fulfilling fireman duties by day to an incredible guitarist by night, the band delivers a new feel on Americana fusion music. ⁠ 
“A melting pot of blues, rock, Jazz, bluegrass and country, shaped by the American experience and spiced with a healthy dose of slide guitar” is the best way to describe their latest album Box 1. If you like artists such as The Allman Brothers Band, Muddy Waters or The Avett Brothers and then we highly recommend you check out Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers on Spotify now! 
Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers is currently hard at work in the studio so don’t forget to follow them on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated!⁠

 (Dutch) (Dutch)  

“ Pushes slide guitar beyond blues into a new fusion of Americana… “  

Ned Bollé studeerde in de jaren  
’70 aan het Berklee College of Music in Boston en was actief in de  
plaatselijke muziek scene waar hij als (fanatiek) slide gitarist optrad  
met o.a. Tom Hambridge en Matt “Guitar” Murphy. Nadat hij tijdelijk  
zijn muzikale ambities opzijschoof om brandweerman/ambulancier te kunnen  
zijn, ging hij samen werken met veteranen als bassist Rick Plourde  
(Brian Maes Band), drummer Joey Pafumi (XYZ, Walter Trout, Paul Nelson  
Band) en toetsenist Chuck Whiting voor de opnames van zijn album, ‘The  
Box 1’.  

Met het album ‘Box 1’  
debuteerde Ned Bollé en zijn Cruel Engineers in het najaar van het  
voorbije jaar. Het werd een instrumentaal album met “innovatief werk op  
slide gitaar en, met origineel werk van Nollé en klassiekers, dat  
verschillende genres omvat als blues, rock, Latin en meth-grass”. Het  
werd opgenomen in The Bridge Sound and Stage in Cambridge, MA, met als  
co-producers Bollé en Alex Allison, die ook de afwerking deed. Op  
meerdere tracks is ook Lady Lupine’s Christina Lacoste op accordeon te  

Als we er eerst de originele Ned Bollé nummers uit pikken, dan is er eerst “Through the Notch”.  
Het begrip “notch” moet voor niet New England kenners toegelicht  
worden. New England is een regio in het uiterste noordoosten van de VS.  
Volgens de traditionele definitie omvat deze regio de staten  
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island en  
Vermont. Ze gebruiken er het woord voor een bergpas. Ook de vierde  
track “Hogg Wild” componeerde Bollé. Dit is wat hij omschrijft  
als een “meth-grass” nummer. Entertainmentjournalist voor het blad The  
Noise, A.J. Wachtel omschreef het genre als “it’s like bluegrass, only  
faster!”. Ook “On Your Marc” (opgedragen aan zijn inspirator en collega slide gitarist Marc Athlan), de bewerkte traditional “Amazing Grace”/“Gulf of Slides”, “Miles per Hour” (een ander meth-grass nummer dat hij schreef in 1979 en dat Skidder Munroe opnam in 1981) en “Bogged Dawn (a blues Odyssey)” zijn  
van de meester zelf. Dit laatste is een reis doorheen de evolutie van  
de blues en brengt je in vier “bewegingen” van de Delta naar L.A.: “Bye Ewe” (bayou), “Mount McKinley” (een knipoog naar McKinley Morganfield aka Muddy), “Beau Nose” (een tribute aan Bo Diddley) en “Low Well” (een knik naar Lowell George van Little Feat).  

De openingstrack en titelsong “Mean Old Fireman” is  
een nummer dat Jeremy Spencer (Fleetwood Mac) schreef. Kenners beweren  
dat het nummer “gekopieerd” is van “Empire State Express”, een nummer  
uit 1965 van de “father of the Delta Blues”, Son House. Uit Robben  
Ford’s ‘Tiger Walk’ [1997] koos Bollé “Freedom” en de instrumentale klassieker uit 1959 “Sleep Walk” is van het duo Santo & Johnny Farina.  

Nog niet eerder ontving ik een  
boeiend instrumentaal album met enkel slide gitaar. Niet alleen voor de  
liefhebbers is ‘The Box 1’ van Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel  
Engineers een buitenkans. Ongebonden door conventionele poespas maakt  
Ned Bollé van zijn slidewerk kunst.  

“ Never before I did receive a  
fascinating instrumental album with the slide guitar in the lead role.  
‘The Box 1’ by Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers is not just  
an opportunity for enthusiasts. Unbound by conventional fuss, Ned Bollé  
turns his slidework into art… “  

Eric Schuurmans

Translation from Google Translate:

“Pushes slide guitar beyond blues into a new fusion of Americana…” 

Ned Bollé studied over the years 
70 at Berklee College of Music in Boston and was active in the 
local music scene where he performed as (fanatic) slide guitarist 
with Tom Hambridge and Matt "Guitar" Murphy, among others. After he temporarily 
his musical ambitions pushed aside to be a firefighter / ambulance provider 
he joined forces with veterans such as bassist Rick Plourde 
(Brian Maes Band), drummer Joey Pafumi (XYZ, Walter Trout, Paul Nelson 
Band) and keyboardist Chuck Whiting for the recording of his album, "The 
Box 1 ". 

With the album "Box 1" 
Ned Bollé and his Cruel Engineers debuted in the fall of the 
last year. It became an instrumental album with “innovative work on 
slide guitar and, with original work by Nollé and classics, that 
different genres including blues, rock, latin and meth-grass ”. It 
was included in The Bridge Sound and Stage in Cambridge, MA, with as 
co-producers Bollé and Alex Allison, who also did the finishing. On 
multiple tracks is also Lady Lupine's Christina Lacoste on accordion too 
to hear. 

If we first pick out the original Ned Bollé songs, then there is “Through the Notch” first. 
The term "notch" should be explained for non New England connoisseurs 
turn into. New England is a region in the far northeast of the US. 
According to the traditional definition, this region includes the states 
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island 
Vermont. They use the word for a mountain pass. Also the fourth 
track “Hogg Wild” composed Bollé. This is what he describes 
as a “meth-grass” number. Entertainment journalist for The magazine 
Noise, A.J. Wachtel described the genre as “it's like bluegrass, only 
faster! ”. Also “On Your Marc” (dedicated to his inspirator and fellow slide guitarist Marc Athlan), the edited traditional “Amazing Grace” / “Gulf of Slides”, “Miles per Hour” (another meth-grass song he wrote in 1979 and that Skidder recorded Munroe in 1981) and are “Bogged Dawn (a blues Odyssey)” 
from the master himself. The latter is a journey through the evolution of 
the blues and takes you in four "moves" from the Delta to LA: "Bye Ewe" (bayou), "Mount McKinley" (a nod to McKinley Morganfield aka Muddy), "Beau Nose" (a tribute to Bo Diddley) and "Low Well" (a nod to Lowell George from Little Feat). 

The opening track and title song “Mean Old Fireman” is 
a song that Jeremy Spencer (Fleetwood Mac) wrote. Connoisseurs claim 
that the song is “copied” from “Empire State Express”, a song 
from 1965 of the “father of the Delta Blues”, Son House. From Robben 
Ford's "Tiger Walk" [1997] chose Bollé "Freedom" and the 1959 instrumental classic "Sleep Walk" is by the duo Santo & Johnny Farina. 

Never before have I received one 
fascinating instrumental album with only slide guitar. Not just for the 
enthusiasts is "The Box 1" by Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel 
Engineers a great opportunity. Untied by conventional fuss 
Ned Bollé from his slide work art. 

“Never before I did receive a 
fascinating instrumental album with the slide guitar in the lead role. 
"The Box 1" by Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers is not just 
an opportunity for enthusiasts. Unbound by conventional fuss, Ned Bollé 
turns his slidework into art… “ 

Eric Schuurmans

Buzz Music - January 21, 2020

Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers Shows off Their Exhilarating Musicianship in “Gulf of Slides”  

Updated: Jan 21  

Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers know how to deliver a song! They released their latest single titled “Gulf Of Slides” and despite this song having no vocals, their instrumentation was so killer that it was enough to keep us thoroughly entertained. The band delivers a progressive and playful vibe through their electrifying guitar melodies and percussion soaked rhythm! Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers keep the energy at a consistent high from start to finish. A noteworthy characteristic of this song was most definitely the way the chords fused well and were cohesive with one another.  

The textured elements in “Gulf Of Slides” are stylish, while the energy is thrilling throughout the song. The exhilarating energy wasn’t the only component to “Gulf Slides” that caught our attention. It was the way they managed to keep their genre-bending style in-tact. Listening to “Gulf Of Slides” you hear various of different genres including Country, Jazz, Rock, and more! Giving the band Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers an edge over other groups. It can be difficult for an artist to keep their listener intrigued by their music off instrumentation alone, however, you can’t ever beat raw talent! And Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers skills are just enough to have you wanting more.  

Listen to “Gulf Of Slides” by Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers here.  

Box 1 on  

Welcome to BuzzMusic Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers! Tell us about your cool band name. What’s the reasoning or story behind it!?  

My “day job”, I work as a firefighter.  A few years back, a new, young co-worker (you know, the kind that you don’t need to train, because “they know everything”) was about to do something stupid/hazardous. I stopped him and “educated” him in the errors of his ways. He snapped back: “What do you know, you’re just an old guy!”  I promptly replied “You keep it up, being an “old guy” won’t be a problem you’ll have.” Another co-worker sarcastically faux-taunted: “You’re a mean old fireman!”  

I was reminded of the lyrics from several blues tunes “It was a mean old fireman and a cruel old engineer….”  (The song, of that title is credited to Jeremy Spencer, although the same lyrics appear in songs recorded earlier by Son House, Charlie McCoy and others.)  It seemed a natural fit. It stuck. What can I say?  

What was the most challenging aspect for you as a band when creating “Gulf Of Slides” and why?  

“Gulf of Slides” practically wrote itself one morning before work. I had heard the basic theme for it in my head right when I woke up. I had sat down with my coffee. I was about to get up and our stray cat who had adopted us, parked himself in my lap. I kept hearing the theme in my head. I grabbed a nearby guitar and worked out the verse section (with the cat still anchored in my lap). I recorded a quick take on my phone, pried Van Gogh (he was missing part of one ear) off my lap and left for work.  

That night, at the fire station, the bridge section came to me.  I didn’t have a guitar, so I made some notes. The next day, I put it together.  It was a rare case where a tune came together for me so quickly.  

The only “challenge” to putting this tune together was settling on the tempo and feel of the rhythm. It had originally been faster, almost more of a bluegrass feel. Then we tried it slower. Ultimately, it took on a Cajun/Zydeco feel. (Playing live, we usually play it in a medley with “Amazing Grace” in the New Orleans Second Line tradition.)  

And the title? It seems that every slide guitar player writes an instrumental and gives it a name with a title with a “Slide” pun (“Slide Show”, “Slidin’ home”, etc.) I didn’t want to be left out. “Gulf of Slides is glacial cirque (deep ravine) on Mount Washington, NH, a places known for backcountry skiing (and avalanches).  

How would you detail the theme of “Gulf Of Slides” and what inspired it?  

I grew up in rural New Hampshire and Square Dances provided the bulk of the limited social activities.  The music was typically fiddle tunes, often with a lot of Acadian influence. An older friend introduced me to a lot of music coming out of New Orleans, Like Clifton Chenier, The Meters, Buckwheat Zydeco, and Dr. John. More recently, I’ve become a big fan of Sonny Landreth’s slide playing and the Zydeco influence has crept into my creative consciousness.  

What was your personal favorite element to “Gulf Of Slides” Mean Old Fireman?  

I love to play this tune live. It also seems that people can’t sit still when we play it. Seeing the energy in the room and how happy people look is the best feeling in the world.  

Tell us about the future! What can we look forward to from you guys this year? Any exciting upcoming shows or announcements you’d like to share with us?  

We’re currently in the studio finishing up several new tracks. We love to give our audiences a musically diverse experience, so we have several new tracks we’ll be releasing as singles this year. We also we able to capture some great moments at or release party show this past fall, so we have some live cuts that will also be coming out.  The first will be release at the end of January. We’re working on our live schedule, with our next show coming up on March 20th, at the Lilypad, in Cambridge, MA. 

Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro Blues Editor @ September, 2019

Mean Old Fireman  
& The Cruel Engineers  
“Box 1”  
Self Released  
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2019  

So if you were to walk into just about any firehouse in the country and say “Hi, I’m here to see the mean old fireman and the cruel engineers,” you’d most likely be booted out on your ass for being disrespectful to a group of brave first responders. However, if you happened to walk into a certain engine company in the Boston, MA area and said the same thing, you just might be greeted with “Sure, c’mon in, they’re in the back jammin’.” You see, the mean old fireman is actually Ned Bolle, a full-time firefighter and a heck of a bluesman and musician, as well.  

The band consists of Ned on slide guitar, guitar, banjo, and vocals; Rick Plourde on bass; Joey Pafumi on drums and percussion; Chuck Whiting and John Wadkins on keyboards and Christina Lacoste on accordion.  

“Box 1” contains approximately a dozen tracks with many being impeccably done instrumentals and half being Ned Bolle’s originals. The reason I use the word approximately is because the list contains medleys and songs within songs.  

Unaware as to the origin of the opening track, with it being the band’s namesake, I just assumed that “Mean Old Fireman” was an original song. Discussing this with Ned, and delving further into it on the Internet, I’m now aware that it was written by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup and made popular by The Original Fleetwood Mac – some fifty years ago. The song tells the story of a man actually losing his woman to a mean old fireman and cruel engineer.  

Having now listened to that rendition, I’ve got to say, I’m liking this one better. Reason being, I’m loving Ned’s gruff and scratchy vocals. Some would call this a smoker’s voice but with him being a real-life “smoke eater”, I don’t even want to go there. Besides the outstanding vocals, this over seven-minute track features several instrumental interludes that highlight killer rhythm from Rick, Joey and Chuck and some fine pickin’ and slidin’ by Ned on the guitars.  

In upper New England, a mountain passage is referred to as a “notch”. This original instrumental titled “Through The Notch” is classic Americana music that will mystically transcend you to a peaceful and relaxing drive on a journey through the notch on that beautiful American highway.  

At barely over one hundred seconds long, if you danced to “Hogg Wild” you’d have yourself a decent cardio workout. The song pays tribute to the fictional country slide player known as “The Great Joe Bob Hogg” – a figment of the imaginations of the Hogg Brothers – a famous Boston area country, or as they like to say “Cowpunk” band. This is pickin’, strummin’ and drummin’ on steroids.  

“A Second Line Procession: Amazing Grace/Gulf Of Slides” is a medley of a traditional and an original song. On the first part – “Amazing Grace” – Ned’s Resonator work needs to be mandatory listening for any guitar student. The original part of the Medley – “Gulf Of Slides” is another reference to New England folklore. Legend has it that the mountain ravines that fill with clouds are called “Gulfs” and on Mount Washington, the one that is prone to rock slides and avalanches is called the “Gulf of slides”. Of course, the guitar work remains stunning and once again the rhythm – this time fueled by fabulous percussion by Joey – is killer.  

So you know how most of the times, no matter how good a rendition of a classic is, it’s mostly said that “the original was better”? Well had this been the original version of “Sleepwalk“, people would be saying that as good as Santo and Johnny’s version was it wasn’t as good as this one. I’ve literally heard this song done by countless numbers of artists and I’m telling you that if you have as well, you’ve got to hear this one.  

This next original track is titled “Miles Per Hour” and although it doesn’t have a number in the front, if it did it would be a high one. It’s a fast-paced instrumental done in a very fast two minutes and yet there is time enough to feature everyone involved. With Ned and John taking turns sparring on guitars, banjos, and keyboards, even Rick and Joey manage to sneak is a bass and drum solo. I’m telling you right now, this may not be blues but it is some seriously kick-ass bluegrass.  

Other tracks on this very well done project include: “On Your Marc“, an original dedicated to slide guitarist Marc Athlan; a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing“; another original titled “Bogged Down” which features four different movements cleverly titled: “Bye Ewe” (Bayou); “Mount McKinley” (in recognition of McKinley Morganfield); “Beau Nose” (in recognition of Bo Diddley); and “Low Well” (a nod to Lowell George of Little Feat); additionally, the disc ends with Ned’s solo acoustic version of “Mean Old Fireman“.  

I’m going on record as saying that inasmuch as this recording is not 100% blues it is indeed 100% enjoyable, 100% entertaining and 100% impressive. From everything to Ned’s New England references to the titling of his songs, the projects just screams creativity.  

To find out more about the Mean Old Fireman just go to When you do, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you. 

A. J. Wachtel

‘Box 1’  
12 Tracks  

Ned Bolle is a stupendous slide guitarist. Not in the Duane Allman or Johnny Winter vein but more traditional and more similar to Son House and Bukka White’s playing. The name of their band is a tip of the hat to the traditional song of the same name that was made famous by Jeremy Spencer and Fleetwood Mac’s rendition many moons ago.  
Ned also starts his cd with his own cover of ‘Mean Old Fireman;’ which is sometimes credited as being a traditional song with no known author. I was always under the impression that Arthur Crudup, the father of rock and roll, who also wrote ‘That’s Alright, Mama,’ was the author; but without question it is an appropriate choice to start his new release given the style and influence of his own slide guitar playing. Ned is a great finger picker and he has an Americana/rural blues sound; heavy on ’30’s delta influences. Rick Plourde on bass, and Joey Parfumi behind the kit join in with Chuck Whiting and John Wadkins on keys and Christina Lacoste on accordion and are tight and are all on the same page; and Ned even plays the banjo on a few cuts. What other group can you think of that has a slide guitarist who doubles on banjo? Joey Pafumi’s main gig is pounding for The Paul Nelson Band: Nelson was the long time second guitarist in Johnny Winter’s band and Joey is powerful and sharp as a tack. When the tack is attached to a bulldozer.  
Check out: Ned’s dreamy instrumental ‘Through The Notch,’ and another instrumental ‘Hogg Wild,’ a song with both slide guitar and banjo that is like bluegrass only FASTER. Robbin Ford’s ‘Freedom,’ and the up-tempo Americana ‘Miles Per Hour’ with the nice piano that also features slide guitar and banjo in the same song. My favorite cuts are ‘A Second Line Procession- Amazing Grace/Gulf Of Slides’ that features the church tune done as a bluesy slide guitar song, their cover of the ’50’s instrumental ‘Sleepwalk’ by Santo and Johnny with the awesome accordion and screaming slide, and Jimi’s ‘Little Wing’ which they make a lot more bluesy and just explodes with his re-interpreting the composition using his slide. A great finger picking slide guitarist having fun with a great band.