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!
Buzz-music.com - May 14, 2020
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.
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!
“ 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
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’  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… “
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
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"  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… “
Buzz Music - January 21, 2020
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 CDBaby.com
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 @ www.Mary4Music.com 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 www.meanoldfireman.com. When you do, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you.
A. J. Wachtel
MEAN OLD FIREMAN & THE CRUEL ENGINEERS
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.