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31 March 2013

Hoboing My Way Back Home (2013)

At the end of last year I talked to you about Mr 407Bug. We'd met as a result of me joining Cigar Box Nation. You'll remember that I'd had the audacity to join this group dedicated to cigar box guitars without ever actually having built one myself... and sadly, I still haven't. I hope to remedy this situation in the Summer. I have in my possession a tiny Kings Six cigar box. If I can finish the Sharkfin then the CBG is a strong contender for my next project.

BTW - I don't know what's going on, but take a look at my Cigar Box Nation home page... What a godawful mess! Ha ha! You'd think I was half mad! One day when I'm clever, I will fix it.

407Bug - Hoboing My Way Back Home

The last time I spoke to Bug we'd teamed up with SlowPaw Steve to produce a crunchy version of the Doctor Feelgood pub-rock classic Milk and Alcohol. There's a blast from the past! I'd done a review of Bug's first album: Don't Take Life 2 Serious and threatened that there might be a collaboration in the wings. Well, that's all ancient history now. Roll on a quarter and Bug's back with a brand new album called Hoboing My Way Back Home. Time for an update!

First. let's take a few tangents...

When I first spoke to Bug, he opened my eyes to the instruments
designed by John Matthias Augustus Stroh in 1899. Stroh's master-stroke
was to add a metal horn to act as a resonator to violins, cellos and guitars.
On my recent trip to Brugge I was almost lucky enough to see an
actual Stroh Violin being played in the flesh by a busker, but he'd packed
up and gone before I managed to get to him. Damn! Bug has added
a horn to a ukulele and a 3-string guitar in the spirit of Stroh. What
a great idea! Quite by chance, I recently discovered another
instrument that has had horns added. Check out these harmonicas!
The one on the left is a Hohner Trumpet Call Harmonica (picture
courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art), and the one on the
right is something I saw on ebay. I didn't take a note of the name. It looks
like "Allways Happy", but I could be wrong. Aren't these special!

I previously showed you Bug's fantastic design for his Flying Teapot
Guitar. Well, look at this! He's only gone and built it! Ha ha! Brilliant!
There's no way he's teetotal with these crazy ideas! ;-)

Back to the music...

Bug is nothing if not prolific! The last album had 41 songs on it and the second claims to have 44 on Bandcamp. I downloaded it and somehow I ended up with 50!  Ha ha. A bonus secret 6 tracks! What a fantastic bargain! :-D

You can download Hoboing My Way Back Home from Bandcamp for the princely sum of £3+

Bug has made a promo video! Check this out...

Here's what Bug has to say about his music...

"This album is about the blues and nothing but Bug blues and the strive
for entertainment on those long cold winter nights with little cash.
I bring you Hoboing my way back home on a quest for 1930 blues sound
with some sporadic rock thrown in for good measure. If you hate it,
it's an emotion I have evoked. If you love it then you must be a true friend.
Blues is a feeling.... I hope I capture some. All music is from home made
handmade guitars and instruments. and you can't buy this in
HMV... (as its gone down). A bargain price so everyone can afford it and
enjoy it, but if you feel it is worth more then pay as you feel its
worth. It's my life, my fun, but our blues.... Thanks you for even
getting this far and I hope you enjoy. It's Low- Fi tech and handmade,
as the original blues was.. Thanks for everything.... BUG"

What do I have to say about the songs? I think that Bug has raised the bar following the release of his first album. You get the same unmistakable gritty, blues-soaked Bug sound and as before there are some great tunes. Bug really does have a ear for getting a great sound out of his instruments. I mentioned his distinctive vocals on the first album... expect more of the same on Hoboing. In my opinion the song-writing is stronger and the playing a bit more accomplished on this second outing. Bug's on the up! How do I think this album differs from the first? There is a bit more variety to proceedings. The occasional bouts of silence were also a bit unexpected.

Buggy Time... Isn't this picture great! It's a wood-burning
of Bug as done by Careless John. John runs Bulldog Burnings based in
Birmingham and he's a self-confessed pyrographer... yep, he likes to
burn things in the name of Art! John has teamed up with a gentleman
by the name of Shane Wagstaff of Rock Hill Cigar Box Guitars and the
two are producing mail-order custom CBGs. I think I'm right in saying
that the image above is going to be on a CBG they're building for Bug.
Bug's calling it his "low bug". Ha ha. Can't wait to see it!

I'm only going to call out a few of my favourite songs and simply urge you to go get yourself a copy. On the whole I think that I enjoyed the more uptempo beefier numbers best, like the spacey Jesus Built my Hotrod and monumental interlude that is Buggy Time! My absolute favourite however, is that last song on the album: a tune called Old Train. Here Bug turns down the fuzz and delivers a beautifully melancholic ballad that could melt the heart of even the most hardened hobo. It really is a fantastic number!

Bug tells me that the proceeds of the first album paid for this...
"Swampy" - A white No 1 White Witch Swamp Witch custom guitar
built by the Anonymous Pick. "But not the transport costs!"
It has a built-in washboard and features on the second album.

Swamp Witch Guitars is a one-man show based in Ontario, Canada.
I should quiz the Anonymous Pick and maybe pull together a post on
him and his work for you. Until then, you'll have to make do with
visiting the Swamp Witch website and taking a look for yourselves.

I asked Bug what he's been up to recently and this set of pictures
 was part of his reply. On the left is a Teak Oil diddley bow with a
nylon string. They don't get much cheaper to build than this!
On the right are two instruments built by the talented Shane Wagstaff.
"Right is a 1903's pie plate reso and gibson maurauder pup; Left is a
dog bowl and tiesco gold foil pup." See the book... that's Bug's
favourite collection of "vintage blues words". It's called "The Blues Line"
and has been edited and illustrated by Eric Sackheim and Jonathan Shahn.
Inside are transcriptions of almost 300 of the pioneering Blues songs,
as heard on the the original 78s. Most, if not all of the influential names
 feature with 100+ artists listed. If you're into the Blues, then this
looks like it is a must-buy.

Did you spot this in the picture above? I did... and I was wondering what it might be.
It's Bug's Sun Valley Fuzz Box and was built by Hubcap John. I'm going to come
back and do a post on homemade fuzz-boxes some time in the future. John's boxes
sound great
and this might be a great little project for me to attempt. Perhaps after
I've built my cajon? ;-P

Right that's it. Go buy this album and help to fund Bug's obsession with unusual instruments. The proceeds of Hoboing is meant to be going towards a JuJu Tricone, but I'll believe that when I see it. At the moment Bug is working on a Stones tribute album. That's something to look forward to. Now where did I put that can of Raid? ;-)


  1. Bit of sync for me,I was outside the Cigar-box guitar tent at Bluesfest today and snapped a few photos,which will be in my Sunday at Bluesfest post.
    I love buggy's song
    "I Need a Faster Way to Make a Living Baby".

  2. That's a favourite of mine too Daz. I posted the video on the first album post. It features on Hoboing and is probably the loudest song of all of them! Look forward to seeing the photos from the Bluesfest. I take it you didn't buy a CBG... again! What are we going to do with you? ;-)

  3. Re:
    "I take it you didn't buy a CBG."
    I was lucky I could just afford to buy a ticket just to get in to the festival,because I too "Need a Faster Way to Make a Living Baby" .-)
    Next year,the way things are going,I'll have to enter the busking competition to get into the festival,as I may be living on the streets by then,anyway.-)

  4. If you're not working by next year then I'll get you a ticket... ;-)

  5. That bug reminds me more of the Mothman than a bug -

    Maybe Buggy's next CD should be titled
    "Route 62" ?-)

  6. Just reading about Mothman and I love the names... "Point Pleasant"... "Silver Bridge"... any of these would make a great album name.

    Hold on a second!

    "Mason County Sheriff George Johnson commented that he believed the sightings were due to an unusually large heron he termed a 'shitepoke'"

    The next album just HAS TO BE CALLED... SHITEPOKE!

    You listening Bug?

  7. SHITEPOKE it is then.
    chock full of #hits that haven't
    been released yet.-)

  8. Hi Hubcap john Here :) just found my pedal on your board the photo looks cool and thank you for the good comments

  9. Hello Hubcap John! The pleasure was all mine. If I ever get down to making my own, then I might just be tapping you on the shoulder for some hints and tips ;-) Thanks for commenting