|In an interview, Reverend Freakchild mentioned that he is a Buddhist but that he also considers music to be his religion, thus his lifelong pursuit to explore the outer limits of the blues, begun at an early age, has taken him around the world and across the musical universe. His 17th release, Songs Of Beauty For Ashes Of Realization, finds him once again tinkering with melodies, experimenting with musical forms, reshaping his compositions with an undying thirst for reinvention. The nine tracks are not new but are new versions of songs from his prolific career of solo recordings that began in 2001. The Reverend always likes to feature his high-profile friends and this album has contributions from G. Love, Hazel Miller, drummer Chris Parker (Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker), guitarists Chris Bergson and Mark Karan (Bob Wier Rat Dog), multi-instrumentalist Hugh Pool and The Reverend Shawn Amos.
First heard on the 2015 album, Hillbilly Zen-Punk Blues, the philosophical poem “All I Got Is Now,” is fleshed out with the addition of a second layer of drums and B3 Organ to enhance the deep groove. The infectiously funky title track from 2018 release, Dial It In, is spiced up with congas from Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident, Issac Hayes) and a spacey reverb treatment. Country fired road trip anthem “All Across America,” first heard on God Shaped Hole back in 2010 is beefed up with thick organ swells from Steve Sirockin. The sorrowful San Francisco lament, ”Hippy Bluesman Blues,” features Mark Karan’s tasty lead guitar on a shuffle that is equal parts Haight Ashbury and Beale Street.
Reverend Freakchild rips on acoustic slide guitar on the Delta-meets-psychedelic-rock solo number “Amsterdam Blues,” resurrected from his 2001 debut Blues & Spirituals. Originally recorded as a lo-fi guitar and drums duet in his 2015 Tears Of Fire, is transformed into a blazing blues rock inferno fueled by lead guitar from Chris Bergson with bass and harmonica from Pool over Parker’s incomparable drum track. Sheryl Renee joins The Reverend on the fully orchestrated update to “Skyflower,” the sweet country love song transformed into a soaring cinematic experience. Freakchild then burns on resonator guitar while fellow blues and spititual prophet, The Reverend Shawn Amos, lends his voice and harmonica to a new live off the floor rendition of “Don’t Miss Nothing ‘Til It’s Gone.”
The album finale, “Keep On Truckin’,” pays tribute, not only to country blues legend Blind Boy Fuller (1907-1941), but also to Freakchild’s main inspiration, The Grateful Dead, whose musical sensibility formed the blueprint for the fusion of folk, blues, rock ,country and soul.
Rick J Bowen
In the tradition of such Holy Blues Reverends as Reverend Gary Davis – such is the irreverent Reverend Freakchild. The Rev. primarily performs solo acoustic these days but has also recently recorded with some amazing musicians including Melvin Seals, Mark Karan, Chris Parker, Hugh Pool, Jay Collins and Grammy nominated G. Love, and The Reverend Shawn Amos. Check out the latest albums “The Bodhisattva Blues” & “Supramundane Blues.”
The Rev. has served as a member and featured soloist of the Metro Mass Gospel Choir performing at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer Hall and the Town Hall Theater. The Rev. also spent 3 years off-off-off Broadway singing blues and spirituals on Sundays at Tobacco Road, the now defunct NYC hippie hangout replete with drug addicts, hookers and music freaks.
The Rev’s music has been featured in many TV programs and commercials, and also national radio advertising campaigns. He grew up in Hawaii, holds a degree in philosophy and religion from Northeastern University in Boston and now currently resides in Colorado as an ordained Dharmacharya with a Master of Divinity Degree from Naropa University. He continues to perform and preach proclaiming, “Music is my religion. Through song I seek transcendence!”