“About 10 or 15 years ago I started going back to the origins of the old blues players,” snarls Plainfield Slim in his raspy, central Jersey drawl, sounding as much like an old blues master himself as any of the Southern bluesmen might after a hard night at the roadhouse. “I picked up anything I could from these old timers, including the early recordings by Elmore James, Hound Dog Taylor, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, etc. I was buying $1.99 cassettes in gas stations and CDs in cut-out bins. I also discovered this record label out of Mississippi called Fat Possum Records. Fat Possum’s claim to fame was this record by RL Burnside called Come On In which was produced by Tom Rothrock. This album mixed Burnside’s old style blues with samples and modern technology. They also released albums by Junior Kimbrough, Scott Dunbar, Paul Jones and Asie Payton. Some of the most raw music ever recorded, just like the old days.”
The musical exploration led Plainfield to the discovery that some of the most authentic music being made wasn’t from the slick studios in New York and L.A., but from wherever the inspiration hit. “What I loved most about this music was it sounded like someone threw a microphone up somewhere and hit the record button and just captured the moment as it happened. I loved this idea of making an album that wasn’t high gloss. The real blues was recorded in hotel rooms or juke joints or somebody’s bedroom. What really struck me was this was the real deal. These guys were doing what they knew best without a $3,000 Stratocaster. To me, it sounded better then all these super polished records that were coming out. Sometimes they couldn’t even afford all six strings on their guitar, but that didn’t stop them from performing—so I tuned my Sears Silvertone guitar to an open G chord and just sat down to play for myself. Songs just started popping out, so I decided to go to the basement and record some of the ideas I was coming up with—I took some old used cassettes to record over. This CD was actually released from these old cassette recordings. Just goes to show, any old mule can put out an album.”
The new CD, Another Mule In The Barn, is available through CD Baby, thedoughboysnj.com, Apple iTunes, Napster, Ruckus, and Amazon.com. It was produced by Gar Francis, noted guitarist from the legendary Doughboys. Suspiciously, Gar bears a striking resemblance to Plainfield, and rumor has it they’ve never been seen in the same room together, but no one has really figured out for sure Plainfield‘s identity. It appears he grew up in the backwoods of Plainfield, and was often seen in the gin joints and seedier parts of the central Jersey town.
Plainfield describes his sound as raw, Mississippi juke joint blues. “Plainfield Slim started as a solo project,” he muses, “but now is a band project. After playing this music for a few of my friends, I was talked into putting a band together to go out and play this stuff live. The band is now called Plainfield Slim & The Groundhawgs. The Groundhawgs are Lee Fink (Nasty Ned & the Chili Dogs) on slide guitar, Mike Caruso (Doughboys) on bass, Rocco Scavone on drums, and Myke Scavone (Doughboys) on harp.”
The reaction to the CD has been stellar, with blues aficionados becoming aware of the fast growing legend of Plainfield. “Fans and radio stations are playing ‘Shake My Eggs,’ ‘Marlene,’ and ‘Let Go My Hand‘,” he relates. “There are a few songs that we do live and are getting tremendous response, such as ‘Dirty Girl,’ ‘Moan,’ and ‘Sweet Jesus.’ Four songs will also be released on the new compilation CD, American Showplace Recordings.
The live shows developed from Plainfield just toting his guitar around when he ventured into a local club that had a jam night. “I did these songs for the first time at an open mic night for the fun of it,” he recalls. “Because of the great response I decided to put together a live band. It is not your typical one, four, five blues. It is just a fun, simple, rocking type of music that you can dance to.”
As far as the future, as you might surmise, Plainfield has no bigger aspirations than making music he wants to make. “I don’t really set goals any more for my music career,” he says. “I try to write the most honest songs I can and do the best I can performance-wise. I don’t do this for the money anymore. When you do something just for the money it usually takes away from why you started doing it in the first place. I do this because I love to write songs.”
You can find further information about Gar—er, Plainfield, and the CD release and upcoming appearances, at thedoughboysnj.com.