Bubbles Brown returns with blissful acoustic folk single 'Bless This Mess'
Updated: Mar 18, 2022
We need quiet, contemplative music. In the busyness and information overload of 21st century living, these songs often cut through the static to the heart of matters. And Florida born now Chicago based Bubbles Brown's newest single, "Bless This Mess," is a beautiful, finger-picked reflection on the frailty of the human condition.
Brown, along with partner Washboard Ben, have cut their teeth on the streets and subway stations of Windy City, USA. Their influences come from every place along the infinite musical highway, but the sound of this newest single reflects their deep admiration for early blues and folk music. This past-praising duo has opened for acts like The Doors with Robby Krieger, Lilly Mae, The Weeks, and Southern Avenue. And based on this first single from their newest album, The Dark Side of Blood Harmony, this band is about to become a household name.
"Bless This Mess" is unassuming. It draws you in with that plaintive finger-picking and laid-back snare drum. But, there's a depth to the musical and lyrical themes presented here. The guitar melodies recall the tradition of amazing guitarists like Elizabeth Cotten and Lightnin' Hopkins. Brown's lyrics offer a view of humanity that holds all of the species' complexity. The repeated refrain of "it's killing us all the same" points to the violence of modern life. In an era of bombings, pandemics, and school shootings, it can feel hopeless. But, the "all the same" reminds us that it's always felt this way. And we can find comfort and connection with our fellow humans in the midst of this mess.
A song like "Bless This Mess" couldn't be more timely. As Brown contemplates "crooks," "creeps," and "shooters in the street" in his lyrics, the kind melodies of his acoustic guitar offer us a reassurance that everything might be alright. Maybe someday.
Hey Bubbles Brown! Tell us all about your new single 'Bless This Mess'?
"Bless this mess" is the latest single off of our upcoming Double LP "Blood Harmony". A concept album which has two sides. Light and Dark. A sonic portrait of the duality of Life and Death. It seemed fitting to close the Dark record with this tune. That all living things must abide by the cycle and order of Nature. Birth, Growth, Maturity, and Decay.
You're actually a one man band which is quite impressive, how was this when recording the song?
I've only recently begun touring and performing as a one man band as of last year. Bubbles Brown is also a duo featuring Benjamin Brundage aka Washboard Ben who is the heartbeat of the band with a suitcase bass drum set and eclectic collection of percussion instruments. The record was cut as a two piece with special guest musicians making appearances on select tracks. Susan Anderson on Fiddle and Joe Donnelly on Sax/ Clarinet. On Bless This Mess, It's just us. We have a big sound for only two people.
I plan to record some as a one man band in the future. I've got some new songs in the works!
You can really hear that pure and soulful sound that you've created almost entirely on your own, were there any sacrifices when in the studio?
Definitely never satisfied. I had a vision for each song on the record. Our producer Paul Mayhern had some insight on how we should develop each song. He basically kept us moving along. When it sounded right he would give us the nod. The one sacrifice that we faced was time. We recorded the entire album in two days. We worked it, and made a great record. Live to tape. Just like they used to on the classics.
There's a multitude of genres in this song; folk, soul, blues, how would you like to be described and remembered as?
I want to be be described and remembered as a travelling troubadour who is passionate for my craft. I take great pride preserving the "Blues" and carrying on folk tradition while reinventing it. I put my backbone into every note I sing and play to connect with people down into their soul. I write simple, organic, thoughtful music that transcends genre down to it's ancient roots. One who creates songs for humanity. I see this connection in real time playing on the streets.
How much of an impact has busking had on your musical career?
I began street performing about 10 years ago part time on the streets and subway platforms of Chicago. I always had a full time day job, and played music nights and weekends with my drummer Ben. When he was not available, I started to perform and gig solo. This is when I began to develop my one man band. My friend Brian Doroba, who is also a Chicago Street Performer turned me on to this style performance. I would watch him play the hill country blues I was loved. He played drums with his feet, shredded his guitar, and sang with a powerful voice. The music he produced was lively, rhythmic and infectious. He would stop people in their tracks. A huge crowd would form, and he would get a great response. I learned you need to make a spectacle. I would accompany as a side man on guitar for him during his sets and practice my one man band act while he took breaks. It was so much fun and the money poured in!! He always told me I should quit my job and busk full time like he did. I was always afraid to make the commitment, but as of last year. I finally quit my job, and I began to play music full time. It was the best decision I made in my life. I've travelled from Duluth to Miami playing music on stage and street. I'm doing very well. I'm currently in New Orleans busking during Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday was a trip!!! Busking has impacted my musical career in all the best ways. I get to gig whenever I want, and engage people in real time on a personal level. I honestly prefer to play on the street than in a club. The only downside is the weather and police. I rarely have any issues though. I try to follow the sun. No more snowy winters. I plan to spend Summers in Chicago, and Winter's in New Orleans for the foreseeable future.
The artwork is so interesting, what inspired this?
The photography was done by my friend Jacob Hand and the retro layout was created by Jamie Breiwick. We wanted to portray the light and dark theme using the throwback aesthetic of the old impulse jazz records. Simplicity is always key for me.
What's next for Bubbles Brown following 'Bless This Mess'?
I've got lot's of shows coming up! Blood Harmony is to be released officially this May at one of our favourite venues, Cole's Bar, in Chicago! The record is a Double LP Vinyl!!! Always something Ben and I wanted to do. I will also be performing for the first time at the Florida Folk Festival the following week for the three day event. Basically the plan is to keep touring as a duo as well as solo, learning, sharing skills, and having fun. Start work on the next record!!! Playing through to my body and soul. It's my church and my therapy. Very grateful to be on this journey and making it work!
Listen to 'Bless This Mess' in full here: