My Malden Observer interview/ article on Preacher Jack
By Joe Viglione / firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Sep 5, 2008 at 12:01 AM
Updated Sep 5, 2008 at 5:16 AM
For those who love the unique piano sound heard on the soundtrack to the Tom Cruise/Sydney Pollack movie “The Firm,” the hard-working piano man from Malden offers that style of ivory tickling and so much more.
“Preacher Jack” (a.k.a. Jack Coughlin), commands the stage like an evangelist explaining his “religion” of rock and blues with a raw, distinctive voice that cuts through better than Jimmy Swaggart or Jerry Falwell could ever hope to — probably because when The Preacher dives in to “Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” resplendent in Gospel overtones and backing vocalists, you believe him — and understand he believes in what he’S singing and playing.
The Malden Observer caught a performance by Jack on May 8, 2008 at Club Bohemia, the downstairs of the Cantab Lounge in Central Square, Cambridge.
It’s a dark den of sin in need of redemption that Preacher Jack lovingly provides as he bangs away on his traveling keyboard. Offstage, he’s a very personable — and quite reserved — individual, pleasant and engaging.
Here’s a bit of background that the Boston-area legend provided us.
Observer: How long have you lived in Malden?
Preacher Jack: I was born in Malden Feb. 12, 1942 and lived there until the late 1970s. I moved to Salem, Mass., and have resided at the Lafayette Hotel on Washington Street ever since
Observer: Did you first start playing music in Malden in school?
Preacher Jack: Yes. I was influenced at an early age by my mother, who was a runner up on the Major Bowes Radio Show in 1939, and my father, who was an amateur vocalist with a sort of baritone type range. My brother is also a singer with great success.
Malden Observer: What were your first bands?
Preacher Jack: Well, my first band could be considered Malden’s first garage band — we were called “The Jupitors” (sometimes called Jack and the Jupitors) in 1956 with boyhood pals Irving Fineberg on Guitar (self taught, I may add) and Charlie Peavy (later to work at his family’s business “Peavy’s Speed Shop” on Main Street) on drums.
Malden Observer: What were your first live gigs?
Preacher Jack: We played gymnasiums, the YMCA, churches, private parties, lots of clubs that are long gone from the North Shore, and later on worked with Arnie Woo Woo Ginsberg at his famous “Sock Hops” in Saugus on Route 1.
Malden Observer: How did the Rounder album come about?
Preacher Jack: George Thorogood spotted me at the Shipwreck Lounge on Revere Beach, took a liking to me, and brought me to the attention of Ken Irwin at Rounder. We recorded two albums for Rounder with the Delaware Destroyers and Sleepy LaBeef as my backup band(s).
Malden Observer: What was “the demo that got the deal” with Rounder Records?
Preacher Jack: Well, George liked the Luke The Drifter (Hanks Williams alter ego) pieces I was doing and Ken was also a huge Hank fan so I think it was the C & W part of my rep that won the folks at Rounder over.
Malden Observer: Let’s talk about your new disc, “Tales From Life’s Other Side.” What about the double entendre title?
Preacher Jack: It is actually “Pictures From Life’s Other Side,” a play on the Hank Williams song “A Pix From Lifes other side.” Peter (Levine), my manager, and Lady Eleanor (Ramsey) came up with the title. We sat around, listened to the diverse selections on the disc and thought a lot of these songs are snapshots of people’s lives, not necessarily my life, combined with my love of Hank we thought it would be a nice companion title for these tales.
Malden Observer: When did you start developing this album?
Preacher Jack: It is a combination of two sessions, one in 1982 with Dick Berwun at his home studio in Lexington and another done in 1996 at Sound Technique in Boston, which was financed by Gary Cherone of Extreme. When Bill Hunt from Cow Island Music approached us about signing me we had the material just sitting around, so it all came about quickly last year. We released on Feb. 12 of this year and it has been a wonderful relationship with Bill at Cow Island.
The MySpace http://myspace.com/thepreacherjack is full of information on Preacher Jack, including a 10-minute YouTube video posted on the front page.
Jack’s in great voice and the deep piano sounds resonate through the computer as he dips into more gospel: “Preacher Jack is at your service.”
Over a dozen gigs are booked through Oct. 25, including key ones at The Beehive (beehiveboston.com) located at 541 Tremont St. in Boston (617-423-0069) Sept. 10 at 8 p.m., and The Pawtucket Film Festival, 175 Main Street, Pawtucket, R.I., on Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. (www.mirrorimage.com/mi/film.html).
Check out http://www.myspace.com/thepreacherjack for more dates or go on to You Tube and put in the name “Preacher Jack” to watch the videos that are getting thousands of hits, taped live at Dodge Street, Sandy’s Jazz & Blues and other venues.