It’s a decade since Black Cat Bone rocked our fair city with one last gig, five guys cutting through the far murkier air of Beijing v2012 with blues tune after blues tune. Rowdy and raw, Black Cat Bone had an aura of unpredictably even as the band skillfully and steadily cranked out earthy and hip shake-inducing songs that drew on the talent of every member. BCB was a “must go” show for me; even better on a double bill with DH and the Hellcats.
And a decade on, as Beijing faces renewed pandemic-related restrictions, ramped up nucleic acid testing and worries about lockdowns, plus a current ban on drinking and dining at the city’s bars and restaurants, their album and title song Drinkin’ Alone seems as relevant as ever:
I first got to know the band a few years before this album, when I was tasked with the music for an annual outdoor company event. As I’ve written before, the weather that day was a menace. The skies pissed more than a 1,000-foot-tall beer-guzzling panda, the wind blew with the force of 1.3 billion flapping hand fans, etc.
We used a bunch of beer umbrellas to cover the band and the electrical cords winding through puddles on stage — I was glad that instead of renting sound equipment, I’d passed the budget to band manager Ye Lu to handle it, as these guys knew what they were doing.
I stood beside the five in an act of solidarity, figuring that if Black Cat Bone were to get electrocuted and stage-yanked to that Big Concert in the Sky, I would drive the band’s otherworldly bus. We survived with nary a shock, let alone the beard of lead singer Des McGarry catching fire or even slightly smoking.
Black Cat Bone was Desmond McGarry on vocals, Tobi Demker on bass, Jon Campbell on drums, Royce Derbeyshire on harmonica and Jamie Welton on guitar. A quintet with birthplaces in Canada, the United States, Sweden, Ireland and New Zealand, who came together in Beijing to create something special and who are now once again spread far and wide.
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