The Legend Of Preacherman: How an Ex-IBM Repairman's Obscure, Far-Out Funk Made it to a David Byrne Label


Years in the past, his music developed a cult following amongst area of interest report collectors. Now he is coming into the highlight -- or not less than getting as near it as he is ever been.

His information go for $2,000 on-line. He spends his days caring for his 102-year-old mom, purportedly the oldest girl in Oakland. This 12 months, at 72, after half a century of recording and performing music, he obtained his massive break: He signed to David Byrne’s Luaka Bop music label. And he believes alien beings are attempting to take over humanity.

The man I converse of is Tim Jones. He has additionally at numerous factors been often known as Midi Man, Ironing Board Band, T.J. Hustler, and Preacherman. But identified might be a stretch. Up till now, Jones has primarily existed within the background. In the ‘70s, he performed in a few short-lived bands. In the ‘80s, he carried out behind his sage, sinister-sounding ventriloquist dummy, T.J. Hustler, and within the kinds of Las Vegas lounges the place music was secondary to booze and socializing. In latest years, he’s placed on a karaoke present at Bay Area golf equipment the place he performs the hits and also you sing.     

On Friday (Oct. 12), although, Jones took the highlight — or, not less than, obtained as near it as he’s ever been — with the discharge of the Preacherman album Universal Philosophy. It’s a synth-heavy fusion of funk and soul that's undeniably groovy, extremely mystical, and enjoyably trippy. Over thick, womping bass, spacey organs, and a constellation of different far-out sounds, Preacherman alternates between merely letting unfastened (a number of songs start with an enthusiastic “Pow!”) and probing the existential (“Tell me why/ when the world’s so full/ folks so empty?”). Some of the tracks take the type of a dialogue with T.J. Hustler. Like any good preacher, Jones’s spirit by no means wavers; he seems to be having an amazing quantity of enjoyable in his astral cathedral.

Listening to Universal Philosophy now seems like listening to the longer term filtered by the previous — like watching the unique Blade Runner in 2018. With its bass-heavy aesthetic and flirtations with the psychedelic, Preacherman comes off like a musical ancestor of genre-bending mutli-instrumentalist Thundercat and even psych-rock guru Tame Impala. But it’s unlikely these artists are conscious of the previous’s music. The seven songs on the album had been pulled from two CD-Rs of fabric that’s barely been heard thus far. Luaka Bop president Yale Evelev, who put collectively the compilation, estimates that the unique CD-Rs date again to the late ‘90s or early 2000s.

But Evelev isn’t positive. Nothing appears sure in relation to Tim Jones: How did his information develop into so wanted? What’s the cope with all of the nicknames? What was that about aliens?

Throughout an hour-long cellphone interview, Jones responded to most of the questions I requested him with a perfunctory clarification after which a tangent about how he constructed his devices over time — he was an IBM repairman and put these abilities to make use of constructing keyboard-and-drum-machine hybrids — or about what he thinks is actually occurring: that “the folktales and fairytales was proper”; that unusual desires are “transmissions”; that we’re surrounded by snake folks, reptilians. (He did clarify the nicknames: He would change his title each ten years as he modified his instrument.)

As finest as I can inform, in 1979 Jones self-released roughly 50 LPs of his T.J. Hustler Metaphysical Synthesized Orchestra album Age of Individualism. They discovered their solution to soul fanatics by California storage gross sales, among the music was uploaded to YouTube after which Jones gained sufficient of a following there (although none of his movies have greater than a pair thousand views) for the LPs to make waves amongst area of interest collectors. One of these collectors was Andy Noble, who performed bass in Luaka Bop-backed Kings Go Forth earlier than the band break up up. Noble launched Evelev to Jones’s music on a hunch that Preacherman could be proper for Luaka Bop, which makes a speciality of world music made by outsider artists.

And Noble was proper. “I instantly appreciated the music — actually curiously digital and dancey, and the phrases had been distinctive,” Evelev recollects. “But it wasn't till we met [with Jones] and we picked up his little ebook of philosophy [additionally known as Universal Philosophy] and began speaking to him rather a lot that we realized he had a complete philosophy. I couldn't let you know what that's.” 

“It's all common, that's what my philosophy is,” Jones says.


“All these items and the stuff that's occurring, it's actually a course of to maneuver folks to a different area. The entire factor isn't achieved by folks, it's achieved by the universe itself, which individuals name God, [but] I name the Creator… So my philosophy is I start to see issues like the entire space we're residing on Earth is only a massive trick bag to make you progress to outer area. And that's what we're doing. It's form of just like the previous Aristotle philosophies previously, ‘I feel subsequently I'm,’ that's true. That's actually what it's. Thought waves are making you what you're. As lengthy as your thought waves are highly effective you ain't going nowhere.” 

Things don’t get way more coherent from there. Jones’s philosophy synthesizes ‘60s hippy conspiracy theories, L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics (he’s not a Scientologist however says that “the ebook is ideal”), and issues Jones picked up working at IBM and driving cabs and limousines in Las Vegas. If you squint, you could find some reality: His previous fears of human beings changing into out of date, of all people “working round with radio waves, drones, [where] no person can have a thought of their head” have principally come to fruition.

But don’t squint. The extra summary and fantastical Jones’ theories, the grander his mystique. And that’s the attract. The web introduced Jones out of obscurity, however the wealth of data we now have at our fingertips is what makes his mysteriousness engaging. “This is a time everybody can discover out stuff, however but you possibly can solely go to this point to find out stuff,” says Evelev. “So when stuff turns into in a means tougher to search out out, it takes on one other psychic energy.” Pow!