November's While Label Series record is the Buckets Interstate Demo -- as curated by Ken Layne (Desert Oracle).
San Francisco was so cheap in the 1990s that people would move there when they ran out of money. You could get around on a $35 monthly MUNI pass, cable cars included, and there was always a rundown Victorian in need of another roommate. There were plenty of bar jobs, temp jobs, restaurant jobs, part-time work that afforded the luxury of doing the important stuff: boozy nights, bookstore afternoons, art and music.
I washed up there in late 1992, having bummed around Eastern Europe for a while. Because I’d spent a memorable night carousing with Giant Sand in Prague, when I saw they were playing San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill, I took the bus down to Potrero. The opening band started up just as I got my first beer, and within half a song I had relocated to the edge of the low stage.
The music they played stuck right in my soul and have been there ever since. It was one of those rare moments when you walk into a bar and everything feels like a movie—and you’re in it, along with all these beautiful people: punks and bums and booze-bags, spirits high despite the usual load of troubles on everybody’s back.
The group was called the Buckets. What you’ve got here is a platter of demo/single songs they put out themselves, or on minuscule 45 labels, in the era of grunge and alternative. “Postmarked Virginia” and “I Wrote This Song”—both performed that long-ago night at the bottom of Potrero Hill—are perfect country compositions, better than anything of the Nashville or Alt-Country of the time. The rockers had a bit of grunge, and all their music has soul and sincerity far beyond the jokey truck-driver premise of the band; none of them drove big rigs, as far as I know.
Earl Butter and Wanderlean Taters were the heart of the Buckets, loaning themselves from the oddball folk group Ed’s Redeeming Qualities, but each lineup I saw in those years was terrific. I brought everybody I knew to see the Buckets, and nobody ever regretted it.
(November 1, 2020)
- Postmarked Virginia
- Seven Babies
- I Wrote This Song
- Beer Belly
- Western Star
- Buckets Theme
- Pony Express