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Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers Shows off Their Exhilarating Musicianship in “Gulf of Slides”

Updated: Feb 11



Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers know how to deliver a song! They released their latest single titled “Gulf Of Slides” and despite this song having no vocals, their instrumentation was so killer that it was enough to keep us thoroughly entertained. The band delivers a progressive and playful vibe through their electrifying guitar melodies and percussion soaked rhythm! Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers keep the energy at a consistent high from start to finish. A noteworthy characteristic of this song was most definitely the way the chords fused well and were cohesive with one another.


The textured elements in “Gulf Of Slides” are stylish, while the energy is thrilling throughout the song. The exhilarating energy wasn’t the only component to “Gulf Slides” that caught our attention. It was the way they managed to keep their genre-bending style in-tact. Listening to “Gulf Of Slides” you hear various of different genres including Country, Jazz, Rock, and more! Giving the band Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers an edge over other groups. It can be difficult for an artist to keep their listener intrigued by their music off instrumentation alone, however, you can’t ever beat raw talent! And Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers skills are just enough to have you wanting more.


Listen to “Gulf Of Slides” by Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers here.



Welcome to BuzzMusic Mean Old Fireman & the Cruel Engineers! Tell us about your cool band name. What’s the reasoning or story behind it!?

My “day job”, I work as a firefighter.  A few years back, a new, young co-worker (you know, the kind that you don’t need to train, because “they know everything”) was about to do something stupid/hazardous. I stopped him and “educated” him in the errors of his ways. He snapped back: “What do you know, you’re just an old guy!”  I promptly replied “You keep it up, being an “old guy” won’t be a problem you’ll have.” Another co-worker sarcastically faux-taunted: “You’re a mean old fireman!”

I was reminded of the lyrics from several blues tunes “It was a mean old fireman and a cruel old engineer….”  (The song, of that title is credited to Jeremy Spencer, although the same lyrics appear in songs recorded earlier by Son House, Charlie McCoy and others.)  It seemed a natural fit. It stuck. What can I say?


What was the most challenging aspect for you as a band when creating “Gulf Of Slides” and why?

“Gulf of Slides” practically wrote itself one morning before work. I had heard the basic theme for it in my head right when I woke up. I had sat down with my coffee. I was about to get up and our stray cat who had adopted us, parked himself in my lap. I kept hearing the theme in my head. I grabbed a nearby guitar and worked out the verse section (with the cat still anchored in my lap). I recorded a quick take on my phone, pried Van Gogh (he was missing part of one ear) off my lap and left for work.

That night, at the fire station, the bridge section came to me.  I didn’t have a guitar, so I made some notes. The next day, I put it together.  It was a rare case where a tune came together for me so quickly.

The only “challenge” to putting this tune together was settling on the tempo and feel of the rhythm. It had originally been faster, almost more of a bluegrass feel. Then we tried it slower. Ultimately, it took on a Cajun/Zydeco feel. (Playing live, we usually play it in a medley with “Amazing Grace” in the New Orleans Second Line tradition.)

And the title? It seems that every slide guitar player writes an instrumental and gives it a name with a title with a “Slide” pun (“Slide Show”, “Slidin’ home”, etc.) I didn’t want to be left out. “Gulf of Slides is glacial cirque (deep ravine) on Mount Washington, NH, a places known for backcountry skiing (and avalanches).


How would you detail the theme of “Gulf Of Slides” and what inspired it?

I grew up in rural New Hampshire and Square Dances provided the bulk of the limited social activities.  The music was typically fiddle tunes, often with a lot of Acadian influence. An older friend introduced me to a lot of music coming out of New Orleans, Like Clifton Chenier, The Meters, Buckwheat Zydeco, and Dr. John. More recently, I’ve become a big fan of Sonny Landreth’s slide playing and the Zydeco influence has crept into my creative consciousness.


What was your personal favorite element to “Gulf Of Slides” Mean Old Fireman?

I love to play this tune live. It also seems that people can’t sit still when we play it. Seeing the energy in the room and how happy people look is the best feeling in the world.


Tell us about the future! What can we look forward to from you guys this year? Any exciting upcoming shows or announcements you’d like to share with us?

We’re currently in the studio finishing up several new tracks. We love to give our audiences a musically diverse experience, so we have several new tracks we’ll be releasing as singles this year. We also we able to capture some great moments at or release party show this past fall, so we have some live cuts that will also be coming out.  The first will be release at the end of January. We’re working on our live schedule, with our next show coming up on March 20th, at the Lilypad, in Cambridge, MA.


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