For its latest album, "Meat + Bone," released in September, the John Spencer Blues Explosion went for a stripped-down and straightforward sound, Spencer says.


When Jon Spencer and the rest of the Blues Explosion scheduled a date at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City to celebrate the release of "Meat + Bone," the band's first studio album in eight years, they had no idea Hurricane Sandy would be on the guest list.

The natural disaster, one of the worst New York has ever seen, wreaked havoc on the city days before the event was to take place.

As the concert date drew near, with much of Manhattan still without power, the veteran rock trio didn't think the hometown gig was going to happen.

But the show did go on.

"There were definitely a lot of people who couldn't get in because there was still not a lot of subway service," Spencer said in a phone interview last week. "The tunnels in and out of Jersey were closed at the time.

"We had to refund some tickets, but we still had a good turnout."

The show was an early rough spot in what has become a solid return for the Blues Explosion.

The group, a longtime purveyor of gritty, raw and sometimes experimental rock, returned from a three-year hiatus in 2008 after taking time off to work on other projects.

For Spencer, that meant time spent with his side gig, the rockabilly band Heavy Trash.

Following the release of a rare and unreleased Blues Explosion compilation in 2008, the band reunited with a renewed energy, that eventually led to the creation of new music.

They traveled from New York to Benton Harbor, Mich. in 2011, to record tracks at the famed Keyclub recording studio.

"It is a really nice studio," Spencer said. "It is kind of out of the way. They have this incredible collection of equipment there. We are into old equipment and gear."

"Meat + Bone," released in September on Mom + Pop Music, was widely praised for its stripped-down approach.

"There are no guests on it," Spencer said. "It is just the band. We've done some crazy things as far as mixing and production in the past. This is more straightforward and to the point."

By sheer coincidence, the album's tracks are bookended by the songs "Black Mold" and "Zimgar," both of which were inspired by Hurricane Irene's landfall in New York City in 2011.

Spencer said the album was proof that the bonds between Blues Explosion members are still strong.

"We found that we could still play and write together," Spencer said. "There is still this link between us."

if you go

• What: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

• When: 8 p.m. Tuesday.

• Where: Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.

• Tickets: $18 in advance through and $20 at the door

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at or 807-8430.