That Reach

It kinda sorta happened like this.

Discogs recently featured a video of Third Man Records resident wizard and White Stripes archivist Ben Blackwell presenting the ol’ bossman Jack White with an assortment of This-Is-Your-Life grab-bag goodies. White would pull the items out of the magic bag and explain what the significance of each was.

Then came the item too big for the bag, so Blackwell made White turn round while he got out the big surprise: Jack’s very first 4-track Teac A-2340SX reel-to-reel machine (“ze bebeh,” White called it), the very same 4-track White would revisit to use for making Boarding House Reach.

Boarding House Reach. Three little words. Jaunty little flow. And a story behind the title: TMR artist and contributor to White’s solo work, Lillie Mae, had stopped by to overdub some fiddle parts on a country track, and when White reached past her to press record on the machine, he said, “‘Pardon my boarding house reach.'” Lillie Mae was like, “Wait…what?” Following what may well have been an explanation of the obscure phrase (“I’m not sleeping. I’m inspecting the inside of my eyelids…”), she told him, “You should name your album that.”


The album’s been described by critics in varying extremes, from downright baffling to brilliant. White embraces it all. He’s dedicated a huge amount of time exploring and experimenting with a variety of styles and sounds, and having a damn good time doing so – a perfectly natural evolution for an artist willing to take chances.

You know what’s goin’ down, especially after your Austin Music Minute maven’s ceaseless rambling.

Jay Dubbya. Tonight. Austin360 Amphitheater. Doors 7 p.m. AMM fave A Giant Dog opens the show, like the ATX badass bosses they are.

Who’s with me?

-Photography by David James Swanson, courtesy of Jack White III. You know. That guy.

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