By: Britany Rotondo
You may sense a familiarity knocking about the name Mud Morganfield. He’s the son of Legendary Delta Bluesman Muddy Waters, except he’s becoming a force of his own, stepping out of his Father’s shadow. They Call Me Mud is Morganfield’s third album with Severn Records and exposes a distinctively seasoned side to the musician.
“I’m comfortable in that style of my dad’s but this album is who I am.”
Recorded at Joyride Studios in Mud’s Hometown of Chicago, the 12 track album features an all-star cast of the City’s finest musicians. Even appearing is Mud’s daughter, Lashunda Williams on “Who Loves You”, a Motown number. “I grew up on Barry White, Hall & Oates, The Temptations. It was a different time.” Morganfield describes his upbringing as a “rough childhood” but emphasizes the lessons and how it’s established him as one of music’s finest. “You have to remember where it all came from.”
Morganfield’s ascent to the rightful heir of rhythm and blues was a steady one. The truck driver turned bluesman didn’t find his true calling until after his Father’s death in 1983 through continuing subliminal messages. “I always had a recurring dream that dad was on stage playing and dapperly dressed. I would be standing in front of the stage waving and he would never talk to me. Each dream was always the same… There’s a spiritual realm about ourselves. It’s all connected. Now, did that persuade me? I haven’t had that dream since I started playing professionally.”
Soon after this lightning bolt of inspiration Morganfield’s 2012 debut “Son of the Seventh Son” was released to critical acclaim far and wide, and was followed up with sophomore effort and last album, “For Pops” (2014), a tribute to his dad that featured harmonica great Kim Wilson. -Even throughout our interview, Mud refers to his father as “Pops” and so pays homage to the man behind the smoke.
Mud’s Father undoubtedly started a movement beyond wildest imagination and one shining example is, you guessed it, the Rolling Stones. Live at Checkboard Lounge circa 1981, the Stones boogied onstage with Muddy during a concert video and live album. One of those band members still works in very close quarters to the Mud Men. They Call Me Mud Producer Rick Kreher was the last guitarist to play alongside Muddy Waters and now, lends his craftsmanship to Waters’ offspring, keeping the lineage intact. Kreher describes the music on the new disc as “a blues buffet, with something for everyone.”
Whether it’s Windy City heavyweights or roadrunners, “The best of the best, from Brazil to the UK.” proclaims Morganfield. It’s not tough to miss, as Mud has gained acclamations with Traditional Blues Awards, stops on National Public Radio, tours overseas and the like. The comparisons are inevitable and likely endless, but Mud’s music stands alone. It’s the 21st Century’s answer to R&B aristocracy.
They Call Me Mud keeps the budding Bluesman hardworking and humbled. It centralizes all that has been established since the Delta musicians plowed the plantations, all of the progress from race records to religion. All of the evolution of Generations past and present. “I think it’s the some of the best work I’ve done yet…”
Rating: Mojo Workin’