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Mud Morganfield Concert

Woonsocket, Rhode Island

 December 8, 2018


Review and Photos by Kirk Lang


A big voice blessed a small room at a Chinese restaurant in the smallest state in America on December 8, and everyone who witnessed the musicality received an early Christmas gift.

That’s because the voice belonged to none other than Mud Morganfield, the eldest son of the late Chicago blues king Muddy Waters. While many have been singing Muddy’s songs for decades in clubs across the country, and even around the world, no one has more right to do it than Mud, and no one sounds more like Muddy than Mud.

“If it was somebody else trying to do it, it wouldn’t work,” said Jerry McManus, a lifelong blues fanatic who made the trip from Worcester, Massachusetts with his traveling buddy Joe Jakubiak.  “He puts on a good show. “He’s got a lot of showmanship.”

Returning to Chan’s Eggrolls Jazz & Blues in Woonsocket, Rhode Island after a July engagement, Morganfield was backed by his New England band, which consisted of Dave Robbins (harmonica), Ricky King Russell (guitar), Bob Worthington (bass), Kurt Kalker (drums) and Matt McCabe (piano). The band kicked things off with a five-minute instrumental version of “The Hucklebuck” before Mud was welcomed to the stage by restaurant/club owner John Chan, who it should be noted, was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Touring in support of his new album They Call Me Mud, Mud began by showing the crowd that while he is definitely his father’s son – facial resemblance, vocal quality and a fine-looking suit - he is also his own man. Whereas Muddy Waters played guitar – preferring a Fender telecaster – Mud has been playing bass, at home, for 30 years. And now he’s bringing the bass on stage, even if just for the first couple of numbers. Mud could surely learn to play a regular electric guitar if he so chose – and show up on stage with a candy apple red telecaster - but he is not trying to be a carbon copy of his pops.

As he took to center stage and strapped on his bass guitar, he yelled out “Are you ready for the blues?” to which the crowd, eating Chinese food up until that point, responded with an enthusiastic “Yeah” and some hand claps.

Mud and the band kicked things off with two cuts from Mud’s new album, the title track “They Call Me Mud” and “48 Days.” The first tune got the crowd rocking and the second had a slower groove that allowed Mud to get a little bit sexy with his voice and show he sounds more than adequate delivering an original composition that doesn’t seek to mimic his father’s sound. The song has Mud pleading for a lover to come back home if she doesn’t “want to see a grown man cry.”

After warming up the crowd with two of his own, Mud of course had to give them some of his father’s classic tunes. He started off with “Nineteen Years Old.”  Rocking a white suit with a black dress shirt, accentuated by a white tie, sporting processed hair and a mustache similar to his father, you could have sworn everyone in the room had taken a time machine back to a Chicago blues club in the 1950s. Only this was a New England state in 2018. Mud transports you because he’s that good. Echoing his father at the end of the song, he delivered multiple drawn out “Mmms” and “Yeahs,” much to the crowd’s delight before finishing the line about trying to “make this young woman feel satisfied.”

The 60-something-year-old Mud told the crowd a 19-year-old woman is too young for him nowadays.

“Bout to kill me,” he said.

Mud then transitioned into his father’s 1955 classic “I Want to be Loved.” During the harmonica solo, he told Dave Robbins, “Take your time son.” Enjoying it, Mud was rocking on his stool with that impish grin his father also had. Singing with a fervor that many in the blues community lack today, Mud brought “I Want to be Loved” back to life. However, he brought the last few words of the song – “I want to be loved” – down to a whisper, a nice touch after singing every other moment of the song with so much fire in his belly.

Robbins would tell it is an absolute honor to play with Mud.

“It means more than I can ever describe,” he said. “It’s religious for me because his father is the ultimate blues god. It’s uncanny the way Mud looks, sounds. He has the timbre of his father’s voice. Everything about Mud is his father.”

Robbins admitted that sometimes the band gets so caught up, members think they’re playing with Muddy as opposed to Mud.

Mud is a consummate performer. Besides the voice, there are other things that make his show a show. There are countless facial contortions while pouring his heart into every word, there’s enthusiastic yet slight head shakes going on, there are moments he slams a right fist into a left palm for emphasis while delivering a line, as well as the waving of a towel he often has in his left hand. At Chan’s on Saturday night, Mud even got off his stool to give the crowd some humorous funky dancing when the band was really tearing it up on “Leave Me Alone” during the second half of the show.

Mud and band did six songs before intermission, ending with Waters’ “I Don’t Know Why.” When they returned to the stage, they did seven tunes, beginning with Waters’ “Young Fashioned Ways.” Mud followed that up with one of his own, “Loco Motor,” more of a jump blues tune, off of his 2012 album Son of the Seventh Son.

Singer/guitarist Willie J. Laws – a former Texas bluesman now living in Massachusetts - was invited to play on “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and he rattled off an assortment of hot licks knowing this was his moment playing alongside blues royalty. Family members and friends captured the moment with cell phone video and photos.  

Mud’s final original song of the night was “Leave Me Alone,” featured on Son of Seventh Son, which was Mud’s first national release. It is clearly more steeped in the Muddy Waters style than the three originals Mud sang earlier. Close your eyes and you could have sworn it was a “lost” Muddy Waters tune recently unearthed from the former Chess Records building, which is now home to Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation.

After a solid version of “Trouble No More,” a mid-1950s hit for Waters, things got interesting as Boston-based violinist Ilana Katz Katz –a Vizztone Label Group artist who still plays the subway – was invited up to add her brand of blues to the mix. Between her playing adding another layer of musicality to the proceedings, and Mud encouraging crowd participation on what would be an eight-minute version of “Got My Mojo Working,” the night seemingly reached its apex. Sherry Powers, known as Chan’s dancing waitress, seemed to be caught under a spell.

“The music just goes right through you,” she said.

Just when it seemed Mud, the band and Katz Katz were finished – since Mud had said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we gotta go” and exited stage left – they treated the crowd to an encore.

As soon as Ricky King Russell played the opening lick of “Mannish Boy,” one of Waters’ most popular songs, the crowd vocally expressed its appreciation before Mud could belt out the opening line.

For Phil Ricchiuti, of North Providence, RI, it was a perfect ending to a perfect show.

“Let’s face it, a lot of the old time Chicago guys are no longer with us, and he’s carrying on the tradition of his father, a blues pioneer and a legend,” he said. “He’s the real deal.”

Katz Katz would add, “I’ve had the honor of performing with a lot of people but that was awesome sauce. He is wonderful and kind and it was an amazing experience. He has his own energy and his own soulful way but he also channels his father’s energy.”

Mud told that he is “at home” when paying homage to his father but he is also mindful of forging his own path. He added that the Son of the Seventh Son and They Call Me Mud albums are to “show the world and the critics that it is so much more to this blues man.

KIRK LANG (on behalf of





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