Sunday, March 25, 2018

Chicago blues musician Mud Morganfield releases new album, will perform at SPACE in Evanston

Photo by Paul Natkin

By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Chicago is well represented on the latest album by Mud Morganfield, a Chicago native himself and the son of Chicago blues legend Muddy Waters.

Not only was "They Call Me Mud" recorded at JoyRide Studios in Chicago, the album also features several Chicago area musicians, including guitarist Billy Flynn and Studebaker John on harmonica and backing vocals. Special guest stars on the album include Billy Branch on harmonica, Mike Wheeler on guitar and his Morganfield's daughter, Lashunda Williams.

Morganfield and many of the musicians who performed on the album will join him on stage as part of a CD release party on April 5 at SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets range from $17 to $27, available by going to evanstonspace.com.

I had the chance to talk to him about the CD and the upcoming show.


Q – I know you consider the songs on "They Call Me Mud" some of the best work you have done.

It gets better and better for me, man. This variety has a variety of stuff on it. Many, many people can take something away from this album.



It's a buffet, man. You can get a pick of a little jazzy stuff with Billy Branch on "Mud's Groove," and you can get some funk blues with "They Can Me Mud." And behind that, there's a B.B. King kind of sound that Billy Flynn brought to "48 Days."

Not to mention the ballads, man. I think it's a buffet for everybody to eat off of.

Q – To me, the album has a real live feel to it. I could imagine a lot of these songs sounding the same on stage as they do on the record. Did you try to create some of that live feel on this CD?

Not particularly. I took this great band into the studio, and that is the end result of it. We were all there together in the studio. I was the only one in a separate booth, me and my daughter.

At Joyride Studios, the band is in one big room. There weren't any tracks laid down. Everybody did these tracks at the same time. 

Q – You and your daughter, Lashunda Williams, appear together on the duet, "Who Loves You." What was it like working with her?

It was like pulling teeth, man. She's a gospel singer, and I had to do a little persuading for her to do it.

She's a God-fearing young woman, you know. But I'm her dad, and Muddy Waters is her granddad, and she came around, and assisted me on that one tune. It was great working with her.

Q – How did the band come together for this album? Did you hand pick these musicians or how did it come about?

I produced the album, and I knew the sound I was looking for. I knew what I wanted, man.

These guys are a bunch of great guys. They are a bunch of great musicians. They wanted to be a part of it. What you got is the end result, and I am happy and honored to be able to play with them.

Q – And I know many of the musicians will be playing at the CD release show at SPACE, right?

I'm going to get as many as I can to come down if they not working at another gig. We're going to have a great time, man. 

Q – You include a couple of your dad's songs on the album, "Howling Wolf" and "Can't Get No Grindin.' " What made you want to put those songs on the album and did you want to do something different with the songs than they were originally played?

Anything I put out, you can almost bet your bottom dollar I'm going to put a song or two of my dad's on there. It's my way of respecting and honoring my dad.



It's my way of saying, "I love you, dad." I thank God that him and my mom was able to give me the same talent as dad had. 

And I enjoy it. I really enjoy it. I'm more comfortable there. 

When I was growing up, I tried to sing like Tyrone Davis and Johnnie Taylor,  and everything come out of my mouth just sounding like Muddy Waters. So I'm not going to fight that, I'm just going to make good music for our fans and friends and family. That's my goal.

Q – As far as some of things that your dad taught you, did he want you to go into the music business?

I was born into the blues. My dad didn't really teach me much about the music business. Everything was God given and straight from his bloodline.


Q – Of course, we've lost so many blues legends in the past few years. What do you try to do with your music to carry on the blues?

You've got it right there in your hands, "They Call Me Mud." What else can I do? That's all I can do, is what you've got there in your hands, until I do the next album.



And there's no telling. I'm considering doing a gospel album. I keep an open mind.

There's no telling which way my spirit may lead me. But I'll always stay around that bluesy stuff. 

Q – Do you have any dream projects or collaborations?

I would probably be featuring my daughter a little more if she is up to it. 

Q – When you work with family, I guess that's what it is all about, right?

Yeah. It takes you kind of out of the business end of it. It's from the heart, because you love each other, you know.

And that's what I like about the song that me and her did. It ran deeper than just us doing a duet. It was really comfortable, and we did it from our hearts.