TFSB – I love the humor in the blues. Songs like “My Dog Can’t Bark….”
MM – That’s really a strange one. I couldn’t tell you the story behind it. I am sure Pops knew, and some of the guys (in the band) knew, “People talk about you and I/and what they say, I know it’s a lie…” (laughter). Hey Joe, “My dog can’t bark and my cat can’t scratch” (laughter). Where did these cats get that from? I’m having a ball doing what I do.
TFSB – As a blues musician is it necessary to go outside of the country to tour in order to make a living?
MM – No Doubt about it. You can ask any blues man here in America, and every one of them is begging to get over the pond, somewhere in Europe. I’ll tell you something, too. It ain’t so much the money, it’s the gratitude, the attention and cheers and the roar of the crowds, that (respect) the people give you. It’s unbelievable. You’re back in America and guys are sitting in the back playing pool, playing cards, talking above the music. These people over there are spellbound, you got their full attention. When an artist gets that, any artist, he wants to do better. If it wasn’t for people like you, and fans, artists would just be singing in the shower. Everybody likes that pat on the back. “Great job,” “Awesome,” “Off the chain, Mud.” Those are the kind of things that inspire people in any business to keep going with that business, man.
MM – The majority of the kids were white…
TFSB – And the black audience that was there was in their fifties...
MM – Yeah, old school. It’s the same here. With all this rap, blues is lower on the food chain.
TFSB - I see younger black artists that give me hope. Gary Clark, Jr., Robert Randolph, guys who are doing blues or rock, not rap. Even folk, Alabama Shakes, The Ebony Hillbillies…you haven’t seen that in a long time…
MM – Rap and hip hop, it’s the number one stuff out there. All I can do is try to make a difference in a business that my dad spent his entire life in. I welcome and praise any up-and-coming blues artist that comes out on the scene. Tell you another thing about Europe, they got kids out there from thirteen on up to eighteen, nineteen-years-old, coming out to shows. That gave me hope that the legacy of Robert Johnson might still be around in a hundred years.
MM – I got signed up with Intrepid Artists, and I’m hoping next year I can do some stuff. I’m looking forward to doing a new album, maybe 2015, 2016.
TFSB – With the last album, Son of the Seventh Son, you really established yourself as a songwriter…
MM – I come up on the west side of Chicago and it’s an urban neighborhood. When I was coming up I was seeing ambulances and police cars flying. And of course, after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, the city was burned up, pretty much. It got even worse. But I wouldn't change things (in my life); it’s the reason I can sing about the blues. How can you sing about the blues if you never had them? How can you teach me how to stop drinking if you never drank in your life? How can you tell me not to use drugs if you never took a drug? How can you play the blues if you never had any?
TFSB – I am always interested in the music musicians listen to. Who influences you, or, who do you like to listen to when you are not listening to blues?
MM – That’s easy for me, man. My number one is Barry White, he’s my number one. I’m a big romantic, and I love Barry White. I love to love, and I love to be loved…
TFSB – That’s good music for loving and being loved…
MM – Yes, and I’ve got ten babies, is that about enough? (laughter)
TFSB – I would say so…(laughter)
MM – (Laughter) Do I need to say anything more, Joe?
TFSB – I think you covered that one pretty well…
MM – I got ten kids, I mean, they are all grown…but I just love that kind of stuff. It relaxes me. And a little jazz, too. Not a whole lot, I couldn’t listen to it for hours on end.
TFSB – Your last album, Seventh Son, got some great reviews, and even an album of the year award. That had to be pretty gratifying.
MM – Any awards that I get, I give them all to my eighty-two-year-old mother, Mildred. She gets them all. I want her to be proud of me…all the way up until she makes her transition.
TFSB – I had read that you only go on the road for short stints so you can get home to check on her.
MM – A lot of agents and promoters don’t like that. I was over to Sweden with a guy, I won’t call his name cause it’s his own personal business, but I was over there with this guy and his mom took very, very sick. And we all know him very well and this guy just brought tears to my eyes ‘cause his mother was almost dying and he couldn’t head home. He had ten or eleven shows ahead of him that he had contracted to and he was just so torn up. I just thank God that she got better. It would rip my heart out of my chest if I couldn’t be home to hold my mother’s hand when she’s making her transition.
TFSB – In the end, we have our families…
MM – You know with my mom, Pops wasn’t ever there, so, it was always mother who made sure food was on the table when Pops sent us money. You know it’s hard for a woman to raise men…women can raise ladies, but it’s really rough on a woman trying to a raise man. My mom stood there, you know…I love her to death. What else can I say?
TFSB – When you travel overseas do you take guys with you, or do the labels hook you up with a band over there?
MM – I usually pick up bands where I go…guys who know my dad’s stuff, and my stuff, and we got a show. A lot of promoters can’t afford to bring over the Rick Crayers, the Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smiths, and the E.G. McDaniels, the band that I acquire when I’m here in Chicago. They can’t afford all those tickets, so I pick up those bands…some pretty great bands, too.
TFSB – I saw you on Jools Holland and the band you had with you looked really tight…
MM – That’s my England band and they do a lot of touring with me. That’s the band I usually tour when I play Europe. When I go to South America I team up with Igor Prado and his band. So I do team up with different bands. I haven’t ever picked up a bad band….
TFSB – Does that make it easier on you when you are travelling?
MM – It does, but sometimes on the road it can be kind of lonely. I am glad Buddy Guy is still here, and Jimmy Johnson, I looked up to these cats, man. I carry the same respect (for these men) that I would carry for my dad. They are the forefathers of my generation.
TFSB – Could you have ever imagined, when you started out, that singing the blues would take you around the world?
MM – These blues been chasing me for a long time. I drove professional trucks, big rigs. I tried to stay away from the blues for a while. The reason I did that was, you know, I can’t fill Muddy’s shoes. I can only be me; those shoes are too big for me to fill. I ran from it a long time. Then I just gave in.
TFSB – Your first memory of singing for an audience…
MM – As a professional might have been 1998… at a club on the west side of Chicago. There were quite a few people there, and this blues woman called Mary Lane…who convinced me to take the mic. And I would like to thank Barry Golden who ran the Chicago blues festival. He also gave me a chance.
TFSB – You seem very comfortable, relaxed, on stage…
MM – I don’t get nervous, I don’t get butterflies. I’m ready to go…
TFSB – I want to say thank you for taking to time to talk with us at www.theflamestillburns.com
MM - Glad to, any time, man.
Mud Morganfield's website is here: www.mudmorganfieldsite.com
and he also can be found on Facebook.