Review: Mud Morganfield – Overton on Dee – 20 March 2009
Posted on: Monday, Mar 23, 2009
MUD MORGANFIELD & BIG JOE LOUIS AND THE BLUES KINGS
‘Goin’ Up The Country’ at Overton-on-Dee Village Hall: 20.03.09
Every once in a while comes along one of those special nights of live music which will live in your memory forever – I am pleased have witnessed such an evening at Overton-on-Dee, with the only Northern gig for the eldest son of the undisputed king of the blues, the late, great Muddy Waters – Mud Morganfield, backed by some of these shore’s finest musicians, Big Joe Louis and his Blues Kings.
A packed and sold-out gathering was a reward for the ‘Goin’ Up The Country’ promoters – Pete Evans, Paul Taylor and Ian Williams – with the gig moved to a much larger hall from their regular base in Worthenbury – 200 plus, who had the night of their musical lives! Mud Morganfield has the look of his late father – who he affectionately referred to as ‘Pops’ all evening – and the voice is uncannily alike as well. However, this is no cash-in tribute – partly because of his desire to carry the music on, and also the calibre of the band.
Apart from band leader Big Joe Louis (guitar and vocals), the other musicians were the quite amazing Steve ‘West’ Weston on harmonica, the stellar rhythm section of Matt Radford (bass) and Pete Greatorex (drums), and the brilliant piano of London-based Italian, Eric Ranzoni – together they were superb on two sets of mainly Muddy Waters-connected songs and a few from Mud’s latest album, “Fall Waters Fall”.
A few minor issues with power and lighting were overcome as Big Joe Louis and the band kicked off the first set with a great instrumental shuffle, and Robert Petway’s “Catfish Blues”, a mainstay of his live set over the years, before Mud Morganfield strode on stage to great applause and into a couple of classics, “I’m Ready” and the timeless “Baby, Please Don’t Go”.
The band were just so good it was not hard to imagine you were in a Chicago blues club in the Fifties – every song just grooved along, with Big Joe Louis’s top rhythm guitar work and occasional solo; and boy, what can you say about Steve Weston’s harmonica work! I have seen many great harmonica players over the years, but have to say he delivered, all night, some of the most thrilling playing I have ever heard. Couple these two with Eric Ranzoni’s sparkling Otis Spann fills and it was just heaven.
Other first set highlights were the strutting “Walking Thru’ The Park” and the more lowdown “Forty Days And Forty Nights”, with another Muddy chestnut in the shape of “Honey Bee” – all great stuff, and well received by the packed house.
Big Joe and the band started the second set with a couple of numbers again – including one of his 45 rpm single releases – the driving “The Go Go Train”, before Mud Morganfield returned for a journey through some of his father’s best known numbers, starting with the immortal “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “I’m A King Bee”, with authentic guitar ‘stinging’ from Big Joe Louis. He then dipped into “Fall Waters Fall” for “Satisfied”.
A rollicking “Caldonia” saw Eric Ranzoni tearing up the piano, with some Jerry Lee Lewis style feet and backside banging the keys; with the pace taken down on “19 Years Old”. This memorable evening ended with possibly two of the most famous Muddy-related songs, a fantastic “Mannish Boy” – more wonderful harmonica from Steve Weston; and a surprise in a tear-up through “I’ve Got My Mojo Working” as Mud jumped off the stage to join the dancers in front of him!
Opening up the evening was the popular duo of Trafficker frontman and guitarist, Tommy Allen; and Johny Hewitt, harmonica ace from the Smokehouse Blues. Both very popular guys in this area, they delivered a most entertaining half hour – the highlights being a lovely “Who’s Loving You Tonight” and, best of all, a stripped down “Nine Below Zero”, the Sonny Boy Williamson classic, with marvellous harmonica work from Johny Hewitt.
Photo from Ian Williams – for more, see the bluesinthenorthwest.com photo archive.