Thursday, April 15, 2010
Big Bill MORGANFIELD - Nineteen Years Old,A Tribute to Muddy Waters 1997
"Big” Bill Morganfield is the son of McKinley Morganfield – the one and only Muddy Waters. An offspring to one of the greatest blues legends and founding fathers of Chicago blues. So is this the next generation of blues youngsters emulating the descendants of many famous rock'n'roll heroes from the sixties? Quite a bad comparison, as "Big” Bill Morganfield at age 43 is more of a late bloomer than a young turk. In his formative years he almost tried to escape his father's musical heritage. Dreaming of a professional basketball career while being raised by his grandmother in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, he decided to get a university degree for teaching the English language. Quite respectable for a young black man who was born 1956 in Chicago's Cook County Hospital. But his frequent visits with his famous father in Chicago made him familiar with the urban world of black black musicians and at age 11 he formed his first band. He wasn't serious about being a player, preferring to dabble in rock'n'roll or R'n'B. Muddy Waters' almost overpowering stature in the world of the blues made it impossible for him to find an innocent start as a bluesman. But as they say, the blues came to him and called his name...
The blues world mourns the passing of Muddy Waters in 1983. He leaves not only a gaping hole on the blues scene but also a grief-stricken son who is contemplating how to handle this loss. He retreats into a private world. And this is the start of "Big” Bill Morganfield as bluesman. He studies the blues styles of the past: "I learned the old traditional blues, songs written in the 1930's to the 1950's”, he says today, "Instead of playing contemporary, I decided to come out and do authentic blues.” His coming out took place in the mid-eighties. A raw diamond appears, full of raw blues intensity. Stagework with friends like legendary rocker Lonnie Mack strengthen his self-confidence and his ambitions stretch to write his own material. To this day he's written more than 200 blues songs which form the backbone of his repertoire, along with intense versions of Muddy Waters-classics like "Rollin' and Tumblin” or "Rock Me”. Whether on stage in Memphis, Atlanta (his current home) or at one of the great blues festivals, "Big” Bill Morganfield has turned into a performer that does not like watered-down blues. He always goes for the real thing. A great deal of inspiration came when he was invited to join a cast of stars for a PBS special in honor of his father. For this tribute at Kennedy Center, Washington DC, he shared the stage with legends like Bo Diddley, Gregg Allman, Buddy Guy, Johnnie Johnson, Keb' Mo', Robert Lockwood, Koko Taylor and many others. The overwhelming feeling of a spiritual connection between these artists and Muddy's musical heritage was not to be forgotten. There was no turning back.
"Nineteen Years Old: A Tribute to Muddy Waters" was recorded in Memphis in 1997. This music is still high on authenticity, regardless of whether he plays the heavy Chicago blues of his father or the trancelike delta blues à la Junior Kimbrough or R.L. Burnside. Some ace sidemen from Memphis are also featured: Al Gamble/Darin James (Preston Shannon Band), Robert Nighthawk II (Reba Russell Band), Aram Doroff (Billy Earl McClelland Band), or Bob Margolin (ex-Muddy Waters Band and recording artist in his own right). Producer Billy Earl McClelland is one of the Memphis Greats and has worked with Delbert McClinton, Bo Diddley, Tony Joe White, Hank Williams Jr. or Dr. Hook.
The final words belong to the man himself: "Big” Bill Morganfield. Today he is very clear about the special power of his father's blues legacy and he doesn't lack ambition: "My Daddy was a bad guy” , he says, "but I got an attitude right now – I want to punch somebody in the nose with my talent. I gotta work hard 'cause I got a legacy to live up to. But I like the pressure. I love a good challenge.”
"Big" Bill Morganfield- Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Aram Doroff- Bass
Al Gamble- Harmonica
Darin James- Drums
Bob Margolin- Guitar, Bass
Billy Earl McClelland- Guitar
"Blind" Mississippi Morris- Harmonica
Robert Nighthawk II- Piano, Harmonica
01. Rock Me (McKinley Morganfield) 5:54
02. I'm A Fool ("Big" Bill Morganfield) 03:27
03. She's Nineteen Years Old (McKinley Morganfield) 03:59
04. Lonesome ("Big" Bill Morganfield) 03:15
05. Mad Love ("Big" Bill Morganfield) 04:28
06. Why Do People Act Like That (Robert C. Guidry) 03:10
07. Caldonia (Fleecy Moore) 03:14
08. Walking Blues (Robert Leroy Johnson) 04:37
09. Rollin' And Tumblin' (McKinley Morganfield) 03:29
10. Child Of Mercy ("Big" Bill Morganfield) 04:58