MP3 Mac Arnold & Plate Full O' Blues - Backbone & Gristle
"A Genuine Blues Treasure" MAC ARNOLD , Former bass player for the legendary MUDDY WATERS , also has recorded with JOHN LEE HOOKER , OTIS SPANN and TYRONE DAVIS is back
15 MP3 Songs in this album (78:33) !
Related styles: BLUES: Chicago Style, BLUES: Country Blues
People who are interested in John Lee Hooker Muddy Waters B.B. King should consider this download.
MEDIA & LIVE REVIEWS:
“This is old-school blues at its finest.”
- Blues Revue
“Welcome back a deep Chicago Bluesman from the old school.”
- Bob Margolin
“...one of the most original voices in blues and has a uniquely distinctive resonance.”
- Jazz Now
“The voice is appropriately seasoned and credible…his group able to match his bursts with formidable answering riffs and licks.
– Nashville City Paper
‘Mac Arnold is on his way to a new career as a national blues treasure.”
- Gritz Magazine
“A plate full of blues? Hell, this is the whole dang meal.”
- Creative Loafing
“one remaining virtual blues goldmine is Mac Arnold”
- Greg Prato, All Music Guide
Mac Arnold must have known at an early age that his music career would read like a "Who''s who" of Blues/R&B legends. His high school band "J. Floyd& the Shamrocks" were often joined by none other than Macon, Georgia native, James Brown on piano. After deciding to pursue a professional music career, he joined the Charles Miller group until 1965 when he made the move to Chicago to work with recording artist/saxophonist A. C. Reed.
In late 1966, at age 24, came the opportunity of a lifetime to join the Muddy Waters Band and help shape the electric blues sound that inspired the rock and roll movement of the late 60''s and early 70''s. Regular guests of the band included Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop. The Muddy Waters Band (as a unit) shared the stage with the likes of Howlin'' Wolf, Elmore James, Jimmy Reed, Junior Wells, Big Joe Williams, and Big Mama Thornton ("Hound Dog") just to name a few. During this time, Mac played on John Lee Hooker''s "live" album, Live at the Café Au Go-Go, as well as Otis Spann''s classic recording The Blues Is Where It''s At.
After more than a year with Muddy Waters, Mac formed The Soul Invaders which backed up many artists, including The Temptations and B. B. King. In the early 70''s, he moved to Los Angeles to work at ABC Television and Laff Records (Red Foxx). This led to working on the set of Soul Train from 1971 to 1975 and then working with Bill Withers ("Lean on Me" ) before moving back to South Carolina in the 80''s.
Mac now resides in Pelzer, SC, where at age ten he got his first taste of the blues when he learned to play his brother Leroy''s home-made guitar. Going back to his roots, Mac is serving up a mess of Blues with his own band, "MAC ARNOLD & PLATE FULL O'' BLUES". The band consists of Danny Keylon on bass and vocals; Austin Brashier on guitar and vocals; Max Hightower on keyboards, harmonica and guitar; and Mike Whitt on drums and Mac Arnold on Vocals, Bass, and Gas Can Guitars.
In 2005, Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues began. By 2006, the group organized their own Record Label, Plantation 1# Productions. During this time local documentary filmmaker, Stan Woodward started filming a PBS Documentary on the band after a very inspiring interview with Mac Arnold. He now has over 300 hours of footage and is in the editing stage. Shortly after, Mac Arnold won the SC Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage award and performed at the State House. In April of 2007, Plantation 1# Productions produced Greenville SC’s first Blues Festival “The Mac Arnold Cornbread & Collard Greens Blues Festival”, reuniting Mac with old friends such as, Hubert Sumlin, Eddie Shaw, Bob Margolin, Willie Smith and many others. The festival is now in its second year and has raised thousands of dollars for the Children’s Hospital. The band is currently working on a weekly Blues series to help keep the Blues alive in Greenville. As members of the SC Arts Commission, the band arranged a program for Blues in the Schools and has written the song “I Can Do Anything” to help inspire kids to stay in school. The song is on their latest CD Backbone & Gristle recorded live with the Greer High, Middle, Elementary School choir and Marching Band. Magazines such as
Living Blues, Soul Bag (European), G Magazine and many
other media publications, have featured stories on Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues. Now in 2008, the band has released its second all original, self produced CD. Both CDs have received rave reviews and are still climbing the Blues charts.
Garden Full of Songs (THE BEGINNING OF BACKBONE & GRISTLE)
It is Sunday 2:00pm. This is morning time for most musicians. I drive past the Happy Cow Dairy Farm in Pelzer South Carolina. They sell the best milk, cheese and butter, its all made fresh there on the farm. Barbed wire fences and old barns that have withstood the test of time scatter throughout miles and miles of pasture. Just a stone''s throw down the road nestled away on 80 acres is Mac Arnold’s home. As I pull into the driveway, his dog Buster greets me with a playful bark, nudging the fence with his big head, for attention. Rows and rows of collards, paint the backyard green and the aroma of Mac’s original chicken legs smoking on the grill get my taste buds jumping. His wife Vonda is quick to open the door so I can lug my equipment in from the cold. Mac is tossing logs into his black iron wood heater. He always wears a big smile and welcomes me with a hug as he does everyone. I grab a roasted peanut and then sneak a peek into the pot steaming on the stove, crowder peas cooking down to gravy, great with cornbread and Happy Cow butter.
The rest of the band staggers in, ears and head still numb, trying to shake off Saturday night. As we are still setting up, here comes cousin Troy, the fish fry king, driving his big red Dodge Dually pickup truck. More folks will soon show. This is very typical being Mac is from a family of 13. Everyone is always welcome so we got used to a crowd of people being around during every practice.
The country, farms, cows, dogs, collard greens, crowder peas, chicken legs, family, and friends have become our recipe for writing songs. It’s all around us. Mac himself is a living Blues song. His brother James, well just can’t help but love him. Another brother Isaac, he’s the man! He always dresses smooth, with the perfect crease in his jeans, and one hell of a carpenter. We could write a book on Leroy, Mac''s eldest brother, the founder of the gas can guitar. Leroy visits every Sunday after church, decked out sharp as a tack. To tell you the truth, he’s always decked out! When he speaks, it is like a melody, his words and phrasing are all in some kind of spiritual Arnold timing. You could put music to his conversation. When that old Detroit engine fires up, other than Mac, he is the first one on the bus.
The stories are always thriving, like a garden full of songs. When we need one, we just pick it. On the way back from Memphis I over heard Mac and Leroy reminiscing about old times. Their father caught them standing around in the cotton field and ask them what they were doing. They told him that their “backbone hurt”, and he said, “ya’ll ain’t got no backbone just a gristle, now get back to work.” This kind of old expression is second nature to the Arnolds’, but to me it sounded like music. Later we turned it into a song, and that became the name of our latest CD “Backbone & Gristle”.
Once our equipment is setup, we kick it off, usually by someone fiddling around with some off the wall lick. As we are pulling ourselves together, Mac is gathering some extra wood out by the barn, where he keeps his precious John Deer tractor. He wears this goofy World War 1 pilot looking hat, to cover his ears, fighting off Buster, as he is coming in the back door. He is already singing before he gets in the house good, grabbing his microphone that is plugged into his 1970s Ampeg bass amp. Turns it on, and shuffles around to stop the feedback. Then he proceeds to ramble out some deep southern style lyrics, a cross between field hollers and Motown. Austin begins molding the perfect guitar licks and rhythm to fit the lyrics. Everyone plays an instrument in the Brashier family, so playing guitar is like breathing for him. Danny explores many unique bass lines with extreme perfection. He can play a 4 string, 5 string and 6 string Bass. He even has an upright Bass given to him by Willie Dixon himself. As for me, I am usually running around in circles between harmonica, piano and guitar looking for the best instrument to match the tune. When everyone has found their place, Mike locks it all in with the drums. We just throw all our ideas out on the table, know matter how crazy they may seem.
About 2hrs into the rehearsal, you can really start to smell the beans and cornbread cookin’, the same is with our music. This is when the volume cranks up and the juices really start to flow. Before you know it, we have a small audience surrounding us, but we are playing as if we were in front of 5000 people. Macs’ house has marble floors and high ceilings, so this captures the true tone of the instruments. What A sound! We have pondered the idea of doing some recording there.
Just as the sun goes down, yep you guessed it, time to suck a little grub! After 4 or 5 hours of non- stop rehearsing, we’ve worked up a good ole’ country boy appetite. Friends, family, the band, we all know what to do, just help ourselves. Crowder peas, collard greens, cornbread, Happy Cow butter, sliced tomatoes, chicken legs and sweet tea in a mason jar, that’s the way we do it. We forget about the music for while and just enjoy each other.
Ya know, not everyone knows how to play a musical instrument but we all sure know how to eat.
Max Hightower 2008
MAC AND MUDDY................
In 1965, having already established himself back home as a bass player, playing with J Floyd & the Shamrocks including James Brown on keyboard , Mac Arnold decided to take a trip to Chicago to check out the Blues scene. He was obviously impressed because 3 months later 24 year old Mac packed up and moved to the Windy City to expand his music career.
There was a club called the Green Bunny Club on 77 & Halstead St. where Mac first met his sax man A. C. Reed who at the time needed a bass player. Mac was the right man for the job. He played with A. C. for only a short time when he got a chance to play with Muddy Waters. He was asked to come out to Big John’s Grill on the North side to sit in with the band. Muddy asked him where he was from, he replied Greenville, South Carolina. Muddy said, “son, if you’re from the South, then you can play,” and so he did for over a year. His first gig with Muddy was the Mother Blues Club. The band’s line up was Luther Johnson on guitar, Sammy Lawhorn on guitar, Frances Clay on drums, Otis Spann on piano, Mac Arnold on bass, and Muddy on guitar and vocals. The band would play most of the show and Muddy would play the end of the set. On occasions he would play every other set. This gave the guys a chance to show their stuff. Mac had an edge because he’d been working with James Brown in the past. A lot of people had yet to of heard of James Brown, so when Mac would play that funky stuff, it got a lot of people’s attention. Mac is a left handed bass player, and if you listen to some of his early recordings, you will hear he was way ahead of his time.
The band would tour from the East to West Coast and all points in between. Cruisin’ in a 1965 Fleetwood Cadillac, all 7 band members and the driver (Bo) at the wheel. Bo could drive almost non-stop from St. Louis to San Francisco with no sleep. One time they were passing through Mississippi, they stopped in to see some of Muddy’s relatives and wound up doing a show. Mac stayed at Muddy’s cousin’s house, and when L. A. he would stay with George Smith and his family of 6 kids. While touring the West Coast, Mac fell in love with the California weather. When he returned to Chicago he told his wife “we’re moving.”
Mac talked to Muddy and told him he would give him time to find another bass player. Muddy wished him luck and said “he would have him back any time,” and that was it. Mac is one of the last surviving members of the Muddy Water’s era, and so Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues begins.