Mac Arnold's Blues Revival; Live at the Grey Eagle


Nick's Picks: Every One

FCC ALERT: "as sweet and pure as 'Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin's guitar playin' "

Review by Steven "Nick" Nickelson of Mac Arnold Blues Revival: Live At The Grey Eagle :

There are people who listen to blues, people who play the blues, people who live the blues, and people who write about it. Those who live it generally become the best blues musicians, because their music comes from deep down in their very soul – and that is what Mac Arnold is all about. Blues music generally includes a she-done-me-wrong-so-I'm-drinkin'-myself-to-death-song, a she's leavin' me fer good song, as well as hell-raisin' and git down stompin' music, life in the ghetto, life as a dirt poor sharecropper, and variations of the above. In that sense, Mac Arnold and company do not disappoint. They cover the gamut of blues tales, as well as play some very tight blues other than Mac's traditional Chicago-style Blues. This is a live recording at the legendary Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall in Asheville, NC, and we are treated to some very special guest artists. We start off our musical journey with an impassioned sax performance by Charles Twilly, which almost steals the show from Mac Arnold and his singing (“Gitty Up”). Track two (“Back Bone and Gristle”) offers up some steamin' mashups of Texas and Chicago style Blues. I mean, I'm sitting here trying to write while both feet are jumping all over the place. Give a listen to Track four (“Drivin' Wheel”) to best appreciate the genius of Bob Margolin in concert with the staccato sax stylings of Mr. Charles Twilly. Probably the best example of Chicago-style Blues is Track six - the semi-autobiographical “Ghetto Blues”. This whole track smokes!! Track nine (“Big Boss Man”) delivers the gravelly vocals of the legendary Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. The last track on this album is a real toe-tapper, and one of the more popular blues songs to cover (“Got My Mojo Workin'”). Would I buy this album? Most likely. And I would definitely go to a live concert – God willin'. And that's my two nickels' worth........................Nick


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’ Wolfe, Elmore James, Jimmy Reed, Junior Wells, Big Joe Williams, and Big Mama Thornton 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 (Redd 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.

The Man:

・ Mac Arnold – songwriter (tracks 1,2,3,5), vocals, gas can guitar, bass

The Band:

・ Austin Brashier – songwriter (tracks 1,2,3,5), guitar, vocals

・ Max Hightower – songwriter (tracks 1,2,3,5), guitar, keyboards, harmonica, vocals

・ Dan Keylon – songwriter (tracks 1,2,3,5), bass, vocals

・ Mike Whitt – songwriter (tracks 1,2,3,5), drums, percussion

The Guest Musicians:

・ “Steady Rollin” Bob Margolin – rhythm, solo guitar, vocals (tracks 4, 6-10)

・ Charles Twilly– alto saxophone (tracks 3, 4, 5)

・ “Fabulous” Kim Wilson – harmonica, lead vocal (track 8)

・ Willie “Big Eyes” Smith – drums, lead vocal (track 9)

The Songs:

1. Gitty Up

2. Back Bone And Gristle

3. True To You

4. Drivin' Wheel

5. Ghetto Blue

6. Screamin' And Cryin'

7. Sloppy Drunk

8. Love Attack

9. Big Boss Man

10. Got My Mojo Workin'

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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