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Mumbai gets the Muddy Waters blues

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Concert: Mud Morganfield
Artiste: Mud Morganfield
Venue and date: Tata Theatre, Mumbai, November 23
Genre: Blues
Rating: 8/ 10

The song everyone was waiting for came fifth during Mud Morganfield’s show on Saturday night. The Chicago bluesman had promised some big hits by his late father, the legendary Muddy Waters, and the Willie Dixon-penned ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ was a crowd favourite.

Strangely and sadly, only about 70 per cent of the Tata Theatre was occupied, even though the concert had been adequately advertised. Here was a chance to hear some seminal blues classics, popularised by one of the pioneers of the genre, and many missed a golden opportunity. A large section of the crowd belonged to the older generation, making one wonder whether the younger lot is into traditional blues at all, even though they attend modern blues-rock gigs.

Whatever the reason for the medium turn-out, the fact was that the 65-year-old American and his band, comprising artistes from the UK, provided some top-class music for around 90 minutes. Harmonica player Steve ‘West’ Weston and pianist Eric Ranzoni were consistently brilliant and displayed good showmanship, with the former using an assortment of blues-harps and the latter even playing the ivories with his feet a few times.

Guitarist Ronni Boysen had marvellous solos on the Muddy Waters songs ‘She’s Nineteen Years Old’ and the ballad ‘The Same Thing’. Ian Jennings, the bassist and drummer Brian O’Neill firmed up the rhythm section.

The other crowd favourite – the iconic ‘Mannish Boy’ co-written by Muddy Waters, Mel London and Bo Diddley – was reserved for the encore. And though Morganfield did a few of his own numbers, like ‘They Call Me Mud’ and ‘Catfishing’, the show was essentially a Muddy Waters tribute, with a sizeable chunk of songs written by Willie Dixon.

The Waters classics also included ‘Blow Wind Blow’, I Want To Be Loved’, ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’, ‘I Don’t Know Why’, ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ and ‘Got My Mojo Workin’. Sheer nostalgia.

The show was organised as a build-up to the golden jubilee celebrations of the National Centre for the Performing Arts. In his trendy black suit, black tie and patent leather shoes, and similar facial features, Morganfield looked a lot like his father, as though he was playing in the 1950s blues clubs. He constantly wiped his perspiration with a large handkerchief, and though he mostly sat on a stool while singing, he suddenly got up and did a few dance steps.

Morganfield has released four solo albums with Severn Records, including For Pops, a Muddy Waters tribute featuring Kim Wilson on blues-harp. Hopefully, he will play more of his originals on his next visit, and there will be better attendance and more enthusiasm.

 

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Narendra Kusnur

Author: Narendra Kusnur

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