da Mudcats Blues Band
da Mudcats

Reviewed by Paul Moffett

I usually approach the review of a local band's recording with relish - and sometimes mustard and onion to help it go down.

In the case of da Mudcats epynonymous first release, no additional garnishes are necessary. All the spice this music requires comes with the dish.

Before I give up on the food metaphors, let me ring in with my defense - the traditional "Too Much Barbeque" has vocalist Sue O'Neil defending her eating habits, and, after all, fried catfish is a Delta delicacy.

Push the table back. You can get your fill of those Mudcat blues here, from the very tradional blues - "Rollin' Stone" - to the above-mentioned "Barbeque" to familiar Mudcat originals including "Two Man Blue," a composition by O'Neil and harmonica meister Jim Rosen, and "Don't Blame the Blues," written by O'Neil and guitarist Rob Pickett.

This is not to say that this tape is an unrelenting paean to roots blues. Da Mudcats are a very steadily working bar band, perhaps the most steadily working such band in Louisville. The effects of many, many nights of playing to please diverse audiences show in the extended solo efforts by Pickett on guitar and Rosen on harmonica, which occasionally wander away from strict blues licks into something that might even be called - gasp - rock, perhaps with a jazz influence.

Rosen's harmonica-playing, already recognized around the town as top-flight, helps to drive the melodies over the solidly in-the-pocket rhythm section of Larry Holt on bass and Gene Wickliffe on drums. O'Neil's vocals play a significant part in defining da Mudcats' sound, which might be partly described as a consistent tendency to resolve to the flatted third rather than the root.

Studio engineer Jeff Carpenter is to be commended for accurately capturing the live sound and feel of the group, which is just what a working group should strive for in making a tape to sell to current and future fans. Perhaps tunes off this tape will show up on the occasional blues radio show and that would be nice, but the chances are that it will be da Mudcats' fans who will buy this tape.

Who knows, though? Like rumors of great food in very out-of-the-way places, word gets around and so do locally produced tapes. Perhaps a copy or two will make its way to one of the blues labels.

Hey, why don't you buy two and send one to Bruce Iglauer at Alligator?