Raisin’ Music Records proudly announces the release of “MUDDY WATERS 100” on JULY 24, 2015.
This officially authorized centennial tribute to Muddy Waters, “MUDDY WATERS 100” is a once-in-a-lifetime CD that celebrates, commemorates and contributes to the musical legacy of this American icon. Produced by 2X Grammy nominated producer Larry Skoller (“Heritage Blues Orchestra”/ “Chicago Blues: A Living History”), the CD is contained in a collectible CD-sized hard-cover book with 48 pages illustrated with black and white photography by some of the greatest photographers of Muddy’s time. Also included is an original essay by Robert Gordon, Grammy-winning author of the definitive Muddy Waters biography “Can’t Be Satisfied – The Life and Times of Muddy Waters”.
“MUDDY WATERS 100” includes 15 newly recorded tracks featuring Muddy Waters Band alumni and many of today’s most preeminent American blues and roots artists including JOHN PRIMER, GARY CLARK JR., JAMES COTTON, KEB’ MO’, JOHNNY WINTER, DEREK TRUCKS, BOB MARGOLIN, BILLY BRANCH and SHEMEKIA COPELAND backed by some of the greatest musicians on the Chicago blues scene including The Living History Band featuring Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith (drums — son of longtime Muddy drummer Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith), Johnny Iguana (keyboards), Felton Crews (bass) and Billy Flynn (guitar).
Vocalist/guitarist JOHN PRIMER, who played with Muddy until his death in 1983, is recognized as one of today’s most crucial keepers of the Chicago blues flame. For “MUDDY WATERS 100”, Primer gives a deeply personal tribute to the man he knew so very well. Other distinguished Muddy Waters alumni on this recording include harmonica legend JAMES COTTON and guitarist BOB MARGOLIN (who played alongside Muddy for 7 years and was very close to the man and his music. The late great blues guitarist/producer JOHNNY WINTER played on the song “I’m Ready” for this album just a few weeks before he passed away in July 2014. (“I’m Ready” is the title track from Muddy’s Grammy-winning album produced by Winter back in 1978 — one of two albums that Winter produced for Muddy in the late ’70s. Cotton & Margolin also played on the Winter-produced “I’m Ready” album). Along with Muddy alumni, this gathering of some of the most preeminent blues and roots artists of today makes this tribute truly a landmark celebration. Billy Branch, Gary Clark, Jr., Shemekia Copeland, Keb Mo’ and Derek Trucks embody the spirit of this project: that for a tradition to survive, it must be passed on through generations and must remain in a constant state of evolution by redefining itself in a contemporary context. By pushing the boundaries of this music, as Muddy did in his time, and with their own original voices and stories, these artists are helping to give the blues its future.
It could be argued that Muddy Waters has had more influence on the sound of American popular music than any other single artist of the 20th century. “MUDDY WATERS 100” is a centennial celebration of his musical legacy, his iconic sound and his immeasurable contribution to and influence on American music. Driven by a deep respect for this master of the blues and for the blues traditions that spawned his talent, “MUDDY WATERS 100” tributes the past, embraces the present and recognizes the bright future of the blues for which Muddy paved the way. In the spirit of his legacy, “MUDDY WATERS 100” puts the spotlight on the inextricable mix of old and new school that Muddy left in his wake. The newly recorded songs on this album represent the various periods and styles of Muddy’s musical path, from his 1941 recordings on Stovall plantation in Mississippi to his arrival in Chicago and subsequent evolution during the 1940s and 1950s, including his pioneering electric guitar sound at the Chess Records studios. By design, this album has not taken a strictly archival approach in its treatments of Muddy’s songs. Some tracks are handled traditionally; there are also contemporary treatments and new arrangements that focus on today’s sounds. Whether it be rock, pop, rap, hip-hop, the tube electronics of the earliest five-watt amplifiers or digital samples, drum loops and electronica — in one way or another these sounds all lead back to Muddy Waters.
“Muddy Waters would be a hundred years old today…The whole story of the blues can be heard, felt, and learned in the life of Muddy Waters…Born April 4, 1915…in the soggy part of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, this mannish boy would soon move north in the delta with his grandmother to Stovall Farms, near where the train lines crossed in Clarksdale, and from there to Chicago. He absorbed the rhythm and feel of the south until it was part of his bones, electrifying that sound in the industrial north. His 1958 trip to England planted ideas there that would awaken America to its indigenous sounds. Muddy’s music ignited a cultural revolution…from the brutal and fertile fields of Mississippi, he changed the world. The tiller of the soil became the definer of a nation, the symbol of freedom. Muddy’s achievement is emblematic of American democracy, the ultimate triumph of the dirt farmer, bringing respect to the disrespected. He did it with his guitar and with his voice, touching emotions that touched traditions. A century has passed, but we are still building on the foundation that Muddy Waters established, his sound and style still going strong. His influence is everywhere around us.” (from Robert Gordon’s liner notes essay)
The whole story of the blues can be heard, felt, and learned in the life of Muddy Waters. Born April 4, 1915 (or maybe 1913) in the soggy part of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, this mannish boy would soon move north in the delta with his grandmother to Stovall Farms, near where the train lines crossed in Clarksdale, and from there to Chicago. He absorbed the rhythm and feel of the south until it was part of his bones, electrifying that sound in the industrial north. His 1958 trip to England planted ideas there that would awaken America to its indigenous sounds. Muddy’s music ignited a cultural revolution, instilling pride in a people who’d been despised, establishing esteem for the people of a dirt farming culture that had been respected less than the land they worked.
Had Muddy Waters been born half a century earlier into slavery, or half a century later when the Civil Rights Movement was raging, his living conditions would not have been much different. The delta land itself rebels against change; when the seasons move from cold to warm, tornados wreak havoc, one wind battling for change, the other for the status quo. When Muddy came of age, even the music was roiling, with the blues taking shape when Anglo-Scottish ballad traditions were picked up by African-American string bands, the dominant form in black music—groups led by violins and banjos with mandolins and guitars playing two-chord breakdowns.
A generation has been born and matured since his death, and the testament to Muddy’s endurance is his power over those who are experiencing a world he never knew. His legacy is as strong as it’s ever been. His culture, the blues culture, considered dirt by his social superiors, had an impact in the 20th century that ranks alongside the heavyweights. Duke Ellington evokes a cosmopolitan sophistication. Harry Belafonte’s catalog captures the breadth of African influence on Western song. Louis Armstrong conjures America’s melting pot. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones built on the blues. Muddy’s music brought respect to a spurned culture. His music spawned the triumphant voice of angry people demanding change.
Today, that voice is everywhere. Rock and roll, hip hop, TV commercials for blue jeans, hamburgers and sneakers—the blues has gone more than mainstream, it has become the basic language of modern music, a vehicle for commerce—and there’s no greater sign of acceptance than being co-opted by commerce. Blues is today embraced and adored by the children of those who, for decades and centuries, spurned the music, the people and the culture of the blues. Muddy Waters was the flag bearer for this music, the man who brought it across the tracks, across the oceans, into houses where it sounded like a foreign language until the day has come when it is a universal language. […]