Saturday, December 22, 2012

Muddy Waters at Newport 1960

C'mon, this is Muddy Waters live in 1960 - of course you should own it! Muddy was asked to participate in the fledgling Newport Jazz Festival (the first outdoor festival in the United States) on the basis of his fantastic early recordings and the power of his then-current band, who blew away Atlantic Records VP Nesuhi Ertegun at Chicago club Smitty's and insisted that they be added.

Muddy is backed by none other than James Cotton (harp), Pat Hare (guitar), Otis Spann (piano), Andrew Stephenson (bass) and Francey Clay on drums. This is the band that also recorded the studio tracks added here - the legendary "Tiger in Your Tank", "Soon Forgotten", "I Got My Brand on You" (all included in the live set) as well as "Meanest Woman". Waters used the festival to promote these recent recordings, as well as highlighting his hits "Hootchie Cootchie Man", "Baby Please Don't Go", "I Feel So Good" and "I Got My Mojo Working", which worked up the crowd so much that the band was brought back to play it again!

The previous night, young concert goers got a bit over zealous in the town of Newport and riot police were called in - I'm sure that was a first for this small town - and so this Sunday afternoon blues segment was that end of the festival and it wouldn't be repeated for another two years. MC & poet Langston Hughes spontaneously wrote "Goodbye Newport Blues", handed it to Spann at the end of the set and Otis sang this as a farewell to the festival.

This is Muddy doing what he does best - ok, it's not the all-star band with Willie Dixon, Little Water, etc., but pretty damn great none-the-less - and this helped propel his new career in front of white audiences that lasted the rest of his life. Fine stuff!