The Sons of Mudboy perform their variation of W. C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues” also known as “Mr. Crump Don’t Allow It Here” at the Sid Selvidge Tribute Concert at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park, 6/25/13
The band Sons of Mudboy AKA Three-Legged Dog is the logical outgrowth of the super Memphis group Mudboy and the Neutrons, which I have discussed at length in the past. Sons of Mudboy consists of Steve Selvidge, Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson and Paul Taylor, and as such was the perfect group to close out Tuesday night’s celebration of the life and work of Steve’s dad Sid Selvidge. The band played an acoustic set, which was followed by a fairly lengthy documentary about Sid Selvidge in which the late singer-songwriter discussed the impact of Furry Lewis and Black culture on his music, and also where he discussed the origins of the name Mudboy and the Neutrons. Then the band Son of Mudboy came back out and closed out this most important night of Memphis music with a final electric set.
“The Dark End of the Street” is a classic Memphis soul song written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman that is forever associated with the legendary Memphis soul singer James Carr. Although there have been a number of covers over the years, few have surpassed the Carr version for sheer intensity and pathos. Son of Mudboy’s version Wednesday night was impressive, however, as they demonstrated clearly how Memphis’ style of indie rock is really infused with blues and soul.
Son of Mudboy performing Furry Lewis’ “Casey Jones” live at their Mingelwood Hall gig on Wednesday, April 3, 2013. This version of “Casey Jones” is also sometimes called “On The Road Again” or “Natural Born Eastman”, and paints a rather different image of the railroad hero than the traditional ballad. The origin of the term is obscure (perhaps deriving from “easy man”) but in old Black slang, an “eastman” was a pimp, and Furry Lewis emphasized Jones as a ladies man and rambler rather than a traditional hero.
I never got to hear Mudboy and the Neutrons in person, the rather bizarre Memphis supergroup consisting of Jim Dickinson, Lee Baker, Jimmy Crosthwait and Sid Selvidge, but I have been fortunate enough to hear their records. The spirit of Mudboy lives on in the form of Son of Mudboy, formerly Three-Legged Puppy, consisting of Luther and Cody Dickinson, Steve Selvidge and Paul Taylor. At their Minglewood Hall performance last night, Son of Mudboy performed traditional songs like “Casey Jones on the Road Again AKA Natural Born Eastman”, “Didn’t We Shake Sugaree”, “The Dark End of the Street” and “Going to Brownsville”, all songs that would be familiar to anyone who has heard the recorded works of Mudboy and the Neutrons. The rousing second set closed with Jim Dickinson’s feel-good call to civic revolution “Power to the People”, with its famous line “Lucille was there, but Beale Street was gone.” The crowd of a hundred or so demanded an encore, and the band obliged with the slow and mournful drug ballad “Codine” and a final joyful reading of “Hey, Bo Diddley.” Son of Mudboy will appear each Wednesday at Minglewood Hall during the month of April, starting at 8 PM.
Coinciding with the International Blues Challenge, the Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street sponsored a Memphis Blues Showcase on Saturday, featuring an afternoon and evening line-up of local blues talent, including a new blues power trio called Blooz Emergency, featuring musicians who are also a part of Paul Taylor’s band Merrymobile. Their set was an interesting mix of traditional blues and roots rock, including a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand”.