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Interview with blues singer Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield – Muddy Waters‘ youngest son is a rising star on the Chicago blues scene.
How has the Blues music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?
Having Blues at an early age, seeing my father’s trials and tribulations, seeing current events happening in the world…the Blues has made me stronger, with a thick skin, I have learned to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
How do you describe your music philosophy and songbook? What was the hardest part to be Muddy’s son?
My music is definitely influenced by my father, with a more up to date approach. I don’t necessarily like “old fashioned” Blues – I think Blues can be a happy song as well.
The high expectations of being Muddy’s son – people compare me to Muddy. They need to realize there is only one Muddy Waters. I am trying to make a way for Mojo Morganfield.
Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Bob Margolin – knowing him as a kid and performing with him as an adult – we have an unbreakable bond.
Best advise was from my father – he taught me to be true to myself – to be me – people are going to like you or they’re not but you have to be true to yourself.
What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
I miss the stories and comraderies – when a musician was a musician and didn’t have to be in your band to perform on stage. I miss traveling with my band – now there are bands waiting for you. My dad would have never gone for that. His band went everywhere with him.
That the Blues will continue – we need to reach out to youth, to continue to find and encouraged young talent.
Why do you think that Delmark Records continues to generate such a devoted following?
It is the oldest American Jazz/Blues record label, and its right here in Chicago. With that recognition they can reach a lot of people. That is why I chose Delmark to release my new single “It’s Good to be King”.
What would you say characterizes Chicago blues scene in comparison to other US local scenes and circuits?
Chicago Blues is the capital of Blues – founded in Mississippi, but different in St Louis and Tennessee, made more of an urban sound in Chicago. My dad changed the dynamics – Chicago doesn’t use horns, we use a harp instead. Two guitars, a rhythm and a lead, we added a piano. That’s the Chicago way.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?
Always have a rehearsal with a new band. Encourage others – especially younger – you never know who is the next Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, or Howling Wolf. Stay humble.
What is the impact of Blues on the racial and socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?
The Blues changed. When my father was a young man the blues was a black audience, but when Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, and Johnny Winters introduced the world to my father the Blues became white overnight. But the Blues is the foundation of music and crosses cultural borders – no boundaries – meaning age or race.
Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?
1941 – Clarksdale MS to the day Alan Lomax recorded a young Muddy Waters for the Library of Congress. I also want to find Robert Johnson to see how great he was.
Interview By Michael Limnios / Photos by Connie Carroll
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