When people say, “Memphis blues ain’t what it used to be,” they haven’t heard the Daddy Mack Blues Band. All of its members at one time or another played in the Fieldstones, one of the most talked-about urban blues bands since the 1970s. Led by Mack Orr on lead guitar and vocals, this four-piece group is down-home and funky, and the best band around for cuttin’ loose on a Saturday night. Their raw approach to blues is something too often missing in contemporary blues. Since 1998, they have been the house band at the Center For Southern Folklore on Beale Street, where thousands of tourists from all corners of the world have experienced their natural and soulful musical blend. They have also toured across the country, from Huntsville to Las Vegas, and played in Europe.
Howard Stovall, executive director of The Blues Foundation, was a special guest at the 1999 CD release of Daddy Mack’s 1st CD, Fix It When I Can, and isn’t shy about expressing who he thinks is carrying the torch in Memphis blues. At a Foundation party in April of 1999, Rolling Stones Keith Richards and Ron Wood sat in with the band and, as the story goes, they were able to keep up musically, but no one was shouting to hear “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” either.
Daddy Mack’s new album, Slow Ride, has been released recently to critical acclaim. It is a new twist on the old adage that rock and rock came from the blues. On Slow Ride, Daddy and the band perform blues versions of rock hits, from Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight” to Carlos Santana’s “Black Magic Woman.” His recent success at the Chicago Blues Festival is a testament that he might be on to something here.
From barbecue dives in Mississippi to Paris, France, Daddy Mack has “been there done that.” He isn’t too shy to play a party for a gathering of governors from all across the United States or to walk right into the middle of a crowd with his wireless and play guitar licks while his sweat drips right onto the shoes of hollerin’ blues fans. Daddy Mack is not only doing his part to keep the blues alive for the 21st Century, he’s not compromising what he thinks blues is supposed to be – fun, and with the right balance of showmanship and good music.
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