Mudcat and The Atlanta Horns at Darwin’s Feb. 6: A Love Letter
If you have ever seen Mudcat and the Atlanta Horns, then your eyes light up and your heart lifts a bit just hearing their name. Being in the same room with them is like being touched by a very special sort of musical magic.
Atlanta magazine, in an excellent article this month by Barry Yeoman, mentioned Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck’s “puckish energy.” When he performs with The Atlanta Horns, as he did Saturday night at Darwins in Marietta, you multiply that positive, mischievous, loving energy proportionately.
Mudcat made my evening before the music even started. I had given him a copy of Southern Crossroads: Georgia Blues as soon as he arrived; I have been saving it for him for over a month, because he helped me so much with stories for the book. When he took the stage to greet everyone, he exclaimed, “I am so proud! Proud of us, proud of this club for winning the Keeping the Blues Award. and proud of Rhetta. How about that book?”
‘It made me feel warm all over. That is what Mudcat does. He makes everybody feel happy and warm and part of a big blues family.
Watching Mudcat and the Atlanta Horns perform is like watching a really good comedy team who also happen to be superb musicians. The banter between band members and between them and the audience keeps everyone entertained, and then the music lifts you up and blows your blues away..
The band started out by playing the songs from their latest recording, While You Were Away, in its entirety from start to finish. They explained that they were playing the “LP” version, just so that when they finished “Side A,” Little Joe could have “a beautiful woman,” in this case his wife, come up to the stage and say “turn me over.”
After playing the entire LP faithfully(if you version came with onstage chatter and a bit of goofy choreography,) the band took a short break. I bought the album (even though I already have the CD and streaming audio but I love vinyl) and then I went to sign a book. As I did that, I noticed that a couple of people were getting albums signed and thought, “Oh yeah, I should do that too.” Mudcat borrowed my nearly worn out Sharpie to sign with and I felt like a teenager as I and another woman attempted to get every single band member’s signature (except for keyboardist Chad Mason, who wasn’t there.)
When the band took the stage again, Mudcat held up my book and in his best preacher’s voice, requested the “congregation” to open to page 23, the chapter on Curley Weaver. The band then launched into “No-No Blues,” first made famous by Weaver. After that, Little Joe Burton started singing, “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven,” and then stepped off the stage into the audience with his trombone and launched into an impassioned, extended solo. “I understand you!” a man in the audience cried out at one point. “We don’t’,” came the joking rejoinder from the horn section.
When Burton returned to the stage, it was nearly midnight and time for us to leave. We had to skirt the stage to get out the door, and as we passed various band members reached out to bump fists or clasp hands. Then Mudcat looked over and exclaimed “There she goes! Bye, Rhetta, we love you!” “I look you guys, too,” I called back.
As we reached the porch, we heard Mudcat say, “Hey, Esquil, look behind you!:) Esquil is the drummer.And they launched into “I Sw Her Standing There.”
“That’s not fair!” I declared, as we stood on the cold porch watching through the window and then had a short impromptu dance in the parking lot before reaching the car and reluctantly driving away.
It was a night of magic, laughter and love. What more could anyone ever want from a concert? Do your heart a favor and go see Mudcat and The Atlanta Horns. It will do you good.