The past two editions of FNWGG have been (by necessity) somber in tone, so tonight I want to lighten the mood a little bit. What better way to brighten things up than with a harmonica, a washboard, random percussive elements, and some “Swamp Stomp”guitar pickin’? Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce…………………… the Chickasaw Mudd Puppies!!!
As their name suggests, these guys don’t take themselves too seriously, but they create really good and really fun music. They hail from Athens, Georgia from whence flows an endless stream of good musicians, and they are pals with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, who produced their first two albums: White Dirt in 1990 and 8 Track Stomp in 1991. After failing to garner much attention outside of Athens, the Puppies disbanded in 1992. Fortunately for all of us, they reconvened in 2011 with percussionist Alan Cowart joining original co-founders Brant Slay and Ben Reynolds. Brant handles the lead vocals, harmonica, washboard, cowbell and foot-stomping, while Ben wields the guitar and adds occasional vocals. Their Facebook page describes their sound as “Swamp Stomp” and “Backwoods Boogie,” and I don’t disagree with either of those. But rather than fool with arbitrary labels or a lame attempt by me to explain their music, just follow the links described below to check out Chickasaw Mudd Puppies for yourself.
This song “Night Time (Ain’t Got No Eyes)” is from their 8 Track Stomp album. There is no video with it, but not to worry—there is a photo of the album cover, and your contemplation of the various possible interpretations thereof should keep you busy for the entire minute and fifty-four seconds the song lasts. If you desire an additional minute and forty-two seconds to contemplate the album cover, click this link to “Superior.” If you want to see the band as they were in 1991 check out this two-fer—a video for “McIntosh” followed by a clip from CMP’s live studio performance on Canadian television. If you prefer to see the 2011 incarnation of Chickasaw Mudd Puppies, check out this live performance of “Omaha (Sharpless)” from the 2011 AthFest Music Festival.
As for tonight’s featured video, I have a real treat for you: “Frogmore” followed by “Cicada” recorded live at Home Team BBQ in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. Note that the stage is lit by three “drop lights”—you know, those things your uncle used when he was out in the garage at night changing the spark plugs on his Plymouth Fury. And what the hell is the percussive object Alan is playing during “Frogmore”? Is that a trucker’s coffee thermos? An oxygen cylinder? A tailpipe from Stomper? The handless Coppertone wall clock behind the stage is an added bonus for those of you who love American advertising iconography as much as Swamp Stomp and Backwoods Boogie. Pour yourself some moonshine in a Mason jar and stomp along, y’all.
Writer’s note: I had already submitted this week’s FNWGG before hearing of the death of Paul Kantner, guitarist and founder of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship. Although Kantner alone is not a large figure in the broad history of music, his band played a very important role during a brief but significant period in rock music as well as American pop culture. I will address this broader aspect of Kantner’s importance in next week’s edition.