JOSEPH “MOJO” MORGANFIELD RELEASES DEBUT EP MOJO RISIN’
MUDDY WATERS’ YOUNGEST SON TAKES HIS RIGHTFUL PLACE AMONG CHICAGO BLUES ROYALTY
To say Chicago blues king Muddy Waters was a prolific presence is an understatement. Two of his offspring are already keeping his blues legacy alive with their dynamic performances and recordings, and now Muddy’s youngest son, Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield, proves he’s a chip off the old block too with his exciting debut EP, Mojo Risin’.
Produced by Michael Freeman (whose brilliant resume includes helming the Grammy-winning 2010 album Joined at the Hip for Muddy band alumni Pinetop Perkins and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith), the four-song disc opens with two brand-new numbers written by Terry Abrahamson (who wrote for Muddy himself during Waters’ Chess Records days) and Derrick Procell. “Let’s Play Chess” pays clever homage to the hallowed luminaries that recorded for the legendary Chicago label. “It’s a tribute to all the Chess greats—Muddy, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Etta James,” says Mojo, whose powerful pipes resonate impressively throughout the self-released EP.
Abrahamson and Procell’s other original on the set, “Mississippi Found Me,” hit even closer to home for Joseph. “I actually connected with that song right away when I heard it,” he says. “That song pretty much fits what I came through and what I’ve become, how the blues found me. I really love that song.” Mike Wheeler adds lead guitar on the track.
Backed by a stellar musical crew that includes guitarist Rick Kreher of Muddy’s last band and Maurice John Vaughn, a celebrated recording artist in his own right, on keyboards, Mojo establishes himself as a prime purveyor of his late dad’s deep catalog repertoire with the two remaining songs on the EP. He and the romping “Can’t Get No Grindin’” go back a long way. “There’s a story behind that song. When I first moved in with my dad, back in third grade in 1973, I took that 45 to school for show and tell!” laughs Mojo. “That’s actually one of the first songs I learned of my dad’s. That was my show and tell, ‘Can’t Get No Grindin’.’ I played it for the class. I don’t think none of us really understood it. We liked the groove of it though!”
“Who’s Gonna Be Your Sweet Man” harks back even further in Muddy’s vast canon and was ripe for Mojo’s sizzling revival. “It’s one that people don’t talk about a lot,” he says. ‘I didn’t want to do ‘Got My Mojo Working’ or ‘Mannish Boy’ or ‘Hoochie Coochie Man.’ I was trying to find songs that people hadn’t heard in a while, or don’t even know. So that’s the reason we chose ‘Sweet Man.’”
Although he got a late start on his singing career, Mojo has been making up for lost time with impressive results. “I’ve been around it with my dad, and I’ve been going to different sessions to support my brothers Big Bill and Mud,” he says. “I’m tired of being on the sidelines. I knew I just couldn’t jump right into it. I had to put in some work, some training, some lessons. It’s been two years of voice lessons and practicing at home every day.”
All that effort has clearly paid off for Morganfield, whose nickname comes naturally. “My dad, his closing song was ‘Got My Mojo Working.’ So during his closing song, he would let me come onstage and sing that song with him,” he explains. “That was the only song I got to do, and he would get mad when I’d take the mic and walk away from him! But that song always stuck with me.”
It’s a safe bet that Mojo Risin’—and the commanding new voice of Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield--will stick with Chicago blues aficionados for a long time to come.
2018 Taste of Westmont
Son of Muddy Waters will be the featured artist along with Muddy's last guitarist Rick Kreher. Last year at the Westmont Festival, Joseph and Eddy Clearwater had the crowd up on their feet, dancing and singing, "Got My Mojo Working". Come sing along with Joseph "Mojo" Morganfield in tribute to both his father Muddy Water and Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater
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