BluesWax Spotlight On
Darwin’s Hamburgers and Blues
June 9, 2112
By Gary Weeks
For many years in Georgia, Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck has held court at Atlanta’s Northside Tavern presenting his Americana style of blues. He doesn’t come to Darwin’s in Marietta very often and for those who don’t want to make the long trek into the city, this is the best opportunity to see him.
Only Mudcat can get away with entering the rear of the club with his band in tow playing “Down By The Riverside” in a Dixieland jazz style. This was surely a crowd pleaser and the best antidote to getting the party started.
Mudcat is quite the package, between joking with band members on stage, engaging the crowd, going out into the audience and playing to the ladies, there is never a dull moment and if you’re like this journalist, you’ll find yourself snapping pictures like crazy because this is definitely something of a hootenanny to watch.
From the various spots I poised myself in the club, it didn’t look like Dudeck uses a set list. Mudcat’s take on other material, as well as his own, comes from Americana and has its roots in blues, Zydeco, Dixieland, and folk music which sets him apart from other artists who are content to crank out the same blues clichés that can wear out their welcome. In my experiences of seeing Mudcat he never plays the same exact set list, which makes him a pleasure to see and certainly a role model for other Atlanta musicians who should take note that spontaneity and unpredictability are the key elements in what makes people want to see you and never grow tired because your live gigs are telephoned in without inspiration at all.
Dudeck can stand on the stage and dish out hot licks on his Gibson guitars all night long, but he remains generous in giving his band members plenty of solo space, particularly the Atlanta Horns led by trombonist Lil’ Joe Burton, who’s so animated on stage that you can’t help but be taken in by his jocularity. There’s no denying that bass player Shannon Kirk is eye candy but the kid is a damn good bass player and added strong vocal harmonies in the mix.
Mudcat certainly honors the forefathers of American roots music. That’s not to say he won’t pull a multi-colored rabbit out of his hat. In the second set, the lead vocals got turned over to drummer Eskil Wetterqvist, who led the band through the old Beatles hit “I Saw Her Standing There,” only this didn’t stick to the Fab Four’s rendition. With horn solos and everything else, this became a loose jam that even the Moptops themselves couldn’t approach.
When the third set happened, a great majority of the crowd had decided to call it a night. The few who remained were still treated to Mudcat preaching the gospel and utilizing the spirit of the tent revival.
Finally “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life” was an optimistic way of closing it all out. That’s certainly inherent in Mudcat’s take on things. And for people new to the blues scene in Atlanta, Mudcat is a great introduction to a time portal of when roots music was important and really mattered.
Gary Weeks is a contributing writer at BluesWax.
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