Daddy Mack Blues Band

Daddy Mack Blues Band
Bluestones

Inside Sounds ISC-0529

By Karen Nugent
April 2007

Mississippi-born Daddy Mack Orr was working as an auto mechanic in North Memphis when he heard an Albert King song on shop’s radio. Although he dabbled in blues in his younger years, he was motivated enough by the King song to rush out and buy a guitar and amp at a local pawnshop.

His musical ability quickly saw him sitting in at Memphis juke joints in the late 80s and early 90s. This album, the band’s third, follows a huge second release, Slow Ride.

Bluestones starts out appropriately enough – as Orr still works part-time in his garage - with “Shade Tree Mechanic,” a sexually charged (“I’ll solve all of the problems under your hood”) terrific opener.

The album is a knock-down blues winner, with just one non-bluesy song – an original Orr ballad called “Savin’ My Love.”

Well, that’s not counting the bonus track cover of Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad,” which is kind of weird, but has been severely modified into a pleasant little Delta Christmas carol, complete with harp. (It turns out Orr practices Spanish by listening to a local Mexican radio station while working in his garage.)

Bluestones,recorded in the summer of 2006,features soulful Memphis and Stax Records influenced sound, with four originals, along with excellent covers of Booker T. and the MGs’ “Slim Jenkins Joint,” an instrumental; and Sam Cooke’s “That’s Where It’s At.”

The 12-track disc captures the original sound of The Fieldstones, a legendary Memphis juke band that Mack Orr first sat in with after he got his guitar.

Orr aptly handles lead vocals, with no silly frills, and fiery lead guitar, on most songs. He is backed magnificently by brothers James and Harold Bonner, on rhythm guitar and bass; William Faulkner (no, not that one!) on drums, and guest Charlie Wood on organ and piano.

The album was produced by Memphis-based Billy Gibson, who plays the harp on “Feliz Navidad.”

My favorite song on the disc is simply called “A Real Good One.”

And it is.

Written by Orr, it’s a slow, emotional blues with classic Chicago-style guitar responses and solos.

“Royal Shade of Blues” is an ode to hard work - choppin’ cotton in a hot Mississippi field – and the relief brought by playing the blues. Again, Orr excels on stop time guitar licks.

Another Orr original, the instrumental “Stone Blues” highlights his guitar style.

“Plain Man,” written by James Bonner, is a lively, rocking blues. He sparkles again on another original, the funk-laced “Stop Giving My Love Away.”

“It’s Gonna Be a Good Day,” is a highly danceable juke-style tune, about a woman’s promise of what will happen later on.

“Razor Blade,” another Orr original, has a heavy, driving beat, and revolves around loving a woman whose name he didn’t seem to know.

The disc includes a 10-minute bonus video clip of the band working in the studio with Gibson. Orr is also the subject of an hour-long documentary to be telecast later this year. The band performed last year at the Chicago Blues Festival, and at the prestigious Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival, formerly the King Biscuit Blues Festival.

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