I have been doing interviews to help promote the North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland every year since this award-winning gathering has been in existence and have chatted with a lot of top-notch blues acts. This year, I’m extremely excited and honored to have interviewed Muddy Waters’ eldest son, Mud Morganfield, who will perform from 1:45 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 15 (for a complete line-up of acts please go to northatlanticbluesfestival.com). Reached at his home in Chicago, the soft-spoken singer and bass player was more than happy to relate his personal story of growing up with one of the most influential blues performers ever.

Q: Have you ever performed in Maine before?

Morganfield: I have but it’s been a few years since then.

Q: Have you ever played at the North Atlantic Blues Festival?

Morganfield: No, this is my first time there. I’m looking forward to it. I have a band up there that my booking agent set up for me. I’m a little nervous about that, but other than that, I am looking forward to that show. What else can you do but the best you can do?

Q: That’s all any of us can do, that’s for sure. Now, you have a new album that’s just come out?

Morganfield: Yes, and it’s called “They Call Me Mud.” I wrote 10 songs and two more are my dad’s. Out of respect for my dad I always do a song or two on my albums — that’s the norm for me.

Q: Well, he certainly wrote a lot himself.

Morganfield: He did, yeah he did.

Q: In fact, I have his “Anthology” set here with me now. It’s a three-CD set that came out a while ago.

Morganfield: Is that the Chess box?

Q: No, it’s on Not Now Music — it’s a U.K. release.

Morganfield: Oh, that’s cool.

Q: Yeah, it’s got 75 songs on it.

Morganfield: Wow, I didn’t know they did that. I hope the estate knows about it.

Q: Well, it came out in 2011.

Morganfield: Oh, yeah? I’m sure that they do know about it then.

Q: Now, when you perform out, like you’ll be doing in Rockland, do you cover some of your father’s songs?

Morganfield: Well, I mean, I do that stuff so well and it’s been such a big part of my career. I usually mix it up 50-50: 50 of my dad’s and 50 of my stuff, just to give it a little flavor. One of the reasons I took on this career, you remember, is that there’s a lot of people, a lot of college kids, who heard about my dad, but didn’t get a chance to see him perform, so my wish was to give them a glimpse of what it would have been like to hear my dad.

Q: Was it a bit daunting for you to follow in his footsteps?

Morganfield: Well, it is. On one side you have some people who will go, “Okay, let me see what he’s got” or “We’ve heard Muddy.” And the other side is that I was fortunate enough to have some pipes like his, you know? You know you can’t do anything about the critics, you can never get rid of those, you know what I’m saying?

Q: Now, back to your band for the NABF show, you said that your booking agent will set it up for you?

Morganfield: He already did that and they’re from there, so it won’t be my Chicago band, like my dad’s, with Rick Kreher and Billy Flynn, people like that.

Q: Do you send them a set list of what you’re going to do and they prepare for it?

Morganfield: Oh, no, they didn’t have that. They have some clippings and some information they may need. I gave them my phone number so they could call me if they needed something, then cross our fingers (chuckle).

Q: Well, the blues is as much about the emotion behind it as it is the music itself.

Morganfield: Well, for me blues is totally emotions — totally. I mean, from R&B to church to jazz, it’s an emotion.

Q: Now, did you see a lot of your father on the performing end of things?

Morganfield: I saw quite a bit of him playing. He’d be rehearsing, playing stuff, sitting around working on new material. I came up in the Motown era, the Stax era, the Barry White era, that was also the music for me. I liked soulful sounds, I heard it on the radio at home and at school.

Q: Was your father very supportive of you following in his footsteps?

Morganfield: He supported all his children and it was his life-long dream to have some of his kids perform, and that’s what we did.

Q: So, you have a feeling that probably he would be very pleased with the way things are going for you?

Morganfield: Oh, no doubt about that — yeah, no doubt about it.

Q: Is there anything, sir, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Morganfield: Well, I’d just like to say something to the younger musicians coming up and that would be: Don’t believe the hype — you don’t need a drug or alcohol to make you sound better. You may think you sound good in the beginning, but in the end you’re sure going to sound horrible. A lot of kids, and a lot of the adults, too, are influenced by something like that that will make you better in music, better at school, better in life and that stuff’s a lie. The only thing you need is your own natural talent — that’s all. I grew up on the streets of Chicago, man, and have seen these young people and they just don’t know, Lucky, until you tell them: “You don’t need a shot of Granddaddy, you don’t need a joint of reefer, you don’t need anything to sound better!” And the sooner they get that the better off they’re going to be. We’ve lost so many people — Elvis Presley, Prince, Michael Jackson — we’ve lost people, man, who felt they needed that stuff to perform but the end result is always the same! So that’s the message I’d like to pass on.

Lucky Clark has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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