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Fri, Oct. 18

Blues to salute a blues legend

The finest of blues will twang at the Yavapai College Performance Hall with the "Tribute to Muddy Waters" band at 7:30 p.m. next Wednesday.

Tickets are $22 by calling 776-2033.

First assembled in 1993 for the 10th anniversary year of the great blues man's death, the "Tribute to Muddy Waters" band features several of the players who worked regularly with him, including Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson (guitar, vocals); Willie "Big Eyes" Smith (drums, vocals); Calvin "Fuzz" Jones (bass, vocals); Jerry Portnoy (harmonica, vocals); "Steady Rollin'" Bob Margolin (guitar, vocals).

New Orleans-based firebrand guitarist/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Thomas King, will also perform with the group at Yavapai College.

King was a major player in Joel and Ethan Coen's film "O Brother, Where Art Thou." The soundtrack album, which includes King's "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues," was on the charts for 28 weeks and has now gone platinum. As a result, Carnegie Hall hosted a special concert featuring King.

These players have an acute, unrivaled feel for the timeless music created by (as Waters once called himself) "Stovall's famous guitar picker."

In 1996, "You're Going to Miss Me (When I'm Dead and Gone)," the band's Telarc CD, received a Grammy nomination as "Best Traditional Blues Album."

Born to Rolling Fork, Miss., sharecroppers, McKinley Morganfield (who came by the name "Muddy" as a child when his grandmother caught him playing in a sediment-filled Delta stream) was skilled as a harmonica player and guitarist by the time Library of Congress folklorist Alan Lomax caught up to him in 1941 on Stovall's Plantation in Clarksdale.

It was in Chicago during the mid-1940s that new arrival Waters got his hands on an electric guitar and started tearing up South Side taverns, turning Delta folk music into an amplified, driving force that had no precedent or rival.

Waters launched his recording career – assisted by all the members of his working electric band – with eloquent, droning singles for Aristocrat Records that pointed to his Delta homeland.

The Muddy Waters band packed vivid sensual excitement into 1950s R&B chart hits like "Hoochie Coochie Man," "I Just Want to Make Love to You," "Rock Me," "Got My Mojo Working" and "I'm Ready."

Waters received a great number of awards and appeared as a performer in film director Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz."

The late Muddy Waters (1915-1983) belongs to the elite of 20th century music muses, his manner of expression as simple and right as the break of dawn.

He suffered a fatal heart attack in 1983.

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