The 8th annual Atlanta Arts Festival is quickly approaching! FanBolt had the chance to speak with blues artists Danny ‘Mudcat’ Dudeck and Mudcat band member Shannon Kirk, who’ll be performing at the event this weekend.
Mudcat the band, as well as its namesake, have been performing for years and have cemented their place as Atlanta staples. If you want to catch them outside of this weekend’s Arts Festival, all you have to do is take a trip to Northside Tavern on a Wednesday night, where Danny has been performing since he proposed the blues format to the owner in the 80s.
Band members include: Daniel ‘Mudcat’ Dudeck (Guitar, Lead Vocal); Eskil Wetterqvist (Drums, Rubboard, Vocals); Lil’ Joe Burton (Trombone); Shannon Kirk (Bass, Vocals); David Evans ( Guitar, Flute, Bass, Vocals); Chad Mason (Keyboards); Mico Bowles (Trumpet) and Daryl Dunn (Saxophone).
The band is such a wide array of people from different age groups and backgrounds…How did you all find each other?
Danny: Well, this is originally my group but I also am a solo artist. I met all of the band members in different places and different ways. I met David Evans in 1989. I’ve known him the longest. I used to work door-to-door for a company and one day I met David’s wife. Well, we ended up playing guitar a little bit one night at Oakland Cemetery. We were drinking a little wine and playing some music when the cops showed up. We weren’t supposed to be there but we ended up jumping the wall. We didn’t end up in jail though, so that was good. From there it just kind of kicked-off.
Shannon: “I actually used to work at a music camp called Chicago Joe’s Rock and Blues Camp. Danny had come to perform and later down the road he needed a bass player and remembered me from camp. He reached out to me through Facebook and we just kind of went from there”
Where’s one place you’d all like to play at some point during your career? Be as specific (i.e. venue name) or broad (i.e. country name) as you’d like.
Danny: Specifically, Austin City Limits. In broader terms, Egypt or Tokyo. I think that would be really neat.
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
Danny: Well I get a lot of my inspiration from recorded inspirations like Muddy Waters and the Beatles. But I also spent a lot of time apprenticing with older musicians like Frank Edwards and Cora Mae Bryant. Her father is famous for his blues talent, Curley Weaver and she continued the tradition. Unfortunately both of them have passed but Cora Mae’s son Tony Bryan, is still carrying on the blues in the family. He’s a very talented musician.
What about the blues genre appeals to you?
Danny: For me it’s the immediacy of it. You can express yourself with each line or change your mind within each line. You can make up lyrics as you go along or sing something that already exists. Another aspect of blues that I love is how it’s so worldly. It comprises so many cultures from so many continents. For example, the shuffle rhythm comes from the American Indians. There’s strong influences from places like India, Hawaii and Africa. Blues touches people. I know I’m a musician not a recreationist but it’s our responsibility to carry on the history and the past of blues.
How did you and the band become the Atlanta staple that you all are today?
Danny: Perseverance. I started in 1989 and when we couldn’t find anywhere to play, we’d play on the street corners. We also played festivals, including the Atlanta Arts festival. We often quit other jobs to play festivals like that. Northside Tavern also has a lot to do with this. We’ve been there 20 years playing every Wednesday night. It’s a great atmosphere and a true honky-tonk joint. We’ve just stuck with it and stuck with it.
Shannon, what’s it like being the only girl in the band?
Danny: This was her first tour in Europe and she did a great job. I am so proud of her. For me, I always try to have one female in the band. We enjoy her company very much.
Shannon: The tour was unforgettable and wonderful at the same time. It was so great. But honestly, it’s not very different being the only girl in the band. They treat me like one of the guys. I mean, sometimes they’re that protective parent or older brother type and watch out for me but we all tell each other the same kinds of jokes. It feels like a family.
Mudcat, you’ve been performing at Northside Tavern for many years. How do you keep your weekly performances fresh for your audience?
Danny: We keep it honest. I like to entertain. Every performance I’ll gauge the crowd. I try to get them dancing and laughing. I also want to entertain myself – I have a short attention span. We go through cycles, though. Some songs just stick around every show until I’m tired of them. Some songs people ask for every week, so I play those.
Finish this statement: “When I’m not playing music with the band, you can find me____.”
Danny: In my garden with a shovel in my hand. My wife’s a vegetarian so I grow things with lots of protein: beans, field peas, tomatoes, potatoes. The potatoes are so much better than the store bought ones, they’re sweeter..It also gives great satisfaction eating food out of your own garden.
Are there any upcoming performances you’d like our audience to know about?
Danny: October 2nd at the Chastain Conservancy. Cindy Wilson from the B-52’s and Collective Soul are a few of the others on the lineup. It’s definitely going to be a good one. I’m so lucky to be on the same lineup.
The 8th annual Atlanta Arts Festival returns to Piedmont Park, September 13 & 14. This nationally recognized Festival features 200 artists from more than 12 mediums, artist demonstrations and classes, live music, festival cuisine and more, makes this award winning Festival perfect for all ages. After exploring the artist tents, guests can head over to the Art of Cooking Stage where the sponsor Krog Street Market welcomes a group of incredibly talented chefs, mixologists and bakers – bringing a whole new meaning to “festival food.” Once your appetite is satisfied – sit back, relax and enjoy the festival’s live music stage featuring fantastic local musicians and headliner MudCat. The Atlanta Arts Festival music lineup encompasses a wide variety of genres appealing to every musical palate. The full schedule can be found at www.AtlantaArtsFestival.com/entertainment.php.
Photo Credit: Mudcat