Thought maybe I’d tell you folks a little about how Old Gray Mule came about. It goes back to when I was 8 or 9, during Black History Month one of the teachers at my school showed us a PBS documentary called “The Land Where the Blues Began”. Somewhere in the first 5 minutes of it was a skinny R.L. Burnside playing “Poor Boy”. The Groove of that song knocked me flat…even as a 3rd or 4th grader I remember sitting there grinning and tapping my feet.
Right around that time Blues Brothers came out and of course I was too young and my folks wouldn’t let me see it in the theaters…but a couple years later I saw it on VHS and that same Groove knocked me flat again, except this time it was John Lee Hooker playing “Boom Boom” with Muddy Water’s band down on Maxwell Street in Chicago. I played that part of the video tape so many times it was covered in wavy lines and the sound was all warbly.
Fast forward past The Awkward Years, the heavy metal bands, the funk bands, the two men playing acoutic guitar in a stairwell hoping the girls would notice era, and all of a sudden I’m in my mid 20’s and I have never once touched that R.L./John Lee Groove. So I quit playing guitar entirely for 12 years. Finally picked it up again after my little girl was born and I saw footage of Magic Sam playing “Lookin Good” on the American Folk Blues Tour back in 69 or 70. There was that damn Groove again!
So I dusted off the old Telecaster and tried to learn that song. Still don’t know how to play it, but “Lookin Good” “Boom Boom” and “Poor Boy” inspired me to play guitar again and write my own tunes in those styles. Damn if they didn’t start sounding GOOD to me too. Since the drums are as important as everything else in this style I needed a Cedric Burnside mixed with some Kinney Kimbrough and Spam to flesh out this Groovin, foot stompin music that’s been stuck in my head since the late 70’s! Several drummers have added The Beat to OGM songs including Kinney Kimbrough, CW Ayon, Matt Ehlers, and Joe Falco. Hope y’all enjoy this music as much as I do