The thing that I like most about football season, at least since I discovered that game day was a marathon and not a sprint, is the fellowship that happens after the game. There’s nothing better than gathering on the back porch or a backyard fire pit and really turning it loose with your friends and family. Some nights become pure magic. One of the tools that I use to stoke the fire and invoke that magic is music. I can’t even listen to Van Morrison outside the month of October because of a fire pit experience back in the nineteen and nineties. When I hear his voice, I can practically smell the leaves burning. I’m not sure that what I’m giving you today is going to bring that vibe to your gatherings, but I’m not saying it won’t. A few years ago, I had a Buddy Guy experience and through a concert or an album hearing Jimbo Mathus’ name. I vaguely recalled him from the swing band, Squirrel Nut Zippers, out of Chapel Hill. I was curious because he seemed to be an odd choice for Buddy Guy so I did some research and was happily surprised. The first Jimbo Mathus record that I got turned on to was called “Knockdown South”. It’s eclectic and runs from modern R&B, to boozy riff rock, to heavy Cream-y jams. The guy is definitely an artist. Here’s “Hypmotized” from “Knockdown South”:
I have to admit that a few years went by and I haven’t really been on top of what’s going in his world on a frequent basis. A few days ago, I heard a cut from his new album, “Dark Night of the Soul”, and I had to check it out. Mathus has the whole North Mississippi Hill Country thing going on and I can’t help but put some of this raw edge, primitive stuff in the same basket as R.L. Burnside. It’s howling, ass kicking blues. Understanding that this is an album experience, the definitive tracks for me are: “Dark Night of the Soul”, “Tallahatchie”, “Fire in the Canebreak”, “Medicine”, and “Butcher Bird”. Here’s “Fire in the Canebreak”:
Like most artists, he’s very prolific and can be uneven from time to time, but so can life. There’s still a few weeks to comb through his catalog and set up your playlists accordingly. You can make your late nights a couch burning success or turn it into a Head and the Heart weepfest. The choice is yours, you know what’s right.