“It’s modern, it’s not musical archaeology,” says London-based soul-blues stylist Mississippi MacDonald of his music. “It celebrates a fantastic tradition. It’s soul-blues, and you’ve got to put your best into it.”
MacDonald knows that tradition. He’s been to Al Green’s church and heard him preach. He’s been to Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios in Memphis, where the great records on the Hi Label were recorded. He’s seen Jerry Lee Lewis kick over his piano stool. He’s met B.B. King and Pinetop Perkins, Otis Clay and Sam Moore. Big Joe Turner told him to listen to Albert King. In 2008, he was a prime mover in finally getting a stone for the previously unmarked grave of soul legend O.V. Wright.
He’s been nominated three times in the British Blues Awards. He’s hit the top spot in the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association’s charts. He’s had the support of Paul Jones on BBC Radio 2. He’s had the thumbs-up from Blues Magazine in The Netherlands, and from the Washington State Blues Society.
So far, he has made six albums: Devil’s Chain (2014, with The Cottonmouth Kings), American Accent (2015, with The Cottonmouth Kings), Dress For The Money (2016, with The Cottonmouth Kings), With The Soul Fixers (2017, with Steve Bailey and The Soul Fixers), Shake ‘Em On Down (2018, with Steve Bailey), This Is How It Is (2020).
Together they chart his evolution as a musician and his ever-broadening musical palette. He sings, and plays acoustic and electric guitar. Currently, his band is Phil Dearing (rhythm guitar – he also produces MacDonald’s studio recordings), Elliot Boughen (bass) and Mark Johnson-Brown (drums).
MacDonald has arrived at the centre of a potent musical crossroads – where blues and soul meet. Not only is his thinking along the lines of The Black Keys, his whole ethos is simpatico with the roster of Jack White’s Third Man label – a thrilling present symbiotically drawing from the past.