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May 2000

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Daddy Mack Blues Band
Fix It When I Can
Inside Memphis / High Water Records

Daddy Mack Blues Band - Fix It When I CanThe city of Memphis has always had a rich blues heritage.  The scene there continues to thrive, not just along the "Hollywood-ized" Beale Street, but in the small neighborhood clubs and taverns around the city.

The Daddy Mack Blues Band evolved from the remains of the Memphis band the Fieldstones, of whom I have often proclaimed to be one of the best blues bands of the last 20 years (see an earlier Blues Bytes review of the reissue of the Fieldstones excellent CD). After the demise of the Fieldstones in 1994, the remaining members continued as the house band at the legendary Green's Lounge in Memphis.

The band is lead by "Daddy" Mack Orr, who handles the vocal chores and contributes excellent raw guitar to their new album, Fix It While I Can. Orr is a rough-hewn vocalist, with not a lot of range. But he packs a lot of soul and emotion into each song. He's also a strong blues guitarist, with a soulful, resonant sound to his playing. Other band members include brothers James and Harold Bonner on guitar and bass, respectively, and Wilroy "Wolf" Sanders, Jr. on drums (Sanders is the son of an original Fieldstone). Scott Henley contributes guitar work on three of the album's tracks.

Like the music of the Fieldstones, Fix It While I Can is funky, downhome blues at its best. Eight of the 10 cuts are Orr originals, with covers from Gary B.B. Coleman and Donny Hathaway, the latter a funkier, but still raw instrumental version of "The Ghetto." Daddy Mack takes this classic and gives it a Memphis neighborhood barroom groove.

One of the highlights of the disc is the slow blues "I Don't Understand You Baby." This original is reminiscent of B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone," but with more intricate guitar work. "Giving You My Money" is another strong number, containing great guitar work over a funky bass beat.

Orr's strongest vocals are on the slow blues "You Left Me One Time," to which he injects a strong dose of Memphis soul to the blues la Little Johnny Taylor. His songwriting talents shine brightest of "Razor Blade," as he sings "...I would slide down a razor, baby, into a pool of alcohol to be with you..." Ouch!

Fix It When I Can is a real gem. It will be played frequently at my house.

--- Bill Mitchell

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