In 1991 Mooney performed at the Breminale Festival in Bremen, Germany. Blue Rock'It Records is proud to offer this performance in its John Mooney release, "Travelin' On".
Two things hit you immediately about John Mooney. First the manic intensity of his singing and playing, and second the almost painful authenticity of the bluesman himself. Don't be fooled about either, though, because under the wild surface a second glance or a second listen will reveal a surprising degree of sophistication in all aspects of John Mooney's work and persona. As a guitar player his choppy, rhythmic attack and extensive harmonic variations instead of endless bent note solos are singular in the world of contemporary blues and probably reveal more of an affinity to Thelonious Monk than to John Lee Hooker. As a singer we don't need hype either. The man has spent a large part of his life travelling across the country by himself, playing on streetcorners. Here we might even use the term "paying his dues" appropriately for a change. And as a youngster, growing up in Rochester, New York, he had a stroke of luck which most aspiring blues musicians can only dream of. He met and became friends with the great Son House who taught him to, as he puts it, sing loud, and when John Mooney, at the end of a performance, comes out on the stage and sings "Grinning In Your Face" a-capella the result is truly moving.
Fortunately John Mooney isn't content just to play the blues. He's one of those rare musicians who transcend a style and continualy need to keep on pushing the music past its own borders and stylistic limitations. It is also fortunate that he moved to New Orleans about ten years ago and has since been developing his combination of delta blues and rollicking mambo and funky second line back beats.
Nowadays John Mooney's roux comprises of equal parts Robert Johnson, Professor Longhair, Muddy Waters, The Meters and, like I said, a sprinkling of Monk. John Mooney only cooks with players who can handle this kind of food. Kerry Brown is probably the finest young exponent of the Zig Modeliste school of funky New Orleans drumming living in the city today. His talent has been recruited by musicians as great and diverse as Gatemouth Brown, McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Page and Danny Barker. Glenn Fukunaga, who lives in Austin, has worked with Lou Ann Barton and most of the other Texas greats. He and Kerry create the nastiest rhythm to be heard in blues today. All great music is of course timeless and outlives fads and trends, and when the current blues boom is long over and all the great Stevie Ray Vaughan imitators have become highschool teachers, John Mooney will still be out there, fighting it out with the blues.
Torsten Muller, 1992
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