Monday, January 29, 2018

"Got My Mojo Working" Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters by Michael Mahin.

McKinley Morganfield was never going to do what he was told.

He wouldn't mind Mama when she told him to stay out of the mud, so she nicknamed her little boy, "Muddy."

Grandma Della tried to keep little McKinley clean and well-dressed, specially on Sundays when they spent most of the day at church. Muddy loved the voices of the choir, singing "Glory, Glory," but he loved something else more.

What Muddy really loved was "fish-fry" music. It was the blues, and Muddy couldn't get enough of it.

"Last I looked, you can't eat the blues for breakfast," Grandma Della said. "No child of mine is gonna waste his time with music."

But Muddy was never good at doing what he was told.

Muddy found that he could make even Grandma Della dance when he squeezed music from a wheezy accordion, a kerosene can drum, and a homemade one-string guitar. Making music was all little Muddy cared about, and when one night, he got to hear his idol, Son House, play and sing the blues, he made up his mind that he was going to do nothing but make that kind of music.

Soon as he was old enough, Muddy took the train north from Mississippi to Chicago, where all kinds of music were everywhere. He found work and saved up to buy himself an old guitar, practicing and playing all the time, calling himself Muddy Waters to fit his Mississippi roots.

"No one wants to hear a country boy play country blues. Shake that dust off!" they told him.

But Muddy was never good at doing what he was told.

And one day, Muddy Waters put a pickup on his guitar and plugged in, and the world of blues sat up and listened. Muddy became known as the creator of Chicago Blues. The Beatles sought him out, telling their cabbie, "Don't you know who your famous people are here?" Presidents came to listen and his Grammy Awards piled up, and he took his place as one of the creators in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Michael Mahin's Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters (Atheneum Books, 2017) features a lively and humorous text that celebrates the ground-breaking music of its stubborn hero who persevered to make the sort of happy-sad music he heard in his head, a vivid but personal narration which young readers, who don't always do as they are told, will understand and appreciate. Equally vivid and evocative, award-winning artist Evan Turk's illustrations capture Water's earthy roots and heartfelt, emotional sound, pulsating with feeling, sad and joyful and full of life. "Like Waters’s music after landing in the Windy City, Turk’s artwork is electric--wild strokes of marker and oil pastel vibrate with energy," says Publishers Weekly. With an appended discography and bibliography, this is a great book for use during Black History Month in February.

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