ORLANDO – Catfish music, Jimbo Mathus says, is unique to the South, and in particular to his home state of Mississippi.
“The music I’ve been putting out for a while is really Mississippi-based,” he said. “Mississippi and New Orleans and Louisiana are brothers and sisters, as far as the scheme of things go. Catfish music is its own style. It has a different flavor to it, and different ingredients. It’s less to do with Jazz and more with Mississippi delta blues. We’ve got our own flavor here – even Mississippi folk music is a different beast. Catfish is all the same ingredients we work with here in the South – gospel, rock ‘n roll, blues and country. It translates very well.”
So well that when Mathus has come to Central Florida to perform at clubs like House of Blues at Downtown Disney, he always draws an enthusiastic crowd for his show.
“I’ve performed there, and Florida has been one of my best states to travel to, both Orlando and Tampa, West Palm, the Keys and Gainesville and North Florida have always been very open to my kind of music,” he said. “We share a similar language.”
Mathus and his band, the Tri-State Coalition, are coming back to Orlando next week, and will be performing at Will’s Pub on Thursday, Nov. 17. He’ll be in the City Beautiful to promote his current CD, Confederate Buddha.
“The club I’m playing at in Orlando is more of an indi club, and cool, we like those, too,” he said. “With all original music, we try to entertain the troops.”
Born and raised in Mississippi, Mathus said music has been in his family’s blood for generations.
“I came from a musical family,” he said. “On all sides of my family, there are musicians going back as far as I can trace. My father and mother, uncles and cousins, we had a family band, and I’ve been doing it since I was 6 years old.”
He started in the culture of folk music, performing locally anywhere the family could find people ready to listen, to crowds large and small.
“We were just doing picnics,” he said. “We weren’t a professional band. We played for friends, parties, on the side of the river, camped out on the hill, at family reunions, and stuff like that. The culture that goes along with it is equally important. I was the first one to really break off and become a songwriter on my own, and take all that music and turn it to new songs.”
His childhood turned out to be the perfect launching pad for a career in music, he added.
“We knew 1,000 songs. It’s a great thing,” he said. “My father, he prided himself on knowing all the verses. The lyrics were always important. I really just took it and made a career out of it.”
Not surprisingly, Mathus has taken advantage of modern technology as well, using social media sites like Myspace and Facebook to find new fans – international audiences, as it turns out, something his family could never have accomplished in the days before the Internet.
“I have found that it has changed quite a bit, for the better,” he said. “Back in the old days, you had to go from town to town in a wagon, or an air conditioned sedan. Now I think it’s fantastic. When I was growing up, it was hard to find. Really the bottom line now is how many people you can move and make remember you when you come to their town. That’s my goal.”
In addition to recording, Mathus still lives performing live, where ever he can find a venue.
“I’ve seen a whole lot of big crowds, and a whole lot of small crowds in my life, and I’m involved equally with either one,” he said. “Any clubs that are still open and doing well now deserve to be supported by the community. They’re bringing live music to the town. Some towns don’t have that. We do weekends and come home, but we can drive quite a ways. I’m trying to get my music out there, and the only way to do it is to go from town to town. I’ve been doing this basically since I was born. It’s just an ongoing project, you know?”
Will’s Pub is at 1042 N Mills Ave. in Orlando Colonialtown North neighborhood. Call 407-898-5070 for more details, or log on to http://www.jimbomathus.com/confederatebuddha or www.reverbnation.com/jimbomathustristatecoalition.
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