Ten for a muddy road

Danny Dudeck, alias Mudcat, shares his travelin' picks

Atlanta blues musicians
are a diverse lot. Many travel extensively, absorbing influences on the road. Others learn from the variety of artists who perform here.

Thus, Atlanta's best "blues" bands often are cosmopolitan in range and influence, even if their delivery is pointedly down-home. Case in point: Danny Dudeck, aka Mudcat, whose band (also Mudcat) has worked Atlanta for years, but also makes frequent trips to Europe. Call their stuff blues if you like, but you have to listen a long time to hear a standard 12-bar shuffle from this crew. The source of Mudcat's eclectic musical gumbo is apparent in his choices for travel music:

1. S.E. Rogie, Dead Men Don't Smoke Marijuana. Rogie (pronounced ROW-ghee), who died in 1996, was an itinerant songster in the "palm wine music" tradition of Sierra Leone. "A friend in Switzerland turned me on to this. Rogie had a beautiful voice. No matter where you are, it puts people in a good mood," Dudeck says.

2. Ruben Gonzalez, The Chanchullo. "He's one of the three people who invented that Cuban piano style back in the '30s. He's still alive and kicking ass," Dudeck says.

3. Cannonball Adderley: Something Else. This 1958 recording features Miles Davis, Hank Jones, Sam Jones and Art Blakey. Dudeck discovered it in a funky store New York City store at 3 a.m. "In the back was a man behind chicken wire. He'd ask you a couple of questions and come back with a stack of records that would blow your mind. That's how I got turned on to this record."

4. Buddy Moss, Curley Weaver, Blind Willie McTell, Atlanta Blues 1933. "It's the map of how it should be for acoustic blues," Dudeck says. "These guys were great entertainers. Buddy Moss was a top-selling musicians in the '30s, a superstar for the time. It's strange that he's not known as much as Robert Johnson, because he influenced that generation incredibly."

5. Fred McDowell and Johnny Woods, Fred McDowell and Johnny Woods (reissue title: Mama Says I'm Crazy). "[Georgia folklorist] George Mitchell recorded this around 1966 or '67," Dudeck notes. "They're in some wooden shack in the country, drinkin' and playin'. It puts you in a trance."

6. Frank Edwards,
Done Some Travelin'. "It's ironic. It's a traveling record, but you're out on the road and play it, and it takes you home," Dudeck says. "People like it wherever I go."

7. Various Artists,
Ragged but Right — Great Country String Bands of the '30s. This set features Riley Puckett, Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, Ted Hawkins and the Prairie Ramblers, and others.

8. Neal Pattman, The Prison Blues. "Neal's a deep artist, a master at ancient types of African-American music, stuff that takes you straight back to Africa," Dudeck explains.

9. The Tara Banda, un-issued demo recording. "I met these cats in Paris," Dudeck says. "Tonino Cavallo is a great musician from southern Italy who plays the
batalla, a 10-string Italian guitar. Guitarist Rejean Moulavat is from a village in South France where, hundreds of years ago, Italians who lived there influenced the tarantella [song form] that's unique to the region."

10. Various Artists,
Mali to Memphis. "This one's got African music that sounds like blues, and blues that sounds African, and some that's mixed," Dudeck says.

And Dudeck has five more: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong,
Ella and Louis; King Benny Nawahi, Hawaiian String Virtuoso; Carl Rutherford, Turn Off the Fear; Mance Lipscomb, Captain Captain, Texas Songwriter Vol. 3; Various Artists (including Tampa Red, Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang and others), The Great Blues Guitarists: String Dazzlers''.

"Then there's Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker — my main men," Dudeck adds. "They're not on this list, but people already know those guys."