By Michael Henningsen
One Man's Blues
Geoff Muldaur Returns to the Outpost
When the dust settles on the 21st century and people begin to sift through the past for those artists whose work will most certainly reverberate for decades to come, Geoff Muldaur will be near the top of the list when it comes to the blues and folk traditions. Of Muldaur's chameleon-like voice, folk hero and Fairport Convention founder Richard Thompson has been quoted as saying, "There are only three white blues singers—Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them." Comedian (and accomplished guitarist himself) Martin Mull once commented that Muldaur is one of few white men who should own a guitar. They're both right on target.
Listening to guys like Muldaur work their magic, one is left wondering where the gift comes from, how it got there and what they did to deserve the chance to experience it. But the curiosity isn't born of jealousy. In Muldaur and artists like him, the gift is so extreme that most mere mortals wouldn't want it for their own. It's enough just to feel its presence.
And despite Muddy Waters' mostly true assertion that "the white man cannot vocal the blues," Muldaur has been doing just that since the early '60s. Since then, he's made staggeringly beautiful records as a founding member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, with his former wife, Maria, with Amos Garrett and Paul Butterfield's Better Days and, most recently, as a consummate solo artist. His latest CD, titled Private Astronomy (Deutsche Gramophone), features Muldaur's quirky, imaginative arrangements of works by '20s jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke for chamber ensemble. It's just more evidence that music lives and breathes inside Geoff Muldaur's soul.
It's difficult to solely credit either his emotive, boundless voice or his blues-inflected guitar work for his incredible sound. Fact is, Muldaur is not only one of few notable white folk-bluesmen, but an honorary member of the Whole Package Club.
Geoff Muldaur returns to the Outpost Performance Space on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 general, $15 members. Call 268-0044 for more information.
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