Interview: Cary Hudson talks about his new record “Mississippi Moon” and discusses the origins of Alt. Country
Cary Hudson first became recognized as a pioneer of a new music movement in the late eighties while joined in songwriting partnership with John Stiratt (WILCO) in The Hilltops, an alt-country band born out of Mississippi. When Stiratt left The Hilltops to play bass in Uncle Tupelo and then Wilco, Cary Hudson formed the widely-popular Blue Mountain that captured critical acclaim and gained cult status among its followers (Blue Mountain were also featured on the front cover of Issue #2 of No Depression).
We talked with Cary about his new record “Mississippi Moon”. We also took the occasion to ask Cary something about the “dog days”…when it all started.
Is the “generic america” you talked about in the s.t. Blue Mountain song still alive? How is it, better or worse? Is it still the main theme of your songs?
The phenomenon of “Generic America” is definitely still relevant….however, I think that my attitude about the culture of America , the food, music, and art scene, is much more positive than it was when I wrote that song. I spend about half of my time in rural Mississippi and the rest in New Orleans, and neither of these locations is “generic” and the culture there remains strong, even after the disasters of the oil spill and Hurricane Katrina. For me , my disappointments with the U.S. are the attitudes of the religious right that seeks to limit the personal freedoms that our country was founded on and to interfere with situations internationally that are “none of our business”. A couple of examples of things that bother me are The War on Drugs, and our continued military presence all over the globe. Really though , politics have never been my main source of inspiration for songs. I’ve always been more inspired by love and romance, and my life in the Deep South!
On your solo records, your attitude is much more bluesy. Why is that? Is it because of the passing of the time, or is it related to some kind of melancholy that you carry with you?
I think that it’s a natural progression to play the blues as you get older….it’s not that I’m more melancholy, it’s just that there is a certain depth of life experience that’s required to play the blues that is more about heart and soul and being able to relate to the human condition and less about music technique. I was fortunate to be in north Mississippi when RL Burnside , JR Kimbrough and Othar Turner were alive and kicking and I consider them my maestros of the blues.
What strikes you when listening to what is today called rock? Do you think this is still the music you grew up with?
I think that there are some great rock bands out there today like The Flaming Lips, The Black Keys, Wilco, etc …. But as far as the big acts that get a lot of airplay and are on TV , it seems that they all suck…..it’s sad how bad they suck!
Both Blue Mountain and The Hilltops were two pivotal bands when the alternative country broke on the scene. At the time, did you feel like something was really happening? Looking back to those days, why do you think America needed to discover its own roots again?
We were fortunate with the Hilltops and Blue Mountain to play with and get to know some really great bands from the Americana and Country Alternative scene. Fads come and go , but music based on blues and country will always have relevance and resurgences.
“Mississippi Moon” is produced by Jimbo Mathus. How was working with him and how do you think Mathus influenced your sound?
I’ve been a friend and fan of Jimbo Mathus for about 10 years now and I’ve wanted to work with him for a long time…..he brings a lot of soul and spontaneity and fun to the recording process, plus he has a unique and funky style that pervades everything he touches. I wanted to tap into a rough , bluesy sound on this record and he was the perfect choice for achieving that sound.
Why was the recording done live on the full moons (of June , July and September of 2011)?
When I booked the first recording date with Jimbo I noticed that it coincided with the full moon….I decided to do the rest of the recording on the full moons of the following months to tap into some lunar mojo, and I think it worked.
Why did you choose MusicReleaser to release Mississippi Moon?
I decided to work with MusicReleaser because I was really impressed with the fact that Ubba (co-founder of MR) came all the way to Mississippi to talk with me and seemed to have a great vision for a way yo help artists and fans find each other….and I like their taste in music!
You play a lot of live shows in the US. Are we gonna see you in Europe soon?
I’m currently working with Laurie Stirratt on a new Blue Mountain record that we anticipate will be ready for release early on 2013. When it comes out we will definitely be planning to tour Europe, and hopefully will make our first visit to Italy!
To join Cary Hudson’s Free Music Campaign for “Mississippi Moon”, please see: