import_contacts The Mudcat Café

reviewed by Kimberly Villalba Wright

Published in Issue No. 20 ~ January, 1999

In this case, I don’t mean bad as in awful; I mean bad as in fantastic-bookmark it-ASAP! The Mudcat Café is home of a great web-based lyric resource – The Digital Tradition – and the site is continually expanding and developing its already vast resources.

One can spend the entire weekend merrily searching the Digitrad – finding lyrics to songs you’ve heard once or twice in childhood and forgot, such as “Red Necks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer,” or surfing through quirky lyrics, such as “Starving to Death on My Government Claim.” That, of course, merely scratches the surface, my friend. There’s blues, American, Canadian, English, Irish, and Scottish Folk, and Country-Western lyrics available for the curious. The Digital Tradition, constantly being updated, is also download-friendly.

Besides this mega-lyric listing, The Mudcat Café is useful, for members, as a site for finding all sorts of interesting links for those interested in blues, folk, bluegrass, Cajun, barbershop, as well as storytelling and poetry. The number of links is mind-boggling and continues to grow. Plus, members have a personal page for keeping those sites, as well as conversation threads and messages. Membership is free; however, they will ask nicely for a donation, which is not yet tax-deductible (but might be soon). Music lovers also can get almost any question answered and wish fulfilled on the Mudcat Discussion Forum. Also from The Mudcat Café, one can access The Mississippi Crossroads Radio Program, a taste of the blues.

In the section called The Museum (entitled, tongue-in-cheek, “Dead at the Mudcat”), one can delve into biographical information of Delta Blues stars such as the infamous Robert Johnson (who is reputed by some to have sold his soul to the devil), and others such as Mississippi John Hurt, Leadbelly, Muddy Waters, and Blind Blake. These biographies fascinate with their accounts of the various ways talented individuals have risen out of the shackles of poverty and prejudice to touch others with their soul’s fire. The bios include photographs of the artists and their environment, as well as links to other sites where one can find even more information on the artists. Unfortunately, the folk section does not yet have biographies but probably will in the future. Also in the nebulous future are plans to start selling blues and folk music. Right now, the Mudcat sells a signature T-shirt. They also ask for reader support in the form of donations.

account_box More About

Kimberly Villalba Wright was born in Hollywood, Florida, and has spent most of her life in Mobile, Alabama. She earned a BA in English at the University of South Alabama in 1997. Her poetry has appeared in the Epiphany, Arrowsmith, Doggerel, Dicat Libre, El Locofoco, as well as Poetry Café. This fall, Wright will begin working toward an MFA in creative Writing at the University of Memphis. Wright currently resides in Kennett, Missouri.