Americana Roots highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US. It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores. Emerging from the deep-south is guitarist John Mooney who sounds like a lifetime of the blues lived in the funk of New Orleans.
Name: John Mooney.
For Fans Of: Dr. John, Keb Mo, Taj Mahal.
Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana USA.
Discography: ‘Comin’ Your Way’ (1979), ‘Telephone Blues’ (1984), ‘Late Last Night’ (1990), ‘Telephone King’ (1991), ‘Testimony’ (1992), ‘Sideways In Paradise’ (1993), ‘Travelin’ On’ (1995), ‘Dealing with the Devil’ (1995), ‘Against the Wall’ (1996), ‘Gone to Hell’ (2000), ‘All I Want’ (2002), ‘Big Ol’ Fiya’ (2006), ‘Son and Moon’ (2014), ‘Truth of the Matter’ (2017)
Background: “I wasn’t aware of what the opportunity meant, but I knew there was nobody better in Delta blues,” says guitarist John Mooney about his first encounter with legendary blues guitarist Son House. For Mooney, whose work lives between the down-home swampy Mississippi Blues and the Cajun-funk of his New Orleans home, his meeting with House would be life-changing. Mooney had left home at 15 to start his life in music, crossing paths with guitarist Joe Beard, who he began playing with shortly after. Beard was impressed with the young guitarist’s skills and introduced him to House, who would become the most enduring influence on the development of Mooney’s music. The 16-year-old Mooney would soak in House’s unique, heavily rhythmic, acoustic style and eventually adapted it to the electric guitar, creating Mooney’s easily identifiable sound. “I basically was playing Delta-style blues exclusively until I met Son House in 1971,” says Mooney. “He was a big influence on my slide guitar playing as well as teaching me how to sing loud, but with feeling and clarity. He always told me, ‘I better have fun with my life, because if I did not somebody else would for me.’”
With his new sound, Mooney moved to New Orleans in 1976 and immersed himself in the city’s vibrant, diverse music scene. He was soon regularly playing with the likes of Earl King, The Meters, Snooks Eaglin, and his next great influence, Professor Longhair. Mooney says, “I listened to a lot of Professor Longhair’s melodic vocal phrasing and synthesis of Caribbean, boogie-woogie and street-parade rhythms.” Since then he has been touring non-stop with his group, the Bluesiana Band, and has released fifteen studio albums. He has taken his unique, soulful, approach to the blues and funk around the globe, playing from the U.S. to Europe to Japan to Australia, with stops at such renowned festivals as the Montreaux Jazz Festival, the Newport Folk Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, and a yearly appearance at New Orleans’ world-famous Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Through the mentorship of House and from his years spent playing with New Orleans musical royalty, Mooney has combined the sounds of the Delta with the syncopated rhythms of New Orleans to create a style that has become uniquely his own. “It is Delta funk, New Orleans second-line blues mixed with Professor Longhair. It is real danceable, up-tempo, funkier than Chicago blues bands,” explains Mooney.
What He Does Live: