Mac Arnold: The Blues That's Got Nothing To Prove

Music so often gives you more than you bargained for. Talk to an artist, talk to a friend, talk to anyone with an interest in music, and it will lead to discovery. You find out about great artists you did not know about; you trace whole branches of the tree of song. Listening to more and more unfamiliar albums along the way is a given, and part of uncovering this joyful essay.

To discover Mac Arnold is to realize that not only does his branch of the song tree have much more substance to it than you might have expected, but also that it directly touches so much more of this mythological and historic giant. He played with the biggest names in the blues, he was behind the scenes of hit TV shows, he has a crack band and a love for farming the same clay soil he did as a boy. There is a great deal more to Mac’s story, and in this episode we feature interviews with the South Carolina artist along with Plate Full O’ Blues band mate Max Hightower, fellow Upstate blues veteran Freddie Vanderford, and writer and musician Peter Cooper, along with a sampling of studio sides and live music from Mac Arnold, John Lee Hooker, Pink Anderson and more.

(Left to Right): Austin Brashier, Mac Arnold, Max Hightower  While on stage, to be dressed in your best clothes and to look sharp is habit to artists everywhere, a habit that serves to make the player feel good, to know that he looks good. Mac looks almost the same on stage as he does everywhere: cowboy hat, jeans, maybe a flannel shirt. When founding Plate Full O’ Blues member Max Hightower once asked him if he was going to change clothes before their show, he smiled and said “I’ve got nothing to prove!”. It was said with more joy than bravado, and sums up Mac’s outlook on life.

(Left to Right): Austin Brashier, Mac Arnold, Max Hightower

While on stage, to be dressed in your best clothes and to look sharp is habit to artists everywhere, a habit that serves to make the player feel good, to know that he looks good. Mac looks almost the same on stage as he does everywhere: cowboy hat, jeans, maybe a flannel shirt. When founding Plate Full O’ Blues member Max Hightower once asked him if he was going to change clothes before their show, he smiled and said “I’ve got nothing to prove!”. It was said with more joy than bravado, and sums up Mac’s outlook on life.

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There was so much of our many conversations that did not make it into this episode, that I will bring a lot of that to light in a future episode focusing more on Piedmont blues. This is Southern Songs and Stories: the music of the South and the artists who make it.  - Joe Kendrick