Memphistopheles | River in My Mind

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River in My Mind

by Memphistopheles

Two man blues band from Memphis, TN and Harlem USA. Recorded live with no edits or overdubs. Raw and unfiltered for your listening pleasure.
Genre: Blues: Memphis Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. Beat up Blues
4:16 album only
clip
2. Isabella
6:46 album only
clip
3. River in My Mind
4:56 album only
clip
4. Blue Magnolia
4:22 album only
clip
5. Real Love
4:09 album only
clip
6. Photograph of Jesus
6:34 album only
clip
7. Shower Song
6:25 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Memphis is home. If you’ve been there, you know it. Whether it was an hour in the airport, a visit to Beale Street, or the place you’ve lived your entire life: it’s home. And like all places we call home, there are warm spots, broken things, people inside who love you, people inside who make you crazy, and always something to fill your belly and quench your thirst. River In My Mind, the debut recording by George Sluppick and Doug Wamble, together known as Memphistopheles, is about making that feeling of home permeate through each song.

A two-man band presents challenges; there’s a lot of ground to cover. But it also carries with it the excitement of being able to go anywhere the music leads, provided there is a certain telepathy between them. Often times, this is honed through years on the road together, but it can also happen in other ways. Doug and George are both Memphians who left their hometown in the early 90’s to pursue very different musical paths.

George Sluppick was a mere 19-years old when blues legend Albert King took him on the road. George then went westward where he found himself recording and touring with Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, and North Florida’s J.J. Grey and MOFRO. Settling back into Memphis for a while, George was a part of the soul-jazz trio, The City Champs, who released two studio albums, The Safecracker and The Set-Up, on Electrophonic records. The Set-Up was issued on vinyl, and a copy of that record made its way into the hands of Chris Robinson, lead singer of The Black Crowes. Chris formed The Chris Robinson Brotherhood and invited George to Los Angeles to tour from 2011 until 2015, making three studio records and two live records. In 2016, George went on an extensive tour with North Mississippi All-Stars founder, and Black Crowes alum, Luther Dickinson. This was also a two-man band situation without a bassist, although legendary singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale was out with them as well, and seeing these YouTube clips, it sparked a curiosity in Wamble’s brain.

Doug Wamble left Memphis to make his way to Jacksonville, FL, where he coincidentally got to know several people who would wind up making their way into the MOFRO family. But it was jazz music that he was seeking, and upon finishing with school, he headed to New York where he played and recorded with everyone from Wynton Marsalis and Cassandra Wilson to Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux, Natalie Merchant and even Courtney Love. Doug made two critically acclaimed records for Marsalis Music/Rounder Records, where he blended Delta blues, jazz and gospel into a concoction that caused The New Yorker to dub him, “A one-man compendium of Avant-Americana.” Following those albums, along with extensive worldwide touring, Doug signed with E1 records to record Doug Wamble, his first foray into singer-songwriter material that stepped far away from the jazz tradition. And from there, he has delved into the world of producing, which led him to singer Morgan James, and her Epic Records studio debut, Hunter, which he produced and contributed many songs to. Doug became Morgan’s musical director, and when a West Coast tour beckoned, it seemed time to bring George into the fold.

At the first rehearsal, it was just George and Doug, and thankfully a friend, engineer and co-producer James Sàez, was there to capture the moment on video, which grew into “Beat Up Blues” from River In My Mind. At that point, something happened. A musical shorthand was just there, and they both knew it. The tour dates were a big success, and every day at soundcheck, Doug and George would find a way to jam together and have fun. Once the tour was over, Doug started writing the songs that would lead to River In My Mind.

To make two people sound like a band isn’t easy, but Doug has the ability (and musical gear) to play bass and guitar and sing simultaneously. One of his favorite musicians and influences is Charlie Hunter, who revolutionized this style of playing and helped invent a hybrid bass/guitar. Doug uses a regular six-string and a pedal that makes certain notes sound like a bass, but he learned much from Charlie’s style. When George was touring with Robert Walter, Charlie was out with them on the road for a long time, so he knew what that sound was all about. George brings a giant sound to music, with a deep, deep pocket that has warmth, elasticity and total soul. Together, they have no boundaries, as you can hear in “Beat Up Blues,” which goes in and out of the standard 12-bar form and in between straight and shuffle grooves. This isn’t planned; it’s just two people talking and, more importantly, listening.

In order to preserve the musical dialogue of these to Memphis men, they felt they needed to get in the studio and play live. So what you hear on this record has no overdubs, no fixes; just live musicians communicating. Aside from “Photograph of Jesus,” which Doug wrote a few years back, the songs he brought in were specifically for Memphistopheles. The title track evokes Al Green and Hi Records, while “Isabella” sounds like something you might’ve heard from The Band. “Blue Magnolia” finds us somewhere between a 60’s boogaloo track and John Lee Hooker, while “Beat Up Blues” is just nasty from start to finish. A couple of days before the session, Doug was visiting family in Memphis and George asked if they could try an original instrumental called “Shower Song,” composed by George (in the shower!) and Robin Henkel. So they got in the studio and laid it down in one take with barely any rehearsal. Driving in on the second day of tracking, Doug heard “Real Love” by Mary J. Blige on the radio and as a lark, they decided to add it to the mix.

River In My Mind covers a lot of ground, but the blues runs deep throughout, as does the reverential connection to the Memphis sound. Two musicians raised in a place they love so dearly, who went in opposite directions, somehow found a partnership all these years later. But it’s not the when that counts, it’s the what; and when two people are meant to make music, you don’t need to ask why.

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