The Mudsills: Bringing the Blues Through Southern Illinois

By Chase Myers

When describing the blues genre of music, musical legend B.B King once said, “The Blues? It’s the mother of American music. That’s what it is – the source.” Music today likes to incorporate small pieces of the blues style like scales and note progressions, but tends to overlook the roots of traditional music.

One band that remains true to the authentic blues sound of Mississippi while incorporating its own flavor is Carbondale’s own Mudsills. Since the band’s formation in early 2012 by vocalist and slide guitarist Alex Kirt, harmonica and guitar player Billy Dan Langley, Danny Goett (former guitarist), bassist Mike Alderfer and drummer Cody Beckman, the Mudsills have been blessing southern Illinois with its traditional Blues style.

Kirt said the musical community in Carbondale is very closely knit.

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“We all met here in Carbondale at various times in various nightclubs,” vocalist Alex Kirt said. “We all know each other. Most of us end up playing music together eventually for a time.”

The band has recently parted ways with its good friend Danny Goett, who used to play lead guitar in the band until he left for Colorado in June, Kirt said. Langley has been playing guitar on some songs as well as harmonica. In the past, he had exclusively been a harmonica player for the band.

They have played in various musical combinations over the years so it is easy for them to make magic on stage, even if a member cannot make it. However, when the whole team is together, you hear the Mudsills in its purest form, Kirt said.

“When we’re all able to make it to the gig, we have a ton of fun and our songs go in some really interesting places,” he said.

“We use a foundation of traditional blues songs played in the Mississippi hill country style,” Kirt said. “We simply use those songs as the foundation, building on it and inventing new sounds each time we play.”

Kirt said the first show the band played was completely improvised with no official rehearsal.

You’re bound to hear something completely new and different at each show, Kirt said.

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“Nobody is telling anyone else how to play or what to play,” he said. “We just get together and play music with each other.”

The blues is appropriately named. It represents a struggle and a voice. It’s used as a way of conveying an emotional story or moment in time. Life doesn’t follow a schedule or a form, and the music the Mudsills play represents that unexpected journey.

Kirt said the band reflects influence from big names in country blues like Robert Belfour, R.L. Burnside and the grooves of Tom Waits, as well as the blues era of The Rolling Stones in the late 1960s.

Most of the Mudsills’ influence derives from artists with little technical skill, but immense improvisational talent, he said. “They are raw, gritty, rural, and gushing with a certain something that seems to be a mixture of tension, struggle, brutal honesty, and an affinity for rebellion and lawlessness.”

The band plays a large number of shows in the Carbondale area and has always drawn a crowd. “Carbondale is as good as it gets for enthusiastic crowds who love to listen to live music being performed by small-time, unknown, independent bands” Kirt said. “They often make us feel like an important part of the local culture.”

The Mudsills will bring the blues to Tres Hombres Mexican Restaurant and Bar on Friday night. The Transcendental Cowboys will open the show.

Chase Myers can be reached at [email protected]or on Twitter @chasemyers_DE

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