The Mighty Mojo Prophets
The Mighty Mojo Prophets
Although it’s certainly not the first state that comes to mind when one associates the blues with a particular region of the U.S., California has contributed more than its fair share to the idiom. Even with our endless days of golden sunshine, palm tree-lined boulevards, over-abundance of beautiful women and Hollywood glitz and glamour, Californians still manage to come down with a serious case of the blues. And thanks to folks such as T-Bone Walker, Charles Brown, Lowell Fulson, Pee Wee Crayton, Big Joe Turner and Johnny “Guitar” Watson who migrated out West during the ‘40s and ‘50s, we even have a name for it—West Coast blues. In the ensuing years this style continued to flourish in the Golden State, propelled forward by another generation of artists in Southern California that included Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers, the James Harman Band, William Clarke, Lynwood Slim and the Hollywood Fats Band.
It’s this particular brand of blues that informs the sound of Long Beach newcomers, the Mighty Mojo Prophets. Formed in late 2007 by vocalist Tom “Big Son” Eliff and guitarist Mitch “Da Switch” Dow, the Prophets set forth to lay down some of the most honest, straight-ahead blues that they could conjure up. Rather than taking the easy way out and simply retread the songbooks of their bygone heroes of yesteryear, Eliff and Dow put their heads together (and possibly a little Goofer dust) and crafted their self-titled national debut for Rip Cat Records in 2011. The results landed them a 2012 Blues Music Award nomination for Best New Artist Debut and a ticket to Memphis, where the band had the opportunity to work their mojo in front of a crowd of their own peers at the esteemed event’s pre-party celebration on May 10, 2012, at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.
The Mighty Mojo Prophets’ follow-up effort, “Flyin’ Home from Memphis,” continues the tale with thirteen skillfully written and wonderfully performed songs, composed by founding members Tommy Eliff and Mitch Dow. Together they’ve summoned a veritable bevy of musical variations beyond their adopted West Coast roots to incorporate other regional styles such as Chicago and Texas blues, Memphis soul, country blues and proto-rock ‘n’ roll. With solid rhythmic support from Dave Deforest on bass and Alex Schwartz on drums, along with special guests San Pedro Slim and Alex “Li’l A” Woodson on harmonica, Mike Malone on piano and organ, plus the B7 Horns, consisting of Mark Sample on tenor sax and Jonny V on trumpet, this collection stands out as a refreshingly original take on traditional roots styles in a sea of ‘the same ol’ thing.'