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Daddy Mack makes blues pay

Daddy Mack Orr, vocalist and lead guitarist, and his band will perform Memphis blues Jan. 19 at the Sheldon.1 / 2
"Pay the Piper" is the Daddy Mack Blues Band's fifth CD. Tracks include "Showtime," "Best in Town" and "Pay the Piper."2 / 2

Down home and funky -- that's a quick and easy description of the music the Daddy Mack Blues Band is bringing to the Sheldon Theatre at 7 p.m. Jan. 19.

Vocalist and lead guitarist "Daddy" Mack Orr and his musicians have been working to keep the Memphis Blues sound alive for the 21st century.

The growing success of their albums and the popularity of the group's appearances in the United States and abroad is clear evidence that they are succeeding in that aim.

Though Red Wing is far removed from Memphis, Tenn. -- and from the Center for Southern Folklore where the Daddy Mack Blues Band is the house band --locals clearly enjoy rocking to the blues.

The Back Channel Blues Band, which will be opening for Daddy Mack, is one of the area's most popular local bands, drawing a huge crowd for its annual summer concert in Central Park and at other gigs.

While he's in Red Wing, Orr hopes to connect with local blues musicians by putting on a free master class at 1:30 that afternoon at the Sheldon.

The Memphis style of blues has a long history dating back to W.C. Handy's self-published "The Memphis Blues," a "southern rag" released in 1912 but recorded many times over the years. Memphis area musicians are credited with developing the style, which hit the mainstream music scene in the 1940s and '50s.

Minnesota's Bob Dylan took it another step with his 1966 song, "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again."

Daddy Mack Orr and his bandmates all performed at one time or another in the Fieldstones, which was one of the most talked-about urban blues bands since the 1970s.

The band's first CD, "Fix It When I Can," featured Howard Stovall, executive director of the Blues Foundation, as special guest. Press reviews called Orr's voice to the biting vocals of Albert King.

His second album, "Slow Ride," featuring Billy Gibson, brought even more critical acclaim. The CD, which features blues versions of rock hits including Eric Clapton's "After Midnight" and Carlos Santana's "Black Magic Woman," reached No. 8 on the Living Blues Magazine's national radio chart and was a Top 50 download on iTunes.

In addition to performing regularly at the Center for Southern Folklore, a nonprofit organization on Beale Street that is dedicated to documenting and presenting the people, music and traditions of the region, Orr also has toured the country and played in Europe.

He also has a day job -- Mack's Auto Repair on Memphis' Jackson Avenue.

"I tell you," he wrote about his other career, "figurin' out what's wrong with 'em cars sure will give you the blues."

Tickets are $23.50 for adults, $15.50 for students. Call 651-388-8700 or 800-899-5759 or go online to

This engagement is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of the Arts Midwest, generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts with additional contributions from the Sheldon Theatre of Performing Arts.

If you go...

Who: Daddy Mack Blues Band

What: Concert

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 19

Where: Sheldon Theatre

Tickets: $23.50 adults, $15.50 students

More info: 651-388-8700, 800-899-5759 or