Jimbo Mathus is a Southerner and a natural born citizen of the State of Mississippi. You don’t have to be around him or his music very long to learn those facts. He does have numerous Arkansas connections, certainly not the least of those is his wife. I have heard him refer to himself as “the Arkansas son-in-law.” His unabashed comfort and pride in his origins is just one of Jimbo’s many charms but it is what charms me most about what he and his band, The Tri-State Coalition, are doing.
Friday night’s show at White Water Tavern was a celebration of what was and still is right with the South and Southern culture. Mathus seems to have a vast understanding and great reverence for a variety of Southern musical traditions. He does not, however, allow those traditions to weigh him down like some historical re-enactor might, and he certainly makes no attempt to keep those traditions separate. Mathus calls this updated amalgamation “catfish music for the masses.” If he ran a catfish house, I’m pretty sure it would be the kind of place that had no pretention whatsoever. It would be the kind of place that has a roll of paper towels right there on the table, stocks more than one type of hot sauce, and serves cold beer in 40 oz. bottles. You know, that semi-secret destination kind of place where friends will drive for miles to meet up and have a great meal and a great time. Mathus’s brand of” catfish” music serves up that kind of “forget your troubles” experience.
More after the jump.