Music, // November 8, 2014
CR Humphrey – MUSICIAN
1. Who are you and what do you do?
I’m CR Humphrey and I play guitar and sing in a two piece Mississippi juke joint style band called Old Gray Mule with my brother JJ Wilburn.
2. Why music?
It makes me feel good, and my biggest hope is that it helps other folks feel the same.
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be involved in music?
I suppose when I was a kid and my Mom had some friends over and they were all playing music together and laughing and having a good time. I wished I could have been a part of that. Started messing around on guitar at 12, I’m 41 now.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and style(s)?
We play a kind of hybrid North Mississippi Hill Country/Raw Electric Juke Joint blues and that’s one of my favorite forms of music, but I also pretty much dig all varieties and style of music except that kind of music that’s designed to attract dollars instead of emotion
5. How do you work and approach a new piece that you are working on?
99% of my music seems to be written outside. I’ll either hear a song I really like and in my attempt to learn to play it I write something completely different, or it all starts with messing around with different voices of a chord, or maybe a beat. Hell I don’t know! Grab that stuff outta the air!
6. What are your favorite musician(s), singer(s)?
My favorite musicians all seem to be masters of their style dues to subtlety and dynamics rather than overt in-your-face technical skill. At the moment I really like listening to John Lee Hooker, The Holmes Brothers, The Yearlings, RL Burnside, Jason Isbell, Albert Collins, The Canton Spirituals, Dixie Hummingbirds, Tinariwen, Pharcyde, Clotaire K, Bootsy, P-Funk, James Brown, Cliton Chenier, Buckwheat Zydeco, etc etc etc
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
In terms of audience response we’ve had some amazing stuff happen. One guy in Adelaide, Australia made sweet passionate love to a PA column for a good while. We’ve had girls on stage working out the bad vibes fairly regularly. We’ve had folks write emails from all over the globe about how our music touched them and made them feel better. Can’t ask for better than that…except maybe to pay some bills!
Old Gray Mule’s latest release, “HAVE MERCY,” and sixth full-length album is the next evolution of hill country blues that fans of giants RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. Old Gray Mule’s CR Humphrey and JJ Wilburn combine these influences with those of some of their other heroes: Clifton Chenier, Albert Collins, Jimi Hendrix, and Son House.
Adding to the solid instrumentation by CR and JJ, are Grammy Award Winner Buckwheat Zydeco, the Rockin’ Dopsie brothers, Chris Parkinson of the Australian duo the Yearlings, Australian guitar legend Dom Turner, and a host of other greats.
8. What do you like about your work?
I play music because it makes me feel good, and I’m trying to take the audience along with me. There hasn’t been a time when I’ve thought “I’ve played too much music lately” except after our longest gig which was 13.5 hours! I wore the skin off my picking hand, then I wore the super glue off. It took a week to heal, but the money as good so we couldn’t stop.
9. What advice would you give to other musicians?
If you don’t love it, don’t do it. If music is not your language don’t speak it. If music is your love, then never ever give up on your stupid stupid dream of playing music!