His new Alligator album, Cotton Mouth Man, is a joyous celebration of his life in the blues. Recorded in Nashville and produced by Grammy-winning producer/songwriter/drummer Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Joe Louis Walker, Susan Tedeschi), the album is a riveting, good-time musical journey through sounds and scenes from Cotton’s long and storied career. With seven songs co-written by Cotton (more originals than he’s ever included on one release) and Hambridge (who co-wrote five additional tracks), the stories the album tells are Cotton’s own, inspired by his colorful and sometimes perilous life. Throughout the CD Cotton’s blast-furnace harmonica sound and larger-than-life personality are front and center.
Helping Cotton tell his stories and showcase his music are guests Gregg Allman, Joe Bonamassa, Ruthie Foster, Warren Haynes, Delbert McClinton and Keb Mo. Forming the core of the backing band on the CD are Hambridge (drums), Rob McNelley (guitar), Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Glenn Worf (bass). Tommy MacDonald and Colin Linden each add guitar to one track. Darrell Nulisch, who has been singing in Cotton’s band for many years, expertly handles the vocals on five tracks, while the other members of Cotton’s road band-Tom Holland, Noel Neal and Jerry Porter-are also on board on some of the songs. Cotton, who, after a bout with throat cancer turned the vocal duties over to others, was inspired by the sessions to return to the microphone. He brings the album to a warm-hearted close singing his own Bonnie Blue (the name of the plantation where he was born), helping to make Cotton Mouth Man the most personal, celebratory and just plain fun recording of his seven-decade career. According to Cotton, “I feel so happy about the music in this album. My hope is that everyone who listens feels it. I know I sure did!”