The Local Voice

North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic Artist Interview: Cary Hudson


Cary Hudson will play two sets with Blue Mountain at City Grocery’s Dirty Thirty House Party on Saturday, June 18 from 8:15 to 10:30 pm. His North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic set will be Friday, June 24 at 9:15 pm.

Tell us about your set at this year’s Hill Country Picnic. Who’s in your band?

Katrina Miller, who plays violin with me. She played last year. There will be a drummer from Hattiesburg named Andy Pate, my daughter Anna will be joining me on vocals, and a bass player [TBA].

What makes the Hill Country Picnic special to you personally?

It feels like the homecoming for the Hill Country Blues—I love the way they’ve successfully kept the focus on the Hill Country Blues. Like, I love Jazz Fest in New Orleans, but a lot of people will tell you JazzFest is not really about jazz anymore. But the Hill Country Picnic is still about the Hill Country Blues. Besides just loving Kenny and Sara [Brown]; it really feels like a family reunion. I made the mistake last year of booking another gig that weekend, but this year I’m playing Friday and I’m staying the whole weekend.

Katrina Miller at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic June 25, 2021. Photograph by Jean Frank.

What does Hill Country Blues mean to you, and how has it influenced your own style?

It’s the Blues of that region. I lived there for 20 years, and it’s just the music of that place. It definitely feels different from Delta Blues. It feels really primal. I just love it. I used to go out to Junior’s often, and I was fortunate when Fat Possum called me up, and I got to go out and play a few gigs with Junior. I grew up on Country music and classic rock, but thanks to being in Oxford, I got to learn Blues, and Hill Country is my favorite kind of Blues.

I remember going to Junior’s Juke Joint and people would be on the dance floor, especially the women, and they would be hypnotized, and I was hypnotized.

Cary Hudson’s daughter Anna joined Blue Mountain for a special set after Thacker Mountain Radio at the Old Armory Pavilion on April 21, 2022. Photograph by Nature Humphries.

It’s cool that your daughter is performing with you, because there is such a strong generational theme to the Picnic.

I definitely thought about that when I was planning to bring Anna, just thinking about all the kids getting on stage. It feels like a family reunion.

What was the band Anna played with in New Orleans?

It was called Crocodile Therapy, and it was such a great band. It was a bunch of musicians’ kids, like one of their dads was in Galactic, and another was a regular Frenchman Street player. Unfortunately, the group has broken up; but it’s not that unfortunate because Anna has moved from living in New Orleans. She lives out in the country with me in Mississippi now. We’ve been doing a lot of gigs together, and I just love it.

Nate Robbins on bass for Cary Hudson at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic June 25, 2021. Photo by Jean Frank.

Let’s talk about the City Grocery 30-year anniversary coming up. You used to play [with Blue Mountain] there a lot when City Grocery first opened.

We did, we actually played Syd n’ Harry’s lot before they closed, too. It was just incredible when we had a big crowd, or especially when Beanland would have a big crowd, you could feel the floor start moving, which was a little bit scary. You could feel it when people were dancing, and [felt like] we almost shook the building down. Chesley Pearman was booking, and he had some great people—Uncle Tupelo, Alex Chilton—lots of great music.

What else do you have going on these days? Are you recording or writing new music?

I’m getting ready to record again. I want to make a record with my daughter and Katrina, who I do most of my shows with. [Something] a little bit more bluegrassy and live. I’m looking forward to doing an acoustic type record. Not necessarily quiet, but acoustic, with Katrina, probably recorded live.

I’m excited to be coming up to Oxford again. It seems like fate’s brought me up there good bit since the pandemic has abated.

Everybody always gets excited when Blue Mountain is going to get together.

I feel the same way. It’s just so special when we get back together.
Facebook: /caryhudsonmusic
Instagram: @thisiscaryhudson

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