Published on June 20th, 2022 | by Nature Humphries0
North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic Artist Interview: Marlow Durrough
Marlow Dorrough will play the 2022 North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic with Brad Moneymaker Band Saturday, June 25 at noon.
You’ve been playing the Hill Country Picnic because since you were a child. How old were you when you first started playing music?
The first time I sat down behind a drum set, I was probably two years old, three tops. The first time I was in The Gin with Duff [Dorrough] and The Tangents, I got him to set me up there and let me hit the drums. By the time I was four, I got a toy drum set. Sometimes, my dad’s friends would leave their drums over when they practice, and I’d be playing on their set. Then by the time I was seven, Duff bought me a real drum set, and I’d say by twelve years old I was playing gigs with Duff and getting paid. Starting at about age seven or eight, Duff would get me up to sit in and play a song or two. But by twelve … I could hang through a whole set or a whole show.
You grew up with music all around you.
Absolutely. It was my dad’s way of living and a big part of his life. He brought me and my sister up listening to music, and they took me up in the bar when I was just an infant. Once I saw that, [I knew] I had to play them drums.
Are you still playing drums now or are you more of a guitar player?
I’d like to say that I serve both masters equally. They say you can only serve one master, but I play drums and guitar almost every week. For instance, this week I’ll be playing drums at Rooster’s with the house band for Open Mic Night, and then I’m playing guitar with a band of mine Thursday night, and then Friday, Saturday I’ll be playing drums, and then Sunday I’ll be playing guitar again.
I’ve been playing drums for longer … I only started playing guitar when I was about 18, but since about 2012 I’ve been playing regularly solo shows, playing guitar and singing for a living as well.
I’d say I play drums and guitar equally as much these days. I balance them out pretty well.
What is your musical style?
I was brought up with rock and roll. I’m a big rock and roll and blues-rock person—my dad brought me up listening to a lot of stuff like that—blues, doo-wop and oldies, a lot of soul music. I’d say it’s somewhere between rock, funk, and little hillbilly country.
I love metal, hard rock, all that stuff, but as far as my guitar playing style, I’m leaning towards everything from rock and roll to bluegrass to blues to country. As a drummer, I was very influenced by funk drummers—my favorite drummer is Zigaboo Modeliste from The Meters.
So I’d say that it spreads over genres, especially with my guitar playing. ‘Cause playing covers, you gotta learn all kinds of stuff to appeal to all kinds of audiences. And, I love all kinds of music. I always tell people if there’s a gig that’s paying it, I’m playing it!
I’ve had to adapt … when I started playing with Duff, it was mainly going to be a lot of 1-4-5 blues and a couple of boogie-woogie, rock and roll tunes. Most of the time it drumbeats would be 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4. But then he’d incorporate [some] New Orleans mambo songs, more syncopated … and that was one beat I had to learn as a kid that helped me develop some diversity in my playing and get me out of my own way. I’m all over the place musically to tell you the truth.
Tell me a little bit about what Hill Country Blues means to you personally.
I relate it to North Mississippi and Oxford, and probably the first time I heard it, or was first introduced to that specific style, I remember a long time ago playing a show with my dad at Po’ Monkey’s out in Merigold [Mississippi]. The other band was Lightnin’ Malcolm and Cedric Burnside. I saw that two-piece kind of thing, just drums and guitar, and it definitely represented a freedom. It was like wow, you can get away with not having a bass player!
Hill Country Blues is another great ingredient in the big trick bag of music that’s going around Mississippi, and it is contributed to the sound. It influenced Solar Porch. That’s kind of the sound we went with, with a little experimentation thrown in.
It’s a whole lot of fun, and I’ll be honest, this is new band I’m in—we throw some Hill Country Blues. My last band, Solar Porch, were very Hill Country Blues. This new band, I’d compare our sound more towards like rootsy rock and roll. Come and hear us this year. [Hill Country Blues is] definitely an ingredient, but it’s just a little different than what we’ve been doing in the previous project.
Just before Solar Porch was in the picture, I was playing with Duff and The Revelators. My first time playing with him was in 2010, and at first, he said he didn’t even want a drummer. He said, no this is an acoustic thing, and you better play soft. And I just wanted to come to the Picnic.
After that, in 2011 and 2012, we played again. I played three years in a row with Duff. Then after he passed … when I asked Sara if my band could play, she said, well, that’s the only way that somebody is going to get on the picnic lineup—somebody has to die. She didn’t say it just like that, but that’s how tight the Picnic lineup is. Somebody has to pass before you can make a spot for a new band.
It was always a great time, especially when I was playing with Duff and we had three-piece. It was just one of those things where, even if we weren’t practiced up, Duff was so in control of every dynamic of the show. Him and the bass player were going to lock up, and it’s always gonna be real tight.
And the Picnic’s just been a whole lot of fun through the years, with all the different projects I’ve played with, and I hope we can keep it going.
What’s the name of your [current] band?
Brad Moneymaker Band, and that’s his real name—a lot of people said they’ll never believe that’s a real person. When I first met the guy, I thought that was his stage name. They’re some cats from Batesville— Brad Moneymaker, Larry Newsom, and Luke Woodruff. They used to play in a band called Big Strong Thumb. We all met years ago playing together at the Fool’s Ball in Wall Hill, Mississippi, and about a year and a half ago, they contacted me and said they need a drummer. We got together and played some shows. The first show we played was the Levon Helm Jubilee. We started practicing, and we played at Roosters a couple of times.
Solar Porch really doesn’t play no more because my musicians have moved off to different states and we just all can’t get together that easily for the show, so I called Sara [Brown] and I asked her … I sent her some videos of our new project and asked if we could be in the mix, and she said yes. We’re just really excited about it. It’s gonna be a good time, and I got a lot of friends who don’t normally come out to the picnic coming this year.
My guitar player is bringing a camper, so we got air conditioner to escape to. Well, that’s one way to keep me from leaving early! We got a cool place to escape that ungodly heat that you will face at the picnic.
Are y’all going to record anything? Are y’all writing music?
I have my own songs that I write and I have suggested bringing a couple of my tunes, but right now the only originals we play are written by Brad or Larry. I’m just kind of taking it slow because I don’t want to step on nobody’s toes. (Hey, that rhymes! That could be a song.) But yeah, we do plan on recording by the end of this year or early next year.
Do y’all have any other gigs coming up?
Other than the Picnic, the only show we have booked right now is another festival. We’re playing on the main stage at the Sunflower River Blues Festival in Clarksdale this year. We have we have not been given a specific time, but we know it will be on that Saturday.
We know we will be at the Levon Helm Jubilee in Elaine, Arkansas, again this year, but that hasn’t been announced. That’s later in October, so right now we’re looking at about three different festival shows, and other than that, we’re just practicing and sharpening up our chops.
Where do you live?
I live in Ruleville Mississippi. I’ve been living here my whole life. I was born here, and this is my dad’s old house. Other than when I moved out for like three years during college, and then I moved back when my dad got sick. My sister moved to Cleveland. So it’s just me, I’ve been left here. I got the house that we grew up in. You stay close to your roots when you’re out here, away from everything.
Facebook: Brad Moneymaker Band