Mighty Sam McClain Declares "Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey)" on CD
Blues, soul and Grammy nominee Mighty Sam McClain announces a September 18 release date for his latest CD, Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey), on his own Mighty Music label, with national distribution by City Hall Records.
Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) showcases McClain’s voice in all its magnificent glory on a program of 14 original songs that touch on his influences ranging from blues and soul, to gospel and funk. Backing Sam on the album is a killer band that includes Pat Herlehy – guitar, tenor sax, flute, clavinet, Hammond B-3, strings, percussion and drums; Chad Owen – bass; Rick Page – drums; Joe Deleault – piano, organ, Fender Rhodes; Scott Shetler – tenor sax, baritone sax; Russell Jewell – trombone; Grayson Farmer – trumpet; and Concetta – background vocals. The new album was produced by Gerry Putnam, Pat Herlehy and Mighty Sam McClain and features arrangements by Pat Herlehy, with horn arrangements by Scott Shetler and Herlehy.
Sam’s voice ranks with the best in the deep soul-blues pantheon, right up there with the likes of Bobby “Blue” Bland, O.V. Wright, Otis Redding and Solomon Burke, but with his own stamp of originality, and on Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) he delivers on that promise to the ultimate. His songs are based in hardship and troubles, yet mirror his constant vibe of hope, redemption, love and a spirituality that permeates every digital byte on the new CD.
Sam explains how the CD’s title came about: “Well, you see, I used to drink way, way, too much, I started drinking at 4 or 5 when my uncle gave me some gin (I got reckless on my tricycle and fell off and skinned my head). As time went on in my life, I got to like it very much. I stopped drinking 18 years ago and after I had stopped, I began to notice that some of my friends stopped coming around. Walking through the house one day I asked my wife, Sandra, ‘Where do you suppose so and so and the others are; they don’t come by anymore?’ It came to me like a light out of darkness – I’m not drinking anymore and I’m sharing with folks how I was helped by my faith to stop. That is how the title came to be called Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey. In my excitement, I may have brought too much Jesus to the party for some folks!”
“Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) once again broadens Sam’s scope by adding heavy, old school funk to the sound of his expressive road-honed seven-piece band,” writes musician/journalist Ted Drozdowski in the album’s liner notes. “The prayer for peace ‘Can You Feel It?’ rocks without compromise, like vintage James Brown. That song, ‘I Wish You Well’ and ‘Missing You’ span the album’s creative soul. They’re stories of the heart and of the spirit, brought fully to life by Sam’s whisper-to-cry-to-howl dynamic range and his absolute melodic control of his honey and sand voice.
“Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) also marks Sam’s 17 years of friendship and collaboration with guitarist Pat Herlehy. Standing shoulder to shoulder on stages across America and Europe, and building songs together from the ground up in the studio, they have forged a marvelously sympathetic musical partnership. Like a great harmony singer, Herlehy uses his six-string to support and illuminate every turn of Sam’s mighty voice.”
Described by one writer as “America’s best purveyor of red clay soul-blues,” Mighty Sam McClain comes by his deep roots sound organically. Born on the edge of the Bible Belt in Monroe, Louisiana in 1943, Sam began singing like so many of that place and time – in a gospel group (in Sam’s case with his mother’s). Leaving home at age 13 to escape an abusive stepfather, Sam traveled with local R&B guitarist Little Melvin Underwood on the “Chitlin Circuit,” first as his valet and later as lead vocalist, himself, when he was 15 years old.
Throughout an early career that featured many highs and lows, he persevered and wound-up recording in Muscle Shoals, Nashville and New Orleans, working with artists such as the Neville Brothers and guitar great Wayne Bennett, and turning Patsy Cline’s immortal “Sweet Dreams” into a soulful R&B hit in 1966.
By the 1990s, Sam had relocated to New England and was involved in the recording of Black Top Records’ Hubert Sumlin’s Blues Party CD, a landmark recording for the legendary guitarist. He followed up with a number of solo albums that began to spread the word internationally about this great new voice in soul-blues, with a number of releases that eventually earned him his first Blues Music Award nominations (then known as the Handy Awards).
In 1996, Sam began to take control of his own career, forming management, publishing and production companies, and later his own record label, Mighty Music, starting in 2003 with One More Bridge to Cross, and followed by Betcha’ Didn’t Know, which was nominated as best “Soul/Blues Album” in 2010.
McClain’s work outside the blues and with organizations to help better the world led him to the “Give US Your Poor” project benefitting the homeless, and co-writing the song, “Show Me the Way,” which he performed as a duet with Jon Bon Jovi. Other artists involved in that project included Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Natalie Merchant and actor Danny Glover.
During that time, Sam made his film debut in the movie “Time and Charges,” which was written and directed by Academy Award winner (“On Golden Pond”) Ernest Thompson. McClain also sang the film’s title theme and one other song on the soundtrack, as well. And on TV, Sam’s song, “New Man in Town,” was used by 20th Century Fox in the “Ally McBeal” show in 12 episodes of that series, as well as on a subsequent international video release.
Later world music collaborations include an album done in Norway with Iranian folk vocalist Mahsa Vadhat, titled Scent of Reunion – Love Duets across Civilizations, which reached #6 on the European World Music charts. Sam returned to Norway again, where he and Mahsa recorded a follow-up album, A Deeper Tone of Longing: Love Duets across Civilizations, released June 22 in Europe and the Middle East and set for U.S. release August 28. Sam also recorded an album with Norwegian guitarist Knut Reiersrud, which was nominated for a Grammy.
Mighty Sam McClain will support the release of Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) with a series of international tours. For more information on the artist, visit www.mightysam.com