Blue Notes

Jimbo Mathus Sticks With Southern Gothic on Blue Healer

North Mississippi native Jimbo Mathus is the definition of modern, Southern Gothic homo sapiens. Raised in that hard hill country, since returning home after a stint in the Raleigh Triangle area as head axe-slayer for Squirrel Nut Zippers Mathus has issued an astonishing body of work, working with guys like late uber-producer Jim Dickinson, producer-guitarist Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, and Big Legal Mess Records president and producer Bruce Watson.

In the late '90s it seemed like Mathus would be known for his part in the great swing-revival band Squirrel Nut Zippers, but by 2000 Mathus found himself embroiled in lawsuits with other members of the Zippers that left him virtually broke in spite of ten years of effort. He and singer Kathleen Whalen divorced in 2003 and Mathus drifted home to Mississippi, free to take any direction he wanted.

He'd already fallen in with Dickinson and his son Luther, leader of the North Mississippi Allstars, and his return to Mississippi provided Mathus the opportunity to delve deeply into the music, sounds and literature of his home state. He opened his own studio, filled it with vintage gear, and began to record himself and others, including Elvis Costello. He also became a favorite at Morgan Freeman's blues club in Clarksdale.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
William Michael Smith