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Published: 2006/11/09
by Randy Ray

MOFRO and Papa Mali, Rhythm Room, Phoenix, AZ 10/12

Short, Sweet and Saucy

We live in Arizona, now, I explained. We wanted to be closer to family.
_ Yeah, replied Trey Anastasio. Youre closer to the sun._ – Chat with Big Red, 9/06

For the third straight show, the Arizona throngs filled a hall with energetic fervor. I dont know what theyve been putting in the water around here lately (and I dont want to know) but the crowds have been juiced and extremely enthusiastic. Must be all of those rednecks emigrating from California and Minnesotalikeahemyours truly. Anyway, IQs are up, humor is dry and saucy and the politics have finally been shifting more towards the left as the year trudges to an end in the Valley of the Sun.
The Rhythm Room is a Phoenix bar that holds around 300 people with a very cramped stage that has no real boundary between the artist and audience. This normal concert downside is a plus, howeverthink Wetlands without the size, hip factor and humidity. MOFRO used this line blur to their advantage as the crowd seemed to envelope the stage with an energy that was almost tangible as the band raced through their library dance floor funk meets cracker boy rock.

Commencing the main event, MOFRO let loose some swamp rock heralding from Floridaas opposed to the Louisiana variety preferred by the opening actand you cant fault a band that has a huge bag of songs about frog giggin, cracka brakes and ho cakes. The band and crazy Arizona audience melted as one onto the stage while I attempted to stay away from the teeming throng while jotting notes like killer harp solos abillionaplentyand Homesick (Shes On My Mind)shitkicker sound with crowd-pounding vocals with a mondo Bug-like tease-o-rama licka buck fifty PBR has helped loosen the wheels on this ole truck of an audience as I keep my distance from the drunken madness but revel in the good time music from That Boy to Dirtfloorcracker.

Papa Mali opened the show with an hour plus of amazing Satan and Adam-type interweaving betwixt a slide guitar and a drummer. The sound was round, full, ballsy and complete as Mali ran down his litany of Nawlins swamp rock from the murky shores of his aptly named Thunder Chicken release. The mood was euphoric, spirited and down and dirty with a mixture of white hot blues and soul shaker meltdowns. Quite frankly, I kept popping over to the stage to see if Malis bass pedals had been replaced by a proper twin combo of bass and rhythm guitarists but this was not the case. His inspired blend of toxic and gritty lyrical monologues from Cottonfields and Bayous to A Man of Many Words continue to inhabit a time zone all his own.

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