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Mac Arnold’s Return to the Blues by Stan Woodward



South Carolina native Mac Arnold had performed with James Brown, Muddy Waters, and B.B. King. He was part of the set band for Soul Train, and played bass on the Quincy Jones-produced theme song to the television show "Sanford and Son." He gave it all up to return to South Carolina and his family farm.  Years later, he had a chance encounter with a young musician who encouraged him to get back to the mainstream blues.

On Thursday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m., Arnold and award-winning producer/director Stan Woodward will be live in the ETV studios for a special presentation of the Southern Lens documentary “Mac Arnold’s Return to the Blues.” Both Arnold and Woodward (best known for his Southern Classic “It’s Grits”) will be in the studio that evening offering their behind-the-scenes insights into the making of the documentary. Arnold will also be performing live in the studio.

Watch a clip:

“Mac Arnold’s Return to the Blues” highlights the journey Arnold takes from his start in South Carolina blues clubs, to his rise to fame on the international scene, his retirement and subsequent return to the blues. Arnold’s music career started out when he began playing with “Jay Floyd and the Shamrocks”, his high school band which also featured the then-unknown James Brown on guitar. After moving to Chicago in 1965, the blues artist’s career really took off when he was personally invited by Muddy Waters himself to join the “Muddy Waters Band.” The result was an electric blues sound which inspired the rock and roll movement of the late 60’ and 70’s. After more than a year with the Muddy Waters Band, Arnold pursued his personal musical journey and formed the Soul Invaders. The death of his father in 1982 encouraged Arnold to return to his farm in the lower part of Greenville county, putting his musical interests on hold. After over ten years off the musical scene, a chance meeting with multi-instrumentalist Max Hightower motivated Arnold to return to the blues in 2006 with the formation of his band Plate Full O’ Blues.

Arnold continues to make his mark in the world of blues winning an award for “Best Historical Album” with the Muddy Waters Band at the 31st annual Blues Music Awards in 2010. Singing for artists such as the Temptations and B.B. King, Arnold’s musical skills continue to illuminate the world of blues, offering audiences of all ages a unique sound and rhythm.

The rise of Arnold’s musical career is what makes his return to the blues unique. Woodward expresses great honor in documenting the artist’s climb back onto the music scene saying, “I could see that his return to running the family farm and his love for farming was just like his return to the blues and his love for passing it on to a new generation.”

Woodward began his career in documenting Southern life in 1973 when he moved to South Carolina. After moving to South Carolina, Woodward bursts onto the documentary scene with his production of “It’s Grits” (which airs on ETV on Jan. 19 at 9 p.m.). As an “auteur” filmmaker, Woodward brilliantly captures his subjects in the 1st person point of view as he shoots, edits and directs the work all by himself. Woodward seeks to highlight the communities, culture and folk-life traditions which make up the fabric of the South.


Mac Arnold

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