Back in 2009, seasoned blues drummer Ian Thomson knew he’d found the perfect front man for his new rhythm and blues band. He had just seen vocalist and harmonica player Craig Bracken wow and rock the audience at Auckland’s famed King’s Arms pub.
Soon after, Thomson uncovered Tauranga bred guitarist Doug Bygrave who relished the opportunity to play his Texas and southern style shuffles, rhumbas and slam down, four-on-the-floor blues. In anticipation, Doug christened the band The Flaming Mudcats.
Bass man Sean McCarthy jumped at the chance after hearing about this new band.
From the outset they were determined to do the hard yards necessary to achieve recognition and success. The Flaming Mudcats would strive for the power, variety, originality and standards delivered by similar overseas bands.
Now well into their second decade, driving bass man Pete Parnham is a relative newcomer to the line-up, admitting that filling the shoes of the previous bass talent is no easy task. Still, he is bringing his unique style, clarity and sense of purpose to the underlying rhythms.
The Flaming Mudcats have proved themselves as one of this country’s premier contemporary rhythm and blues combos, playing regularly around Aotearoa and performing at festivals and clubs in Australia, Samoa, Fiji and the USA. Their memorable appearances in the heart of the blues Chicago and again in Austin Texas were especially well received and remain a highlight and milestone in the band’s history.
For all their longevity, the band has never stayed still for long. Their evolution is apparent, overarching their four albums, as Bracken adds the tenor sax and chromatic harp, and with the studio additions of keyboards and tight horn section.
If you listen to the albums in order, even more obvious is the developing sophistication shown by the heavy weight song writing team of Bracken and Thomson, supplemented by the other band members. Their song writing provides a constant stream of new material to refresh the band’s live sets, providing audiences with renewed performances. Songs like Hey Margarita and Good Behaviour carry the highs and lows of real life, mixed with memorable and catchy hook lines that promise a heaving dance floor.
For bigger shows the band often enlists noted keyboardist Liam Ryan, who adds rocking piano, and authentic, legendary Hammond organ sounds of classic rhythm and blues.
This is a band not to be missed.