Who's your daddy? In this case, it's Daddy Mack Orr, leader of the Center for Southern Folklore's house band, the Daddy Mack Blues Band, and subject of Jim O'Donnell's documentary Plain Man Blues, which was filmed as the band was recording its third album, Bluestones. On Saturday, the center will host a party/concert celebrating the release of the DVD.
Orr, who grew up cutting cotton in Como, Mississippi, moved to Memphis in the 1960s, eventually opening his own auto-repair shop. When he was in his mid-40s, Orr decided to learn how to play the guitar. His wife, not impressed by his first strummings, exiled him to the bathroom to practice. Orr, however, quickly became proficient enough to be invited to join the legendary Memphis blues band the Fieldstones, and after that group disbanded, he formed the Daddy Mack Blues Band, becoming a fixture at festivals and traveling the world.
The film, which debuted at last year's Indie Memphis festival, was made with great affection, and the affable Orr, with his large hands and humble charm, makes a fine subject. With a little flair and an easy touch, O'Donnell shows Orr to be a prodigious tinkerer with a wealth of curiosity, teaching himself how to fix cars, play the blues, and learn Spanish.
Plain Man Blues? Very watchable. Is Orr a plain man? Hardly.
"Plain Man Blues" DVD Release Party and Concert, Saturday, July 26th, at 8 p.m. at the Center for Southern Folklore. Tickets are $5. DVDs will be available for purchase for $18.99.