Aaron Meets the Como Mamas
inUncategorizedon May 21, 2014
On the way to the Juke Joint Festival, we stopped off in Como, Mississippi, to meet the Como Mamas – sisters Della and Angelia and cousin Ester Mae, all the grandchildren of Miles Pratcher. Pratcher was a seminal blues musician recorded in the 50s by Alan Lomax. Through great talent and good fortune the Mamas captured the attention of the soul revivalist and super hip Daptone music label. In 2013, Daptone released their first album, a recording made on a hot morning inside the Mt. Moriah church in Como. The album was a critical success and the Mamas have been receiving many offers to perform all over the world.
The group was looking for some management help, though, and we decided I had to go have a face to face with them and discuss what they wanted to do.
When we arrived to the Bartlett’s family home, Alice Pierotti, Como’s librarian and champion of local culture, was just arriving. She had a bottle of nice bourbon in one hand and a small bottle of water in the other. Ironing Board Sam, David Bryant, Intern MaryAnne and I had been driving all day and seeing Alice with refreshments and a smile was a welcoming presence.
The Bartletts, a local Como family who support the arts, were hosting a gathering where the Como Mamas were to perform. The Bartlett’s home is a large country estate, the kind you’d see grace the pages of a Southern living home interiors spread. I wasn’t sure what to expect, was I under-dressed? There was a beautiful grand piano in the back of the foyer. Ironing Board Sam went straight for it. Neighbors and friends started to arrive, the foyer was filling up and Sam was holding court. And then Ester walked in through the front door. With a few ‘hello’s she worked her way back to the piano and lit into “I am on the Battlefield for My Lord.” Her eyes closed, her voice filled the entire room, shaking the pictures on the walls. The kinship between Sam and Ester was immediate, they continued playing together for the next hour. When Angelia and Della arrived, they jumped right in. It felt just like Sunday on a Friday afternoon.
When we finally sat down to talk I had already fallen in love with these powerful musicians. The Mamas sing from their heart and share a musical tradition that reaches back across time. They are kind and humble and thrilled to have this attention on them. Speaking to Della the other night she told me, “Aaron, if you came back to Como and went to church on a Sunday you’d hear so many groups that would blow your mind, why they chose us, I don’t know.”