“A blues traveler goes back to 1969 and returns with a modern take on a classic Southern sound, and his name is Eddie 9V” – Guitar World
As far back as he can remember, Capricorn Studios was calling Eddie 9V. As a kid scanning the sleeves of his favorite vinyl records, this fabled facility in Macon, Georgia, was always the secret ingredient, adding a little grit and honey to every song born on its floor. Capricorn and the bands who blew through it urged the Atlanta guitarist to ditch school at 15, play his fingers bloody throughout the south, and turn apathy into acclaim for early albums Left My Soul in Memphis (2019) and Little Black Flies (2021).
Eddie spent his first quarter-century admiring Capricorn from afar. But in December 2021, the 26-year-old finally put his thumbprint on the studio’s mythology, corralling an eleven-strong group of the American South’s best roots musicians to track his third album. “There was overwhelming excitement at being in such a legendary studio,” he says. “But we hugged and got right to work. Everyone was joyous, loving, and flat-out playing their asses off.”
You don’t come to Capricorn Studios for polish. Frozen in time since its opening day in 1969, the mojo from sessions by giants like the Allman Brothers and Bonnie Bramlett still hangs in the air, while the recording philosophy remains gloriously raw. That suited Eddie, whose output has been celebrated for its warts-and-all snapshot of what went down. “In a world where everyone is trying to sound the best, I’m trying to sound like me,” he reasons. “I always want the listener to feel like they’re in the room with us. So I’d leave it in if a drum pedal squeaked or someone laughed during a take on the Capricorn album. It’s our way of putting a stamp on the song.” Eddie’s old-school ethos goes way back. Born Brooks Mason in June 1996, he acquired his first guitar aged six, “One of those with the speaker in it – the most bang for your buck, y’know?”, ignored the prevailing pop scene at Oak Grove High School in favor of local heroes like Sean Costello and studied “older cats” like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Freddie King, and Rory Gallagher “to see what made them groove and tick.” His shoot-from-the-lip lyrics adds Eddie came from family fish fries, where his Uncle Brian “taught me to make people laugh, how to hold an audience’s attention.”
When Eddie infiltrated his home state’s live circuit – first with covers band The Smokin’ Frogs, then its more adept blues-rock offshoot, The Georgia Flood – he quickly pricked up ears everywhere he played. His artistic vision became full realized when he killed Brooks Mason and adopted the solo moniker that promises an electrifying night out, “Eddie 9 Volt”.
“There are too many Joe Schmo r&b bands,” he reasons. “I was on the road with another band, and we were talking like mobsters. So we gave each other names – mine was Eddie.”
Already, there has been massive acclaim for his early output, with Left My Soul in Memphis dubbed “fresh and life-affirming” by Rock & Blues Muse and Little Black Flies praised by Classic Rock as “the most instinctive blues you’ll hear all year.” But as the Capricorn sessions ticked closer, Eddie fused the nervous energy into his best songs yet. “Coming off a straight blues record, I wanted to show people we’re more than that,” he reflects. “I was listening to Muscle Shoals and soul, a lot of music recorded at Capricorn in the late-’60s too. So we spent way more time crafting the new tunes. Each song took a week to write, instead of five in one night like Little Black Flies.”
“Beg, Steal and Borrow” is ballsy soul with Eddie’s spit flecking the mic. “Yella Alligator” is as swampy-sounding as the title, with slide guitars lapping around cardboard-box beats. Bout To “Make Me Leave Home” is a propulsive shuffle, Eddie’s vocal seemingly made up in the moment. The gospel-touched “Are We Through” catches a breath before How Long drapes mellow organ over bone-dry riffs. “It’s Goin’ Down” fuses porch blues with psychedelic woodwind, while “Tryin’ To Get By” brings brassy strut while concealing lyrics from the perspective of a man on a downward spiral, surviving on the crumbs of a love affair. “The lyrics and meanings of these new songs are way deeper,” says Eddie. “Take the song “It’s Goin’ Down”. It’s really about my struggle with alcohol, the dangerous nightlife of bars, and the drugs offered to you in the music industry. But then, one of my favorite tunes, “Yella Alligator,” is about a fictional psychedelic party in the bayou…”
Likewise, Capricorn is an album of thrilling musical contrasts. Bob Dylan’s “Down Along the Cove” is a pugnacious blues-rocker, followed by Khristie French’s gossamer lead vocal on the spiritual Mary Don’t You Weep. Mellow Missouri is dusty as a great lost soul session, while brass punches through the glassy chords of “I’m Lonely”. Finally, the album ends with Eddie’s laughter as he realizes he has no more to give: “I gotta come out of this room…!”
Never meet your heroes, they say, and many young artists have been overwhelmed by walking the holy ground of their dream studios. At Capricorn, Eddie 9V breathed in the history – but the album he spat out is worthy of sharing the name, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the studio’s greatest hits and taking music back to the golden age. “We made this record,” he considers, “the way they would have done in 1969…”
Images: Cameron Flaisch