USA Today Streaming James Cotton's
New Star Studded CD, Cotton Mouth Man >>

"A world-class harmonica-playing bluesman... An upbeat, warm blues album boasting fine musicianship and the same undeniable spirit Cotton has displayed for close to 60 years now."
- Rolling Stone

"Mr. Cotton, with his aggressive, rock-ready blues harp - particularly as recorded in the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival version of 'Got My Mojo Workin' - helped spark electric bluesmania in England… his remarkable instrumental prowess and singular personal saga have continued, and both are the focus of his latest CD, "Cotton Mouth Man".
- Wall Street Journal

"To work with Mr. Cotton, you're working with a real bluesman, and it's an honor… It's a huge honor and a huge responsibility to sing on a James Cotton track, you know. I felt on that track like I was representing the voice of James Cotton. I was trying to channel his spirit, in the song, and his story. And sing as if I were him."
- Keb' Mo' on NPR

"Listen to Cotton's harmonica playing on the album - gritty, gutsy, ferociously uninhibited - and you're hearing what great blues harp work is all about. No wonder they call him 'Superharp.'"
- Chicago Tribune

"the living embodiment of the Chicago blues… Cotton is amazing on these cuts, his harp blasts full of passion, power, and enough pure energy to light up the night sky. Cotton may not do somersaults on stage anymore, but his harp lines do, weaving in and out of these songs like a charging Chicago freight train… Cotton may be cruising in on 80 years of age, but he's just released one of the best albums of his career."
- AllMusic

"Throughout, Cotton unfurls his legendary multi-octave harmonic prowess (to say nothing of his hurricane-like wind power) with undiminished force."
- Living Blues

"He may have lost his voice, but his sound is still as strong as ever. James Cotton's latest Alligator release, Cotton Mouth Man, shows him at the top of his powers, his trademark waaaah harpblast still a formidable force… Cotton Mouth Man is as good as anything he's ever done, proving that despite his vocal hardship, James Cotton is still one of the greatest blues communicators of all times."
- No Depression

"Cotton Mouth Man sees him in fine form, his playing still as incendiary as it's ever been, the interplay with his guests fiery and real."
- Rhythms Magazine Australia

"Cotton plays with huge power and feeling and, for all the great help, there's never any doubt whose album it is."
- Mojo Magazine, 4 Star Review

Alligator Records
May 7, 2013

Rolling Stone says Grammy Award-winning blues harmonica legend James "Mr. Superharp" Cotton is "among the greats of all time....He blazes on harp with brilliant virtuosity." On May 7, 2013 Alligator Records will release Cotton Mouth Man, a joyous celebration of Cotton's 69 years as a professional musician (beginning at age nine). Recorded in Nashville and produced by Grammy-winning producer/ songwriter/ drummer Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Joe Louis Walker, Susan Tedeschi), the album is a trip through sounds and scenes from Cotton's long and storied career.

Cotton co-wrote seven of the tracks with Hambridge (who co-wrote five additional tracks). The songs were inspired by Cotton's colorful and sometimes perilous life and his memories of the Mississippi Delta, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Memphis, Sun Records, Chicago, and Muddy Waters. Throughout the CD Cotton's blast-furnace harmonica sound and larger-than-life personality are front and center.

Helping Cotton tell his stories and showcase his music are guests Gregg Allman, Joe Bonamassa, Ruthie Foster, Warren Haynes, Delbert McClinton, and Keb Mo. Other vocals are handled by Darrell Nulisch, who has been singing in Cotton's band for many years. Members of Cotton's road band - Jerry Porter, Noel Neal, and Tom Holland - are also on board for some songs. Forming the core of the backing band on the CD are Hambridge (drums), Rob McNelley (guitar), Chuck Leavell (keyboards), and Glenn Worf (bass). Tommy MacDonald and Colin Linden each add guitar to one track. Cotton, who after a bout with throat cancer turned the vocal duties over to others, was inspired by the sessions to return to the microphone, singing his own Bonnie Blue (the name of the plantation where he was born), and making Cotton Mouth Man the most personal, celebratory and just plain fun recording of his seven-decade career.

According to Cotton, "I feel so happy about the music in this album. The blues is all about feeling - if I don't feel it, I can't play it. My hope is that everyone who listens feels it. I know I sure did!" Cotton has recently been signed by the prestigious Rosebud Agency and will be touring the world in support of the album.

Cotton's history is now the stuff of legend. Born on a cotton plantation in Tunica, Mississippi on July 1, 1935, he learned harmonica directly from Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller) as a small child. He toured with Howlin' Wolf, recorded for Sun Records, and spent 12 years with Muddy Waters before stepping out on his own. Leading his own band, he rose to the very top of the blues and rock scenes, touring non-stop and earning his reputation as one of the most powerful live blues performers in the world, a man who could literally suck the reeds out of the harmonica from the pure force of his playing.

He first recorded under his own name for the Chicago/The Blues/Today! series on Vanguard, and along with Otis Spann, cut The Blues Never Die! for Prestige. He made his first solo albums - three for Verve and one for Vanguard - in the late 1960s, with bands featuring outstanding musicians, including famed guitarist Luther Tucker. With his gale-force sound and fearless boogie band (later featuring Matt "Guitar" Murphy), it wasn't long before he was adopted by the burgeoning hippie audience as one of their own. Cotton shared stages with Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, B.B. King, Santana, Steve Miller, Freddie King and many others.

Cotton was universally renowned as one of the hardest-touring and most popular blues artists of the 1960s and 1970s. His acrobatic showmanship (he often did somersaults on stage) and full-throttle energy kept him in demand at concert halls all over the country. He played the Fillmore East in New York, the Fillmore West in San Francisco and every major rock and blues venue in between. During the 1970s, he cut three albums for Buddah and one for Capitol. He rejoined his old boss Muddy Waters for the series of Muddy albums produced by Johnny Winter, starting with Hard Again in 1977. Cotton also guested on recordings by Koko Taylor and many others. He was joined on his own albums by stars like Todd Rundgren, Steve Miller and Johnny Winter.

Cotton signed with Alligator Records in 1984, releasing High Compression and Live From Chicago: Mr. Superharp Himself!!! (which earned him the first of his four Grammy nominations). In 1990 he joined fellow Chicago harp masters for the all-star release Harp Attack!. He won a Grammy Award in 1996 for his Verve album, Deep In The Blues, was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 2006, and was honored by the Smithsonian Institution, which added one of his harmonicas to their permanent collection. During the 2000s Cotton has continued recording and touring relentlessly, playing clubs, concert halls and festivals all over the world, electrifying audiences wherever he performs. Cotton's 2009 return-to-Alligator release, Giant, was Grammy-nominated. USA Today said, "Since 1966 James Cotton has been carrying the Chicago sound to the world. On Giant, he pours 75 years of living into that harmonica and out comes devastating and powerful blasts of notes."

In June 2010, Cotton was honored at New York's Lincoln Center, where his friends Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, Taj Mahal, Shemekia Copeland and others paid tribute to him in an all-star concert. There James Cotton played to yet another sold-out venue, with fans cheering the man known worldwide as "Mr. Superharp," an undisputed giant of the blues. He continues to tour nationally and internationally with his own band.

The New York Daily News calls Cotton "the greatest living blues harmonica player." The New York Times adds, "Cotton helped define modern blues harmonica with his moaning, wrenching phrases and his train-whistle wails."

Cotton Mouth Man proves James Cotton's high-compression blues harmonica playing is a true force of nature, while his songs and stories are a living history of the blues. As The San Francisco Examiner says, "James Cotton is an inimitable blues legend. His wailing harmonica blows them away. His improvisations on the blues are full of fun and good humor. The blues don't get much better."