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“Music legend” is a label that sometimes gets handed out too often. But in the case of Upstate native, Mac Arnold, the title is certainly more than well deserved. From his early days of playing a homemade guitar to his work with his current band, Plate Full O’ Blues, Mac has been a virtual shaman in this most southern of music genre. Fans and followers will have the chance this weekend to pay homage and see him in action at The Handlebar.

Those who knew Mac as a youngster must have had some inkling that this man’s music resume would read like a “Who’s Who” of blues, rock and R&B legends. Learning to play guitar on an instrument his brother made from a gas can, Mac went on in high school to form his own band, which included none other than the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. After a stint with The Charles Miller Band, Mac left the southland in 1965 forChicagoto work with celebrated sax man, A.C. Reed. A year later, at the age of 24, Mac was playing bass for the legendary Muddy Waters and sharing the stage with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells, Elmore James and Jimmy Reed. Backstage, Mac was often found jamming with the rock stars of the day – including Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield and Elvin Bishop (It was rumored that guitar god, Jimi Hendrix was inspired by Muddy’s band).

After more than a year with Muddy, Mac ventured out on his own to form The Soul Invaders, playing back-up for such acts as The Temptations and B.B. King. Following a trip to South California (and falling in love with the mild weather), Mac moved to L.A. where he worked with TV innovators such as Don Cornelius of “Soul Train” and comedian Redd Foxx (that familiar bass line on the “Sanford & Son” theme was performed by Mac), as well as R&B artists such as Bill Withers.  But the call of his home town was too strong and Mac returned toSouth Carolinato retire on his farm in the 1980’s.

It was a chance encounter with a singing mechanic that brought Mac back to the blues. Max Hightower has had a longtime love for anything relating to the blues. After wearing out a second hand copy of “Muddy’s Mississippi Live”, he decided to pursue a career in music. Following a few years of bouncing from band to band and stage to stage, Max was working at a trucking company when in walked one of his blues heroes. After many a deep conversations with the fellow musician, Mac decided it was time he came out of retirement. With the addition of Austin Brashier on guitar, Dan Keylon on bass, Mike Whitt on drums and, of course, Max on keyboard and harmonica, Plate Full O’ Blues was born.

Mac came back to blues like a man starving for a good meal. With several albums and music DVD’s to date, tours that have spanned the USand Europeand praise from music critics from all walks, Mac and Plate Full O’ Blues have certainly proven that they’re here to stay! This Saturday, the 28th they’re back at one of their favorite venues, The Handlebar, for their 6th Annual Cornbread and Collard Greens Festival. The band takes the stage starting at 8PM until Mac decides it’s time for y’all to head on home! Tickets are on sale now at The Handlebar for $14 ($2 extra for those under 21). If you buy a $20 ticket, you get some down-homeCarolina cookin’ to enjoy before the show! So, head on out to The Handlebar this weekend for some smokin’ hot blues from a man who will certainly be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame one day! See you there!

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