Declarations of Independents – Chris Morris
Flag Waving: Ask Jim Mize why he started writing songs, and he’ll confess, with a booming barrelhouse cackle, “I was tryin’ to get in this girl’s pants, and you have to use all the keys you can!”
If those tunes were as good as the songs on No Tell Motel, his debut on the Oxford, Mississippi Stump Grinder Records, he probably didn’t have to worry.
Mize is a native of Conway, Arkansas and his music is a rough-edged and winning combination of Dixie rock’n’roll, honk – tonk country and juke-joint blues. “It’s a Southern deal,” he says.
Mize formulated his style during 20 years of playing VFW halls (he’s a Vietnam vet who enlisted, with false papers, at age 16) and beer joints, with side trips to such locales as the late Junior Kimbrough’s Holly Springs, Mississippi juke joint...
Through his colleague, Dale Beavers – who has played with such Fat Possum Record acts as Paul “Wine” Jones and Kenny Brown (and appears on No Tell Motel) – he wound up recording his material at Bruce Watson’s Water Valley, Mississippi Studio the Money Shot. Present for the sessions were Cary Hudson and Laurie Stirratt of Blue Mountain.
The result is a splendid and hard-to-categorize set of soulfully crafted songs, bawled to perfection by Mize. Some of the best of these – “Emily Smiles” (Mize says of the songs subject. “She’s crazy!”) and “Let’s Go Running” – found there way into Blue Mountain’s latter-day sets.
Mize hopes to record again soon. He says of live work, "I'm a little lazy. Reason is, I'm picky... I try to play where I want to play and have the most fun at it. As far as plain' the honky-tonks go, I've done all that."