Great musical events are often born of both positive and negative energies clashing with one another. And so it was at the Newport Festival in 1960, which had already been rocked by violent tumults even before it started. The allures of commerce raised its ugly head; the Mingus Band wanted their share and named a fee that the organisers were not willing to fulfill. The echo came quickly: Charles Mingus and Max Roach organised their own festival in the near-by Cliff Walk Manor Hotel, and the “Newport Rebels” were born. Tempers escalated during the Saturday night concert and commotion broke out when masses of drunken teenagers got into a fight with the security personnel. Newport was on the brink of disaster.
In the midst of this explosive atmosphere, and standing on the (quite literally) rotten planks of the festival stage, Muddy Waters performed songs which captured his audience’s ears and heart, and called attention to his unique Chicago blues. For many white people, this night was the very first time that they heard and saw a live performance by a black band. Numbers such as "I Got My Brand On You", "Hoochie Coochie Man", and "Tiger In Your Tank" are just as legendary as the members of the band, first and foremost James Cotton with his mouthorgan and Otis Spann on the piano, who is also to be heard as a vocalist in "Goodbye Newport Blues". About half-an-hour of highly concentrated, honest and passionate songs – just pure and unadulterated Muddy Waters’ blues.