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Legendary legacy of rock and funk: a conversation with Mother’s Finest
Joyce Kennedy and Glenn Murdock chat ahead of Victory North performance

Mother’s Finest @Victory North

Sat., Feb. 8, 7 P.M. doors, $26

2603 Whitaker St

THE FACT that Mother’s Finest is still here, playing sold out show after sold out show, is an incredible thing on its own. Consider the fact that they’re at the top of their game, and it’s even more amazing.

Officially, the band’s debut album arrived in 1972, though it was a few years later before they started making serious waves. Soon enough, they were a band to be rivaled; so much so, that they became legendary for blowing headliners off the stage as an opening act.

Nearly 50 years later, they still have the same mind-blowing live show and incredible catalog of songs like “Love Changes,” “Baby Love,” and “Don’t Wanna Come Back.”

The Atlanta natives remain committed to the Mother’s Finest legacy and its continuation, even as members come and go. Glenn Murdock and Joyce Kennedy, the group’s original vocalists, are at the forefront of that effort, and they’ll be bringing the band to Victory North on Sat., Feb. 8.

Ahead of the show, we caught up with Kennedy and Murdock by phone for a wide-ranging discussion about the last four-plus decades.

You’ve been doing this for so long, and it would seem like you still love touring after all these years. Is it still as fun as it once was?

Murdock: Oh, it’s one of the best jobs you could have. You have to take advantage of that, appreciate it and treat it well so you can keep doing it.

The landscape of being in a band is so different nowadays, in ways both positive and negative. Do you appreciate it more now than you did?

Murdock: We appreciate it more in [certain] ways. It’s almost a weird place to be, because of the different types of music going on. Some of this new music is like what we started out doing, which was not as popular as it is now. We’re still a pretty organic band, when there’s a lot of electronic stuff going on. But in some ways, we freshen up our songs and our profile by inheriting some of what’s going on in the digital music world. We don’t do analog anymore, so that’s different.

I would say it’s more interesting now than it was when we started, because we have to keep up and stay as current as possible with our fans. We’re sort of looking at it from the outside looking in, but at the same time trying to keep our heads together and stay current. We’re still thinking about doing fresh music; we haven’t lost that. We’re not bored or nostalgic, and we still have a freshness that keeps us wanting to do it.

Mother’s Finest has been able to weather so many cultural and musical changes throughout the years, whether it be the rise of technology, the industry landscape, or even production trends in the 80s, etc. You’ve remained authentically you, which is an incredible thing.

Murdock: It comes down to, are you going to peddle your merchandise? In the past, you’d get distributed by a big record label and they’d take all of your money and your publishing and say, “Just stand there and we’ll do the rest.” And since then, bands have been fighting back. I think that everybody is benefitting from the fact that the older bands fought for independence, and against the slave mentality that [existed] with record labels. Entering the digital domain gives you direct contact with people.

You guys were known for being so good live that you were better than some of the huge bands you toured with back in the day, like Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, The Who, etc. Is there a memory that stands out from that time?

Kennedy: I don’t know that one stands out—they were all great. We got kicked off of a couple of them, because they couldn’t stand the heat. But you never get tired of it. One tour that I loved—and this wasn’t a case of that—that I’ll never forget was with AC/DC. It was AC/DC and Mother’s Finest.

Woah! That’s amazing.

Kennedy: Yeah, they were coming out with Highway To Hell. I had two cats named AC and DC, I loved them so much. That one was really close to my heart. It was an amazing tour—the audience was just devastated, and totally drained of their energy [laughs].

It's an amazing thing to have been out with a band like that and really make an impact on their audience.

Kennedy: The thing you have to remember is that Mother's Finest is the type of band that was never really accepted in the rock venues. We were always [categorized as] funk or funk rock. Nobody could ever really define it. But the audiences always loved it, and the relationship between the band and the audience was always excellent; no judgement, you know what I mean? Which created a beautiful thing.

That was all part of God’s plan, so there was nothing that was going to affect that. It wasn’t always easy.

There were a couple of times when we’d walk out on stage and the audience didn’t want to see it because there were too many black people in the band. So we had to deal with that, but through it all we’ve survived [almost] 50 years.

Our audience is still there, because whatever we gave them and whatever they walked away with stayed. Those people come back because they appreciated the authenticity of whatever we had to say.