Little Muddy

Little Muddy

Oakland, CA | Established. Jan 01, 1998 | SELF

Oakland, CA | SELF
Established on Jan, 1998
Band Americana Rock




"Chain Link (2022)"

"Little Muddy has evolved several times since the band first formed and the current version responsible for the fourteen songs written and recorded for Chain Link makes a strong case for being the band’s best. The band’s 1999 debut heralded the arrival of a particularly unique outfit capable of producing compelling original material as well as covering iconic artists with distinctive flair. Guitarist Rich Goldstein is the only remaining member from the band’s beginnings and, unsurprisingly, his creative vision plays a huge factor in Little Muddy’s music.

This is no detriment. He opens the album with its title track and the light atmospherics surrounding the song’s otherwise gritty groove further deepens the cut’s impact. It has an audible and sharp funk edge that, nevertheless, isn’t too overwrought. Instrumental music has higher hurdles than ever in a front-person-centric marketplace centered on singers, but Goldstein and his collaborators understand how to surmount those hurdles.

Mark Abbott’s drumming continues to impress during the second track “Groove Town”. His performance is the definition of “pocket drumming” as he achieves a near-effortless swing. Little Muddy’s songs benefit enormously from the album’s production; there’s real ambiance present in this song. The brief “In the Distance You’ll See” has a surprising effect on listeners despite its short duration and its acoustic sound has tactile qualities easy to appreciate.

Goldstein’s lead guitar reaches peaks during “Slow Time” which helps make the track an album highlight. The pace of the song’s first half is placid and minimalist, but Little Muddy ramps up the tempo during the second part of the cut. The jazzy inclinations of “Slow Time” fade, however, with the next track. “Triple Agent” pursues a much edgier aesthetic without ever veering too off course. Its potent bassline sounds off as one of the song’s defining elements without ever overshadowing the overall entertaining package.

Little Muddy crosses a southwestern Tex-Mex flavor with acoustic blues for the album’s eight track “300 Years from Now”. There’s no question the band delivers musical narratives powered by cinematic motifs. It isn’t difficult to envision pairing the sparse yet lyrical desolation of this piece with starkly beautiful visual landscapes. The same artistic direction fuels “Night Highway” and it’s one of the band’s pinnacle moments. Little Muddy keeps things simmering throughout, never allowing the track to boil, and it swells with intensity.

“Spark on the Horizon” demonstrates the band’s dazzling versatility. It’s a rock track, but there’s plenty of blues influence spiking every passage along the way. Little Muddy’s impressive talent for alternating between styles without ever losing their footing. Moreover, their musical range doesn’t dilute their effect on listeners. “Route 51 South” closes Chain Link on a hot bluesy note with another superb Mark Abbott drumming performance putting an exclamation point on the track. There’s something for every listener included on Chain Link though, without question, guitar lovers will particularly rejoice. Rich Goldstein is playing near or at the peak of his musical powers and his compositional talents are a major reason the collection is so successful."
--The Hollywood Digest- Garth Thomas - The Hollywood Digest

"Chain Link (2022)"

"Opening their latest release Chain Link with the one-two punch of the title track and “Groove Town” makes it clear that Little Muddy’s talents are built on solid fundamentals. Their familiarity with blues and rock doesn’t have any artistic distance; the band, particularly guitarist and dominant songwriter Rich Goldstein, wholeheartedly embrace those traditional sounds without ever imitating anyone. You hear recognizable twists and turns along the way, yes, but Goldstein stamps each of Chain Link’s fourteen compositions with personal authority that burns away any superficial comparisons.

Little Muddy starts the album off with its title song. It’s a statement of confidence. One of the many things the band has working in their favor is the unforgettable guitar sound Goldstein gets here and on other electric guitar tracks. It has a hard-charging touch that never steamrolls listeners; co-producer Adam Rossi works well with Goldstein to lock down an in your face yet warm tone for this track and the remaining thirteen.

Kevin White and Mark Abbott, bass and drums respectively, provide able rhythm section support. The latter shines during the title song and its follow-up “Groove Town”. Abbott’s work on the kit accentuates the upbeat buoyancy Goldstein and his cohorts are aiming for without sacrificing much of the grit heard throughout these instrumentals. Acts and albums without vocals are always a harder sell than most in the contemporary music world and Chain Link faces the same challenges.

One of the key elements, however, separating Little Muddy’s work is their sense of songcraft. These aren’t self-indulgent instrumental explorations but, rather, condensed songs constructed for maximum effect. Few of them run longer than three minutes but quasi-interludes such as “In The Distance You’ll See” sparkle thanks to the different instrumental voices Little Muddy employs. New sounds creep their way into this brief composition but they never sound out of place.

“Scirocco Escape” will be a peak track for a lot of listeners. The production invests it with a significant amount of atmospherics, never gimmicky or cheap, and it boasts a pressure cooker-like quality that finds release at well-chosen points. Little Muddy plays as a band here with quite a bit of bite – it isn’t just a platform for Goldstein to show off his songwriting talents or guitar playing skill.

Another of the album’s short acoustic pieces arrives with “300 Years from Now” and its bleak acoustic musings are not without beauty. The overall tone isn’t especially inviting, but Little Muddy nonetheless mines lyrical passages from the dark and this track is among the highlights of the album’s “lighter” half. They mix swinging percussion with Goldstein’s blistering lead guitar for the track “Ricardo’s Ride” and it crackles with Latin swagger without ever succumbing to cliché. The same vital instrumental attack integral to the first thirteen songs drives the last one as well. “Route 51 South” steams ahead, full-throttle, with another impassioned turn on guitar from Goldstein. The band’s longtime guitarist is the tip of the spear for Little Muddy and he sounds engaged as never before throughout Chain Link."
--Melody Maker Magazine- Chadwick Easton - Melody Maker Magazine

"Chain Link (2022)"

"Anyone who believes instrumental releases are inherently limited by the absence of a lead singer will do themselves a huge favor listening to Little Muddy. Rich Goldstein and his changing cast of collaborations over the last twenty-plus years have distinguished the band as one of the best and most surprising purveyors of traditional guitar music with a modern sound working today. The fact that Goldstein has sustained this project through multiple peaks and valleys without his passion ever flagging in an audible way testifies to his abiding all-around self-confidence.

It’s easy to hear it. The first song of Little Muddy’s new release, Chain Link, is its title song and it throws down an undeniable early gauntlet. His muscular guitar playing gets added push from drummer Mark Abbott’s sterling time-keeping. Abbott gives the title song some swing, of course, but it derives such impetus from the way he attacks the drums that the song gathers elemental force.

His percussive swing is a big reason for the success of songs such as “Groove Town”. Goldstein intends for this track to break a bit with the dominant demeanor of his material in favor of a more relaxed and life-affirming vibe. “Groove Town” hits its mark – it has much of the same raw-boned physicality as the title track opener, but it’s leaner, cut closer to the bone. “In the Distance You’ll See” is the first acoustic gem and a welcome change of pace early in the release. Little Muddy doesn’t limit themselves to a boilerplate style for their softer side and it gives this track an exotic tone it might have otherwise lacked.

“Slow Time” is another of Chain Link’s highlights. Many listeners will especially enjoy the build, the gradual escalation, and it pays off in a big way. The second part of “Slow Time” takes a perhaps unexpected swing upwards as Little Muddy gathers the full force of its inspiration for some blinding passages. The inspired work during the second half of the song is worth the price of purchase alone. A playful edge comes out for the track “Triple Agent” and the reverb-spiked guitar work rife throughout the song gives it a nervy and unsettled angle.

The echo laid over Abbott’s drumming during “Night Highway” gives it an additional dramatic atmosphere. There’s a real sense of stakes surrounding this song; it feels like someone on the wrong side of the law rolling down a well-lit highway in the dead of night. It’s furtive, desperate, and dangerous. He achieves some of the same effects during the finale “Route 51 South”, but it’s filtered through a much more bluesy filter. The go-for-broke attitude that’s present in every line of Goldstein’s guitar work gains so much more from the production.

It’s a fine way to end Chain Link. Goldstein and the other members of Little Muddy marshal several different styles to deliver a memorable and cohesive statement. Instrumental releases rarely get the attention they deserve, but Little Muddy’s latest release deserves the widest possible audience."
---Indie Pulse Music, Mindy McCall - Indie Pulse Music

"Door 15 cd review"

"You know something special is going on when a grizzled, jaded rock critic is introduced to a band and immediately seeks out it's back catalog- even going online to buy its out-of-print debut.
San Francisco's Little Muddy centers on guitarist Rich Goldstein, the only member still onboard from its self-titled 1999 debut. The instrumentalists' current cd Door 15 returns to a trio format, after 2008's The Road to Bodie- a solo collection of Goldstein's atmospheric vignettes.
On outings one and two (the second titled Mayan Mud), the group tackled covers from such varied sources as Stevie Wonder, AC/DC, Charlie Rich, Jimmy Webb("Wichita Lineman, cut around the same time as Friends Of Dean Martinez's similar version), and film scorers Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein, and Lalo Schifrin. This time, the eclectics tap soundtracks by Nino Rota, ("The Godfather"), Quincy Jones ("Sanford and Son"), and John Barry ("Midnight Cowboy"), as well as tunes by Van Halen ("Jamie's Cryin'"), Lulu ("To Sir With Love"), and Neil Diamond ("GIrl, You'll Be A Woman Soon").
But the covers are like familiar little oases in between Goldstein's noir-ish compositions. His playing reveals influences from nearly every corner of the stylistic spectrum-from country to blues, rock, jazz, funk,
and folk. Utilizing a '69 Telecaster or a late 50's "Jimmy Page" model Danelectro (for open tunings and slide) through a '65 blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb, his tone typically has some distortion, but also plenty of definition.
Martinez friends (and fans of other surf-noir artists like John Blakely and Terry "Buffalo " Ware) should gravitate to this, but so should followers of tone masters like Buchanan, Beck and Santana."
Vintage Guitar Magazine (Dan Forte) May 2010 - Vintage Guitar Magazine May 2010

"Door 15 cd review"

"Door 15, the latest release from  Little Muddy, arrived in the mail a few days ago.  Americana Daily reviewed their third album, Road to Bodie, last year around this time and found it to be a pleasant surprise.
As mentioned in that review, Little Muddy’s music is moody, mysterious and cinematic.  After reading through the song selections on Door 15, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but received a whole other kind of surprise this time.

Door 15, the title track and first cut on the album, could easily be the theme from a 1960’s secret agent film. The entire album plays like the soundtrack  to a film about soundtracks, their cover of Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon would have been the perfect choice for Pulp Fiction if they had been around at the time. Tarantino should take note of these guys for his next film.

There are several other theme covers including a funky Isaac Hayes wah-wah take on the theme from Sanford and Son, a haunting version of Midnight Cowboy and sandwiched in between is a complete instrumental overhaul of Lulu’s To Sir With Love. 

Mixed in among the covers are songs like Caveman Radio, the possible theme to a movie about pre-historic dee-jays, Daktari Safari, the perfect title, as well as the perfect concept, for Tarantino's next project; and What Was Isn't There, the theme song to your life.  Primitive Channel, the final cut, could easily be the FADE TO BLACK - CREDITS ROLL background music for just about any film.    

While their name and image conjures up rural Americana, Little Muddy's sound is more Cinemacana (I think I just coined a term) music inspired by movie music - instrumental roots-music for movie music lovers.   Close your eyes and give Door 15 a listen, the movie will unfold in your mind."
Americana Daily Nov.09 - Americana Daily 11/09

"Mayan Mud cd review"

"The most effective instrumentals don't just convey rhythm and melody, they evoke sonic landscapes with near cinematic clarity. That every cut of Mayan Mud (Shoeless Records) transports listeners to exotic places speaks to the expertise of San Francisco's Little Muddy. Rich
Goldstein(guitars), Scott Shaw(bass and keyboards), Vince Littleton (drums),are masters of mood, hooks, tone, and dramatic effect. "Dark Alley Swing" and "Nitro-Burnin and Modified" are the nearest to blues, but an adventurous nature is hinted at by upside-down photographs, country twanging and bends, jazzy chording, bluesy snarls,and splashes of surf abound. They cover Floyd Cramer, Elmer Bernstein , Henry Mancini, and put AC/DC on the open range- is compelling and rewarding." - Blues Revue Magazine 01/04

"Future City album review"

"This is the second Little Muddy instrumental album reviewed in Pipeline…Rich Goldstein plays electric, slide, acoustic guitars plus a resonator mandolin to give the album a modern rootsy feel in places.
The tracks are generally in the three minute mark, but there are a couple of attractive shorter features for the resonator in Arrival 1866 and Tomorrow Knows.
Organ embellishes some numbers like the loping Panther Dan, the wistful Barry is Here, and the easy going light jazz of the Andy Griffith Theme. Scything electric licks enhance the grumbling Blacktop Speedway, and there's plenty of latent drama in the pounding 5 Minutes Away. My favorite is the title track Future City, which has an irresistible rhythm and some great hooks which really draw you in."
Pipeline Magazine (UK) 2016 Alan Taylor - Pipeline UK 2016

"Little Muddy (1st cd) review"

"Rich Goldstein's attention getting guitar conjures Roy Buchanan, The Hellecasters, Arlen Roth, Tom Verlaine (really!),and others...the covers--"Son of a Preacher Man","Wichita Lineman", Stevie Wonder's "I Wish",Lalo Schifrin's "Mission Accomplished", Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors"- suggest the Bay Area trio's range of interests. It's a wild ride, from "Border Toasts", to "Mohave Offramp" to "Lilac Lane", with moments lulling and bracing along the way." - Blues Revue magazine 12/00

"The Road to Bodie cd review"

"...Such knowledge, though, goes nowhere near describing the audio experience of The Road to Bodie. Imagine, if you will, the spoken word bits on Richmond Fontaine’s ‘Post To Wire’ and reinvent them in your mind as musical pieces. These aren’t songs in any sensible definition of the word but ‘interludes’ set to music, each looking perhaps for a visual home or accompaniment. Its no surprise to learn that the band’s music has been used on several soundtracks , or that the press release slips in a word or two about being available for hire (presumably aimed at film and TV producers). The feel is undeniably ‘western/americana’ – there are lots of guitars – acoustic/slide/resonator/electric – but each is used incredibly sparsely... ...As stated, this record is pretty much like a shop window for those looking for someone to soundtrack their movie, but it can be listened to in its own right; the lack of vocals sends one to the record sleeve to hunt down the names of the tracks, and its here that one begins to compose ones own story to try and tie the music together. A cursory glance at those titles (examples: “Its Up Above Us Now”, “I Have To Leave At Three a.m.”, “There’s Still Too Much Radiation Outside”, “Fall Leaves With Murder”) should tell you the kind of territory to go down." - Americana UK 03/08

"The Road to Bodie cd review"

"...As the opening cut drifted in, and I mean that literally - like a wave washing up on the shore - I was immediately reminded of early Fleetwood Mac and the Peter Green/Jeremy Spencer/Danny Kirwan soft acoustic blues, or maybe something on Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Trilogy album - From the Beginning, perhaps. The sound was familiar, soft and mellow with an edgy-bluesy undertone. It felt like I'd heard it before, but not quite like this, and not in quite some time. The songs blended together like streams spilling into a river, like rivers spilling into the ocean of soundwaves washing up on the shore. As I read through the promo kit, there was much mention of bluesy instrumental landscapes, roots music and movie themes, with comparisons to guitar players like Roy Buchanan and Tom Verlaine. No mention of Fleetwood Mac or Peter Green and surprisingly enough, no mention of Pink Floyd and the soundtrack to More or Mudmen an instrumental cut from Obscured by Clouds, their soundtrack for the French film La Vallée - both albums had wandered across my mind as I listened closer. Maybe I'm showing my age or maybe I'm way out in left field...but that's the best part about discovering a new group or artist and hearing their music for the first time. It conjures up feelings and thoughts that aren't biased by preconceptions, that are pure and spontaneous and that allow you to reach your own conclusions, to make your own comparisons based on your own musical history. I think comparisons with Mac and Floyd are valid, and for me, that places Little Muddy - The Road to Bodie in pretty good company. By the way, it is the perfect soundtrack for watching waves wash up on the shore or watching the sun come up on one of those Sunday mornings coming I mentioned earlier about the cover art, the music is moody and mysterious. It's ambient, cinematic (in a film-noir kind of a way) and an instrumental treat the likes of which I haven't heard in a very long time." - Americana Daily 12/08

"Mayan Mud cd review"

"Nothing like some good instrumentals. There are sometimes when Rich Goldstein's guitar reminds me of Dick Dale surf sound, but he always ends up coming back to the blues to get grounded. The album would make for great soundtrack music for a road trip scene, especially a track like "Dark Alley Swing". This is one of the coolest instrumental albums I've heard in some time." - Music Emissions 03/04

"Little Muddy (1st cd) review"

"Guitar and Drums Mojo- Making diverse instrumental recordings of blues with jazz, these San Francisco musicians have just as much rock in the blood, for all intents and purposes. Dig their funky instrumental of Dusty's "Preacher Man",Lalo Schifrin's "Mission Accomplished"; Stevie Wonder's "I Wish", and Jimmy Webb's immortal "Wichita Lineman" Comprised of Rich Goldstein on guitars, Scott Shaw on bass guitar, and Josh Wheeler on the big drums, Little Muddy effortlessly greases the large soul of grungy blues." - Hear Music 05/00


Chain Link (2022)

Future City (2016)

Door 15 (2009)
The Road to Bodie (2008)
Mayan Mud (2003)
Little Muddy (1999)

Available for purchase online at Itunes, Amazon, Bandcamp,
Streaming radio at Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music.



Little Muddy has forged a unique niche in modern instrumental
music, with a combination of evocative and rocking original instrumentals, and great interpretations of classic movie and tv themes, R+B, country and rock classics, . Starting with the first cd release in 1999 entitled Little Muddy, 2003’s Mayan Mud, 2008’s solo release The Road to Bodie, 2009’s Door 15, 2016's Future City, and 2022's Chain Link.

Chain Link, the new release in Jan. 2022 by Little Muddy, finds the instrumental band's sound veering towards more modern territory, yet continuing to channel the gritty moods and textures of the past. Besides Rich Goldstein (writer, engineer, and co-producer) on all guitars, is Mark Abbott on drums, Kevin White (Chuck Prophet, Shelby Lynne) on bass guitar, and Adam Rossi on assorted keys, percussion, and engineer/mix/co-producer.

Soundtrack placements include a wide variety of shows on The History Channel (the movie 'Jesse James Hidden Treasure'),VH-1( Behind The Music, episode featuring Pink),and many other shows on The Discovery Channel and ESPN.

All six Little Muddy albums are available for purchase online at Itunes, Amazon, Bandcamp,

Streaming radio at Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify.

The band has also contributed music to the soundtracks of Camerado film
productions: the award winning documentary Book Wars, and 2007’s Lost in New Mexico. Guitarist and founder Rich Goldstein has been a part of the northern California music scene since 1990. Having spent his early years in rural southern illinois, he was exposed to the best music of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, especially the country music of the day. The daily bus ride home on gravel roads was often accompanied to whatever was playing on driver’s Bud Hiller or Norris Haglers 8-track player. As well as with Little Muddy, Goldstein has toured and recorded 4 albums with Jeffrey Halford and the Healers, and with The Fall Risk (as lead/rhythm guitarist with singer/songwriter Jeff Pehrson, a member of Further w/Bob Weir and Phil Lesh).

Band Members