Black Oak Arkansas

Black Oak Arkansas, with Sioux City native Johnnie Bolin (far right) on drums, will bring their Southern rock grunge ballads to the Chesterfield, 1225 Fourth St., tonight (March 6).

Jim "Dandy" Mangrum doesn't know how he has kept Black Oak Arkansas fresh after more than 50 years.

He just knows that he has, and that's enough. The band will bring its Southern rock grunge ballads, both new and old, to the Chesterfield, 1225 Fourth St., tonight (March 6) after a stint in Mexico City.

"Somethings you don't question too much," Mangrum said. "We don't ask where it came from. We're just thankful it came."

Black Oak Arkansas, with Sioux City native Johnnie Bolin on drums, released "Back Thar N' Over Yonder" in October. The first five songs are new. The others are a bit older, but most hadn't been released before.

"We're very proud of the first five songs on them, the brand new ones," Mangrum said. "It's quite an album."

The album starts with Mangrum saying in his raspy voice, "The grandson of 'When Electricity Came to Arkansas'" -- a track off the band's self-titled debut album "Black Oak Arkansas" from 1971.

That album earned Black Oak Arkansas a reputation as a reactionary group.

"They said I brainwashed people," Mangrum said as he rambled about political conspiracies, world politics and capitalism. "I never planned that far ahead."

Mangrum himself is a grandfather, emphasis on the grand, and said he wanted to show a younger generation of music lovers that they can bring the same energy as bands like the Foo Fighters. 

The album starts with one of those high-energy rock ballads, "Plugged In And Wired." That's the grandson of "When Electricity Came to Arkansas," and, like electricity, Mangrum and Black Oak Arkansas don't plan to go out any time soon.

"I love doing what I get to do," Mangrum said. "I'll never stop doing it."

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Also on the new album is a re-mastered version of "Jim Dandy." The band's remake of LaVern Baker's 1957 hit that was originally released on Black Oak's 1973 album "High on Hog." The album peaked at 52 on the Billboard Album charts, a high point no other Black Oak album has reached.

That song has resurfaced repeatedly in Black Oak's discography, but when Mangrum was first called "Jim Dandy," he hated the nickname.

"I hated it when I was a young boy," he said adding that he thought it was like being called a sissy.

He didn't escape the name then, and he certainty can't escape the name now.

"It was supposed to be a joke song," Mangrum said of "Jim Dandy." But almost 40 years later, Mangrum still said, "I've never escaped doing it."

"I don't mind having a cartoon name now."

He's no longer just "Jim Dandy."

"I am the Gran' Dandy," he said. "I love my grandkids."

But that doesn't stop him from hitting the stage in white Spandex like he did in the '70s and continue to have a good time.

"It's so much fun to do what we do," Mangrum said. "I get to be the master of this ceremony."

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