Mud Skippers is the duo of Samm Bennett and Michio Karimata. Instrumentally, it is a mix-and-match affair, since both players are multi-instrumentalists. Some shows find Samm on drums, some on electronic percussion, others on his one-string diddley bow. Likewise, Karimata might use saxophone or flute, or wood flutes, or jaw harps or ukulele. Both musicians sing and chant, and voice is an important part of the Mud Skippers sound.
Karimata spent a number of years in the US, including a long stint in Nashville, Tennessee, where he eagerly soaked up a lot of the southern musical culture that now finds its way into much of his own sonic expression. During the course of a Mud Skippers improvisation, he might just jump into a rendition of an old Stephen Foster tune, or a snippet from Creedence Clearwater Revival or the like. But he is also known to intone some ancient Japanese poetry or folktale, in a deep and somewhat ominous voice, sounding suddenly like he belongs in a Noh play or some old ghost story.
This kind of expression meshes well with Bennett's blues-informed, homespun style, and the two together conjure up an often mysterious sonic ambience that hints at, say, Blind Willie Johnson moaning from behind a tombstone in Yanaka Cemetery, or some bone-chilling Edo-era ghost rambling through the Louisiana bayou calling out for rice and beans.