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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label R L Burnside. Show all posts
Showing posts with label R L Burnside. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Poor Boy - RL Burnside


R. L. Burnside (November 23, 1926 – September 1, 2005), born Robert Lee Burnside, was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist who lived much of his life in and around Holly Springs, Mississippi. He played music for much of his life, but did not receive much attention until the early 1990s. In the latter half of the 1990s, Burnside repeatedly recorded with Jon Spencer, garnering crossover appeal and introducing his music to a new fan base within the underground garage rock scene.

One commentator noted that Burnside, along with Big Jack Johnson, Paul "Wine" Jones, Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes and James "Super Chikan" Johnson, were "present-day exponents of an edgier, electrified version of the raw, uncut Delta blues sound."
In the 1990s, he appeared in the film Deep Blues and began recording for the Oxford, Mississippi, label Fat Possum Records. Founded by Living Blues magazine editor Peter Redvers-Lee and Matthew Johnson, the label was dedicated to recording aging North Mississippi bluesmen such as Burnside and Junior Kimbrough.

Burnside remained with Fat Possum from that time until his death, and he usually performed with drummer Cedric Burnside, his grandson, and with his friend and understudy, the slide guitarist Kenny Brown, with whom he began playing in 1971 and claimed as his "adopted son."

In the mid 1990s, Burnside attracted the attention of Jon Spencer, the leader of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, touring and recording with this group and gaining a new audience in the process.

Burnside's 1996 album A Ass Pocket of Whiskey (recorded with Jon Spencer) gained massive critical acclaim, earning praise from music legends Bono and Iggy Pop. During this time he also provided the entertainment at private events such Richard Gere's birthday party.

After the death of Kimbrough and the burning of Kimbrough's juke joint in Chulahoma, Mississippi, Burnside quit recording studio material for Fat Possum, though he did continue to tour. After a heart attack in 2001, Burnside's doctor advised him to stop drinking; Burnside did, but he reported that change left him unable to play.
Burnside at the Double Door Inn in Charlotte, N.C. in 1998

Members of his large extended family continue to play blues in the Holly Springs area: grandson Cedric Burnside tours with Kenny Brown and most recently with Steve 'Lightnin' Malcolm as part of the 'Juke Joint Duo', while his son Duwayne Burnside has played guitar with the North Mississippi Allstars (Polaris; Hill Country Revue with R. L. Burnside). Nephew Garry Burnside used to play bass guitar with Junior Kimbrough and in 2006 released an album with Cedric. In 2004, the Burnside sons opened Burnside Blues Cafe, located 30 miles southeast of Memphis at the intersection of U.S. Highway 78 and Mississippi Highway 7 in Holly Springs.
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Deep Blues - Blues Documentary


This superb documentary vividly illustrates the enduring vitality of country blues, an idiom that most mainstream music fans had presumed dead or, at best, preserved through more scholarly tributes when filmmaker Robert Mugge and veteran blues and rock writer Robert Palmer embarked on their 1990 odyssey into Mississippi delta country. What Arkansas native and former Memphis stalwart Palmer knew, and Mugge captured on film, was that the blues was not only alive but still intimately woven into the daily lives of rural blacks.

Palmer, a former rock musician and Memphis Blues Festival cofounder best known for his bylines in The New York Times and Rolling Stone, had already chronicled the saga of Southern blues in his seminal book that provides the film's title. He's an astute guide, and Mugge underlines this role by pairing him with British rocker Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), whose avid interest in the music makes him an effective foil.

The film's real triumph, however, rests in the team's success in capturing modern day blues survivors and inheritors playing in the bars, juke joints, and barns of delta country. Palmer, who had returned several years earlier to the delta to capture these artists for his scrappy Fat Possum label, introduces us to the now-amplified but still elemental blues of R.L. Burnside, the late Junior Kimbrough, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes, and other keepers of the faith. Mugge, whose profiles of Al Green, Sonny Rollins, and other musicians probed their cultural and artistic contexts with intelligence and sensitivity, captures both the music and the milieu in crisp color footage. Deep Blues thus triumphs as a testament to the blues' deep roots and an unintentional eulogy for Palmer, who would pass away in the mid-'90s just as the gut-bucket music of Burnside and Kimbrough served notice that the blues were alive and kicking.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Telephone Blues - R.L. Burnside & Johnny Woods


Johnny Woods (November 1, 1917 – February 1, 1990) was an American blues singer and harmonica player in the North Mississippi style.

Woods was born in a small Mississippi town called Looxahoma, just west of Mississippi Highway 35. His harmonica playing first gained notoriety in the 1960s as a duet partner with fellow blues revival discovery guitarist/singer Mississippi Fred McDowell. They recorded together first for George Mitchell in 1967, for Chris Strachwitz's Arhoolie Records (King of the Country Blues V2), Swingmaster (Blues of Johnny Woods) and in 1972 for Tom Pomposello and Fred Seibert on Oblivion Records (Mississippi Harmonica).

Stylistically, Woods' music sprang from the same North Mississippi Fife and drum blues band tradition as McDowell's. However, personal problems and plagues kept him rooted in the Delta, primarily working as a farm hand and sharecropper.

After McDowell's death in July 1973, Woods faded away until George Mitchell paired him again with another late Mitchell Mississippi Delta discovery, R. L. Burnside, himself a McDowell disciple. Together they recorded the Swingmaster album and video, Going Down South.

Johnny Woods died in Olive Branch, Mississippi in 1990.
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You See Me Laughin - Part 2


You See Me Laughin' is a personal journey into the lives and music of the last of the hill country bluesmen who've kept their music alive on the back porches and in the tiny juke joints of the Mississippi backwoods.
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You See Me Laughin' - Part 1



You See Me Laughin' is a personal journey into the lives and music of the last of the hill country bluesmen who've kept their music alive on the back porches and in the tiny juke joints of the Mississippi backwoods.
Get Facebook support for your favorite band or venue - click HERE

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Poor Black Mattie - R.L. Burnside


R. L. Burnside (November 23, 1926 – September 1, 2005), born Robert Lee Burnside, was a North Mississippi hill country blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist who lived much of his life in and around Holly Springs, Mississippi. He played music for much of his life, but did not receive much attention until the early 1990s. In the latter half of the 1990s, Burnside repeatedly recorded with Jon Spencer, garnering crossover appeal and introducing his music to a new fanbase within the underground garage rock scene.

One commentator noted that Burnside, along with Big Jack Johnson, Paul "Wine" Jones, Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes and James "Super Chikan" Johnson, were "present-day exponents of an edgier, electrified version of the raw, uncut Delta blues sound.
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

See My Jumper Hanging On the Line - R.L. Burnside


R. L. Burnside (November 23, 1926 – September 1, 2005), born Robert Lee Burnside, was a North Mississippi hill country blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist who lived much of his life in and around Holly Springs, Mississippi. He played music for much of his life, but did not receive much attention until the early 1990s. In the latter half of the 1990s, Burnside repeatedly recorded with Jon Spencer, garnering crossover appeal and introducing his music to a new fan base within the underground garage rock scene.
Burnside was born in Harmontown, Mississippi, in Lafayette County. He spent most of his life in North Mississippi, working as a sharecropper and a commercial fisherman, as well as playing guitar at weekend house parties. He was first inspired to pick up the guitar in his early twenties, after hearing the 1948 John Lee Hooker single, "Boogie Chillen" (which inspired numerous other rural bluesmen, among them Buddy Guy, to start playing). He learned music largely from Mississippi Fred McDowell, who lived nearby in an adjoining county. He also cited his cousin-in-law, Muddy Waters, as an influence.

During the 1950s, Burnside grew tired of sharecropping and moved to Chicago in the hope of finding better economic opportunities. But things did not turn out as he had hoped. Within the span of one year his father, brother, and uncle were all murdered in the city, a tragedy that Burnside would later draw upon in his work, particularly in his interpretation of Skip James's "Hard Time Killing Floor" and the talking blues "R.L.'s Story", the opening and closing tracks on Burnside's 2000 album, Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down.

Around 1959, he left Chicago and went back to Mississippi to work the farms and raise a family. He killed a man at a dice game and was convicted of murder and sentenced to six months' incarceration (in Parchman Prison). Burnside's boss at the time reputedly pulled strings to keep the murder sentence short, due to having need of Burnside's skills as a tractor driver. Burnside later said "I didn't mean to kill nobody ... I just meant to shoot the sonofabitch in the head. Him dying was between him and the Lord."

His earliest recordings were made in the late 1960s by George Mitchell and released on Arhoolie Records. Another album of acoustic material was recorded that year and little else was released before Hill Country Blues, in the early 1980s. Recorded between 1980 and 1984 by Leo Bruin in Groningen, Netherlands. An album's worth of singles followed, released on ethnomusicology professor Dr. David Evans' High Water record label in Memphis, Tennessee.
Burnside had been in declining health since heart surgery in 1999. He died at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee on September 1, 2005 at the age of 78

Saturday, July 23, 2011

You See Me Laughin' part 4


You See Me Laughin' is a personal journey into the lives and music of the last of the hill country bluesmen who've kept their music alive on the back porches and in the tiny juke joints of the Mississippi backwoods.
Get Facebook support for your favorite band or venue - click HERE

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You see me laughin´ - The Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen. Part 3


You See Me Laughin' is a personal journey into the lives and music of the last of the hill country bluesmen who've kept their music alive on the back porches and in the tiny juke joints of the Mississippi backwoods.
Get Facebook support for your favorite band or venue - click HERE


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rollin and Tumblin - R. L. Burnside


R. L. Burnside (November 23, 1926 – September 1, 2005), born Robert Lee Burnside, was a North Mississippi hill country blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist who lived much of his life in and around Holly Springs, Mississippi. He played music for much of his life, but did not receive much attention until the early 1990s. In the latter half of the 1990s, Burnside repeatedly recorded with Jon Spencer, garnering crossover appeal and introducing his music to a new fanbase within the underground garage rock scene.
Get Facebook support for your favorite band or venue - click HERE