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R.L. Burnside

North Mississippi guitarist R.L. Burnside was one of the paragons of state-of-the-art Delta juke joint blues. The guitarist, singer and songwriter was born November 23, 1926 in Oxford, MS, and made his home in Holly Springs, in the hill country above the Delta. He lived most of his life in the Mississippi hill country, which, unlike the Delta region, consists mainly of a lot of small farms. He learned his music from his neighbor, Fred McDowell, and the highly rhythmic style that Burnside plays is evident in McDowell's recording as well. Despite the otherworldly country-blues sounds put down by Burnside and his family band, known as the Sound Machine, his other influences are surprisingly contemporary: Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Lightnin' Hopkins. But Burnside's music is pure country Delta juke joint blues, heavily rhythm-oriented and played with a slide.

It wasn't until the 1990's that he began hitting full stride with tours and his music, thanks largely to the efforts of Fat Possum Records. The label has issued recordings made by a group of Burnside's peers, including Junior Kimbrough, Dave Thompson and others.

Up until the mid-'80s, Burnside was primarily a farmer and fisherman. After getting some attention in the late '60s via folklorists David Evans and George Mitchell (Mitchell recorded him for the Arhoolie label), he recorded for the Vogue, Swingmaster and Highwater record labels. Although he had done short tours, it wasn't until the late '80s that he was invited to perform at several European blues festivals. In 1992, he was featured alongside his friend Junior Kimbrough (whose Holly Spings juke joint Burnside lives next to), in a documentary film, Deep Blues. His debut recording, Bad Luck City, was released that same year on Fat Possum Records. Burnside has a second record out on the Oxford-based Fat Possum label, Too Bad Jim (1994).

These recordings showcase the raw, barebones electric guitar stylings of Burnside, and on both recordings he's accompanied by a small band, which includes his son Dwayne on bass and son-in-law Calvin Jackson on drums, as well as guitarist Kenny Brown. Both recordings also adequately capture the feeling of what it must be like to be in Junior Kimbrough's juke joint, where both men played this kind of raw, unadulterated blues for over 30 years. This is the kind of downhome, backporch blues played today as it has been for many decades. In 1996, Burnside teamed with indie-rocker Jon Spencer to cut A A** Pocket O' Whiskey for the hip Matador label; he returned to Fat Possum in 1998 for the more conventional Come on In. As Burnside had been recording intermittently since the late '60s a spate of re-issues and live recordings began to appear in the 2000's. Chief among them were Mississippi Hill Country Blues, largely recorded in the Netherlands in the 1980s; First Recordings, which gathered 14 of George Mitchell's 1967 field recordings of Burnside in Coldwater, MS; a live set documenting a west coast tour Burnside on Burnside appeared in 2001. His next studio album Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down appeared in 2000 but it would be another 4 years before the next new R.L. Burnside recording Bothered Mind was released. That same year Burnside suffered a heart attack and underwent bypass surgery. He never fully recovered from the attack and in 2005, at the age of 79, R.L. Burnside passed away in a Memphis, TN hospital. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Sic talent and I enjoy it with a glass of bourbon on my porch!!
some milf from his home town turned me on to this guy... this guy is the shlt!!
james_hollad a y 2
At this show, kick a**
this is my s**t... Skinny Woman is where its at.
Well well well
jamespopoli
If you like RL then check out Junior Kimbrough. The Black Keys do a lot of cover songs on Junior and a couple on RL. Check out the Black Keys too
I need biger speakers
if u love slide guitar blind willie johnson
Nicely done Lyrics.
RL and Junior Kimbrough -- man, that's sassy jumpin' jukin' Blues.
mark.scachet t i
This guy know blues, must have been fed it in his baby bottle
rawu10000
Pandora is showing the wrong album for this version. Rollin' and Tumblin' doesn't sound like this on A Bothered Mind. Which album is this really on, anybody know?
RL new to me. new n excellent
v_zamarian_j r
I love this radio !
RL is the best
Wow...Perfec t .
R.I.P. Mr WIZARD !
I sat in on drums with his band many years ago. He was an artst and a gentleman. I miss him.
jcolm
May he rest in peace (died 2005). If you like his music, buy his music...leav e something for his heirs.
No more juke joints in Hill country.Can' t find the real thing no mo.
Rl'n cranks
this white boy from toledo loves these pandora suprises..ne w blues hero to me!!!!
....lazy motherf----r . . .
gimme back my check...
robbro_40
This really what its all about!!
KNEW HIM AND KNOW HIS SON....GREAT - BEST BLUES AROUND
LOVE DUWAYNE WHEN HE PLAYED WITH NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS!
Burnside kicks a a** pocket !!!
" GOOD RAW BLUES " BY AN OLD "BLUES " PLAYER --- LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK GROUND !!! MR. F. THOMAS CLARK
daniellesing e r 1
SO GOOD
Oh yes!
WELL! WELL! WELL!
The delta blues don't offer any better.
I dont usually get into this type of music but this is great!
Gotta be a heaven for guys like him & me. Blues, booze,and flooze. love that slide ge-tar
james_m1
Stunning. The gritty soul of the blues. Can't believe it took me 45 years of living and 35 years of listening to the blues to stumble across R.L.
this is where its at . . . wow!
Amazing.....
Blues for REAL!
crispi03
You See Me Laughin': The Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen
...see this wonderful documentary
crispi03
saw RL one summer in denver at a blues fest, just him in a chair, his grandson on drums, and the skinny slide guitar player.....m a n , what a set....then sun seals came out with this huge band, flashy and lots of jumpin' around...we left.

RIP RL
Matt Cox said: never heard this guy before and he is awesome. this is the good part of the internet! ....SO, i would recommend you check out North Miss. Allstars. They are a more heavy-hard rock blues band in the same vein, and, Dwayne Burnside plays with the band on their albums and tours with them. If you like RL you will LOVE North Mississippi Allstars. Luther Dickenson plays guitar and sings, he's now playing lead quitar in The Black Crowes. Nough said!!!
goin' down south is such a great song
stomp to the blues
hoofster
R.I.P.
never heard this guy before and he is awesome. this is the good part of the internet!
I'm really diggin' his use of turntables! How innovative and eclectic.
it`s bad you know
horacio78613
Delta Blues is just plain extraordinar y .
One of the best!
A major influence for blues in the 21st century!
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