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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
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: A Bothered Mind

1. Detroit Boogie Part 1

2. See What My Buddy Done

3. Shake 'Em On Down

4. Goin' Down South

5. My Name Is Robert Too (feat. Kid Rock)

6. Someday Baby (feat. Lyrics Born)

7. Go To Jail

8. Bird Without A Feather

9. Glory Be

10. Goin' Away Baby

11. Rollin' And Tumblin'

12. Stole My Check

13. Detroit Boogie Part 2

x

Track List: First Recordings

1. Just Like A Bird Without A Feather

2. Goin' Down South

3. Come On In

4. Little Babe

5. Rollin' And Tumblin'

6. Jumper On The Line

7. Skinny Woman

8. Poor Black Mattie

9. Long Haired Doney

10. Peaches

11. Walkin' Blues

12. Hobo Blues

13. My Time Ain't Long

14. Sat Down On My Bed And Cried

x

Track List: Burnside On Burnside

1. Shake 'Em On Down

2. Skinny Woman

3. Miss Maybelle (Live)

4. Rollin' & Tumblin' (Live)

5. Long Haired Doney

6. Walkin' Blues (Live)

7. He Ain't Your Daddy

8. Bad Luck And Trouble (Live)

9. Jumper On The Line

10. Goin' Down South (Live)

11. Alice Mae

12. Snake Drive

x

Track List: Well...Well...Well...

1. Charleston Interview (demo)

2. How Many More Years (Live)

3. Goin' Down South (demo)

4. Staggolee (demo)

5. Can't Be Satisfied (demo)

6. Boogie Chillen' (demo)

7. Nightmare Blues (Live)

8. Rolling & Tumbling (Live)

9. Grazing Grass Rap (Live)

10. Last Night (demo)

11. Mellow Peaches (demo)

12. Forty Four Pistol (Live)

13. Bad Luck Monkey Rap (demo)

14. My Babe (Live)

15. Poor Boy (Live)

16. Just Like A Woman (Live)

17. Goin' Away Baby (Live)

18. Mojo Hand (demo)

x

Track List: Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down

1. Hard Time Killing Floor

2. Got Messed Up

4. Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down

5. Too Many Ups

6. Nothin' Man

7. See What My Buddy Done

8. My Eyes Keep Me In Trouble

9. Bad Luck City

10. Chain Of Fools

11. R.L.'s Story

x

Track List: My Black Name A-Ringin'

1. Goin' Down South

2. Two Trains Runnin'

3. Sat Down On My Bed and Cried

4. Nine Days In Jail

5. Long Haired Doney

6. Hobo Blues

7. My Black Name A-Ringin'

8. Catfish Blues

9. See My Jumper

10. Peach Tree Blues

11. Goin' Away Blues

12. Poor Boy

13. Tom Wilson's Place

x

Track List: Acoustic Stories

1. When My First Wife Left Me

2. Death Bell Blues

3. Skinny Woman

4. Monkey In The Pool Room

5. Hobo Blues

6. Walking Blues

7. Long Haired Doney

8. Poor Black Mattie

9. Meet Me In The Bottom

10. Miss Glory B

11. Kindhearted Woman Blues

x

Track List: Mr. Wizard

1. Over The Hill

2. Alice Mae

3. Georgia Women

4. Snake Drive

5. Rollin' & Tumblin'

6. Out On The Road

7. Highway 7

8. Tribute To Fred

9. You Gotta Move

x

Track List: Too Bad Jim

1. Shake 'Em On Down

2. When My First Wife Left Me

3. Short-Haired Woman

4. Old Black Mattie

5. Fireman Ring The Bell

6. Peaches

7. Miss Glory B.

8. .44 Pistol

9. Death Bell Blues

10. Goin' Down South

x

Track List: A A** Pocket Of Whiskey

1. Goin' Down South

2. Boogie Chillen

3. Poor Boy

4. 2 Brothers

5. Snake Drive

6. Shake 'em On Down

7. The Criminal Inside Me

8. Walkin' Blues

9. Tojo Told Hitler

10. Have You Ever Been Lonely?

x

Track List: Come On In

1. Been Mistreated

2. Come On In (Live)

3. Let My Baby Ride

4. Don't Stop Honey

5. It's Bad You Know

6. Just Like A Woman

7. Come On In (Part 2)

8. Rollin' Tumblin' (Remix)

9. Please Don't Stay

10. Shuck Dub

11. Come On In (Part 3)

12. Heat

Comments

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RL Burnside will be missed. He is one of the greatest blues man they will ever be.
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Say what. I want ta go too.
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Chorus sounds like cartman rapping wild wild west. Look it up.
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On the road thing
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He makes me proud to be a Mississippia n .
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ptgldst9
T
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Just made a station with just this dude as the feed. I love this guy.
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Saw him at First Ave. opening up for Helmet...Ama z i n g show...!
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MASTER (^_^)
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if you love slide guitar, listen to Mississsippi Fred McDowell-the best. But RL is one of his descendants-
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Simple. Complex. Organic. Unfiltered. Real.
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jamesroybell
Tuts. Tits.
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# 1 bad wolf wolf wolf
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Slap my mama. This RL takes me away. Awesome
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Sic talent and I enjoy it with a glass of bourbon on my porch!!
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some milf from his home town turned me on to this guy... this guy is the shlt!!
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james_hollad a y 2
At this show, kick a**
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this is my s**t... Skinny Woman is where its at.
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Well well well
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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
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I need biger speakers
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if u love slide guitar blind willie johnson
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Nicely done Lyrics.
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drbrucemacdo n a l d
RL and Junior Kimbrough -- man, that's sassy jumpin' jukin' Blues.
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mark.scachet t i
This guy know blues, must have been fed it in his baby bottle
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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?
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RL new to me. new n excellent
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v_zamarian_j r
I love this radio !
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RL is the best
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Wow...Perfec t .
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R.I.P. Mr WIZARD !
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I sat in on drums with his band many years ago. He was an artst and a gentleman. I miss him.
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May he rest in peace (died 2005). If you like his music, buy his music...leav e something for his heirs.
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discer2365
No more juke joints in Hill country.Can' t find the real thing no mo.
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Rl'n cranks
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this white boy from toledo loves these pandora suprises..ne w blues hero to me!!!!
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....lazy motherf----r . . .
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gimme back my check...
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robbro_40
This really what its all about!!
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KNEW HIM AND KNOW HIS SON....GREAT - BEST BLUES AROUND
LOVE DUWAYNE WHEN HE PLAYED WITH NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS!
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Burnside kicks a a** pocket !!!
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" GOOD RAW BLUES " BY AN OLD "BLUES " PLAYER --- LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK GROUND !!! MR. F. THOMAS CLARK
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daniellesing e r 1
SO GOOD
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Oh yes!
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WELL! WELL! WELL!
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The delta blues don't offer any better.
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I dont usually get into this type of music but this is great!
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Gotta be a heaven for guys like him & me. Blues, booze,and flooze. love that slide ge-tar
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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.
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this is where its at . . . wow!
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