Issue 13-13 March 28, 2019

Cover photo © 2019 Joseph A. Rosen.

 In This Issue 

Tee Watts has our feature interview with Cedric Burnside. We have 6 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Coyote Kings, Nick Schnebelen, Dennis Brennan & The White Owls, Jeff ‘The Horse’ Horsey, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal and The Hustle Kings.

We have the latest in Blues society news. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!


 2019 Blues Blast Music Award Artist Submissions Now Open 

The 2019 Blues Blast Music Award submissions are now open. There are 12 categories. Eligibility dates and all submission details are at:

Submissions remain open until April 15th. Nominees are announced in June. Voting begins in July.

SAVE THE DATE – September 13, 2019 for the Blues Blast Music Awards at Tebala Event Center in Rockford, IL. More details of the 2019 BBMAs coming soon!

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

coyote kings cd imageCoyote Kings – Rocket

Underworld Records

10 Tracks/44:18

Most Blues Blast readers are familiar with Tim “Too Slim” Langford, the guitarist that fronts the band Too Slim & the Taildraggers. The group has been nominated for several Blues Blast Music awards and received praise for a number of their recordings on Underworld Records, Langford’s label. Other bands that have released albums on the label include Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat, Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch, Lloyd Jones, and Becki Sue & Her Big Rockin’ Daddies!. The label’s latest release features the Coyote Kings, a veteran band from the Eastern part of Washington. Lead by noted guitarist Robin Barrett, other members include Gordon Townsend on drums, Kit Kuhlmann on bass, and Tiphony Dames on lead vocals. The all-original program was written by Barrett, who also produced the project.

The blazing opening track, “Mojo Run,” packs a punch with Dames declaring her freedom over a howling guitar and pulverizing rhythm. “Break Free” has a grinding pace with Barrett on lead vocal, his guitar spitting out licks with a nasty tone that energizes a tune that rocks the blues into submission. Barrett is in command once again on “Blind,” a brief number with the singer relating his preference for remaining oblivious to the world around him. The lighter, melodic side of his guitar playing is showcased on “Song For Shaman,” as he spins out telling, fluid lines, never allowing the instrumental to digress into the shredding mode. Kelin Kreider guests on bass guitar.

Originally from Harlem, Dames quickly made an impression on local fans once she relocated to the West Coast. She was the recipient of the 2016 Empire Award for Best Female Blues Performer, from the Inland Empire Blues Society. The following year she released a disc under her name with backing by the Coyote Kings. She weaves a tough tale on “Drive Me,” making it clear that she has fallen hard for a certain man. Diego Romero sits in on guitar and Nate Miller blows a rousing saxophone solo. “All Tangled Up” takes the band into funky territory as Dames belts a saucy invitation to get physical. Miller gets another opportunity to give the reed on his sax a honking workout. Her voice falters a bit on “Trusted You, “ but Barrett eases the despair on the tale of unfaithfulness with some Robert Cray-like picking. “Shakin’ It” is a rocking tribute to dancing and enjoying life “…on the wrong side of town”.

Her best performances come on two slow blues. Miller’s sax frames her despondent narrative on “Baby’s Gone”. Dames takes her time, balancing on the emotional precipice, fighting hard to keep pain at bay. “Well Run Dry” strikes a similar chord, seven minutes of the singer brooding over failed love until Barrett steps in, building his solo to the point of dynamic release, at which point Dames returns to restate her anguish one more time.

Barrett is an accomplished guitarist equally comfortable in blues or rock modes. Combined with the potent vocals from Miss Dames and solid songwriting, this effort definitely rises above many releases of a similar nature. Fans of Too Slim’s musical approach will certainly want to check this one out.

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying the sun and retirement. He is the President of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and a member of the Board of Directors for the Blues Foundation. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years – just ask his wife!

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

nick schnebelen cd imageNick Schnebelen – Crazy All By Myself

VizzTone Label Group VT-NSB-03

13 songs – 55 minutes

After two well-received live albums, guitarist/vocalist Nick Schnebelen knocks it out of the park with this studio release, which was produced by Grammy-winning percussionist Tony Braunagel and captured in the studio owned by Johnny Lee Schell, his playing partner in the Taj Mahal/Phantom Blues Band.

But that should come as no surprise to blues lovers. A powerful singer in his own right, Schnebelen made up one-third of the family band, Trampled Under Foot, which captured the International Blues Challenge in 2008, during which Nick won the Albert King Award as best guitar player in the competition.

Since disbanding after winning band and album of the year in the 2014 Blues Music Awards – bass-player sister Danielle Nicole launching what would become a superstar solo career and percussionist brother Chris traveling the world in support of several top acts, Nick’s built a major national and European following in his own right.

A follow-up to an EP and full-length CD recorded on his home turf at Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City, Crazy All By Myself was produced at Ultratone Studios in Culver City, Calif., and includes an all-star lineup. The core unit features Schnebelen on guitar and potent baritone vocals throughout aided by Braunagel on drums, Mike Finnigan (Taj/Phantom/Bonnie Raitt) on keys and Hutch Hutchinson (Neil Diamond/Colin James) on bass with Schell adding rhythm guitar on three cuts.

They’re augmented by harmonica wizards Jason Ricci and Dustin Arbuckle, keyboard player Jeff Paris (Keb’ Mo’/Coco Montoya), bassist Reggie McBride, guitarist Davy Knowles and violinists Lionel Young and Ada Pasternak. Backing vocals are provided by Melodye Perry and 2018 Blues Blast Music Awards Sean Costello Rising Star winner Heather Newman.

Schnebelen composed eight of the 13 cuts, all of which come across as intensely soulful, modern blues. “Lil’ Death,” penned by J.J. Holiday of Imperial Crowns fame, powers out of the gate to open as it announces to a lady that the singer’s on his way and ready for action – the way he wants to die. A guitar and drum hook introduce “It Ain’t Me,” which finds Nick returning from a hard day’s work, discovers his woman’s been with a so-called friend and knows instinctively that he’s no longer the one she wants.

The uptempo “Ain’t Got Time For The Blues” continues the theme, stating that he’s got a new lady and a brand new groove before troubles return for the stop-time title cut, “Crazy All By Myself,” in which Schnebelen makes it perfectly clear that he doesn’t need any assistance when it comes to going nuts. “Altar Of Love,” written by fellow Imperial Crown Jimmie Wood, roars out of the gate aided by Ricci as it reflects on better times atop a driving shuffle.

The disc quiets for the ballad “Bad Disposition With The Blues” before getting funky for “Bad Dream,” in which the singer is in the midst of a divorce and his missus’ lawyer is making outrageous demands. The mood brightens dramatically for the expressive “Soul Magic” with a new lover on scene before picking up steam again with a cover of Dave Duncan’s “I’m A Fatboy,” an ode to riding Harleys.

“I Leaned My Heart On You,” another bittersweet ballad about a troubled romance, precedes updated covers of Magic Sam’s “Out Of Bad Luck” and Delbert McClinton’s “Monkey Around” before Schnebelen delivers the sweetest melody in the closer, “Holding On,” which finds the singer in a bar and watching his ex with another man as he realizes he stayed in the relationship too long.

Crazy All By Myself is a winner on all counts despite themes that deal primarily with the down side of romance. As you probably figured out from the lineup, the musicianship here is stellar throughout, and all of the tunes sing from the heart with deep emotion. Available through most major retailers and strongly recommended. I’m putting this one aside to consider for album of the year. It’s that good.

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Charlotte, N.C., his first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 6 

Dennis Brennan cd imageDennis Brennan & The White Owls – Live At Electric Andyland

VizzTone Label Group VT-DB-01

12 songs – 46 minutes

Vocalist/harp player Dennis Brennan has been a fixture on the Boston music scene as a roots rocker for decades, but has always been deeply influenced by the blues – as this release with his regular band, The White Owls clearly demonstrates.

A native of Berlin, Mass., his professional career began with The Paranoids, a high school band that severed as opening act for The Remains and The Barbarians, two of the top bands of the garage rock era, and he toured the Eastern Seaboard for years as lead singer with Push Push, The Martells and others before launching his own self-named group in 1992.

A songwriter of note, his tunes have appeared in such films as Sylvester Stallone’s Copland, Lisa Kudrow’s Clockwatchers and Stockard Channing’s The Matthew Shepherd Story. His recording history began with Push Push on Tone Cool in 1989 before releasing two CDs under his own name on Rounder Records’ Upstart imprint in the mid-‘90s, earning four NEMO Awards nominations and top honors for Outstanding Roots Rock Band.

This release is Brennan’s fifth solo effort and first since his Engagement CD on the Hi-N-Dry label in 2006. Recorded and produced by Andrew Plaisted at his Electric Andyland studio, it’s an all-blues effort that features Dennis’ powerful, and acrobatic tenor throughout atop a mix that gives him plenty of space to shine. A collection of three originals and nine covers, the band includes Tim Gearan and Stephen Sadler on guitars, David Westner on organ, Jim Haggarty on bass and Plaisted on percussion.

Brennan shines vocally on a slow version of Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Cuttin’ In” aided by stellar six-string accompaniment before launching into an uptempo version of Detroit bluesman Bobo Jenkins’ “Nothin’ But Love.” It’s a straight-ahead, medium-fast shuffle that gives Dennis space to put his rich, traditional harp chops on display.

Next up, Brennan dips into the catalog of Big Al Downing, one of few African-Americans who made a name for himself in rockabilly, for the rapid-fire “Yes I’m Loving You.” “End Of The Blues,” a slow-dance pleaser penned by Gearan, comes across with a traditional feel as it assures a loved one that the singer will be there waiting to help celebrate the good times ahead.

Dennis puts his own stamp on Jimmy Reed’s “Good Lover,” eschewing Reed’s familiar high-end harp for a steady-swinging delivery and licks of his own, before he takes on “The (New) Call Of The Freaks,” a song first recorded by Luis Russell and his orchestra in 1929. You’ll recognize it from it’s familiar lyrics: “Stick out your can/Here comes the garbage man.” It starts with a stiff, military drumbeat, but quickly starts to swing.

It flows into the Brennan-Plaisted-Haggarty original, “Tangle,” in which the singer takes full blame for having a hard head and being the cause of his own troubles, before the Sadler penned “Three Kind Of Blues,” an old-school ballad that finds Dennis in search of “lovesick blues, heartsick blues and one of my very own.

A quartet of covers — Willie Dixon’s “I Live The Life I Love,” Mose Allison’s “Foolkiller,” Leadbelly’s “I’m On My Last Go Round” and The Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations” – bring the disc to a conclusion.

Live At Electric Andyland is comfortable and relaxed, delivering the feel you’ll probably get if you catch this group in person – as the title suggests. The originals are rock solid, and the covers are far more than note-for-note re-dos. Available through most major retailers and fun throughout.

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Charlotte, N.C., his first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 6 

Jeff horsey cd imageJeff ‘The Horse’ Horsey – Songs From The Old West

Self-Release – 2018

13 tracks; 61 minutes

Jeff Horsey is a UK musician who has played in Europe with visiting US musicians like Tabby Thomas and Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges. Based in the far South West of the UK in Cornwall, Jeff mainly plays live in a solo acoustic format but on this disc he is supported by drummer George Sonny and keyboard player Josie Ghost, plus bassist Kenny Hodge on one track and, on one extended piece, bassist Josh Lewitt and guitarist Julian Piper. Jeff is on vocals, guitars and harmonica throughout and all the material was written, recorded and produced by Jeff over the period 2015-17, so this has clearly been a labor of love. The songs follow the theme suggested by the title with several songs imbued with images of the Wild West. The rear cover art follows that through with Jeff pictured in sepia tones with guitar, axe and cattle skull; on the front the image of Jeff sleeping on a bench in front of modern architecture suggests that the ‘West’ of the title may also be a pun about the West of Cornwall.

The album opens with a country blues “Sonnyland” which deals with a visit to the grave of Sonny Boy Williamson, Jeff on harp and resonator with George on drums. The attractive Americana tune “Oh Carolina” has similar instrumentation, Jeff harmonizing with himself on the chorus, a song about an attractive lady who has worked her charms on Jeff with plenty of good slide work. “Root Man” has some Mississippi Hill country influences with slashing slide as Jeff boasts of his romantic credentials, claiming that he is directly connected to the earth while “Good Enough For Me” drops the pace for a rather repetitive solo acoustic piece. The lengthy “Rattlesnakes” opens with Simon Dobson’s Mexican-flavored trumpet and the full band number adds Julian Piper’s electric guitar alongside Jeff’s slide. Jeff sings this epic number very well, full of appropriate imagery of deserts, rattlesnakes and vultures and the whole piece works well though some of Julian’s guitar work goes a little over the top mid-tune.

“Crazy Baby” is a real toe-tapper, another full band cut with Kenny’s bass adding depth to the rolling piano and harp accents, the lyrics also referencing John Lee Hooker’s “Mad Man Blues” with crackles from an old 78 at the beginning and the end. “Crown Of Thorns” brings a folksy dimension to proceedings courtesy of Jeff’s lyrical harp work and George’s busy brush work and “Orion” continues in that vein with a rather gloomy tale of not being able to “turn back the hands of time, however hard you try”. Jeff plays some eerie resonator on “Embers”, a tune with layers of guitars, piano and haunting harp, the embers dying on the fire being equated to the diminishing relationship. The drums are back on the uptempo slide-driven country blues “No Judge, No Jury”, a song that definitely fits the Wild West theme as the boys rob a train but then can’t go home again. Jeff wants to be buried under the “Sycamore Tree” where the branches will provide him with shade for eternity and the album ends on a similarly sombre note with “Sunrise”, a solo guitar instrumental with strange wind noises (synthesizer?) to close out the track.

There is certainly plenty here to interest acoustic blues fans while the fuller band cuts broaden the appeal of the album.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 6 

josh hoyer cd imageJosh Hoyer & Soul Colossal – Do It Now

Silver Street Records – 2018

10 tracks; 48 minutes

The Nebraska-based soul band returns with their fourth album and it’s a sure winner for anyone who likes soul-blues. Josh has a great voice for this sort of music and the horn-rich arrangements are terrific. Josh wrote all the material (with a nod for ‘creative contributions’ from the rest of the band). Josh plays keys and baritone sax, Blake DeForest is on trumpet, Benjamin Kushner guitar, Mike Keeling bass and Larell Ware drums; not surprisingly, when you hear the album, everyone contributes backing vocals. Other musicians involved are Mike Dee on tenor sax, Justin G Jones on Latin percussion and no fewer than fourteen backing vocalists dubbed ‘The Heartland Soul Choir’. Josh produced the album which was recorded in two Nebraska studios by James Fleege.

The band sets out its stall with the title track which has an excellent horn chart underpinned by wah-wah guitar stylings as Josh encourages us to keep learning. A love letter to “Clara Jane” is a gentler affair with twinkling electric piano as Josh expresses his love and admiration for this lady and Josh is looking to “chill a while” with a lady (possibly the same person?) in “Better Days”, a lilting ballad with a superb trumpet solo and full choir vocals sitting behind Josh’s emotional singing on the outro. “Tell Me Why” starts off in gospel acapella mode before a powerful horn arrangement on another ballad that asks why it is so hard to see the light. “Star Culture” features some edgy guitar as Josh sings about the excessive interest in media celebrity before the band takes a funkier approach with horns and latin percussion on “You, I, We (All Together Now)”, Josh even adding a short rap-influenced section.

“The Other Side” is classic soul with a great chorus, the horns playing superbly over Josh’s warm keys and, as the choir enters the later part of the song the song really takes off. Latin trumpet opens the next track and that feel continues with plenty of percussion once the vocals begin, Josh asking why there is not “Enough For Everybody”, Benjamin adding a Santana-influenced solo before Josh’s piano takes us home on the longest on the disc, the final section having a very Stevie Wonder feel. That track is excellent but possibly the standout cut is “Love Song”, a gorgeous ballad which has lots of classy soul as the band gives brilliant support to Josh who expresses his admiration: “Want to know how to live forever from the dusk till the dawn, you live your life like a love song.” The track is powerful and emotional and the band knocks it out of the park in just 3.34 – terrific! The album closes with “The Liberator”, another song about love’s power, which ends rather abruptly, almost as if someone pulled the plug on the band!

There are not a lot of bands out there making this sort of deep soul music so if your tastes run to soul this album is definitely recommended.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.

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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

the hustle kings cd imageThe Hustle Kings – Harpin’ Our Blues Away

Plan-It Records

10 songs – 46 minutes

The Colorado-based Hustle Kings are a very interesting proposition. Essentially, the band is a duo, comprising Dan Treanor on vocals, harps, bass, beatboxing and sequencer and Bruce Collins on vocals, drums, bass, keyboards and percussion. Various guest vocalists appear throughout, including David Booker, Erica Brown, Scott Hackler, Randall Dubis, Clarence Cage, Marc Bilker and Merrian Johnson. And the voices of the great Frankie Lee and Son House are sampled on “Brand New Walkin’ Blues” and “Tears Fall Like Rain” respectively.

Treanor wrote four of the 10 songs on Harpin’ Our Blues Away. The tasty covers range from the traditional “Walkin’ Blues” or “Rollin’ & Tumblin'”, to Elmore James’ “Look On Yonder Wall”, Little Walter’s “My Babe”, Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and even Van Morrison’s “Days Like This”. It is unlikely however that you will have heard these songs played like this before.

“My Babe” is dipped in the swampy rhythms of Louisiana, with a harp melody very different from Little Walter’s trademark attack. Likewise, “Yonder Wall”, with its gospel-style vocals and bouncing one-chord groove, is a long way removed from James’ classic shuffle. “Rollin’ & Tumblin'” starts and ends with a sampled chain gang chant, the groove of which continues throughout the song. “Days Like These” is turned into a gospel piece, while “People Get Ready”, which stays perhaps closest to the original, is played slightly faster than one might expect, giving the track an added impetus.

Treanor’s own songs fit neatly alongside the covers, often containing a nod to some classic blues tunes. “Water From The Well” has echoes of Taj Mahal’s “Paint My Mailbox Blue” while also incorporating a little Western swing. “Mean Woman Blues” meanwhile hints at Billy Boy Arnold’s “I Wish You Would”.

With no guitar on the recording, the harmonica becomes the primary rhythmic and soloing instrument and Treanor displays an endless inventiveness in laying down a series of memorable lines, sometimes through multiple over-tracks. In addition, the subtle use of a sequencer gives a number of tracks an injection of modernity, with the end result sometimes reminiscent of the wonderful Rick Holmstrom’s cruelly-underappreciated Hydraulic Groove, or even the “Praise You” era of Fatboy Slim, while still having both feet solidly in blues territory. The songs are primarily mid-paced and built around the hypnotic grooves laid down by Collins and Treanor’s melodic harmonica playing.

The guest singers all add something spicy to their performances. Clarence Cage’s Buddy Guy-esque falsetto on “Tears Fall Like Rain” is particularly affecting, as is Merrian Johnson’s turn on “Days Like This”.

Treanor and Collins produced and recorded the album (with mastering by Gary Flori) at Sound Stream Studio in Arvana, Colorado, and they have caught a warm “live” sound.

Harpin’ Our Blues Away is a very impressive, inventive and enjoyable release. Warmly recommended to anyone who likes to hear traditional blues given a modern shot in arm.

Reviewer Rhys Williams lives in Cambridge, England, where he plays blues guitar when not holding down a day job as a technology lawyer or running around after his children. He is married to an American, and speaks the language fluently, if with an accent.

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 Featured Interview – Cedric Burnside 

cedric burnside photo 1Cedric Burnside had just made it back home from the road and we find him a very cool keeper, clicking into the interview vibe right away. Immediately he pays homage to his Big Daddy, (Grandpa R.L. Burnside) unabashedly. Cedric is grateful for the bloodline from which he sprang.

“My Big Daddy, R. L. Burnside, made a good name for the Burnside family as well as opening the doors for us. He and the Good Lord gave me my start and I’m happy to be a part of it.

“Muddy Waters was married to one of my Big Daddy’s first cousins. I forget her name but my Big Daddy used to tell me all the time. He was really good friends with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, though migratin’ to Chicago didn’t work out so well for him. Actually, it was pretty horrible. He lost two brothers and two uncles in Chicago in the same year. His uncles were killed while being robbed and his uncles got into fatal squabbles while gamblin’. So my Big Daddy came on back to Mississippi.”

Cedric first gigged with R.L. as a youngster and has been performing now way more than half of his soon to be 41 years of age.

“I forget the name of that first venue in Toronto, Ontario now, but Big Daddy took me on tour with him when I was 13. I know very well that my Big Daddy and folks like Junior Kimbrough, Otha Turner and Jessie Mae Hemphill paved the way for me and the Led Zepplin’s and Jack White’s of the world. I say that because I know for a fact that Jack White loves my Big Daddy and the Hill Country Blues.

I’ve got uncles, Duwayne, Daniel and Joseph Burnside that are musicians and a deceased brother Cody that rapped. My dad, Calvin Jackson was a drummer as well. As a child, I used to sit and watch my uncles play music on raggedy amps and drums. I was fascinated and wanted to do it so bad. My whole soul said, ‘You’re gonna do that.’ I knew I wanted to do that for the rest of my life at a young age.

School wasn’t really good for me, cuz I was on the road so much at an early age. There’s a lot of things I missed out on. There’s a lot of history that I don’t know about. That’s why I find myself trying to read about it now. When I was on the road my teachers gave me a bunch of makeup work. I have to say though, that I wouldn’t change it for the world. I got to go places like the Coliseum in Italy, that I had read about in school. When I would return to school with pictures of Rome and Paris, my teachers were really amazed and supportive of what I was doin’.”

When asked the about the spirit as it relates to his music, Cedric Burnside takes us back to his 5 year old world at R.L. Burnside’s home.

cedric burnside photo 2“Again, I have to bring my Big Daddy in because growing up as a kid, at 5 or 6 years old, my Big Daddy used to throw house parties every other weekend. Me bein’ one of many grand kids sittin’ around the house, listenin’ to that music, I always knew that’s what I wanted to do the rest of my life. The music that he played for us as kids; Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Mississippi Fred McDowell, even though there was much more modern music available, I couldn’t help it. I just fell in love with the old school sound. I fell in love with the roots.

“That carried me a long ways and today when I write my music, I tend to think about the old school and how I grew up. So writing about things that I go through today, that my family or friends go through, I try to put it in a way that people can relate to and they too, have been there and done that. The spirit has always been in me and now I’m just not afraid to say, you know, what other people might be afraid to say in their music; good or bad. I believe part of my spirit was created from my Big Daddy. I do believe in good spirits and bad spirits, likewise good energy and bad energy

“Everyday when I wake up, I thank God for lettin’ me open my eyes. And even though I have done things that I’m not proud of in life, I believe God forgives you for it, if you seek forgiveness from your heart. Before I go on stage I take time out for 25 or 30 minutes to pray and ask God to let the Holy Spirit guide me. If my wife is with me, she’s right there. I ask him to instill in my fingers, my mouth and heart, the Holy Spirit. Now, some people think that the Blues is the Devil’s music, but as I just look back and think about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, they were goin’ through the Blues then.

“I think about slavery here in the U.S. How the slaves had masters and were beaten. How they had to pick the cotton and all of that. They were going through the Blues then. And they sang work songs, Negro spirituals and field hollers because they were going through those times. It makes me think about my Big Daddy, who used to say, ‘Blues is the roots of all music.’ That’s the way I feel.”

Cedric explained his songwriting process. “I piddle around on the piano a little bit, though I wouldn’t call myself a piano player. I mainly write about what I go through. Sometimes a word or lyric phrase might come through first and the music follows 2 or 3 months later or vice-versa. I might come up with a riff of music and the lyrics come sometime later. It’s a process and I definitely don’t try to force it. If I don’t feel the lyrics I won’t write the song. Same with the music. I won’t try to force it to fit if it doesn’t feel right to me.

“Sometimes on a long plane ride, I might listen to a little Beethoven to check out the ways that he hit the piano, the adlibs he might put in when he goes high and low. Sometimes I think about how could I incorporate that into the guitar. Beethoven is very unorthodox as is Hill Country Blues. We don’t necessarily do the 1-4-5 change pattern. We just change when we get ready.”

cedric burnside photo 3Asked about his gear and playing rig Cedric explains: “I play an Ibanez electric guitar and a Martin acoustic. I use an old Fender Bassman amp. I got it from my musician partner Brian Jay. My drum kit is a regular old Yamaha set. My first drum set was a Pearl. I remember going into the music store with my Big Daddy. I didn’t have but about five hundred dollars and the set cost seven hundred. My Big Daddy gave the extra two hundred so I could get it.”

Cedric has played on some legendary Sets & Sessions. “I played a bunch of times with Jessie Mae Hemphill. I remember bein’ at her house when they were settin’ up to record. It was in Como, Mississippi. I did two or three songs on the recording. Mr. Otha Turner, a great Hill Country fife player, out of the drum and fife tradition, used to give a big picnic every year. That’s how I first played with Ms. Jessie Mae Hemphill. The first time I went over there, I was about 10 or 11 years old and I was playin’ the snare drum. Ms. Jessie Mae Hemphill was a sweet lady but she didn’t play any games. She kept a .38 special in her purse. My Big Daddy told me about her grandpa, Sid Hemphill who was a great musician. That’s where she got it from.”

When the topic turns to Grammy nominations Cedric comments: “I was up against Buddy Guy this year and he won. I don’t mind. If I win one, that’ll be great. If not, it won’t change my music. I’m really in it for the music, to show people my style and where I got it from. I refuse to let my head get big and go down the road where I have to get over on somebody to make it to the next level. I’m just not that guy. There are people out there that love Hill Country Blues and then there are people who don’t understand it or care about it, but I’m still here to play this music for those who want to hear it and I’ll always be here for that.”

Discussing Mississippi then and now Cedric offers these insights.

“I know a lot of African-American musicians migrated north from the south for economic opportunity. My Big Daddy was a sharecropper. He worked for food and shelter. He didn’t work for money. And the place we stayed at wasn’t a great place at all. It was just a house with a roof on it enough to keep the rain off of us. We had cracks in the floor and walls. Now, I have been to some of the most beautiful places in the world, but nothing makes me want to leave Mississippi. I just love Mississippi. I know of the things that happened in the past. I know of the things that go on now. Despite all, it will always be home. I feel the energy in the music that comes from here all the time. It’s like when you go outside, man. Mississippi just has that energy that flows through the ground. The music and the spirit flow too. I think I will always be here.”

Mr. Cedric Burnside has played upwards of 250 gigs yearly prior to 2018. He took time off to make the critically acclaimed, Grammy nominated recording Benton County Relic. As of this writing his tour itinerary is amping back up including performance at Carnegie Hall in April of 2020. Wow!

Hill Country Blues is poppin’!

Visit Cedric’s website at:

CyberSoulMan Tee Watts is the former music director at KPFZ 88.1 fm in Lakeport, California. He is currently co-writing the memoirs of Lester Chambers of the Chambers Brothers.

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The Charlotte Blues Society – Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Blues Society is pleased to announce that our May Blues Bash will feature an acoustic evening with Australian singer/guitarist Geoff Achison. The show will be held Sunday, May 5th, at the Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte, NC 28205. Admission is free for members with valid cards and $5 to everyone else. A limited number of reserved seats/tables will be available online through the website, for $10 each. Doors at 7:00; music at 8:00. It will be a great evening of music!

We continue to collect non-perishable food and household items for our charity partner, Loaves and Fishes. It’s our goal to collect one ton of donations this year to help stamp out hunger in Charlotte. Cash donations are also welcome. 1 Can? I Can!

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Monthly shows on the second Saturday of each month at Hope and Anchor English Pub on N 2nd St in Loves Park, IL. 4/13/19 The Cash Box Kings and 5/11/19 Corey Dennison Band. All shows 8 PM to 11:30 PM.

First and Third Friday’s feature the Blues at the Lyran Society Club on 4th Avenue in Rockford and a great fish fry, too! The schedule is 4/5/19 Dave Fields and 4/19/19 Oscar Wilson and Joel Patterson. No cover, 7 pm to 10 pm.

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for Blue Monday live performances held every Monday night at the Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. Additional information on any performer listed below is available upon request.

March 27 – Billy Galt & the Blues Deacons, April 1 – Brandon Santini Album Release Party, April 8 – The L.A. Jones Quartet with Adrianna Marie, April 10 – Dan Rivero, April 15 – Gracie Curran & the High Falutin’ Band, April 22 – Marty D. Spikener’s On Call Band, April 24 – Hard Road Blues Band , April 29 – Kilborn Alley Blues Band, May 6 – Orphan Jon and The Abandoned.

Also ICBC willl be celebrating their 33rd year in business on March 30 with the ICBC 33rd Birthday Celebration at K of C, 2200 S. Meadowbrook Rd, Springfield, IL. Doors open @ 6:00 PM, Torrey Casey & the Southside Hustle 7:00 PM followed by Joanna Connor Band.For more information visit

Grand County Blues Society – Denver, CO

Blues guitar superstar Walter Trout headlines Blue Star Denver 8, presented by Blue Star Connection in conjunction with the Grand County Blues Society, a Benefit Concert, Silent Auction, and Gear Drive, Saturday, March 23, at Turnhalle Ballroom at The Tivoli, located at Metropolitan State University of Denver, 900 Auraria Parkway. Doors open 5:30pm, showtime is 6:00PM. Tickets: $25.00 (General Admission), $35.00 (Reserved), $69. (VIP); $750.00 (VIP Premier Table). Info: (303) 726-6111 or visit  Also performing: Honey Island Swamp Band, B To The Sixth, and Special Guest, Kate Moss.

Net proceeds benefit Blue Star Connection, to help carry out their mission of providing access and ownership of musical instruments for children and young adults with cancer and other serious life challenges. To date, BSC has reached over eight-hundred kids and has donated musical gear to sixty-five Children’s Hospitals and Music Therapy Programs as well as several other community programs.

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P.O. Box 721 Pekin, Illinois 61555 © 2018 Blues Blast Magazine (309) 267-4425

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