R L Burnside passed away aged 78 the other day. His health poor since heart surgery in 1999, Burnside was one of the last original delta bluesmen left as his peers have passed in recent years. Recording on Fat Possum records Burnside found a following with my generation through his openness to mix his hard driving rough house bloos with bands such as Jon Spencer, and through his uniqueness - before the appropriately named Jack White decided to appropriate a truly African AMerican form, before Moby thought it was a good idea to steal Negro spirituals and turn them into car adverts and usic for middle class familes to dine to, Burnside was kicking out the blues for no other reason than it lived within him.
It took a while - Burnisde first recorded in 1968, but didn't find fame until the early 90s. It took a young hip audience to bring him to the masses, and in recent years the re-invigoration of the americana/ bluegrass/ blues tradition saw him standing out as a true legend, and a truly authentic voice.
But let's not romanticise the whole thing (too much). Yes, he shot a man (possibly in the head) and di some time. Yes, he would have had a rich harvest come Father's Day. But the main thing to remember is is voice, the way he could nail them blues to the wall and have it beg for mercy.
I'll be dropping a few track tomorrow night as a small tribute to an artist I was lucky enough to discover in a $10 bin once, and never stopped digging.
Fat Possum: http://www.fatpossum.com/
5 months ago