AMERICAN JOURNEY: BANKING ON THE BLUES.
Known as the “birthplace of the blues,” Clarksdale, Mississippi, is the home of blues legends Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson. Once thriving, much of this small town sits empty and deserted. But now, residents and musicians are fighting to keep the town alive. Restaurants, blues clubs and museums are slowly popping up — and drawing in tourists from all over the world.
American Journey’s Ty Pennington introduces us to the “younger generation of the blues” as he meets up with guitarist and drummer Cedric Burnside. The two visit the historic Shack Up Inn, which is a collection of old sharecropper houses updated for blues tourists. And like many in the Mississippi Delta, Cedric believes blues tourism is the key to Clarksdale’s future.
The latest review by Greg “Lex” Gunther (Spy Boy Music Guide) of Beat Street Media.
CEDRIC BURNSIDE PROJECT – HEAR ME WHEN I SAY – cd review. How do you know the real thing ? How do you discern the authenticity of anything in this modern world ? The answer is the same as it’s been since the start of time; you gotta hold it in your hand to know what’s real.
Appropriately, the first tune on HEAR ME WHEN I SAY, the brand spanking new cd from Cedric Burnside Project is entitled, BLOODSTONE. Definitive in its disposition, BLOODSTONE is a song about love at first blues. It does not get much better when you come from Mississippi Hill Country and your Grandfather is R.L. Burnside. “I was born with the blues, and I feel she was born the same.” Accompanied by Trent Ayers’ monster picking on the acoustic and Patrick Williams howling on the harmonica, Cedric Burnside spills his guts. “I said we was gonna be because, I knew she was the same . Yeah, she’s a sweet little girl, and I just got to be her man.” The first track will grab you and let you know, this is the real deal.
The guitar playing goes electric and the beat gets real funky right away for track 2, MEAN QUEEN. Trent Ayers is just strutting all the way through MEAN QUEEN. This is flawless but still outrageous hammer work. It is just the right addition to the clean, brisk drumming of Cedric Burnside. This is some of the best drumming you will hear. MEAN QUEEN will get you dancing, bobbing your head and definitely distract you from whatever else you had been doing. “People call me a fool every day, ‘why you let that woman treat you that way ? But even though I don’t care what they say, she ain’t got the right to do me that way. I treat my woman like a queen but she keep on doing me mean.” That is one MEAN QUEEN and one funky tune. Give this cd a listen, I think you will agree. What will truly knock your socks off on this cd are the vocals of Cedric Burnside. If you have never seen Cedric Burnside Project live, the first couple tracks will convince you that the drumming and the guitar playing is world class. But when you combine Cedric’s deep, gospel voice, you really have something that grips you and won’t let go. Think Robert Cray’s sleek, powerful voice, and you will know what I am talking about. Cedric delivers as a vocalist and a drummer.
‘TIL THEY BURY ME, track no.3, comes out swinging. “Sometimes baby, I don’t want to look at you. Sometimes baby, I don’t want to stand next to you. But when it comes to my love for you, it’s as strong as it can be.” This acceptance of the ups and downs of life gives ’TIL THEY BURY ME that authentic taste. Contrast is what makes art come to life right ? “We argue all the time, no matter day or night. I grab the car keys, people startin’ to fight. But when it comes to my love for you, it’s as strong as it can be.”
The wonderfully unique talent and abilities of the Cedric Burnside Project comes clean on the fourth track, WASH MY HANDS. This is one of those greasy tunes that gets your elbows and your chin moving. The guitar of Trent Ayers keeps up with the lyrical genius of Cedric Burnside with outstanding polish and rhythm. WASH MY HANDS pulls rock and roll to its church roots, washes it of its sins, and mails it back in a swampadelic package. Simply put, this is what drums and a guitar should sound like. WASH MY HANDS will blow your mind.
I’LL DO ANYTHING FOR LOVE , track no.5, finds Cedric Burnside testifying alongside an insane saxophone serenade courtesy of Calvin Johnson. The two meld together to make this the most spiritual track thus far. The groove bursts through with Ayers, Johnson and Kyle Roussel on organ. The song writing and musical composition of HEAR ME WHEN I SAY will floor you. Every track brings forth its own take on original American music.
Track no.6, IT’S YOUR LIFE, finds Cedric Burnside Project using their flare to get their point across. “Life can be clean and smooth like an Escalade, or life can be mean and cruel like a razor blade.” A little bit of truth gets you ready for the outburst that is track no.7, GETTING’ FUNKY. Cedric Burnside Project really does show how funky they can get on GETTING’ FUNKY. Again joined by the organ pulses of Kyle Roussel, GETTING’ FUNKY also features some nice bass lines from Trent Ayers.
Yet again, another corner is turned with I LIKE IT, I LOVE IT, track no.8. Around this corner, we find Trent Ayers with the Mississippi sun beating down on his silky acoustic playing while Cedric Burnside again convinces the listener that his is one of the best voices anyone has ever heard. I LIKE IT, I LOVE IT provides a smooth transition into a chapter of this record that is pure Mississippi Hill Country.
COME ON IN, track no.9, is the kind of hand clappin, knee slappin music that built this country. From gospel to country-western to rock to pop, all of our music seems to seep from the delta.
I DON’T CARE WHAT THEY SAY, track no. 10, follows this same time-tested method of making art out of true life. There is an organic, all-you-need fulfillment that comes with listening to this record. It brings you in, adopts you. It surrounds you with its authenticity.
Greg “Lex” Gunther
Spy Boy Music Guide
Beat Street Media