Thanks to the good folk at Love Police Touring, Cedric Burnside returned to Australia for his fourth tour. The three-times Grammy-nominated artist brought his Gospel of Mississippi Hill Country blues to the Apple Isle, with shows in Launceston, Hobart and Port Cygnet.
This year’s visit Down Under was a welcome relief to those who were disappointed when his 2020 tour was truncated by the Federal Government announcement banning gatherings of over 100 when the pandemic was in its early days, with the final 5 shows in Victoria and South Australia being cancelled.
Cedric Burnside’s story is a tale of family and community tradition. By the age of 13, Cedric was on the road playing drums with his legendary grandfather, “Big Daddy” RL Burnside, .
Having been born to, then raised up by the music and the road, he is now continuing to develop the next, electric generation of the Hill Country sound.
Interestingly, the Mississippi Hill Country blues sound had, as recently as 2021, been given a further shot in the arm by the release of the album, Delta Kream, by The Black Keys; an album full of covers from the likes of Mississippi Fred McDowell, Junior Kimbrough and RL Burnside himself.
On both nights in southern Tasmania, Cedric opted to play guitar, something he concentrates on these days, and opened with a short acoustic set, drawing, and captivating the audiences into the style and history-steeped tradition of the Hill Blues. The drone of the polyrhythmic percussion and its refusal of familiar blues chord progressions soon started heads to nodding and feet to tapping.
The head nodding and foot tapping soon turned to full on dancing once the electric guitars made their first appearances and “Uncle” Artemas Lesueur, his drum mentor, joined him on stage. The synergy between these two musicians is infectious, and pretty soon everybody is grooving along to the driving rhythms that they produce.
Songs from the latest album “I Be Trying” along with favourites from his back catalogue such as The World Can Be So Cold, I Be Trying, Step In, Love Is the Key, We Made It, Hard to Stay Cool and a reworking of his grandfather’s Goin’ Down South ensured that both audiences were afforded powerhouse performances. And as reward for the great night for the audience at The Cygnet Cannery, Cedric unveiled two previously unheard songs which he has recorded with Luther Dickinson of The North Mississippi Allstars from an album they recorded shortly before he commenced this tour.
While Mississippi Hill blues isn’t what you may hear on mainstream radio these days, these live shows certainly go to show that what is old can readily be new again, and that the blues is firmly alive and in great hands.
Feature Photography/Gallery: Andrew Fuller/fullonrockphotography