Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2016 Jan-Feb Contents Cedric Burnside Project is the
Mississippi blues duo of drummer
Cedric Burnside, who is the
grandson of the late great RL
Burnside, and guitarist Trenton Ayers. The
duo will now be heading to Australia in 2016
to play some major festivals and also an
intimate club date in Perth.
Leader and drummer Cedric Burnside, who
now also plays some guitar, is no stranger to
our shores as he has toured in the past with
his grandfather, whom he refers to fondly
throughout this interview as ‘Big Daddy’, and
also with Lightnin’ Malcolm.
“Yeah, so I am looking forward to coming
back,” Burnside says down the line from
home in the US where he has just celebrated
Thanksgiving with his family.
“Believe it or not, Australia is one of my
favourite places in the world to come and
play,” the drummer, who first toured with
his grandfather at age 13, laughs. “I love
the beautiful scenery – Byron Bay is such a
beautiful spot – and I love Melbourne and
Cedric Burnside Project has been in existence
for a number of years and has released three
albums, The Way I Am, Hear Me When I Say
and this year ’s Descendants Of Hill Country.
“And Trent and I have been workin’ together
now for about five years,” Burnside says.
“Before that I had Jesse Hiatt with me, but
I knew Trent’s father, Joe Ayers, who was
one of the original bass players with Junior
“And I knew Joe because he and my Big
Daddy were real good friends and he used
to come over to the house parties,” he
continues. “And he’d bring Trent – that’s how
I first met him – and we’d sit around jammin’
and drinkin’ some moonshine and havin’
The now 37-year-old Burnside still has fond
memories of the many house parties that RL
Burnside used to host.
“I would have only been seven or eight at
the time – just a kid, y’know – and we didn’t
have no radio at the time so our music was
Big Daddy, my father and my uncles and lots
of others jammin’ on the front porch. And all
the neighbours would come around as well
as musicians Big Daddy knew from Memphis
“And from that time I knew the instrument I
wanted to play,” says the drummer who has
won four consecutive trophies in The Blues
Awards which were formerly known as the
WC Handy Awards.
“And when my Big Daddy and the other
musicians would take a break to go off and
drink a little moonshine, I was always the
first kid to get up the courage to jump up
and take over the drums. I just loved it so
much and it didn’t matter if I couldn’t play
’em no good or not.”
Descendants Of Hill Country is available through
the Cedric Burnside Project.
Cedric Burnside Project play Girrakool Blues
Festival March 5, Perth Blues Club March 8,
WOMADelaide March 11 and Port Fairy Folk
Festival on March 12 & 13.
In recent times, however, Burnside, who has often sat in with an array of
other artists over the years including Widespread Panic and Jon Spencer
Blues Explosion, has also learned to play guitar.
“I’d always liked the guitar, very much so, but one of the reasons I started
playin’ guitar was that I was writing songs,” he responds. “I was beginning
to write a lot but had to sound it out to people because I couldn’t show
them how it went on guitar.
“So I thought to myself, ‘Man, I gotta learn to play guitar so that I can show
people my music properly’,” Burnside continues. “And, because I have a
very musical family, everyone was able to show me a bit of somethin’. Garry
Burnside, my uncle, showed me some things and over those years I was
playin’ with Lightnin’ Malcolm, he’d always show me one or two things.
“But they didn’t have no time to sit me down and go over scales and things
like that with me,” he laughs. “So I’d just say, ‘Show me a few things’, and I
took if from there.”
Cedric Burnside Project, only just returned from an extensive European tour
when we spoke, will be hitting this country with a new album, Descendants
Of Hill Country, which was issued earlier this year.
“We did it all ourselves and it’s strictly real country blues,” Burnside
indicates. “It represents
us as we are now because
it’s raw and it’s the real
deal. And we did it with a
real good friend of mine,
Scott Bomar, who runs
“And we didn’t have
any guests on it as such
because it’s just me, Trent
and my uncle Garry. I
don’t consider my uncle
to be a guest because
he’s family. He’s been
around a long time.
“And we’re always workin’
on new material so I think
that in four or five months we’ll be back in the studio again,” the musician
Has the new album been released on vinyl?
“Ha, no, not yet,” Burnside laughs, “but a lot of people are askin’ so we are
going to look into that. We’ve just been talkin’ about it actually because
the fans all seem to want it. But I don’t even have a turntable myself at the
moment because it broke.”
Burnside’s brother, the late Cody Burnside, was a rapper which later led
the incorporation of some hip hop elements into the Mississippi blues
performed by the Cedric Burnside Project.
“And Cody and I got to do an album together before he passed,” Burnside
says. “So, yeah, there’s a bit of hip hop in what I do. And I do a lot of work
with friends who are involved in all kinds of music – y’know, some funk,
some rap and some R&B. I’ve dabbled in all of that.
“But my heart is with the blues,” he then laughs. “I’m a bluesman. And more
and more people are turning onto the blues in the US so it’s not ever going
to die. And that makes me very, very happy.”
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