Mississippi Hill Country bluesman and two-time GRAMMY nominee Cedric Burnside is all set to release his new album I Be Trying on June 25 via Single Lock Records, the same day he’ll be performing at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic in Waterford, MS along with Luther Dickinson and Sharde Thomas. Recorded over a three-day stretch at Royal Studios in Memphis with producer/engineer Boo Mitchell and members of Alabama Shakes and North Mississippi Allstars among others, I Be Trying is the ultimate statement of purpose for a critically acclaimed artist who has proudly carried the mantle of Mississippi Hill Country blues around the world.
Over thirteen tracks, Burnside delivers his bruised but unfettered truth over blistering guitar and deep pocket drums—a sound birthed in his soul but developed and perfected on the road. But no matter how far he travels, the righteous sound he makes could only come from one place. I Be Trying is the sound of modern Mississippi, a hypnotic and unorthodox kind of rhythmical occurrence from a self-contained but proudly collaborative artist.
5 Questions with Cedric Burnside by Sam Shansky
1) Your new album I Be Trying (out June 25 on Single Lock Records) was recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis, TN. What is it about Royal that appeals to you and how did that space compliment your vision for the new record?
Well, for one, I knew it was a great studio to begin with. It has a lot of mojo in it. Plus, Boo and I are really good friends. I’ve known him since I was fifteen. We’ve always talked about doing something and things finally lined up this time.
2) Who all worked on this new record with you?
My brother from another mother, Reed Watson, played drums and percussion. Caleb Elliott played cello on some tracks. Zac Cockrell played bass on “Pretty Flowers”. Luther Dickinson played guitar on some songs—you’ll know which ones when you hear them! And last but not least, my daughter Portrika sang on the record, as well. I’m so proud of it.
3) To you, what distinguishes Mississippi Hill Country Blues from other variations of Blues music and could you share two or three songs that help pinpoint the characteristics of the Hill Country sound?
Like I always say, to me, it’s the unorthodox rhythm of it that stands out from the other styles. “Bird Without A Feather” by R.L. Burnside is a great example. I covered it on my new record. His song “Just Like A Woman”, too… I mean, you can’t get more unorthodox than that.
4) The future of Blues music – where do you see it going and who are some young artists that you think people need to know?
I think it’s growing. Cameron Kimbrough is keeping the blues alive, that’s for sure. He’s doing his thing. I know I’m going to keep working with my daughters, too, and hopefully they’ll keep the legacy going as well.
5) What wisdom about music did your mentors share with you that you’d be willing to share with us?
Oh, wow. Well, my Big Daddy (R.L.) took me on tours for many years. He always taught me how to travel the road, how to pack your bags, and most importantly, how to treat people. That’s something I carry with me today. I have to say that I’m not sure I always treated people the right way… but I work on it every day.
Bonus: Top three favorite places to play live music?
1) My front porch. I love to sit outside and hear the sounds of the birds and nature. I get really creative there.
2) Juke joints. I love them. I grew up in them.
3) Anywhere in Australia. It’s so wonderful there.
Extra Bonus: Craziest thing that’s ever happened to you while performing?
Okay… so my drum throne gave out while I was playing drums with Big Daddy one time. It was some festival here in the States. The beat may have slipped a little bit, but I made it through. Maybe some folks noticed, I don’t know!