Duwayne Burnside’s Birthday Party and Bonfire at the Blues Shack in Waterford

Blues, bonfire, entertainment, events, music, picnic, videos

001 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday Bonfire004 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday005 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday006 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday007 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday008 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday009 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday
Hill Country blues legend Duwayne Burnside was celebrating his birthday with a party and bonfire at the Blues Shack in Waterford, Mississippi, so I decided to go down. Unfortunately, it was the coldest night so far of the year, and the turnout wasn’t nearly as large as I had expected, mostly close friends and family, but Duwayne and his brother Garry Burnside were glad to see me. At previous Blues Shack events, people tended to hang out near the stage, but at this one, people kept around the bonfire for obvious reason, except for the younger kids, who were running all around. An old harmonica player was on stage, playing with one of the younger boys on drums. After awhile, I headed back to Holly Springs because Kent Kimbrough was also celebrating his birthday at Junior’s Juke Joint #2.

Remembering the Legacy of R. L. Burnside at the Blues Shack in Waterford, Mississippi

Blues, entertainment, events, music

437 Duwayne Burnside & Little Joe Ayers438 Burnside Picnic439 Duwayne Burnside, Little Joe Ayers & Kenny Brown440 Burnside Picnic441 Little Joe Ayers442 Burnside Picnic443 Burnside Picnic444 Duwayne Burnside & Son445 Kenny Brown446 Kenny Brown447 Kenny Brown448 Little Joe Ayers449 Little Joe Ayers450 Burnside Picnic451 Burnside Picnic452 Burnside Picnic453 Burnside Picnic454 Kenny Brown & Duwayne Burnside455 Little Joe Ayers456 Kenny Brown & Duwayne Burnside457 Duwayne Burnside458 Kenny Brown, Duwayne Burnside & Little Joe Ayers459 Duwayne Burnside & Little Joe Ayers460 Little Joe Ayers461 Kenny Brown462 Burnside Picnic463 Little Joe Ayers464 Little Joe Ayers465 Duwayne Burnside466 Burnside Picnic467 Kenny Brown468 Burnside Picnic469 Burnside Picnic470 Burnside Picnic471 Little Joe Ayers472 Burnside Picnic473 Bongos475 Little Joe Ayers476 Little Joe Ayers477 Little Joe Ayers478 Little Joe Ayers479 Burnside Picnic480 Harmonica and Drums481 Little Joe Ayers482 Young Drummer483 Little Joe Ayers
On the Friday night of the Labor Day Weekend, I headed down into Marshall County, Mississippi for the first year of what is to be an annual picnic in memory of the late Hill Country blues guitarist R. L. Burnside. The event was being held at a place called the Blues Shack near Malone, Mississippi (although it was advertised as Waterford, Mississippi), which was just off of Highway 310 on the Old Oxford Road, not far from the old Burnside Blues Cafe location. The crowd was smaller than I had expected, perhaps because there was a threat of rain, but the blues was absolutely magnificent, with R.L.’s son Duwayne Burnside playing alongside two other great Hill Country guitarists, Kenny Brown and Little Joe Ayers. The small crowd and the outdoor stage in front of the shack gave the event the feel of a family get-together, and there was barbecue smoking on the oil-barrel grill beside the stage. Younger musicians came and went from the stage, and the music was still going strong when I left at midnight, with thunder and lightning visible to the west.

Duwayne Burnside Live at Foxfire Ranch, Waterford MS, 7/21/13

Bands, entertainment, events, music, videos

On Sunday, July 21st, I was driving back from Atlanta to Memphis, and while I stopped at O’Henry’s Coffee in Homewood, Alabama for a latte, I saw on my phone that blues great Duwayne Burnside would be playing at Foxfire Ranch,a large outdoor venue at Waterford, Mississippi in Marshall County. So I called my homeboy Mike Suggs, who lives in Marshall County and asked him if he wanted to meet me there and he said he would. Actually, the Foxfire Ranch has blues every Sunday night during the summer months, and I was surprised at the extent of the crowd. And although this was very much Duwayne’s show, everyone who is anyone in Hill County blues just about showed up, including Shannon McNally, Kenny and Sarah Brown (organizers of the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic), Little Joe Ayers and Kinny Kimbrough. It was a night of great music and great fun.

Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band Wake Up the Hill Country Picnic 2013

Bands, entertainment, events, music, videos

Sharde Thomas is the granddaughter of Otha Turner, and leads her grandfathers’ Rising Star Fife and Drum Band from Gravel Springs,in Tate County, Mississippi, which would seem to be the last African-American fife-and-drum band in the country. They are frequently featured at festivals in North Mississippi, and are always a crowd favorite.

Alvin Youngblood Hart Amplifies the Blues at the Hill Country Picnic

Bands, entertainment, events, music

Up until this year’s Hill Country Picnic, every performance I have heard from Alvin Youngblood Hart has been a solo acoustic effort, a style at which he excels. But on Saturday afternoon at the picnic, Hart performed with his electric trio in a style that incorporated a harder-edged, rock-influenced aesthetic, and the crowd responded enthusiastically.

Blue Mountain Says Farewell at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic

Bands, entertainment, events, music, videos

Oxford-based alt-country band Blue Mountain has broken up before and then reunited, so their fans are hopeful that the band’s end is not forever, but their performance at this year’s North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic was said to be their last ever. At least it was a good one, with people crowding close to the stage to see and hear them for what is likely the last time.

Garry Burnside Continuing the Family Legacy at the Hill Country Picnic

Bands, entertainment, events, music, videos

The legacy of R. L. Burnside was and still is truly amazing. He left not only an important body of recorded music in the Hill Country blues tradition, but a large extended family of descendants who mostly are musicians, as well as several musicians he considered “adopted children” whose subsequent work has also kept alive the music that was his life’s work. Garry Burnside is one of those descendants, and an annual favorite at the Hill Country Picnic. Although his band shows a willingness to incorporate rock and more contemporary styles of blues, Burnside keeps a number of Hill Country standards in his repertoire, from his dad’s “Goin’ Down South” to Junior Kimbrough’s “All Night Long.”

Garry Burnside Band-Goin Down South-Live at Hill Country Picnic 2013

Garry Burnside Band-All Night Long-Live at Hill Country Picnic 2013

British Hill Country Blues With Ian Siegal

entertainment, events, music, videos

British bluesman Ian Siegal made history this year as the first foreign blues musician to perform at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic. Siegal’s style shows the heavy influence of Howlin Wolf, as well as the influence of Black gospel music, and he was quite a hit with the crowd on Saturday afternoon.

A Tribute to T-Model Ford

Bands, entertainment, events, music

T-Model Ford was for many years a crowd favorite at the Hill Country Picnic, but poor health has made it impossible for him to perform recently, and it has also caused a considerable amount of medical bills. To help Ford deal with that, the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic sponsored a raffle of donated items, and a group of local musicians played a set of songs in his honor, with his nephew Stud on the drums. It was a moving, heart-felt tribute.

George McConnell & The Nonchalants

Bands, entertainment, events, music, videos

Vicksburg native George McConnell first gained notice as a member of Oxford area bands like Beanland and Kudzu Kings. Eventually, he became a member of Widespread Panic for a period of time before putting together his current band the Nonchalants. Although blues and soul heavily influence his current work, the Nonchalants were by far the most rock-oriented act of this year’s Hill Country Picnic.