Sunday, December 11, 2005

Serendipity in action

Last night Wendell and went to the Double Door to see Duwayne Burnside. Duwayne is the son of R.L. Burnside so we decided we should see what he has to offer. We thought maybe he would have some musicians in his band from the Mississippi hill country he is from.

We hadn't been to the Double Door in a while. Wendell and I used to frequent the place back when they had this weekly show called Americana Night. I loved Americana Night. Whoever booked that night for a few years introduced me to Deke Dickerson, The Blazers and the Sprague Brothers. We walked in last night and the guy at the door saw Wendell and said, "What are you doing here? Lenny isn't playing tonight." I guess we've neglecting the venerable old Double Door. I'd like to go there more often but they just haven't been bringing in people I want to see.

It turned out that two members of Duwayne Burnside's band, the bassist and drummer, had been hurt in a car wreck. The replacement bassist he brought with him was Garry Burnside. Garry Burnside played bass for Junior Kimbrough and his work is all over those awesome albums Kimbrough did for Fat Possum before he died. He also played bass with David Kimbrough (a son of Junior Kimbrough) at Junior's juke joint in Chulamhoma, MS the glorious night Wendell, Chris and I went. The drummer he brought with him was Cedric Burnside. Cedric played drums for and is the grandson of R.L. Burnside. Cedric is one of my favorite drummers to see live. He's the blues version of Keith Moon. He's all over the place on the drum set and he beats the hell out of the drums. He does all that with a giant smile on his face, his head rocking back and forth with the beat and he lays down incredibly intricate beats while having fun behind the kit. He's flatout amazing.

I was so happy that Cedric and Garry were there to lay down a killer rhythm all night long because I was a little disappointed in Duwayne Burnside. He's a great guitar player, he's got a great voice and good stage presence but his performance is too much Stevie Ray Vaughan and not enough Mississippi. There were a lot of jam band hippy kids there last night that must have heard of Duwayne via his stint with the North Mississippi Allstars and they seemed to enjoy the repetitive overlong soloing but it was wearing on me. If Cedric and Garry hadn't been there last night I probably would have left after the first set. I don't want to sound too critical, I did enjoy the show but I felt he was pandering a bit to the crowd and their expectations. Screw the crowd, play what you want.

Garry and Cedric has a two-piece band going called the Burnside Exploration. I bought the CD from Cedric last night and from the little I've heard so far, it's pretty good. I'd like to see that duo perform. I have a copy of a recent show and it's nice. So, there you go. Sometimes you go to a show expecting one thing and then you get a treat like I did last night. Listening to Garry and Cedric play together was just a special experience. If the solos went on too long I just tuned them out and listened to that Burnside groove and got a little hypnotized.

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