WESTERLY — Cedric Burnside, who was nominated in the Best Traditional Blues Album category at the 61st Grammy Awards, will stop by The Knickerbocker tonight, "on the road to Newport," for an intimate show ahead of his set at the Newport Folk Festival on Friday.
The 39-year-old musician, who still lives on the land near the Holly Springs, Miss., home where he was raised by his grandfather, “Big Daddy” — the late singer/songwriter/guitarist R.L. Burnside, whom Cedric famously played alongside — was literally born to the blues. More specifically, the “rhythmically unorthodox” hill-country variant that emerged from Mississippi, where he grew up surrounded (and influenced) by his father — the drummer Calvin Jackson — Junior Kimbrough, Jessie May Hemphill and Otha Turner, as well as delta musicians T-Model Ford and Paul “Wine” Jones.
Burnside's latest album, "Benton County Relic," offers a showcase for his electric and acoustic guitar. He recorded 26 tracks in just two days with drummer/slide guitarist Brian Jay in the latter’s Brooklyn home studio in a rush of creativity. It’s his first release for Single Lock Records, the Florence, Ala., label headquartered across the Tennessee River from the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and responsible for critically acclaimed records by John Paul White, Nicole Atkins, Dylan LeBlanc and St. Paul & the Broken Bones.
As one critic put it, "If the blues has traditionally been about getting through hard times, 'Benton County Relic' offers the kind of deep baring of the soul that enables us to transcend oppression, whether in the 19th century or in the precarious present."
The show is being held in association with Newport Folk.
— Nancy Burns-Fusaro