Duwayne Burnside plays as intensely as he talks. But, to the average person, his playing is a bit easier to understand than his Mississippi speech–or maybe not. His latest, Under Pressure,sure sounds like a Hendrix tribute. But Burnside says it isn’t.
“I was goin’ for something kinda raw and hot,” says Burnside of the album. “I wasn’t particularly looking for that sound, but then again I was looking for a sound kinda close to it. It just came out like that. I got a Hendrix feel anyway. I kinda do chunks of all of it in there.”
Duwayne has a bit of an accent, the down-home persuasion that echoes the hills of his native Senatobia, Miss. His rapid-fire delivery is peppered with know-what-I’m-sayin’s, so much so that a conversation requires spontaneous editing and translation.
His music requires less translation. It’s readily apparent Albert King played a big part in his musical upbringing. “I was into Albert because I was around him a lot,” Burnside says. “I played with him a lot and kinda got his sound. I was more around Daddy and Albert than I was anybody.”
Daddy is R.L. Burnside, with whom Duwayne played since he was 12, backing his dad on drums, bass and guitar in the Burnside family’s band, Sound Machine Groove. But it was as a member of the Soul Blues Boys with fellow hillcountryman Junior Kimbrough that the young Burnside got to hang out and play with blues Kings Albert and B.B.
In addition to the Kings’ influences, there’s a little something extra that came from Kimbrough.
“You don’t hear nobody play like Junior,” Burnside says. “You listen to a lot of old music peoples, I ain’t never heard nothing like Junior’s sound or another song where Junior got that sound from. Junior kinda did all his own thang.”
And even though you can feel the imprint of other fingers on the strings of Duwayne Burnside’s guitar, he too does his own thing. His sound has a raw, backwoods feel that smacks more of its proximity to its Alabama and Tennessee borders than most of his fellow Mississippians. “Believe dat!” says Burnside emphatically. “It must be something in the water. You ain’t got to be no color. It just that hill country sound.”
But Burnside’s sound is not as hilly as his dad’s. More influenced by outside sources, it combines a trace of soul, the deliberateness of the Kings and flashes of psychedelia courtesy of Hendrix.
Nevertheless, the North Mississippi Allstars felt the kindred spirit enough to have him record and travel with them from 2001 to 2004. Burnside says his main role was a peacemaker. “Me and Cody [Allstar drummer Dickinson] had gotten together first, cause they had already broke up. I said, ‘Man, y’all need to get back together, cause y’all already got everything going. Y’all just need to get along better.’”
“It was all good,” says Burnside of the arrangement, adding that he and Cody are working on a song for his new CD that the Allstars will probably back him on.
“I love my brothers the Allstars,” Burnside says, “but it’s just better me trying my own thing, doing my own idea of where I want to go.”
For now, Burnside just wants to take his band, the Mississippi Mafia, and go.
“I like to be around my home people, but sometimes it’ll wear you out sittin’ at home,” he says, chuckling. “I enjoy traveling. And I just like doing my own thing.”
Duwayne Burnside plays the Blue Bayou Club Thursday, May 25 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $14-16.