Song of the Day: R.L. Burnside, “Goin’ Down South”

Song of the Day: R.L. Burnside, “Goin’ Down South”

 

In the early ’90s I was listening to Jonny Meister’s Saturday night blues show on WXPN. In the first hour, I was hit on the side of my head by a guttural sound the likes of which I’d never heard before. I couldn’t wait to find out who this was. R.L. Burnside was his name, he was taught how to play by the legendary Mississippi Fred McDowell. I immediately planned a pilgrimage to Junior Kimbrough’s juke joint in Holly Springs, MS. What happened that night on the edge of a cotton field was life changing. Aside from drinking a Budweiser can for the first time, I also met Junior’s band and R.L. and his band as well. I was lucky enough to become friends with them all. To bring the thing back full circle, I set up a time with Jonny Meister who hosted R.L. appearing on the World Cafe. This was at WXPN’s old studio up a narrow staircase in a cramped studio. It was AMAZING! I ended up seeing the band well over a dozen times in five different states including a great Blues Cruise in NY. Thanks in large part to Jon Spencer and HBO’s The Sopranos who featured a song of his, R.L. got a tremendous amount of exposure and well deserved accolades over the rest of the decade. This is “Goin’ Down South” by R.L. Burnside.

—Craig Kaplan

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