R. L. Burnside was one of those guys who never really felt the need to use the whole stage in order to give a good show. In fact, he was quite content sitting in his chair and busting out the riffs as he pleased. And here, we get to see him as comfortable as can be, sitting on what appears to be a bucket, and accompanied solely by his amp, on the grounds of his home in Independence, Mississippi, not far from his hometown of Harmontown.
Singing his original song “See My Jumper Hanging on the Line,” he delivers a tune so melodious that even the crying baby in the background can’t help but harmonize with him. While he’d been playing guitar since he was a teenager, music was but a part-time job for him for most of his life; he’d work by day and play the occasional juke joint by night, while also recording a few times and performing at festivals. He truly garnered attention in his later years after he began touring with Jon Spencer, and also eventually had his own grandson, drummer Cedric Burnside, as a part of his band.
While he makes what he’s doing look simple with a drone-heavy he was characterized for, Burnside proves that the tone is really in the fingers. This video was an outtake of Alan Lomax’s television documentary, The Land Where the Blues Began from 1978 and was rereleased with additional performances from Burnside. Some say that to this day no grass grows where he was stomping that heel. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: George Mitchell