In the words of Waxploitation founder, Jeff Antebi, “R.L. has been an invisible hand behind some of the most culturally important, vital music America has to offer the world.”
R.L Boyce’s Hill Country Blues is effortlessly transcendent and mesmerizing. Capturing the juke-joint, moonshine fuelled, picnic party life of Como, Mississippi, Boyce takes the listener through the Saturday night and over that fine line that separates it from Sunday morning. This is god-fearing music on Mississippi terms.
Today R.L releases single “R.L.’s Boogie” and announces details of his new album Roll and Tumble coming out September 8th via Waxploitation.
R.L. Boyce has become so highly regarded people see him as the Ravi Shankar of Hill Country music. Hill Country music is loose and free, so much so that it puts both the performer and the listener in a warm, almost meditative state while still groovy enough to demand a good ass shake. Through improvisation, it is designed to heighten your consciousness. You don’t play this sort of music so much as you submit to it.
R.L.’s been a musician since his days as a child growing up in Como, Mississippi, home to the great Hill Country bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell. He started out as a drummer, playing for the Rising Star Fife and Drum band with blues legend Otha Turner, all the while waiting to come out in front to sing and play guitar. His songs are often delivered in an improvisational fashion, with references to his collaborators, his environs and whatever else happens to be on mind at that particular moment. You will never hear the same R.L. Boyce song twice.
This latest collection of songs was recorded over two days. Everything was done on the first take, giving listeners a rare glimpse into the kind of masterful jams that pop up at backyard parties and get-togethers in the Hill Country. The recordings were co-produced by North Mississippi All-Stars leader and Black Crowes collaborator Luther Dickinson. Dickinson also appears as a musician on the record.
To properly capture the sound of R.L. and his friends, you set up the mics, get the hell out of the way and let the hypnotic boogie take over.
As R.L. himself says, “Most of it, when somethin’ hits my mind, I just start. I don’t do no rehearsin’ with nobody. I don’t do nothin’ like that. Whatever hits me, I jump in on it.”
They say the greatest players are so tight they are loose. This is that.
Quote from Co-Producer Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars):
This is the most important honest to God Hill Country Blues Record made since R.L. Burnside’s A Ass Pocket Of Whisky. The only record capturing the father and son double drumming team of Cedric Burnside (RL Burnside’s drummer and grandson) and Calvin Jackson. R.L. Boyce is a first hand protégé of Fred McDowell, Ranie Burnette and RL Burnside but with an added rhythmic edge he honed from his time playing drums with Jessie Mae Hemphill. R.L.’s endless boogie keeps the She Wolf style alive. The record is a revelation of improvised blues lyrics, my favorite being, “bury me face down. don’t come to my funeral looking to see my face, you won’t see nothin but ass and nuts.”
Lightnin Malcolm laid down the 2nd guitar bass line with R.L. throwing in abstract blues splashes of lead guitar. I laid out with the slide until he would ask me to play, “Give it to me. I need it.” RL and I formed our friendship and both learned to play hill country blues sitting on Otha Turner’s front porch. He would berate us if our playing seemed uninspired but if we got a feeling raised up he would jump, throw his hat down start dancing and singing eventually passing around his own ass pocket of corn whisky. That is what RL and I lived for in those days.
Produced by Luther Dickinson and David Katznelson
Executive Produced by Jeff Antebi
Album Cover by James Jean
Some of the noteworthy players:
Luther Dickinson: Grammy nominated guitar slinger from Mississippi . Former guitar player for the Black Crowes, leader of the North Mississippi All-stars, student of the great Otha Turner.
Calvin Jackson: Legendary Mississippi drummer who defined the rhythmic nature of the Hill Country blues sound. Played with R L Burnside, Junior Kimbraugh, Jesse Mae Hemphill, and CeDell Davis. He is the father to Cedric Burnside.
Cedric Burnside: Son of Calvin Jackson, Grandson to R L Burnside, Cedric took over for his father as a teenager in the R L Burnside trio and proceeded to apply a younger generation slamming style to the Hill Country sound which he continues to do today. Like his father, a progenitor of the movement. This is the only session both father and son play on together.
Lightnin’ Malcom: Kentucky-born one-man-band who also played with Cedric in the Burnside Explosion.
Andre Turner: Drummer taught by his grandfather Otha Turner, while in The Rising Star Fife And Drum Band.