The Black Keys Celebrate Mississippi Hill Country Blues With New Album Delta Kream On May 14

Pic by Joshua Black Wilkins

On May 14, The Black Keys release their tenth studio album, Delta Kream, via Nonesuch Records. The record celebrates the band’s roots, featuring eleven Mississippi hill country blues standards that they have loved since they were teenagers, before they were a band, including songs by R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, among others.  Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney recorded Delta Kream at Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville; they were joined by musicians Kenny Brown and Eric Deaton, long-time members of the bands of blues legends including R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. The album takes its name from William Eggleston’s iconic Mississippi photograph that is on its cover. Delta Kream is available for pre-order on all formats here.

Auerbach says of the album, “We made this record to honor the Mississippi hill country blues tradition that influenced us starting out. These songs are still as important to us today as they were the first day Pat and I started playing together and picked up our instruments. It was a very inspiring session with Pat and me along with Kenny Brown and Eric Deaton in a circle, playing these songs. It felt so natural.”
 
Carney concurs, “The session was planned only days in advance and nothing was rehearsed. We recorded the entire album in about ten hours, over two afternoons, at the end of the ‘Let’s Rock’ tour.” 

Today, the band shares Delta Kream’s first single “Crawling Kingsnake.” Auerbach says of the song: “I first heard [John Lee] Hooker’s version in high school. My uncle Tim would have given me that record. But our version is definitely Junior Kimbrough’s take on it. It’s almost a disco riff!” Carney adds, “We fell into this drum intro; it’s kind of accidental. The ultimate goal was to highlight the interplay between the guitars. My role with Eric was to create a deeper groove.” Listen to the track here.The band revealed an exclusive first listen of the song to their fan club, The Lonely Boys and Girls Club, earlier this week. Fans can join for free and gain access to special bonus content, exclusive merch bundles and much more.

The music from northern Mississippi, which came to life in juke joints, has long left an imprint on the band’s music, from their cover of R.L. Burnsides’ “Busted” and Junior Kimbrough’s “Do The Romp” on their debut album, The Big Come Up; to their subsequent signing to Fat Possum Records, home to many of their musical heroes; and to their EP of Junior Kimbrough covers, Chulahoma.
 
In addition to paying homage to these Mississippi blues legends with Delta Kream, The Black Keys are working with VisitMississippi, the state’s tourism organization, to sponsor new individual markers for  R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough on the Mississippi Blues Trail, which tell the stories of the state’s blues artists both renowned and obscure through words and images. (Both musicians are currently acknowledged on a group marker in Holly Springs entitled “Hill Country Blues.”) The new markers will be erected in the proposed locations of Holly Springs and Chulahoma, MS, places closely associated with Burnside and Kimbrough—a fitting tribute to these architects of Hill Country Blues and further recognition of their enduring contributions to American music. More information about the Mississippi Blues Trail is available here.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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