Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Blues Had A Grand Baby

The title is obviously a paraphrase of Muddy’s famous quote, “The Blues had a baby, and they named it Rock and Roll.”  That phrase kept rolling around my head last night as I listened to the Cedric Burnside Project.  If Rock and Roll is the baby of the Blues, then Rap and Hip Hop are the grandkids.  And they were on stage together last night at the Boulder Outlook.  To take the theme even further, Cedric and baby brother Cody are the grandsons of Blues legend, R. L. Burnside, and they offer up all kinds of proof of their lineage.

Cedric, or “Ced,” as his friends call him (and I’m now one!), is a triple threat: guitar, drums, and a voice that makes butter seem bitter.  The evening opened with the amazing one man wall of sound, John-Alex Mason, alone on guitar.  I’ve known John-Alex for a few years now, and yet this was the first time I’ve heard him alone on guitar.  He typically plays his solo gigs on guitar and drums simultaneously, creating the illusion of a full band, and with a voice that was made for singing the Blues.  I loved hearing him stripped down and raw last night.  And then he brought up a couple of friends.
He introduced Cody Burnside, and during the applause, big brother Ced quietly got behind the drums.  John-Alex and Cody then did what inspired this title:  mixed some deep, nasty Blues with rap like I’ve never heard before, trading verses and styles seamlessly.  It was the first time I so clearly recognized the apparent genealogy between the two genres.  And that relation would repeatedly present itself throughout the evening. 

Now granted, old Blueshound that I am, I’ve not really heard much rap beyond college students driving down my street with their windows down, but I still know enough to be certain what I heard was of the exceptional variety.  Cody’s voice is seductively beautiful, and his lyrics flow with such ease that it boggles the mind that anyone can write or freestyle like that.  And again with that voice! 

After a very short break, Ced took the stage alone, sitting on a chair with a guitar.  That’s when I first heard his voice.  He and Cody are clearly brothers, both possessing voices of angels.  During Ced’s solo set, one name kept coming to mind:  Alvin Youngblood Hart.  He’s his own man, but I certainly heard some beautiful similarities.  And given that Alvin is one of my favorite solo shows of all time, I began believing this Wednesday night special was designed solely for me (hey, I can believe whatever I want!). 

After a bit, there was yet another addition:  the multi-talented Jesse Hiatt who spent the evening switching between drums and guitar.  And he’s a slinger on guitar and rhythm master on drums!  The last 90 minutes had John-Alex back up and Lionel Young on that fiddle!  I can’t begin to describe all the soloing back and forth, inescapable talent throwing itself all over the room, hitting us with stunning accuracy.  The Outlook has hosted countless great Blues shows over the years, and this one is now on the books as one of the greats.  So much so, that I made an exception:  Being that the Outlook is a hotel, we have a music curfew, and during the week that is 10:00 p.m.  They ended on time, but I just had to break the rules.  I begged for one more really long song.  They did not disappoint. 

Check the CBP website and calendar often.  When these guys come to your neighborhood, pack up the family and friends and don’t miss it.  You’ll be talking about it for years.  

~Honey Bee Sepeda~

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