One of the most beautiful things about music is the connections it can cultivate. Connections between artists and their fans, listeners and songs or even between musicians themselves.
Take for instance Luther Dickenson of the North Mississippi All Stars and Cedric Burnside. These two go back almost 25 years, first coming together in RL Burnside’s touring band. Fast forward all these years later and the two are not only still buds, they’re still making music together.
As touring is unavailable to these road dogs (and everybody else) these days, the old friends got together in the studio to knock some things around. The result? Another one of those magical musical moments in the form of what is best known in the Mississippi Hills simply as “Catfish,” a medley of Muddy Waters’ songs “Still a Fool” and “Rolling Stone.”
“Catfish” has been a rite of passage in my life, time and time again,” proclaims Dickenson.
“Studying Muddy’s guitar work as a kid in the 80’s, I realized he was rhythmically moving in-between straight time and a hard swing. This turned me onto a tense device that I continued to recognize and utilize. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it.”
With its booming drum intro quickly followed by the gather ‘em all up, low sweeping guitar lick, “Catfish” wastes no time in demanding your attention. By the time the vocals kick in, it’s over. You’re hooked.
“Catfish” was my choice the first time I ever played guitar and sang for my dear friend and mentor Otha Turner, leader of the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, in 1991. After I sang the “I’ve been crazy, yes, I’ve been a fool” verse, Otha nodded in approval and sang a verse behind me. Otha Turner singing along to my guitar was a life changing thrill.
“In 1997, RL Burnside hired me to play 3rd guitar on his Ass Pocket of Whiskey tour with Cedric Burnside on drums and Kenny Brown on 2nd guitar. For RL’s encore he would put his guitar down, stand up and sing ‘Catfish,’ breaking it down to tell some of his infamous jokes. I had never been on tour before and RL, Cedric and Kenny were at the top of their game and showed me the ropes. We have been on the road ever since.
“Cody and I cut ‘Catfish’ at Royal Studio with Boo Mitchell co-producing. Cody’s drums aggressively magnify the tension between playing straight time and swinging.”
“I really like the song,” agrees Burnside. “My Big Daddy did that song a lot and it’s always cool to do something with Luther and Cody!”
“It is an honor to make modern Mississippi music with Cedric Burnside anytime, especially in 2020, which feels like a rite of passage for us all. We humbly donate proceeds from ‘Catfish’ to BLM.”
If you dig the tune, or simply want to support BLM, you can purchase here.