The dozen-odd stage-lights in the Spiegeltent that’s the centrepiece of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival in St Andrew’s Square seem capable of cooking up three different colours: red, purple and blue. So here are pictures of blues band the Cedric Burnside Project, who performed on the Spiegeltent’s stage the other evening, wrapped in red, purple and – most appropriately – blue.
Cedric Burnside is the grandson of the late, legendary bluesman R.L. Burnside, who learned his trade at the knee of Mississippi Fred McDowell and whose biography included a stint in Parchment Farm (i.e. Mississippi State Penitentiary) for a murder conviction – you don’t get much blues-ier than that. A decade before his death in 2005, R.L. became known to music audiences beyond the blues fraternity for his association with American punk-alternative band the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, which included a collaboration album A Ass Pocket of Whiskey (1996).
Cedric was touring with his grandpa’s band at the age of 13 – R.L. liked to start ’em young – although he’s grown into a big strapping lad since then. He needs to be big and strapping because he’s both the band’s drummer and vocalist. The only other band-member is guitarist Trenton Ayers. Onstage, they generated a surprising amount of noise for just two people. Though I shouldn’t really be surprised, considering the healthy racket that Jack and Meg White used to conjure up in the White Stripes.
Because of Cedric Burnside’s prominence, the band’s sound was predictably percussion-driven. His drum-kit was high in the mix with every jingle, rustle, patter, smack and thud of it audible. Ayer’s guitar, meanwhile, seemed to surf atop those waves of percussion. For a blues aficionado, though, it was all excellent stuff.
My only quibble with the gig was that I missed a chunk of it on account of the Spiegeltent not being equipped with toilets. When I went to relieve myself, I had to go outside, follow the structure’s curved wall, wander along an alleyway… And basically travel for light-years to the edge of the known universe before I arrived at the portacabin containing the Jazz and Blues Festival loos. From the tenor of the vibrations coming faintly through the loo-walls, I believe I missed the band doing a Jimi Hendrix-type number at the time.
It’s also frustrating, for someone like myself who loves blues music but who considers jazz music to be mainly a heap of wanky, mind-numbing bollocks, that the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival seems to be choc-a-bloc with jazz acts but has only a modicum of blues ones during its 11-day run. So, any Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival organisers reading this, you’d better make sure you hire more blues artists for your 2016 bash. Or I’ll have you all done for violating the Trades Description Act.