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Live From The Circle Bar RL Boyce & The Thunder Band

“Are you ready to Boogie?”

 Sherena Boyce asks the lucky crowd on that rainy night in New Orleans. It was Mardi Gras, but Como, MS Blues legend RL Boyce was in the Circle Bar and with the support of Paul Artigues and Todd Mathews, on loan from the Thunder Band, he settled in and grooved an incredible set of down-home, hypnotic hill country blues. This is unfiltered RL BOYCE at his very best. No guest stars. No hot leads. No slide guitar. ALL BOOGIE.

RL Boyce’s music is rooted in long-standing traditions of the deep south and family history. Otha Turner is RL’s aunt’s cousin. RL first saw Otha play at a family picnic when he was twelve years old. In awe of the respect that Otha commanded with his fife and drum band, RL decided then and there that is what he wanted to be. That guy. And at the age of fourteen, he joined the popular fife and drum outfits of the North Delta area of Mississippi.

RL played drums with Otha Turner for thirty years. But he also played drums and recorded with Napoleon Strickland, another popular regional drum and fife line-up, plus the SHE-WOLF herself, Jessie Mae Hemphill. After meeting about 1980 through Otha, RL and Jessie Mae forged a deep and lasting friendship which inspired RL to pick up the guitar and delevoped his own distinct guitar sound. RL’s style is rooted in country blues. He combines the traditional guitar picking and tuning similar to hometown legends Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside to create a simple, trance-inducing song. Peculiar in phrasing, RL’s style shines on this recording. He effortlessly leads the band from one classic RL tune to the next with his sparse, soothing sound mesmerizing listeners.

RL’s playing is minimal, meandering, spontaneous and loose but bound to a precise repetitive, entrancing rhythm. His unmistakable style is easily recognizable. Along with the influences mentioned above, the classic country blues guitar styles of John Lee Hooker & Lightnin’ Hopkins can be gleaned but accentuated with haunting, high pitched vocals reminiscent of Robert Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt.

RL first recorded with Otha and Napoleon in 1974 and continued recording throughout the 80’s and 90’s. In the mid-80’s he recorded with Jessie Mae on David Evans’ stellar Memphis label High Water Records. RL Boyce’s excellent debut release on Sutro Park, 2013, is now followed by RL’s first live recording release. Joined by his eldest daughter, Sherena on Tamborine, she helps juke up the joint. You can take the man out of Mississippi – but you can’t take the Mississippi out of the man.
CD format $10.00 US plus shipping

RL Boyce at 2015 Hill Country Picnic. Tinype photo © Bill Steber All rights reserved