Kenny Brown - The Melodies Of Mississippi

Kenny Brown - The Melodies Of Mississippi


Kenny Brown is one of my personal favorite hill country bluesmen. He's been essential to the electrifying elements of the few recordings of one of my favorite artists, R.L. Burnside, as well as many other artists. His approach to slide guitar is truly one-of-a-kind and will never be replicated. He is also the founder of the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, held annually in Waterford, MS.


(Kenny Brown, to the right, pictured with Junior Kimbrough)

Kenny Brown's Early Years:

Kenny Brown's blues journey began in his hometown of Nesbit, Mississippi, where he apprenticed under the guidance of the legendary Mississippi Joe Callicott from the young age of twelve until Callicott's passing when Brown was fifteen. Drawn to the soulful sounds of Othar Turner and other blues musicians performing at nearby Como picnics, Kenny dedicated himself to playing the blues.

(Pictured is Mississippi Joe Callicott, who was a relatively unknown bluesman from Nesbit, Mississippi as well as Kenny Brown's mentor in his early years)



Kenny Brown's Success And Impact:

In the early 1970s, while pursuing a career in construction, Kenny Brown started making music with two other talented musicians. Among them was Johnny Woods, with whom he performed until Woods' death in 1990. But it was R. L. Burnside who played a significant role in shaping Brown's musical path, considering him his "adopted son" and playfully referring to him as "white boy on guitar" and "my white son."

(Kenny Brown, to the right, pictured with long time collaborator R.L. Burnside, in the middle, and Cedric Burnside, on the drums to the left.)

Undeterred, Kenny Brown and R. L. Burnside continued to perform together as a duo throughout the 1970s, leaving a lasting impact on their region's blues scene. Around 1994, they were joined by Cedric Burnside, R. L. Burnside's grandson, whose reputation in the blues world was steadily rising. Together, they embarked on tours, and Brown actively participated in Burnside's tours and recordings, including collaborations with the Burnside-Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and various remixed albums. He made significant contributions to the recordings of blues greats such as Junior Kimbrough, Asie Payton, CeDell Davis, Paul "Wine" Jones, Frank Frost, and even ventured into collaborations with artists like Cyndi Lauper.


Kenny Brown's Original Music:

The late 1990s saw the release of Kenny Brown's own debut album, "Goin' Back to Mississippi" (1996), produced by Dale Hawkins. He subsequently recorded an album for Fat Possum Records, "Stingray" (2003), and co-produced "Cheap, Fast, and Dirty" (2006) with Danish guitarist Troels Jensen under Olufsen Records. Other releases include "Meet Ya In The Bottom" (2008) on CD Baby and the double album "Can't Stay Long" (2011) on Devil Down Records.

Listen to Kenny Brown's "If Down Was Up" here:

Recent Collaborations/Projects:

Kenny Brown's extraordinary guitar skills caught the attention of the film industry, and he provided backing vocals for Samuel L. Jackson in the 2006 film "Black Snake Moan." In one of the film's climactic scenes, he appears as part of a blues band, sharing the stage with Cedric Burnside.

In more recent years, Brown's exceptional slide guitar work found its way onto the Black Keys' 2021 album "Delta Kream," earning praise from critics for his electrifying performance. He continued his collaboration with the Black Keys, joining their 2022 tour to promote "Dropout Boogie" and performing songs from "Delta Kream" on stage. Additionally, Brown, along with Eric Deaton and the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, collaborated with Robert Finley on the 2021 album "Sharecropper's Son."

(Kenny Brown, pictured on the left, and Dan Auerbach, whom he collaborated with on The Black Keys' "Delta Kream".)

Kenny Brown's dedication to preserving and evolving the hill country blues tradition, along with his impressive collaborations and contributions to the genre, solidify his status as a respected figure in the music world.

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