Kent Burnside & The New Generation

Kent Burnside & The New Generation


Grandson of R.L. Burnside. Kent has been given the moniker "King of the Cotton Field Disco." Sounds range from the porches of the Mississippi Delta to the Ghettos of the South. Sweet as a Mississippi sunset after the rain.


Living in Grandpa’s shadow could have clouded his success.

Instead, Kent Burnside decided to beef up the Mississippi Delta blues legacy left by his legendary relative, R. L. Burnside, with funky bass, evidently self-taught guitar playing and the occasional classic rock cover.

“Last time I was in Iowa City, I played the Yacht Club with my uncle Duwayne [Burnside],” Burnside says. “The crowd definitely fed off of our energy and I thought ‘hey, it’s time I come back.’”

This time around, Burnside will play a mix of songs from his latest album Country Boy with Big City Dreams and his previous release Cotton Field Disco. In the untidiness of his funk, soul and rhythm influences, the blues still shine as his centerpiece.

His southern style and notable genealogy, however, are not the only components of Burnside’s musical mastery.

In a style that might make Jimi Hendrix’s upside-down guitar playing look relatively normal, Burnside strums his electric guitar strictly with his thumb. The visual effect is an odd brushing of his instrument. Audibly, he maintains a breakneck speed with a wide range of notes, despite what some guitar pick users would describe as a speed and sound impairment.

“I tried to learn to play along with my Grandpa and his friends,” Burnside says. “After struggling with a pick awhile, I said ‘to heck with it’ and haven’t cared for the things since.”

Using the pad of his thumb to pull fat sounds off his bass notes and chimes from his upper register, muffled tones are not the extent of his clamor. To “twang them strings,” as Iowa’s own Delta bluesman Catfish Keith describes it, Burnside rotates his nail downward to sharpen the blow of the notes flying off his guitar.

This homegrown panache demonstrates Burnside’s nonchalant approach to music despite his collaborations with Buddy Guy and a major record deal with Knock Down South records.

“I grew up really poor in Mississippi, where every weekend we’d have a party to listen to Grandpa play,” Burnside says. “We’d steal his guitar and play when he was gone, breaking strings and scuffing the wood. We had to go out and earn money to pay him back for the damages.”

Not only are his roots genuine, his band also showcases instrumentation and talent dripping with southern folksiness.

With drummer Jacob Best, bass player Dan Burnside (Kent’s brother), rhythm guitar player Ren Olstrand, lap steel player Gabe Meyer, and Rich Wilcox on violin and harmonica, the New Generation would be a dominant musical entity on its own.

Add the (literally) towering Burnside and the group tears through gritty guitar licks and smooth rhythms in a soulful groove.

The touring, the playing and the music would not have happened were it not for one little tidbit of grandfatherly advice, Burnside says.

“Grandpa told me, ‘Even if you don’t make it in music, the least that you want to be able to say is that you tried it.”

Booking: Crystal Crawford
Blue-Eyed Booking & Promotions
Phone: 615.887.1169


Cotton Field Disco
Country Boy With City Dreams (forthcoming)

Set List

Mix of originals and blues classics.