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Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, country fried blues

For those who enjoy a “knock-down, drag-out” good time, check out Delta Groove recording artists Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm ( Cedric and Malcolm are based in Holly Springs, MS, but they’re “big city boys” now. While touring with Universal/Republic recording artist Lucero (, Cedric and Malcolm briefly jumped off the tour to play a Monday night at Smith’s Olde Bar ( They rejoined the tour later in the week.

Cedric Burnside (drums) and Lightnin' Malcolm (guitar)
Photo by Shirley Kennedy

Monday night can prove to be a challenge to most indie musicians, but not for Cedric and Malcolm. Though playing to a smaller crowd than normal, they played that room as if it were filled with the 350 it holds. Then, Smith’s staff had to practically kick them off the stage, and there were very few people left. Their love for what they do is obvious, and they will do it whenever and wherever, whether or not the room is full. Before their show even began, Cedric and Malcolm came out into the venue and went literally table to table, thanking everyone for coming and promising them a great time. That very small gesture immediately endeared them to crowd; though the audience was small, they were quite vocal. When the guys took the stage, they assured the audience that even though they were small in number, attendees would get the same show they give to a room of 300, and that, they did. During their show, Cedric and Malcolm heavily interacted with the crowd, giving histories of some of their songs and generally creating a connection to the audience. People found themselves bantering with Cedric and Malcolm, as if they had no will of their own. These guys are experts at drawing an audience into their world and keeping them there. Much of that ability rests in the fact that these guys are so likeable.

Both Cedric and Malcolm are gregarious, genuine, and very, very southern. They are as southern as country fried steak, as southern as the Varsity’s fried peach pie. And their music reflects those very qualities, music that is something other than just “blues” in the traditional sense of the word. That music is “country fried blues,” but it transcends the south; it is reminiscent of sounds heard along any two-lane blacktop of rural America. It is heartfelt music, displaying the genuine nature of its authors yet written in such a way that it is a celebration, a celebration of life as these young men know it. Cedric is the grandson of the late R.L. Burnside, with whom Cedric began touring at the age of 13, and spent his formative years in Holly Springs—unless he was out on tour with “Big Daddy,” as he affectionately refers to his grandfather. “Big Daddy’s” influences permeate Cedric’s music. Lightnin’ Malcolm was born in rural Missouri, making his upbringing very similar to that of Cedric's. Malcolm’s style is best described by Ted Drozdowski of The Boston Phoenix: “Malcolm evokes Junior Kimbrough's hypnotic magic, drawling lustful lyrics over a snaking melody” (see It is no surprise that Malcolm would end up in Mississippi, playing with some of the best musicians the state had to offer, including R.L. Burnside.

Malcolm is quite talented on guitar, and his soulful vocals drip with his southern influence. Cedric is far and away one of the most talented drummers on the circuit today, and his songs directly reflect his life in song. Together, this talented duo is making quite an impact on both the blues and those who love this genre. With songs like “My Sweetheart” and “R.L. Burnside,” it is clear that these guys pay homage to the people and things that make life sweet for them. Passionate, entertaining, and very talented, Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm belong on every music lover’s “must see” list. The duo has three more shows on the calendar for this year. If those shows are nearby, make it a point to see these two in concert. They leave the audience begging for more, and it is only a matter of time before seeing them in an intimate setting will become difficult and, eventually, impossible.


  • Tammy 5 years ago

    Shirley, I will definitely check these guys out. YOU are a great're a very talented woman!!! Great article!

  • Shirley 5 years ago

    The guys are back here on February 20 at the Earl. Check them out if you can.