Local Festivals

Published on June 12th, 2021 | by Nature Humphries


2021 North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic Artist Q&A: Cedric Burnside

The 2021 North MIssissippi Hill Country Picnic is just around the corner. Mark your calendars for June 25–26, and get your camping gear ready for a hot weekend of music, family, and Mississippi-flavored shenanigans just a short drive north of Oxford in Waterford, Mississippi at the Betty Davis Ponderosa. Tickets are $25 per day, with a $15 camping fee and a $10 cooler fee, and you can snag them online here until June 15. After that, all ticket sales at the gate will be CASH ONLY. So go ahead and get ’em early.

Grammy-nominated artist and Hill Country star Cedric Burnside releases his new album, I Be Trying, Friday, June 25, just in time to celebrate in style at the Picnic with two sets on Saturday, June 26. His first set kicks of at 5:45 pm, and then Cedric will return to the stage joined by Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and Sharde Thomas of Rising Stars Fife & Drum Band.

I talked to Cedric recently about the Picnic, his new album, and how great it feels to be back to work.

Cedric Burnside at the 2019 North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic. Photo by Jean Frank Photography.

I am looking forward to the Picnic; it’s going to be such a blast this year.

It’s about time!

Tell me your favorite thing about the Picnic?

By far my favorite thing about the Hill Country Picnic is getting to see a great majority of Hill Country Blues from Hill Country artists that’s from there that I hardly ever get to see, because I’m traveling. That’s really my favorite thing about it, is getting together with friends and family that I grew up playing with and actually getting to play with them again. It’s like a family reunion.

What is it about the Picnic that makes it special, that makes it stand out from other festivals?

To me, it’s about—one thing is I never get to play and my family get to see me. Like my daughters and my sister. So I think that’s what is so special to me. I get to hang out with family that I normally wouldn’t get to hang out with if I was traveling. And they hardly ever get to see me play. It’s one big happy family there.

You’re on the lineup twice. You’ll be doing a solo set and then you’ll close out the festival as the headliner with Luther Dickinson and Sharde Thomas. Tell me a little about what to expect from your sets.

Well, actually, my set is going to be mostly my music. Hopefully it’s going to be a hot set! I’m looking to see people dance and shake their tail feather a li’l bit after so long at home. With me and Luther, I don’t know. Luther is full of surprises, so I’m looking forward to jamming with him because we hardly ever get to play together.

Cedric Burnside and Luther Dickinson backstage at the 2019 North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic. Photo by Jean Frank photography.

I know y’all go way back.

Yeah, he’s definitely my brother from another mother!

He plays on your new album that’s coming out June 25, right?

Yeah, he plays on two songs on that album, and they’re hot! I can’t wait for people to hear ‘em.

I saw that your album releases on that Friday of the Picnic—June 25. So in a way this is like a record release party for you! It’s all about Cedric this year!

It’s working! The universe is working with me. What can I say?

Tell us a little bit about this new album.

I think it’s a good album. It’s definitely more of my feelings, good and bad, into this album. Hopefully it inspires people to know that the world don’t owe us nothing. But still we need to keep pushing, no matter. When you fall, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep moving. We all in this together, nobody’s in it by theyself. I hope people get that kind of message from this album. I have to say I really like this album, and I hope that people enjoy it as well.

Do you have any other guest artists playing on it?

I do. Luther is one of them. And I have my youngest daughter on one song, Portika Burnside. I was happy to have her. And then I have Zac [Cockrell] who plays bass for The Alabama Shakes. He came and did one song on bass with me.

Would you share a favorite memory from a past Picnic?

Oh, I can share an excellent memory! One of my favorite memories is my Uncle Joseph [Burnside] and my dad [Calvin Jackson] playing at the Picnic after hitting that moonshine pretty hard. They was arguing just a little bit before that show started, as they always do, irritating each other. But then when the show got ready to start, aw, they was all lovey dovey, they was brothers again. And they did a really rockin’ show, so I’ll always remember that.

Where are you most active online where fans can interact with you and see what you’re up to?

They can always see me on my Facebook, and you can also find out about all my shows and everything through my website, CedricBurnside.net, and also SingleLock.com, which is my record company.

I’ve been doing a few shows here the last couple of months, which has been great. Like I said, it’s about time! And then in the next couple months I have a few short tours coming up, you know, four or five days. But, you gotta start somewhere right?

I saw that you will be opening for Greta van Fleet – is that just one show?

It’s going to be in Nashville at the [FirstBank] Amphitheatre [Friday & Saturday, August 5–6 in Franklin, Tennessee]. And when I get done with that, I have a little seven-day tour in August around the Midwest, and then I come home for a few days, and then I have another little nine- or ten-day tour. It’s starting to come back around, so I’m really grateful.

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About the Author

Nature Humphries is Editor-in-Chief of The Local Voice. Nature is originally from Vicksburg, Mississippi, but moved to Oxford in 2004 after spending time in the United States Navy. She has also worked in the restaurant industry for many years as a server and a bartender. Nature graduated from Ole Miss in 2007 with a degree in English and Modern Languages.

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