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Daily Inspiration: Meet RL BOYCE

Today we’d like to introduce you to RL BOYCE.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I am the Como, Mississippi Hill Country Boogie King, RL BOYCE.

I have played traditional North Mississippi Blues for 50 years. I began playing drums professionally at a family picnic in 1970 at age 15 with my Uncle Otha Turner’s Rising Stars Traditional Fife and Drum Band. In 2018, my sophomore release Roll n Tumble was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Traditional Blues Album.

I have spent my life traveling the world playing Blues, Now back home in Como Ms., I offer my own family festival The RL BOYCE Picnic, Labor Day Weekend, Sep. 3 – 5, 2022. A three-day inactive immersive unfiltered cultural event that celebrates my life as an American Living Blues Legend.

We provide a North Mississippi guitar and drum workshop, an opportunity to jam with the Big Blues Mane, a Traditional African American Mississippi family picnic with live music and food, and educational exhibit of photos and archival films and video, and a guided Hill Country Tour.

I began my picnic venture in 2018 with FANCY! Partners is a boutique media arts company based in Brooklyn NY. Amy Verdon is responsible for providing all services to create and maintain the RL BOYCE Picnic Inc. brand, logo, marketing, research, web presence, funding, grants, and overall wonder woman.

The woman knows her stuff and got me and others here in Mississippi on the block. Amy Verdon is an NYC artist with more than 20 years of experience working in the visual arts, and entertainment.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
No. Life as an American Bluesman is not an easy life. That is how I can sing the Blues. I have them. Always. My life’s foundation is hay. I’m poor. I’m Black.

I come up in the Jim Crow Era in America. Neither of my parents could read nor write. I am one of 13 children. No, life as a Mississippi Bluesman is not an easy life, but the one I choose to live. Playing Blues is a skill of survival. I live the Blues I play. The music I play is from my heart.

I was twelve years old. My family and I were at my Uncle Otha Turner’s GOAT PICNIC. He was playing his fife.

Everybody at the picnic knew his name. Everybody was together. Everybody was happy and joyous. The music had a profound effect on me that day, and I realized then, that I wanted to play Blues music, like my Uncle Otha Turner.

I was a member of my Uncle Otha’s band for 30 years until his passing in 2003. I have played with great players, and a bad one too. To giant festival stage audiences, small clubs, big clubs, national television, and small family yard parties. It’s all the same to me.

From big-money promises to no money to loved ones to losing too many my music has always been there to get me through. I’m blessed I found my purpose, and I’m gonna keep on playing the Blues my way until the Good Lord says different.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am an African American Mississippi Living Blues Legend.

That is what I am most proud of. My style of Blues, Hill Country Boogie is my own style rooted in the oral tradition of American Blues music, an original Traditional African American Folk Art.

I began drums at about 12 years of age, and pick up the guitar at the age of 25 after a dare from a good friend and fellow musician Mississippi Star’s Luther Dickinson. My guitar style has no structure. I do not play the same song, the same way twice. I play electric guitar.

My guitar style is loose, repetitive, sparse, and improvisational which allows for a long jam that provides my Blues with a trance-inducing effect. No one today plays my style of Blues.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
Amy Verdon of FANCY! Partners. She is a foundational support system who assists me with my own cataloging, gathering images, and videos, creating a brand, publishing, and product. Amy is an advocate for the arts, and the woman is needed.

After many years of playing with my Uncle Otha’s Fife and Drum band, I was invited by David Evans of High Water Records Memphis University to sit behind a kit to record with Ms. Jessie Mae Hemphill on her award-winning record Fellin Good, 1987.

Also, Luther Dickinson and David Katznelson are responsible for my first two solo releases Aint The Man’s Alright, and Roll n Tumble. The biggest stars in my world are my Uncle Otha Turner, North Mississippi Blues legends and friends, Junior Kimbrough, and my main man R. L. Burnside.

Junior Kimbrough like Luther Dickinson encouraged me to get upfront and play. I first played publicly as RL BOYCE in the early 1990s at Junior Kimbrough’s Juke Joint in Chulahoma, Ms. R.L. Burnside, I worship the man. R.L.

Burnside I first met and played with about the age of 13, along with Fred McDowell, Johnny Woods, and The Young family band all out at my Uncle Otha’s place in Gravel Springs, Ms.

Pricing:

  • VIP Ticket $150
  • Hill Country Workshop $100
  • CLUB NITE $10
  • Hill Country Guided Tour $25
  • Club Nite & Tour $30

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Bill Steber, John Branch, Amy Verdon, Michael Lewis, and Steve Likens

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