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Photograph Credits: Steven W. Likens
R.L. Boyce’s Hill Country Blues is effortlessly transcendent and mesmerizing. Capturing the juke-joint, moonshine fuelled, picnic party life of Como, Mississippi, Boyce takes the listener through Saturday night and over that fine line that separates it from Sunday morning. This is god-fearing music on Mississippi terms.
R.L. Boyce has become so highly regarded people see him as the Ravi Shankar of Hill Country music. Hill Country music is loose and free, so much so that it puts both the performer and the listener in a warm, almost meditative state while still groovy enough to demand a good ass shake. Through improvisation, it is designed to heighten your consciousness. You don’t play this sort of music so much as you submit to it.
R.L.’s been a musician since his days as a child growing up in Como, Mississippi, home to the great Hill Country bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell. He started out as a drummer, playing for the Rising Star Fife and Drum band with blues legend Otha Turner, all the while waiting to come out in front to sing and play guitar. His songs are often delivered in an improvisational fashion, with references to his collaborators, his environs and whatever else happens to be on his mind at that particular moment. You will never hear the same R.L. Boyce song twice.