October 23, 2021

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Black Keys Showcase Mississippi Blues With ‘Goin’ Down South’


The Black Keys have always worn their blues influences on their sleeves but with their latest album Delta Kream they’re full on giving Mississippi hill country blues a showcase. And with their new video for “Goin’ Down South,” they’re serving up a few blues landmarks of note as well.

“Goin’ Down South” was initially an R.L. Burnside song and to pay tribute to its roots the band headed down south to Jimmy Duck Holmes’ Blue Front Café, which is the oldest active juke joint in America. The performance footage in the Ryan Nadzam-directed video was shot there.

Other landmarks of note in the video include the town of Como, Mississippi, the home to Mississippi Fred McDowell (at :31), Chulahoma Community (at :41), the Burnside Palace (at :49), Aikei Pro’s record shop (at 1:54), Blues Alley in Holly Springs, the hometown of Junior Kimbrough (at 2:00), The Hut in Holly Springs which is the site of the Junior Kimbrough Cotton Patch Blues Music Festival (at 2:22​ & 3:40) and Nelson Street in Greenville, Mississippi, the hometown of James “T Model” Ford (at 2:40).

Singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach says, “We strayed a little from the original on our version with the falsetto and percussion, but we liked how it sounded in that moment. It’s become one of my favorites on the album.”

He adds, “It was a very inspiring session with Pat and me along with Kenny Brown [who played guitar for R.L. Burnside] and Eric Deaton in a circle, playing these songs. It felt so natural.”

Speaking with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, Auerbach offered, “I feel like people like Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside to me are every bit as important as Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf. And we were living while they were making records and I could go and see them. And it was just, I don’t know, I just felt a connection to it.”

As for the decision to sing falsetto, he added, “I’d never tried to do that before. I just went for it. And that felt really good because it was like, I definitely had never heard that done like that before, and it felt good, it felt natural.”

For Auerbach, the Delta Kream album gives them a chance to partake in the time-honored tradition of passing the blues down from generation to generation. “It’s handed down from generation to generation, but every generation does it different, and nobody really copies it the same. But it ends up being that personalized feel that is everything,” says the musician. “That becomes the sub genre, that becomes something else altogether. In north Mississippi, it’s the intersection between hillbilly music, blues music, roots music, acoustic, electric, it was a really beautiful place.”

“Goin’ Down South” follows on the heels of the recently released cover of “Crawling Kingsnake.” Both tracks appear on Delta Kream, which is due May 14.

Keep up with each week’s new songs by following Loudwire’s ‘Weekly Wire’ Spotify playlist, featuring 50 tracks with updates each Friday afternoon.

The Black Keys, “Goin’ Down South”

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