Friday, October 25, 2013

Ranie Burnette

Top 100 2000: Ranie Burnette
3.5" x 17", oil and aluminum foil on wood, 2001
The fifth reproduction from the Top 100 2000 series is this painting of Ranie Burnette, a somewhat obscure blues figure from Hill county, Mississippi. Hill county indeed, is that place where the blues tradition lasted longest, where the original tradition still could be witnessed well into the nineteen nineties. It was the place where Junior Kimbrough ran a juke joint that R.L. Burnside frequented, and home to Jessie Mae Hemphill, descendant from a long family history in blues music. Burnette was a mentor to Burnside, whom I've seen perform in the Netherlands. Burnside himself apparently traveled to the Netherlands but I didn't know about that, or about him for that matter. It explains however the find of a 45 single in a local record store. Both sides have been regulars in my top 100s. Side A is Coal Black Mattie, and Hungry Spell is on the other side. The single was released in 1981 on the High Water record label, a local from Tennessee. It was the first Burnette ever recorded. Later he was picked up by a label from his own area called Fat Possum. It finally meant a little bit of recognition for the aging bluesman. That this painting was made in the year Burnette died is purely coincidental. For an additional painting and another text on the Hill county blues scene I'll direct you to The text together with that image of Kimbrough will be published in a forthcoming book called You Should Have Heard What I Just Seen. The painting of Burnside features a quote from one by Marcel Duchamp, whose works I studied intensely in the early 2000s.

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