Meet Kenny Brown, the greatest of the Hill Country blues sidemen

Kenny Brown
(Image credit: Alysse Gafkjen)

If you're going to make an authentic Mississippi Hill Country blues record – as The Black Keys did with the swampy Delta Kream – there are only a handful of people still alive who played with masters like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. One of them is 68-year-old guitarist Kenny Brown. 

Brown grew up in Nesbit, Mississippi, and learned to play guitar from Mississippi Joe Callicott, who lived next door, when he was 10. He also absorbed the music coming from picnics across the road, where fife-and-drum masters Otha Turner (whose 1998 recording Everybody Hollerin’ Goat is a defining document of the music) and Napoleon Strickland would play with Fred McDowell.

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Jim Beaugez

Jim Beaugez has written about music for Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, Guitar World, Guitar Player and many other publications. He created My Life in Five Riffs, a multimedia documentary series for Guitar Player that traces contemporary artists back to their sources of inspiration, and previously spent a decade in the musical instruments industry.