Eddie got a lot of bad press in blues/harp -L recently so I thought I'd 
post this interview I conducted for the Pocono Fest. I had the 
conversation with him before a performance in Utica NY, and he seemed 
welcome at this club. I thought the show (and his performance) was good and 
didn't notice any outstanding foul-ups. He's not outstanding, but he certainly
is a journeyman musician (they can't all kick ass).

This interview is for the personal use of blues-l and harp-l subscribers 
only. It may not be published (print or electronic) in whole or part 
without permission from 2/3X-PERTS. Permission is granted to publish the 
interview (along with this copyright notice) in the archives of either 

(c) 1994 by 2/3X-PERTS
          Eddie Burks' quartet kicks into an up-tempo instrumental intro,
a lock-tight rhythm section supporting two young *gunslingin'* guitarists. 
Suddenly a harmonica rips through the jam, first playing in sync with the
guitar, then trading riffs as a bear of a man saunters into the club setting 
the tone for the entire evening. 
	He makes it look so easy and natural.  But it's been a long
journey from the Rising Sun Plantation near Greenwood Mississippi, where
Eddie was born in 1931, to entertaining blues fans 63 years later.  Eddie
still remembers hearing the blues when he was six. "The first blues I
ever heard was on the juke boxes, _Milk Cow Blues_ by Robert Johnson. 
That's around '37.  That and Sonny Boy Williamson's _#1_."  The impact was
immediate, "I was putting music together when I was a little boy down
south, before I'd come to Chicago."  He moved to Chicago in 1946 and
found work in the steel mills.  He also started attending the Greater
Harvest Baptist Church and singing in the choir.  "Willie Wills and Robert
Anderson, they was the choir directors, they began to teach me when I was
17.  They teached quite a few good singers that came up from Chicago." 
Indeed.  People like Sam Cooke and Mahalia Jackson to name just two. 

	Even though Eddie was working in the mills and singing Gospel
music, he couldn't quit playing the blues. "I never did leave the harp. 
Every once in a while I would go down on Maxwell Street. I used to set a
cup up in front of me and people walking by would give me a tip for
playing.  A lot of musicians had to come up that way because they didn't
have no stationary gig." 

	That continued until Eddie was 38.  Disgusted, he left the steel
mills. That's when his career as a musician began.  "I wanted to play the
blues.  I had to go back to my harp and singing the blues, and I left the

	He started working around Chicago, playing with anybody he could. 
"Sometimes I had my own band, sometimes all us cats over the West side
used to pitch in together on the weekends."  That led to him playin' with
the Wolf Gang.  "Wolf and Muddy would always let me sit in.  I used to go
down and mess with the Wolf a lot and that's how I came to know Eddie
Shaw.  Well, when Howlin' Wolf passed, Eddie took over the Wolf Gang. 
They worked about a year and then I began to work with them around '78.  I
worked with him off and on for a good six or seven years. I worked with
Jimmy Dawkins after I worked with Shaw up until I come out on my own.  I
learned the business part of music from Jimmy.  He's the one who taught me
about how to be prosperous - how to make sure I got paid, how to make
sure I protected my music when I record, and how to go about the business
part of music." 

	In 1990 Eddie decided to start the label _Rising Son Blues_ to
release his music. "About four years ago I recorded _Vampire Woman_, my
first recording for Rising Son. That's when I sat down and began to
organize this blues thing of mine. You have to be careful.  It takes a
lot of money to put out a good CD.  It's nothing to spend $10,000 cash to
get it going. It takes a lot of studio time to get your music decent. The
up-beat, high energy boogie - that's the one that costs a lot of money and
that's the type I play, not the lonesome, cry blues. I play some of that
but I don't play it all night.  The low down blues - 'My woman's got
another man' - that's the kind of blues it don't take much to record
because it's such a simple beat.  A lot of cracks and holes you don't
have to patch up.  But if you have high energy blues, every crack that
shows you have to work on." 

	Work on it he does.  Whether _Comin' Home_ (his most recent) or his 
previous "Dead Or Alive" (recorded live in Rochester, NY at PK's), high 
energy is what this bluesman is all about.  "I'd been asked by a lot of 
people to sing some dirty blues.  So on the second CD we've got _Shake It 
For Me_, _King Bee_, _Mojo_, and _Stop Breaking Down_, the kind of tunes 
that's old favorites - classic blues - that everybody loves to stop and 
listen to." 

	He's featured in the National Geographic special "Blues Highway"
which was shown on TBS this summer, and is currently on tour in
support of his most recent album "Comin' Home," on which he's written
songs about issues important to him.  "On the new CD I've got a tune
called _Sugar Hill_. It's mostly about drug deals and people killing
people for the fun of it. I saw so much of that in my life. I lived in
neighborhoods where you could see people getting killed. And I discovered
that when most people kill there's drugs involved. Somebody's fighting
for turf and taking peoples lives for a couple of dollars. That's why I
wrote _Sugar Hill_. It's a dream everybody wants to take. They want to
leave the ghetto and move to Sugar Hill. They want to leave the drug
dealers behind and go out and do something good for themselves."  

	In another song, he pays tribute to a part of his past that's 
disappearing. "In Chicago they're moving away Maxwell Street. They've got 
a college taking over the ground, so I recorded a tune called "Maxwell 
Street Jump." That was about the Maxwell Street Market moving out of Chicago.
Most of your big musicians, when they'd come to Chicago with no place to
play, They'd go down there. A lot of them got their agents there." 

          After years of performing, financial and critical success is
finally coming Eddie's way. But even if it wasn't, he'd still be a
musician. "I love music so much I will do anything to play. If I get paid
I'd do it and if I see there ain't no money , I'd still do it. To try to
say I'm just going to play music for money - that's a hard thing to say
when you've been playing music all your life." 

Dan the Music Guy
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