The Black Keys are back. The blues-rock band has a new video for “Crawling Kingsnake,” directed by Tim Hardiman and filmed at Jimmy Duck Holmes’ Blue Front Café — the oldest active juke joint in America.
“Kingsnake” is a cover of the 1920s Delta blues song, “Crawling King Snake.” It was famously covered by John Lee Hooker in 1949, who reimagined Big Joe Williams’ country-blues version from 1941.
“I first heard [John Lee] Hooker’s version in high school,” guitarist-singer Dan Auerbach said in a statement. “My uncle Tim would have given me that record. But our version is definitely Junior Kimbrough’s take on it. It’s almost a disco riff!”
“We fell into this drum intro; it’s kind of accidental,” said drummer Patrick Carney. “The ultimate goal was to highlight the interplay between the guitars. My role with Eric [Deaton] was to create a deeper groove.”
The Grammy-winning blues-rock duo will release their tenth studio album, Delta Kream, via Nonesuch Records, on May 14. According to Carney, Delta Kream was recorded in just 10 hours over two days in Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.
Delta Kream is an homage to the Black Keys’ musical roots and the songs that inspired them to become musicians. The album features 11 Mississippi hill country blues standards, including songs by R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. The album takes its name from William Eggleston’s iconic Mississippi photograph that is on its cover. Pre-order the album here.
“We made this record to honor the Mississippi hill country blues tradition that influenced us starting out,” Auerbach said. “These songs are still as important to us today as they were the first day Pat and I started playing together and picked up our instruments. It was a very inspiring session with Pat and me along with Kenny Brown and Eric Deaton in a circle, playing these songs. It felt so natural.”
In honor of the record, the Black Keys are working with VisitMississippi, the state’s tourism organization, to sponsor new individual markers for R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough on the Mississippi Blues Trail, telling the stories of the state’s blues artists both renowned and obscure through words and images. (Both musicians are currently acknowledged on a group marker in Holly Springs entitled “Hill Country Blues.”)
The new markers will be erected in the proposed locations of Holly Springs and Chulahoma, MS, places closely associated with Burnside and Kimbrough—a fitting tribute to these architects of Hill Country Blues and further recognition of their enduring contributions to American music.
Delta Kream Tracklisting
“Crawling Kingsnake” (John Lee Hooker / Bernard Besman)
“Louise” (Fred McDowell)
“Poor Boy a Long Way From Home” (Robert Lee Burnside)
“Stay All Night” (David Kimbrough, Jr.)
“Going Down South” (Robert Lee Burnside)
“Coal Black Mattie” (Ranie Burnette)
“Do the Romp” (David Kimbrough, Jr.)
“Sad Days, Lonely Nights” (David Kimbrough, Jr.)
“Walk with Me” (David Kimbrough, Jr.)
“Mellow Peaches” (Joseph Lee Williams)
“Come on and Go with Me” (David Kimbrough, Jr.)