The thing about music: it all starts on the same footing, until somebody starts playing.
Cedric Burnside's set at Lizotte's was like opening Pandora's box on the blues; out flew some music so rare, so soulful, so close to the bones where it came from it would make you shiver if you first heard back where it came from, the hill country of north Mississippi.
But here, in the dark comfort of a swish music theatre, you knew you were safe. The setting actually gave you the distance and perspective to imagine just where the origins of Burnside's DNA-ingrained sound were.
The first set featured Burnside in sit-down mode, solo, with an acoustic guitar, breathing life into this rigorous, beat-driven, mantra-like, repetitive blues groove.
He was mesmerising. Polite and engaging, but here to play. Raw and in the flesh. He encouraged the crowd to dance, but you know, Lizotte's is not a dancing audience. They are listeners, intent listeners.
It was about six songs in, when he lit into It's Hard to be Cool, that it really dawned on me this was music that was descended from slaves. Or rather, transcended from a period where the harsh life of slavery put a huge muzzle over the spirited African music culture from whence these slaves came before they landed in America.
Burnside, 41, is a resplendent, chiselled, handsome man, who plays the blues from his north Mississippi hill country roots as good as anyone. At times, it felt like the North Mississippi All Stars or Lucinda Williams were about to emerge from side stage.
Halfway in, Burnside stood up, switched to electric guitar and introduced drummer Reed Watson to the stage. They proceeded to rip it up immediately with an awesome, nasty bite of funk, starting with Tell Me Baby, also off his Benton County Relic album in 2018, and pushed it hard for another set.
Burnside was electrifying, spectacular on slide at times.
Burnside proudly wears the tag as a grandson of blues legend RL Burnside his "big daddy" as he calls him). And why wouldn't you. It explains a lot. RL's life was full of drama and music - murder, prison, Muddy Waters, Chicago, big family, late commercial success.
Cedric has won praise and awards as a drummer, and his guitar-style reflects that commitment to the beat (a major feature of hill country blues). But, it also means that any drummer who plays with him better be up to the mark, and Reed Watson was certainly that guy.
Despite the small crowd, Burnside and Watson returned for an encore. It was good to know the respect was mutual.