Music » Features

Electric Blues

North Mississippi Allstars keep the good times rolling

by

comment

"North Mississippi Allstars make no claim to being a blues band. Something happens when white boys play the blues. Rock and Roll. Whether it's Elvis or the Beastie Boys, this music has come to symbolize freedom the world over and to illustrate the inter-racial brotherhood of man." -- Jim Dickinson, producer-father.

Surely you've heard by now that NMA founders, brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, are deeply steeped in Mississippi blues -- or a product of world boogie as they like to call it? If not, well then put it this way: whenever they're mentioned, 10 outta 10 times, there's a focus on how these guys grew up watching -- and more importantly listening -- to their pop, legendary musician and producer Jim Dickinson. Mississippi Fred McDowell, Otha Turner, Lee Baker -- that's the stuff these boys were soaking up as kids. They don't deny it. The evidence is in their sound, their lyrics and instances like naming their last album, Electric Blue Watermelon (ATO), after the free-form backing band created by the late great Lee Baker for a series of long ago blues fests. We won't deny the Dickinsons their style either, since they come by something worthwhile so honestly.

The NMA take the blues of yesterday and bring it forward, layering on loud southern psychedelic folk-rock. Like their good pal, Robert Randolph, they can set a stage on fire. Luther Dickinson probably nailed the NMA's approach best, as he once described how they travel so much that the old fashioned Mississippi rock & roll they create night after night is their home away from home. Bringing it on home -- or taking home to the stage as in this case -- seems to work.

Keeping to the road, the NMA will be back around these parts next month (Chapel Hill and Charleston, S.C.) on co-billing dates with Spencer Dickinson, a side project featuring the brothers and Blues Explosion's Jon Spencer.

North Mississippi Allstars play the Neighborhood Theatre; Oct. 28; 9 p.m.; $20; Call 704-358-9298 or visit www.neighborhoodtheatre.com for more info.

Add a comment