North Mississippi All-Stars

House of Blues

July 25, 2005


The North Mississippi All-Stars is a band that will be around for as long as they want to be. Their talent and knowledge of American roots music makes them a diverse threat. Pop, rock, country, blues--it's all at their fingertips. Duane Allman has as much a say in their music as R.L. Burnside does. So, it makes sense that the NMAS attract a mix of jamboys and afficionados. Monday night at the House of Blues, the NMAS was the backing band for roots rocker John Hiatt. Middle-aged Hiatt fans ruled the roost, but there were also a good number of long-hairs around. People were going crazy for the All-Stars. They certainly brought their own fan base.

This group was rewarded with an opening acoustic set by the NMAS. Luther Dickinson was on vocals and electric, Cody Dickinson was on vocals and acoustic, and Chris Chew was on vocals and electric bass.

In forty minutes the NMAS went through a bunch of rock, funk, country and blues-flavored songs. They even threw in a new one, to be featured on a new studio album to be released on August 2nd. The NMAS groove was evident without drums. Cody kept the rhythm by strumming feverishly, while bassist Chris Chew was the anchor that added funk. He had a relaxed, in-the-pocket, super-low-end sound. Cody played some guitar solos on his acoustic. Acoustic solos are so much fun to watch because the practitioner must pick at each string with strength. Reverberation travelled sharp("ping!") from each one of Cody's pulled strings. He had a swift and light hand that searched all over the neck. He wasn't a show-off, but at the same time, he knew how to please the crowd with arena rock-like solos.

Luther was the obvious leader. He did all the talking, which consisted of him speaking like a down home boy that was so glad he could be back on the stage tonight. He really did seem sincere, though, even if the "we've had so much fun on this stage" line has been overused. There was no flash, pretension, nor a semblance of ego. Luther just seemed like a thankful hellraiser. His rollicking tales of drinking and bein' bad were reminiscent of gritty Drive-By Trucker tales.

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