North Mississippi All-Stars @ Tipitinas – 3/19/11

Photo © Jimmy Grotting - NMAS @ Tip's - 3.19.2011

you’ve been gone too long.

Last night at Tipitina’s, for four straight hours, the house belonged to the familiar trio from the Mississippi hill country. To kick things off, frontman Luther Dickinson took to the stage for a bare-bones, acoustic-heavy opening set of rootsy blues standards that included an R.L. Burnside cover with Gary Burnside on drums and a couple stripped down takes on songs from NMAS’ career-defining new LP Keys to the Kingdom. Despite the indoor setting, Luther mentioned early on that the theme of the night was looking to the skies in honor of the Super Moon. The super moon on a Saturday night, the songs dedicated to the memory of the Dickinson brothers late father Jim, and the gospel blues soul pouring from the stage all made for a proper spiritual night of music on Napoleon and Tchoup (they serve $2 High Life in heaven right?). For one newlywed couple (pictured below), this was their wedding reception after second-lining down in the Quarter after the service. Sounds like my kind of folks. On to the music —

Luther’s guitar set-up is a Gibson man’s dream, with a couple of custom jobs thrown in the mix including a coffee can two-stringer with a razor-on-the-train tracks sound that came out in the opening set and a cigar box four-string slide guitar (see in picture below). Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” notably made an early appearance in the set before Chris and Cody joined and the proper NMAS set begun. The blues name-checking new tune “Jellyrollin’ All Over Heaven” helped set the tone of the early part of the set, a song that presents a flowery vision of the afterlife and mentions a number of legendary players. “New Orleans Walking Dead”, the catchy/kitschy macabre tune about a fictional Tchoupitoulas run-in got the best response of the Kingdom songs (the tune features such lines as “I choked her out quick and laid her over my shoulder/Spanked her dead ass and told her I loved her”).

One thing that stood out in the night was the number of tunes featuring Cody Dickinson on guitar. The interplay between Luther and Cody on those tunes was undeniably of a Duane/Dickey quality, and it seems that the younger brother has been practicing hard while Luther’s been out with the Black Crowes these past several years. The older standards like “Be So Glad” and the jammed-out moe.-ish “Po Black Maddie” stood out as highlights from older half of the catalogue. It was great to see that the Woogie Board still gets a fair amount of stage time, and Cody brought er out towards the end of the show, blowing the minds of the uninitiated as per usual.

Throughout the set I began to think — if the world can embrace a blues group of non-sibling Brothers (Black Keys), isn’t the world at-large ready to embrace these guys? Seems like only a matter of time before NMAS pushes beyond their status as jam scene giants into a broader realm of mainstream acceptance. If you were to ask Luther, Cody or Chris if it mattered to them, I’d have to guess that the answer would be one of indifference but one has to wonder how much longer North Mississippi can remain a well-kept secret outside of the jam realm.

Today, there are few relics left in modern music of the time when bands made music simply because they wanted to craft something new and exciting. In the early days of the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger only wanted to pay homage to guys like Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers and Chuck Berry and become the best blues players in London. Watching NMAS operate, there isn’t an ounce of pretense in their show, the music is front-and-center, and the band wants you to hear and appreciate it – a similar genuineness to the early Stones that really comes across in their live performance. It was refreshing to say the least, and these guys share an intense passion for their chosen craft with the locals who headline the Tip’s stage on a regular basis.

Saturday night at Tipitina’s, a Super Moon and the North Mississippi All-Stars – a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence that we’re glad to have taken part in.

Boll-Weevil Boll-Weevil

For a full gallery of photos by Jimmy Grotting –

March 20, 2011 |  by  |  Photos, Reviews, Videos
About the author

Wesley grew up in coastal Georgia and is a former resident of The Music City and The Big Easy where he helped get LMB NOLA off-the-ground after launching in January 2011. Over the past few years, he has also contributed steadily to JamBase and Relix Magazine. Recently, Hodges moved on to L.A. where Abita Beer is hard to find, costs about $6 if located and impromptu parading in the streets will most likely get you arrested on the spot.

 
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