Tuesday, September 3, 2013


WORLD BOOGIE IS COMING. Actually, it is finally here. North Mississippi Allstars' first album since 2011, WORLD BOOGIE IS COMING was released today. NMA has never been too far removed from their roots in the hill country of North Mississippi, but this album returns to the sounds and traditions which got them started as one of freshest, most unique and truly talented groups playing the blues. Two-thirds of NMA is the brother tag-team of Luther Dickinson (guitar and vocals, who recently played a stint with the Black Crows) and Cody Dickinson (drums, electric washboard, vocals, guitar), sons of the legendary piano man and producer, Jim Dickinson. To understand this record, you need to understand Jim. Here is the most abbreviated description I could come up with (and I'm leaving a lot out) for such an interesting guy like Jim. Jim, a.k.a. East Memphis Slim, grew up in the best era of Memphis soul music, playing with the Dixie Flyers. The Flyers backed Atlantic artists like Aretha Franklin and Sam and Dave. Jim played piano on the Rolling Stones "Wild Horses" and organ many of Dylan's newer albums. He played with Taj Mahal, Aretha Franklin, Ry Cooder, Toots and the Maytals and Los Lobos to name a few. His producer credits feature Big Star, Toots and the Maytals, Lucero, Bob Dylan, Mudhoney and G. Love and the Special Sauce among others. Check his rap sheet for more info. Chances are he produced or played on some of your favorite records. Jim was just as well-known for some of his sayings. Hell, I've heard his epitaph reads, "I'm just dead; I'm not gone." My personal favorite is "Hits are in baseball, singles pick each other up in bars, and your royalty lives in a castle in Europe," because it's probably the most accurate description of the record business I have ever heard. And Jim would know. He experienced all sides of it. He was a realist when it came to the business. On a visit to Zebra Ranch in 2008, when he asked where I was moving, I told him Nashville and he replied "Hmm. Yeah. Memphis. A good place to be from. Not a good place to be." He was referring to it being tough to 'make it' out of a town like Memphis. It wasn't something I wanted to admit to myself, but he hit it the nail right on the head and it was something I often thought about. It's crazy how many talented, world-class musicians rot in obscurity in Memphis. More often than not, the best music never makes it out of the Bluff City. Musicians go play for the money-makers elsewhere. It was just the way he said it that stuck with me. But yeah, back to Jim's sayings...He often ended letters with "World Boogie is Coming!" Part of his legacy is this "World Boogie," a timeless, limitless, musical exploration of sorts by Jim and some of his friends in their attempt to rediscover and reshape old and new. NMA is known for putting a new twist on the hill country blues and they wanted to pay homage to their late father, who passed on in August of 2009, by recording an album in their interpretation of World Boogie. 

North Mississippi Allstars' seventh studio album, WORLD BOOGIE IS COMING was recorded at Jim Dickinson's famous Zebra Ranch in Coldwater, MS. The band went old-school using just a 2-inch tape machine to record and cut most of it live. Cody produced it and even directed the videos. Cody also dons his 'electric' washboard and this isn't just a gimmick. He uses it as a lead and rhythmic instrument adding layers to the already fat drums. And for the purists out there, WBIC features much more drum and fife. Luther's guitar work is nothing short of genius. Whether it's the muddied-down, crunchy riffs or the cleaner slide work he is known for, Luther doesn't disappoint. WORLD BOOGIE IS COMING features Robert Plant on harmonica. Yes. That Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin. His harmonica parts was the only thing tracked outside of Zebra Ranch (he recorded at Memphis' legendary Royal Studios). WBIC also features their friends, Chris Chew, Duwayne and Garry Burnside, Lightnin’ Malcolm, Kenny Brown, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sid and Steve Selvidge, and more (if you don't know who any of these guys are, do some homework. You're welcome). The record gets back to what made NMA what they are. They take their favorite hill country blues tunes from their biggest influences like Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside and Mississippi Fred McDowell and make them heavier, funkier and yet preserve that raw spirit of the Mississippi hill country.

You can buy WORLD BOOGIE IS COMING at the band's online store or on iTunes.

Rollin 'n Tumblin from North Mississippi Allstars.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

ARISE Music Festival, Saturday Recap - Loveland, CO

As Friday turned into Saturday, Jason Kidd aka Shiba closed out the Syntonic Stage with swelling bass and melodic structures that settled everyone into a meditation dub trance. Fueled by Family support, Shiba, spun tasteful beats that were just enough above down tempo to allow a 7AM crowd to move a little more than usual. Keep an eye on this guy, he's an emerging Denver local that should not be missed.

Shiba at Syntonic Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Saturday Recap
Shiba at Syntonic Stage
Soon after Shiba, I find myself laying in a field to design a human image by Jon Quigley. He plans to plot a sunburst made up of human beings with the word ARISE spelt out in the center. The sun was blazing us and instilling us with the potential energy for our creative task at hand.

Picture from ARISE Facebook page
Later, after a quinoa kale salad and a dosa, we make it to one of the first sets on the Solar Overdrive stage with Denver's own Digital Beat Down. These Wisconsin transplants had a hearty crew of fans who represented while mingling with a nearby "cereal party." Normally a noon set time wouldn't be so conducive, but Saturday was the first day we were blessed with some nice overcast shade. Nick Pilz, guitar and synths, announces that ARISE marks 5 years for DBD. A "disco Stu" doppelganger rocks it in see thru sequined pants.

Digital Beat Down at Solar Overdrive Stage
Three-piece instrumental band featuring guitar, upright bass, and drums plays dramatic, moving soundscapes at the Main Stage. The guitar player and band's namesake, Tierro Lee, beckons the crowd to come closer, "the closer you guys are, the better we'll play. We all do this together." Spacey, tripped out mystic sounding melodies lull us into the sunset.

Acidophiles & Friends
Acidophiles set was surprised with a reconfigured line up called "Acidophiles and friends." Miss Jaedha led a crew of the Ft. Collins based band's friends through an exciting and diverse sounding set. Goldy Loxx, the other half of the Acidophiles, was seen dancing all around the field during the set, but never took to the stage. Guest musicians, Mr. Danger, Two Scoops, Chando, and Mr. Gemini, added new flare to the Acidophiles set on guitar, looping synths, and turntables. Space Race took the to the tweener stage shortly after setting off the house sound with some improvised guitar on top.

Back at the Main Stage, Zap Mama literally zapped us into outer space - or at least those were her word for the intro to their set. Zap Mama and her band played upbeat reggae tunes that often wander into the psychedelic electronic realm with their eclectic sound effects. The band was a good setup and lead into Michael Franti, who was by all measures the biggest act on the bill for ARISE 2013.