North Mississippi Allstars

North Mississippi Allstars

North Mississippi Allstars formed in 1996; the product of a special time for modern Mississippi country blues. Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson soaked up the music of their father, Memphis legend Jim Dickinson, and absorbed the North Mississippi legacy while playing and shaking it down in the juke joints with their blues ancestors. R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Otha Turner and their musical families were at their peak, making classic records and touring the world. Eventually, Luther (guitar, vocals) and Cody (drums, vocals) formed the North Mississippi Allstars and pioneered their own brand of blues-infused rock and roll.

The North Mississippi Allstars released their debut album, Shake Hands With Shorty, in the spring of 2000. Their debut proved to be a success and earned them a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Contemporary Blues Album’. After earning 2 more Grammy nominations in the same category for 51 Phantom (2001) and Electric Blue Watermelon (2005), the North Mississippi Allstars earned the reputation as one of the most intriguing acts to emerge from the loam of Southern blues and roots rock.

In 2008, after five studio albums and more than a decade touring together, the Dickinsons decided to branch out and pursue other projects. That same year Luther started recording and touring with the Black Crowes. He went on to form the South Memphis String Band with Alvin Youngblood Hart and Jimbo Mathus, touring across the country and releasing two albums with them. In 2012, Luther formed The Wandering, a five-piece folk band featuring Shannon McNally, Amy LaVere, Valerie June and Sharde Thomas (Otha Turner’s granddaughter), and released their debut record Go On Now, You Can’t Stay Here. He also recorded and released a solo acoustic album, Hambone’s Meditations, which received a 2013 Grammy nomination for ‘Best Folk Album’.

Meanwhile, Cody formed his own group, Hill Country Revue, which released its debut, Make A Move, in 2009 and the follow-up Zebra Ranch in 2010. The band toured heavily behind the releases and shared the stage with a number of notable acts, including the Dave Matthews Band, Gov’t Mule and Big Head Todd and The Monsters. Cody also honed his producing chops, working with artists like Lucero, Cisco Adler, Anders Osborne and Ian Siegal.

The brothers reunited in 2010 to record Keys to the Kingdom after the passing of their father. Jim had always told them, “You need to be playing music together. You are better together than you will ever be apart.” Inspired by his words, Luther and Cody went into the family’s home recording studio Zebra Ranch, to create a record that could help them cope with the loss and rejoice in his honor.

Most recently, Luther and Cody have toured extensively with Robert Plant & The Band of Joy, headlined major festivals and toured internationally as a headliner and with Ian Siegal as part of The Mississippi Mudbloods. They also released two live bootleg records, 2011’s Live in the Hills and 2012’s Live in the Hills Volume II, both recorded at the annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic in Potts Camp, MS.

The North Mississippi Allstars are at times joined by Lightnin’ Malcolm, Alvin Youngblood Hart, previous member Chris Chew, and a host of other talented musicians.

Lightnin' Malcolm

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lightnin Malcolm has announced a September 10th release date for Rough Out There via his independent label Shakedown Records. As a member of the North Mississippi All-Stars, and an artist who is witnessing significant growth in a solo career, his reputation as a pure purveyor of the Blues distinguishes him from many others in the genre. He is an artist who carries the torch proudly, bringing melody, intonation, and the legacy he has learned from the masters to stages across the globe on a nightly basis. This year, he will tour extensively in Europe with the Allstars, and stage a run of headline dates to support the release of his latest Lightnin Malcolm album. When touring solo, the repertoire is presented as a duo, with Carl Gentle White aka “Stud” on drums.

Malcolm’s journey began near the railroad tracks in rural Southeast Missouri. As far back as he can remember, his existence has been focused on music. Growing up, he gravitated to Bob Marley, Hank Williams, and The Temptations. As he delved deeper in to his musical exploration, he developed a keen understanding that the roots of all music that inspired him was the deep blues. After several years of travel in search of inspiration and an audience, he settled in North Mississippi, and became further inspired by the hill country Blues first made famous by Fred McDowell, and later R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Jessie Mae Hemphill. For years, he has focused his energies on carrying the torch, and presenting the essence of what he learned from the masters of the Blues he has been inspired by via direct contact and collaboration. Amongst those he was friends with and learned from were R.L. Burnside, Cedell Davis, Big Jack Johnson, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Robert Belfour, Honey Boy Edwards, Hubert Sumlin, Otha Turner, and especially T MODEL FORD.

He shares, “They all taught me the ways of the world….how to survive, handle your money, travel and meet people, and use the music to help those around you. Most importantly, they taught me what notes to hit and what notes NOT to hit. I loved playin’ with the guys who had original styles and were very hard to accompany. They wanted somebody to back them up without messin’ up their style, and they liked me because I could feel their changes and anticipate where they going with it. It’s like secret codes we were speaking in, and they liked me because somehow I understood.”

Lightnin Malcolm’s closest collaborator and mentor was the late T Model Ford. He reminisces, “Me and T Model traveled all over the world together. I would open the shows – one-man band style. I had my guitar, with bass, and snare drums on my feet. Then, I played drums and T MODEL played guitar. Even just as a two-piece we really tore places up. He had a style like a Delta Blues orchestra on the guitar. His sound was so full, and so big, and was a huge influence on my guitar style.” The inspiration is clear, on tracks from Rough Out There that include the opener “Workin,” alongside “Took Too Long,” and “Young Woman, Old Fashioned Ways.”

Currently, his sole band member Stud is a young man he has known since he celebrated his first birthday. The percussionist is T Model’s favorite grandson, and Malcolm shares, “When I was playin’ drums for T Model, and Stud was about 3 or 4, he was practically in my lap learnin’ how to hold the drumsticks. Later on, when I had to leave for my own career, at age 8 he became T MODELs full-time drummer. Studs been by T Model’s side his whole life, and there’s nobody livin’ that’s got the blues imbedded deeper in them than Stud. Now he is a great young man, and I’m so proud the circle is bringing us back together. I’ve worked with some of the best drummers out there, and Stud is the best. Our style together is the result of those early seeds, and the chemistry we have is dynamite!” You can hear that chemistry transparently on “My Life’s A Wreck.”

He approaches writing with the intent of exuding emotion and a message he feels is worthy of sharing. The framework is never approached within the confines of a two-man band, but rather a universe where there is no limitation to the sounds and styles that serve as the inspiration. He offers, “I keep the rhythmic current of the blues foundation in everything we do, and the duo format works great for this. The music matches the lyrics, and has a good dance beat to it. As far as lyrics, I try to write about everyday life, and the world we live in. Keeping it universal allows the listener to find their own interpretation.” Malcolm’s approach in exhibiting this theme is best displayed in the tracks “Reality Check” and “Money.”

Lightnin Malcolm will release Rough Out There on his own Mississippi-based independent label Shakedown Records. He offers, “I started my own label to make the kind of records I want, and to put out all the music I’m writing. We also want to record some of the great artists that I know that are amazingly talented, especially some of the last authentic Blues men left. It is a guerilla business model for sure, and the focus is a work in progress.”

Lightnin Malcolm lives with the mantra, “Music Is My Life.” As the spotlight grows, he is ready for the moment, and the friendship struck with Luther Dickinson 15 years ago on the dance floor of Junior Kimbrough’s world famous juke joint, now brings heightened visibility to the arc of his growing career. When asked about Malcolm, Dickinson passes on, “Malcolm’s much appreciated blues-roots aesthetic principles are very strong and centered which is a great influence on Cody and I. There are only a handful of musicians left who were actually here in the Hills, back in the day, when it was really jumpin. Malcolm’s time spent on RL’s porch and in the van with Cedric, and playing drums behind T-Model and Cedell. Roots music is passed on hand to hand, man to man and as Otha said, ‘ever had your hand in the shit? well, you got it in there now.’ We love playing with Malcolm and that be a tough spot to fill, in between two brothers, but Lightnin keeps it cool and in the pocket, conjuring up the Zone! You can sense how much he cares about the music and the depth of his love for music and life.” As bassist for the North Mississippi All-Stars, he will have the enviable position of also taking the stage as support to play songs from Rough Out There alongside others as the band travels The World. With each day, one thing is certain – Lightnin Malcolm will make that torch a little brighter for the Blues to continue to yield discovery and offer a setting for celebration.

$15.00 - $60.00

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North Mississippi Allstars with Lightnin' Malcolm

Saturday, September 14 · Doors 10:00 PM / Show 10:30 PM at Union Transfer