North Mississippi Allstars
May 27, 2008
The North Mississippi Allstars performance at the Southgate House in Newport, Kentucky on May 27 surprised more than a few who attended their last performance when the Electric Blue Watermelon recording was fresh. Touring behind a newer CD, Hernando, the Allstars’ concert was stripped of the frills and excess that tied the band down during the Electric Blue Watermelon engagement.
Beginning with Hernando‘s "Shake," NMA started their swinging, pounding groove early on. Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson seemed in perfect synchronization with bassist Chris Chew on the Allstars/Jimbo Mathus number. "Po Black Maddie > Skinny Woman’s" arrangement owed more to the rendition displayed on the Keep On Marchin‘ DVD than their recorded version on the now classic disc, Shake Hands With Shorty.
Throughout the night Luther Dickinson played many roles with ease: front man, lead singer, lead guitarist extraordinaire. But, the dramatic rhythmic underpinnings of drummer Cody Dickinson and bassist Chew stole the Southgate show by burrowing inward and providing an elaborate, understated support of Luther’s wicked solos on "Keep the Devil Down" and "Soldier."
Indeed, the highlight of the evening came when Chew lit into the sardonic, slow blues shuffle of "I’d Love to Be a Hippy," singing the composition with appropriate verve and a slicing sense of humor. It brought the House down, received smiles from the Dickinson boys, and set up a nice transition that led towards the North Mississppi Allstars’ standard bearing anthem, "Shake ‘Em On Down."
A switch and shift to a more tightly reined in sound has paid big dividends for the North Mississippi Allstars and their live shows on the winning Hernando tour.