North Mississippi Allstars Winter Tour Journal

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The North Mississippi Allstars and Alvin Youngblood Hart recently wrapped up their two month-long Keep The Devil Down Tour.  Honest Tune was there for quite a few dates, and here are the reviews and photo galleries.  Enjoy!

Neighborhood Theater
Charlotte, North Carolina
January 24, 2008
Photos by Brad Kuntz

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Click NEXT for 2/6 in Seattle{mospagebreak}

Neumo’s
Seattle, Washington
February 6, 2008
Words/photos by Candise Kola

A12.jpg Alvin Youngblood Hart opened the three-plus hour show with 30 minutes of acoustic material.  The performance began on a genuine good foot and the undaunted instrumental "Amazed and Amused" brought a fast hush and focus to the room as fans filtered in.  After acoustic respect had been swiftly established, the show’s mood switched to a more porch-like atmosphere with the song "Pony Blues," and featured a guest appearance by Luther Dickinson on mandolin during "France Blues."  The duo of strings and vocals was a righteous display.  

The North Mississippi Allstars played a fresh set of tunes from their new album Hernando and approached the noisemaking with a genuine smile. The show was not lacking in passion, and the set list had a proper balance of material old and new.  Highlights included the new song "I’d Love to be a Hippy," sung by Chris Chew with just the right amount of soul.  If there is a song on the new CD where his vocals shines brightest, this is it.

brosD.jpg The band had shit-eating grins on while they played "Shake," and the rowdy boogie staple "Big Mama’s Door" provided the re-entrance of Alvin to the stage, launching an elevated atmosphere that remained for the rest of the show. Pure boogie proceeded to please during "Po Boy," and the Hart-sung "She’s About a Mover" kicked the crowd in the seat of their pants. 

The evening moved towards rock raucous and appropriately called the ghost of Seattle local Jimi Hendrix to the party.  Covers "Hear My Train A Comin’" and "I Don’t Live Today" left many local Jimi fans satisfied. Seattle can be a more subtle audience when it comes to fully appreciating NMA, but this evening was not wasted on dull ears.

Click NEXT for 2/7/08 – Portland{mospagebreak}

Wonder Ballroom
Portland, Oregon
February 7, 2008
Words/photos by Candise Kola

ADano2.jpgThe following night in Portland, Hart played another spooky set to an admiring and focused all-ages crowd. The stage edge was eagerly lined with both wide-eyed youngsters and 60-something’s alike for his arrival to the stage.

"Devil Got My Woman" was particularly convincing in this set. Hart’s unfailing talent for entertaining is indisputable and was a decorous and fitting way to start the family oriented evening off right once again.

The Allstars opened with the new bass thumper "Soldier."  "The Meeting," a new song left off of Hernando also came out for some live re-visitation.

Chew.jpgA very dirty version of "Shak’em on Down" featured the evening’s best dual guitar jams by Hart and Luther. The pace of the show slowed down a notch when the old favorite "Meet Me in the City" was subtly sung.

At the end of the evening Cody Dickinson decided to rub a few jubilant bars of his notorious washboard jam, "Psychedelic Sex Machine" before the band wound the audience upwards once more with the long winded closer "Shimmy She Wobble > Station Blues > Preachin’ Blues."

Portland families left the scene looking tired and satisfied.

Click NEXT for 2/8 in San Francisco{mospagebreak} 

The Independent
San Francisco, California
February 9, 2008
Words by Candise Kola

During the first night of the San Francisco "run," Hart played yet another similar but stellar set list that firmly reminded his listeners that history has got a proper place in music. The room was polite and assiduous to the lesson.  

The Allstars approach to starting their set was to step out and play a seriously loud rendition of "Back Back Train."  The first half of the show was wide retrospective of material, with less emphasis on the new songs.  Junior Kimbrough was channeled for a magnificent 20 minutes with the songs "Stay All Night > Lord Have Mercy."  Cody Dickinson treated the crowd to "On A Monday" on guitar and Chew got everyone feeling happy with "Some Kind of Wonderful."

Alvin joined the second half of show with his forceful and heady arrangement of "In My Time of Dying."  Soon thereafter he pulled a set list detour with some heavenly slide sounds on a brief encounter with "Moonlight Mile" before he and Luther knocked out a solid rocking "Stray Cat."

The remainder of the show was vivacious and seemed to be just a taste of what was to come with the second evening.

Click NEXT for 2/9 in San Francisco{mospagebreak}

The Independent
San Francisco, California
February 9, 2008
Words/photos by Candise Kola
 

Code-AMando.jpgMany guests returned eagerly and earlier than the previous night to see the second night’s opening set by Alvin Youngblood Hart.  San Francisco displayed a real affection for his music and it was obvious that he played with a reciprocating admiration of the city. For something a little different from the previous three shows the audience was treated to him playing mandolin on "KC Jones" with Cody and Luther on guitar.  

 NMA started the show off with a clear "Saturday night’s all right" message.  When the LoweBowe was passed forth everyone knew it was time for a little "MS Bolweevil." Luther played the homemade instrument with an obvious authority on just how to make the two-stringed cigar box moan for a party.

Once again the first half of the evening showcased less of the new material.  An acoustically thorough "Masters of War" was enjoyed by many, though the line at the bar also grew during the song. 

Steve Molotz- Cody.jpgCody’s latest pop song "Mizzip" cast a perky vibe before the band got down and dirty again with a fast and exact "Po Black Maddie > Sugartown."  Another slight slow down occurred with the song "Meet Me in the City." 

In the moment’s rest between songs, a highly spirited fan yelled for Luther to “play the first song you ever knew how to!”  At first he shrugged and appeared unaffected by the banter. Before the audience could yell any other suggestions the ever-Cheshire-grinned Dickinson reported that he would play the first song he ever learned on guitar, and gave way to a long and loud tribute to Bo Diddley. 

Particle/Phil Lesh & Friends keyboardist Steve Molitz also made an unspectacular guest appearance. At times, his organ sounded circus like, but it was obvious that everyone on stage was having fun, and no one seemed to mind the minor distraction of his plinking. 

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A sort of Branson tribute medley went down as the motion was made to end the two night stand. The band had clearly played to their hearts content for this two day visit and it showed in the delighted expression of all who sauntered out of the room.

Click NEXT for 2/22 in New Orleans{mospagebreak} 

Tipitina’s Uptown
New Orleans, Louisiana
February 22, 2008
Words/photos by William McBride

DSC_0027-01.jpg The North Mississippi Allstars have a special love for New Orleans.  Tipitina’s Uptown always seems to bring out the best in them, and this stopover was no exception as brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson along with Chris Chew showed fans the way to boogie, Mississippi-style.

 Opening for the Allstars was another Mid-Southerner, Alvin Youngblood Hart, whose down-home slide style of blues was the perfect accompaniment for the evening.  Perched on a stool center stage, he comfortably worked his way through an array of original and classic acoustic blues numbers. 

Joining Alvin for a few songs on mandolin and electric guitar (sometimes even sitting quietly on his amp behind Alvin), Luther drew the audience against the stage cheering joyously.

DSC_0074-01.jpg Despite Luther’s impending departure for the Black Crowes tour, the Allstars are consistently releasing new projects, pleasing crowds, and progressing musically.  On this evening bassist Chris Chew confirmed vocally his advancement from back-up singer to capable front man. His rendition of “I’d Love To Be A Hippy” was spot on and a true crowd favorite.

 Putting their fans first, the Allstars requested the removal of the camera pit in front of the stage.  Tipitina’s was quick to offer additional tickets above the sold out number for fans waiting outside due to the “extra room.”  As the fans pressed up against the stage, the boogie was strong. The temperature inside Tip’s quickly rose – so much so that when Cody came up front to play lead on "ML" his amp overheated mid-song and left him strumming uneventfully.  Luther quickly came to his brother’s rescue, jumping in and relinquishing his guitar.  It got so bad that at one point, the stage doors had to be propped open at Chew’s request to cool down the front rows.

The setlist was clearly one built to impress even the most casual fan, as Luther pulled out all the stops – he brought out a mandolin, played the cigar box, and ripped through a truly fantastic "Snake Drive" all in one night. Cody started the encore with "Psychedelic Sex Machine" on the washboard. 

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However, the true highlights of the evening were provided when Hart rejoined the stage front and center to join the Allstars.  The augmented versions of Hart’s "Big Mama’s Door," "Eaglebird," "Blow Out," "In My Time Of Dying > Everybody Needs Somebody," and "Meet Me In The City" brought back memories of the dual-guitar line-up of the Allstars.  At this point in the show, Luther stepped back behind his Marshall amp and let Hart lead the way, possibly foreshadowing things to come once the elder Dickinson brother meets up with the Robinson brothers, leaving Cody and Chew without a guitarist.

Click NEXT for 2/23 in Memphis{mospagebreak}

New Daisy Theatre
Memphis, Tennessee
February 23, 2008
Words by William McBride / photos by Josh Mintz

nma-jm1.jpg Even in their home town of Memphis, North Mississippi Allstars shows are becoming few and far between.  The last time the band played in Memphis as a band was this past Thanksgiving, and prior to that was the 2006 New Year’s Eve show.

Alvin Youngblood Hart’s set was probably a little more full at the Daisy than the rest of the tour, as he’s a much-appreciated local.  While he tore through a gripping set of acoustic blues, the crowd pleaser of Hart’s set was definitely his cover of Led Zeppelin’s "Gallows Pole."

This evening’s Allstars set included nearly all the tracks from Hernando along with other favorites.  The version of "Mean ‘Ol Wind Died Down" is already being heralded on the band’s message board as one of the best ever.  The song opened with just Luther’s soleful slide, teasing "Eyes" ever so slightly, and then eventually became an epic version of the tune.

Another stellar performance came in the form of "Po Black Maddie > Skinny Woman."  Across the board the tune was great, and instead of seguing back into "Maddie" like usual, they fihisned the sandwich with a rowdy "Shake ‘Em On Down."

nma-jm3.jpg The highlight of the evening was "KC Jones."  At this point of the show, the band showed Memphis just how special hometown shows can be.  Cody came up from behind his kit and grabbed a guitar, and his father Jim filled in on drums.  Band friends Jimbo Mathus and Greg Humphries joined in on vocals, and Hart was already on stage, armed with a mandolin.  It was a veritable who’s who of new Mid-South blues.  

Jim came back out a little later, adding keyboards to "Everybody Needs Somebody > Meet Me In The City."  He spent much of the night peering out from the curtains behind the band as the boys’ mother danced the night away, especially when Cody took the vocals on "Mizzip."  The Allstars are truly a family band, and the Memphis shows truly are family shows. 

Even though the show was scheduled as an all-ages show (meaning a midnight curfew for those under the age), the band found it hard to call it quits by 11:45.  Well past the legal time, after the band wrapped up their set with "Snake Drive," and the venue turned on the lights and house music. 

Still, amidst the cheers of the crowd Cody came back out on stage armed with his electric washboard to start the encore.  Running over by about an hour, the band ended the show with "Horseshoe" and went on their way, leaving the local fans wanting more.

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