Maybe you've heard about them, or think they're a really good blues band. Let's just wipe that slate clean, and start over. They're much more than most anyone knew, and are about to get a whole lot bigger and better known, we believe. They're a people's band, but they are players' players. And they are some of the nicest guys we've run across in scores of interviews.
To rewind to the top, Luther and Cody Dickinson come from the deep end of the musical gene pool. Their dad, Jim Dickinson, is a superlative Memphis musician and producer. His work with Big Star, The Replacements, Spirtualized, Ry Cooder, and literally hundreds of acts and records ranks near the top in the lexicon of American recording. His sons, who were later to become fantastic musicians themselves, were up close and personal at a huge number of these legendary sessions, and saw and heard their future.
Gangsta rap, punk and hardcore, blues, country, rock, and now pop. It's still just the tip of the iceberg, as the many genres absorbed into the DNA of these young brothers and their compadres spin and combine into unique forms and grooves, and many great songs to come. Bassist Chris Chew is the spiritual center of the group, say the brothers Dickinson. They've been friends since school. He's one of those great string men who plays his part so righteously you never even know he's there, just that the bottom is always solid, and the groove is always fat. Duwayne Burnside is another old friend, but a newer member. He brings blood cred to the table in a way similar to the Dickinsons, being the son of respected bluesman R.L. Burnside. (R.L.'s grandson Cody also does some badass speed rapping on the new record.) On top of being a world class guitarist, Duwayne's prowess on the drums allows Cody to come out front sometimes and sing, and play guitar or piano, not to mention washboard. It's hard to overstate the dimensionality that his addition lends to the music of NMA.
I was already aware of the country blues, roots rock, and whatever one might call the various sides of these Allstars, so I am most blown away by the poppier elements of Polaris (their new CD on ATO/Tone-Cool Records). They describe it as the third in the long-planned trilogy of how their career would open up, and they sound very excited to be at this leg of the journey. Young monster players and old friends, taking chances and tearing up the countryside in a nice tour bus, out of debt and doing it without tour support, it's amazing.
We talk a lot about the psychedelic side of their musical trip, because that's another aspect of their personality that sets them apart from the pack. There are a number of high profile jam bands on the scene, some of them famous, who simply are not in the league in which this band is playing. These guys came out of the womb with the music in their hearts and in their hands, just waiting for limbs to grow long enough to hold instruments. May they make great music for another fifty years or more, and continue the legacy into which they were born and are already expanding in their early twenties.
Listen to their beautiful sounds on the clips page, and get on to the conversation with two guys who are destined to become one of the most important pair of American brothers in music. Teamed with Chris Chew and Duwayne Burnside, we think the North Mississippi Allstars will be one of the more significant acts of their generation. continue to interview