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Hill Country Revue

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Album Review

The North Mississippi Allstars were invited to play the 2004 Bonnaroo festival, but instead of just bringing the band itself, they brought along all kinds of friends and family and dubbed it the North Mississippi Hill Country Revue. North Mississippi appears to be an incestuous musical community (just take a look at the players on R.L. Burnside's and Junior Kimbrough's albums), and this show comes off as a giant, joyous family affair. There are the Dickinsons: Luther and Cody along with their legendary father Jim, and three generations of Burnsides with R.L., sons Duwayne and Garry, and grandson Cody (R.L.'s wife was there too). In addition, Othar Turner's Rising Star Fife & Drum Band is being carried on by Othar's grandsons, and bassist Chris Chew and JoJo Hermann would have to be considered members of the extended family, having played with all those folks. The North Mississippi Allstars brand of roots rock and Mississippi blues seems tailor-made for a festival like this, and the good times shine through the great music. It's a loose, rambling set that occasionally drags a bit during introductions and audience interaction, but when the band gets down to playing, some real magic happens. They can play just about anything convincingly, from greasy Mississippi blues like "Snake River Drive" to sounding like the Band on Ry Cooder's "Boomer's Story," even making music from just an electrified washboard (wah-wah washboard) and cigar box guitar (no fooling!). Luther's slide can't help but remind one of Duane Allman, even when he's slipping Dr. John quotes into "Down in Mississippi." They know their history too, dipping into the Mississippi Sheiks songbook while performing with the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band ("Station Blues" aka "Sittin' on Top of the World" goes back to 1930 or so). There are high points throughout the album, but they really hit their stride on the last three tunes or so. No flash, no egos, and no pretension, just genuine American music played from the heart.

Biography

Formed: 1996 in Hernando, MS

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Moving into much rootsier territory than their former punk band DDT, brothers Luther (guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Cody Dickinson (drums, sampling) formed the North Mississippi Allstars in 1996 with bassist Chris Chew. The sons of legendary Memphis producer Jim Dickinson were born in Fayette County, TN, and their family later moved to northern Mississippi, where the boys soaked up the country blues sound of the region from artists like Mississippi Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside. That became the...
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Hill Country Revue, North Mississippi Allstars
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