Blues brothers: Allstars all in the family
ASPEN Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson grew up rocking out with their piano-playing dad, Jim.Now, they form two-thirds of the powerhouse North Mississippi Allstars – set to play Monday and Tuesday at Belly Up Aspen – but they still take it back to the roots: Just a few days ago, Jim Dickinson cut a record with the band.”We cut the basic tracks in three days, then I spent another day overdubbing,” lead guitarist and vocalist Luther Dickinson said. “He plays a song, we work it up and then knock it out. That’s how he likes to work.”
It’s the third time the Allstars have taken a role recording with their dad. They played on his 2002 solo effort, “Free Beer Tomorrow,” and last year’s “Jungle Jim and the Voodoo Tiger.”From their humble beginnings in Hernando, Miss., the North Mississippi Allstars broke out with their debut album, “Shake Hands With Shorty,” which received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2000. Their next two albums, “51 Phantom” and “Electric Blue Watermelon,” were also Grammy nominees.Luther said he and his brother would gig with his dad’s band, the Hardly Can Playboys – mostly outside venues during the warmer months and plenty of local bars – back when he was 15. “We grew up around him and all his buddies playing,” he said. “We just grew up around it, so it was just what I wanted to do. We would talk about music a lot. He always just encouraged us to teach ourselves, and we would play together.”
The Allstars’ blues is muddy, heavy and bass-driven, with a solid underpinning of punk and improvisation. Rejecting traditional genres, the band has been embraced by the jam band world as easily as it has by the blues world.During the last few years, the North Mississippi Allstars toured regularly as John Hiatt’s band after recording his 2005 album, “Master of Disaster.” The band also has teamed up with Robert Randolph and John Medeski to form the Word.Perhaps it’s the band’s skill that allows them to team up with so many different musicians creating different sounds. The North Mississippi Allstars were scheduled to play Belly Up with rapper Al Kapone, but Kapone had to cancel at the last minute.
A new North Mississippi Allstars album probably won’t be out until 2008, but a DVD of a Vermont performance is due soon, and Luther said he’s working on a 10-year retrospective disc. “It’s a collection of raw-ass live recordings,” he said. “Listening to those old tapes, you hear so much. It’s cool to hear how the band’s style has changed and progressed over the years. In myself I found some bad habits that I hadn’t thought about before. I gotta go with the flow of the band more than try to lead. That’s the moral of the story.”Outformation opens for the North Mississippi Allstars at 10 p.m. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $27 the day of the show. The Belly Up is at 450 S. Galena St. 544-9800.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.com