North Mississippi Allstars @World Cafe Live
North Mississippi Allstars
World Cafe Live – Philadelphia
I have to say up front that I have photographed The North Mississippi Allstars a few times before and I love them. The first time was the WXPN Music Festival and they knocked my socks off. Luther Dickinson’s guitar playing is superb. He even plays a guitar made from a coffee can. OK OK so that is a gimmick but still cool. I have seen guys play the blues easy as if no effort at all just sitting on the front porch like Otis Taylor. I respect it and love it. It comes from deep in their soul. Other guys, like Luther Dickinson rock out the blues like they can’t stay still. It moves them and yes, me as well.
The current tour is supporting their new album Prayer For Peace. Taking the next sentence directly from their website because it say succinctly what I am trying to say. As ever, songs like R.L. Burnside’s “Long Haired Doney”, which opened the show, and the impassioned title track, “Prayer For Peace”, pay homage to the country blues legacy while simultaneously pushing it into contemporary relevance with fatback funk, electronic innovation, slippery soul, and pure unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll. The set also included other songs from the new album, “Run Red Rooster” and Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Got To Move”. The Dickinson’s also have a taste for the Grateful Dead and the set included, also from the new album, “Deep Ellum” and the set closer “Bid You Goodnight”. Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” played twice, once on the coffee can guitar, was deep roots stuff.
Let’s talk about the opening act and guest players. The show was opened by Alvin Youngblood Hart. Alvin plays the blues and fits very well with The North Mississippi Allstars because he too blurs the line between blues, country, and rock. Known as a “musician’s musician,” Alvin Youngblood Hart’s praises have been sung by everyone from Bob Dylan to Brit guitar gods Eric Clapton & Mick Taylor. If anybody is reading my reviews you know that I love how the show openers introduce me to new, for me, and fantastic talent. Alvin opened the show and also joined the band during the main set. Also joining in was Rev. Sekou. The Rev. is an author, documentary filmmaker, public intellectual, organizer, pastor and theologian. He is also a musician. He sings with the passion of old time gospel singers bringing his message to the audience. Joining the Allstars for a couple of his songs, “Resist”, “Burnin’ and Lootin’” as well as “99&1/2 Won’t Do’ The Rev. raised the level of excitement ten fold and believe me it was high passion all night.
Prayer For Peace available June 2nd. is one album you shouldn’t miss if you like exciting country blues played with really great talent. Luther and Cody Dickinson bring all their talent and experience to the table. Like Luther said, “The blues is not children’s music,”. “We get better at it, the older we get. We’re so fortunate to be able to do it.”
Mark J. Smith