North Mississippi Allstars

 
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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, Tennessee, 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 chief inspiration for the Allstars, but the group also mixed in a rock edge, an alternative aesthetic (comparable to outfits like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and the Black Keys), and a road-ready rock & roll sensibility akin to jam bands like Phish. After touring as an opening act for a variety of artists and honing their chops as a unit, the North Mississippi Allstars issued their debut, Shake Hands with Shorty, in the spring of 2000. The album was a significant success, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album, as did their 2001 sophomore set, 51 Phantom. Later in 2001, the North Mississippi Allstars teamed with John Medeski and pedal steel player Robert Randolph to form the Word, an instrumental gospel-blues band, for an album and tour.

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, Tennessee, 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 chief inspiration for the Allstars, but the group also mixed in a rock edge, an alternative aesthetic (comparable to outfits like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and the Black Keys), and a road-ready rock & roll sensibility akin to jam bands like Phish. After touring as an opening act for a variety of artists and honing their chops as a unit, the North Mississippi Allstars issued their debut, Shake Hands with Shorty, in the spring of 2000. The album was a significant success, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album, as did their 2001 sophomore set, 51 Phantom. Later in 2001, the North Mississippi Allstars teamed with John Medeski and pedal steel player Robert Randolph to form the Word, an instrumental gospel-blues band, for an album and tour.

Luther and Cody's father, producer Jim Dickinson, passed away in late 2009. The brothers and fellow NMA member Chris Chew gathered in March of 2010 at the family-owned Zebra Studios to record a tribute. The band had help from a number of family friends who included Ry Cooder, Mavis Staples, Spooner Oldham, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Jack Ashford. The end result was Keys to the Kingdom (on Songs of the South), a collection of new songs with a lone, single-chord blues cover of Bob Dylan's "Stuck Inside of Mobile (With the Memphis Blues Again)" added to the mix. The set was released in early 2011. In the summer of 2012, James Luther Dickinson's posthumous I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone was released. Recorded live in Memphis in 2006, it featured the NMA as his backing band. Arguably the band's masterpiece, World Boogie Is Coming appeared at the end of the summer 2013. Following a tour, the Dickinson Brothers called time on the band and immersed themselves in solo projects for a couple of years. Upon reassembling the North Mississippi Allstars, they entered the renowned Royal Studios in Memphis and enlisted Boo Mitchell as co-producer and cut five songs. Six more were recorded in studios around the American south. The Allstars gathered a group of friends and longtime collaborators for the sessions, including Oteil Burbridge, Midnight North's Grahame Lesh, Sharisse Norman, Dominic Davis, Sharde Thomas, Kenny Brown, and Danielle Nicole. The completed album, Prayer for Peace, was announced in March of 2017; its title track and a cover of R.L. Burnside's "Long Haired Doney" were issued as pre-release singles. The full-length included a cover of Mississippi Fred McDowell's "You Got to Move" and the standard "Deep Ellum." The band hit the road with Alvin Youngblood Hart in May, and the album appeared in early June.

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