North Mississippi Allstars strive for cutting edge obsolescence

By Barry Courter Article posted on Thu. Aug. 22nd, 2013
Luther Dickson of the North Mississippi Allstars
Luther Dickson of the North Mississippi Allstars
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Cody Dickinson answers the telephone with all of the excitement and energy of an 8-year-old on Christmas morning, but for the next 15 minutes, he’s focused and ready to talk about the new North Mississippi Allstars CD, “World Boogie Is Coming.” The album is set for release on Sept. 3.

“We’re very proud of it,” he said. “It is our opportunity to make our magnum opus. I wanted to once and for all really capture our music … the exciting element of our music, what it is when we play live and this thing that we’ve been cultivating for so many years, and to mix that with some brand new elements as well.”

Dickinson is joined in the band by brother Luther Dickinson and Chris Chew. Whether on tour or in the studio, they are often joined by any number of friends, many who share their love for Mississippi Delta blues. Guests on the new record include Robert Plant, Lightnin’ Malcolm, Duwayne and Garry Burnside, Kenny Brown, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sharde Thomas, Sid and Steve Selvidge.

Dickinson said he had a very clear vision in mind for the album, what he calls tradition meets innovation. He wanted it to be steeped in a traditional sound but to be new and fresh and filled with multimedia elements. He said it was more important to capture the energy and passion of the band than a perfect lick. To help create the desired vibe, he used a projector to throw giant words on the studio walls.

“It could be any word, but these mental tricks work,” he said.

The band wanted to capture the live feeling, so much of what you hear is the first take, but there is also a lot of production on the record.

“We might preprogram something before doing a vocal track, or I might take it and heavily produce something later,” he said.

Many of the videos were shot live as well.

“The process was amazing. In the video you see me playing the washboard. That is the actual track. It’s not like me lip-syncing onto a track.

“It was multimedia from the beginning.”

The whole process created an interesting environment in which to work and contributed greatly to the finished product.

“We live in a very creative world where I think tradition meets innovation,” Dickinson said. It’s a very exciting place to be. It’s cutting-edge obsolescence.”

Dickinson said he is looking forward to playing the new material for audiences, including the one that will see the band play Saturday as part of the Southern Brewers Festival. He is also looking forward to seeing his old friends in Galactic and Robert Randolph & The Family Band.

“Those are my guys,” he said.

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