Cody, drums; Luther, guitar
Luther and Cody Dickinson were born while the family lived in rural
West Tennessee. Father Jim Dickinson produced records in Memphis (Big
Star, Ry Cooder, the Replacements) and mother Mary Lindsay trained jumping horses
at the nearby Plantation Stable. On a gravel road with a Missionary
Baptist Church and honky tonk called Parks's Spot for neighbors, the brothers
witnessed baptismal ceremonies in the stock pond across the way and heard
the blues in the night.
The two teenagers were already playing music when they moved to
Mississippi. In the Hill Country of Mississippi- Tate and Marshall
counties- music is a family business. The Dickinsons fit right in. It
didn't take them long to find Junior Kimbrough's Juke Joint and make
and Cody were getting plenty of experience in the
recording studio with their father. They recorded with the Replacements,
Mojo Nixon, Toy Caldwell, the New Gospel Choir, and Billy Lee Riley.
The Dickinson brothers formed a long-term collaboration with Memphis
boy wonder bassist, Paul "Snowflake" Taylor. As D. D. T., the trio became
favorites on the southern alternative circuit, opening for the
Replacements, Spin Doctors, Jakob Dylan, and Ice-T (at the Civil Rights
Museum). The band later recorded a DIY CD., Live at the World Famous
summer the Dickinson family played the Memphis Center for Southern
Folklore's Heritage Festival where a friendship developed with Otha
Turner and his Rising Star Fife and Drum Band. The boys became regulars
at Otha's annual Labor Day goat-Bar-B-Que picnic.
Otha Turner and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band
GUTBUCKET , the trio's acoustic alter ego, was the first indication
of the Dickinsons' interest in Southern roots music. In the tradition
of the Memphis Jug Band, the musicians played on historic Beale Street,
and recorded with BECK at the legendary Sun Studio.
Through a series
of side projects the brothers matured musically and slowly started
to change, playing and recording with Jimbo Mathus of
the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Memphis jazz chanteuse Kelley Hurt, and guitar
wizard Shawn Lane. Luther and Cody stretched and grew in all directions.
Completing the metamorphosis from DDT, the first line up of the
NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS debuted at Dixie Fried '96, sharing the event
with Otha Turner and R. L. Burnsides. The show was acclaimed in
the local press as the "Best Show of the Year." Luther immersed himself
in the hill country blues of Mississippi Fred McDowell and started to
play gigs with Frank Frost and Sam Carr (the Jelly
Roll Kings). Also, Luther toured with R. L. Burnside and Kenny
Kenny Brown, R.L. Burnside, Cedric Burnside, Luther Dickinson
Paul Taylor didn't want
to play the blues. The Dickinson brothers went
on the road with Fat Possum Records's T. Model Ford and Spam
and 20 Miles (Judah Bauer of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) three guitar
and drum duos. Luther and Cody returned home to north Mississippi with new resolve.
The Dickinsons enlisted their Hernando, MS, high school friend gospel bassist,
Chris Chew. The new line-up, NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS, became
regulars on Beale Street where they were "discovered" by several domestic
"The North Mississippi Allstars are one of the best live bands
touring right now." - Philip Walden, Jr., Capricorn Records
Eventually signing with Richard Rosenblatt Boston-based blues label, Tone-
Cool,the NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS recorded Shake Hands with Shorty at the
home- base Zebra Ranch compound.
With Shorty is a hellish romp through the hill country that makes most city
slicker blues sound tame." - Rolling Stone magazine
"Shake Hands with Shorty
is like a water moccasin down the spine". -
"The North Mississippi
Allstars are the hottest new American rock 'n' roll band to arrive on these
shores in a month of
stormy Mondays." - London Times
Shake Hands with Shorty was nominated for a Grammy by the National
Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) for Best
Contemporary Blues Record of the Year.
NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS played Conan O'Brien's show July
projects with Jo Jo Hermann of Widespread Panic, John Medeski of Medeski,
Martin and Wood, and Jon Spencer
led to The Word, a collaboration that brought Robert Randolph to the jam
Spencer Dickinson recorded with Jon Spencer at the Zebra
Ranch was released only in Japan.
ALLSTARS's sophomore recording, 51 PHANTOM CD was released Dec. 4, 2001.
College Music Journal: 51 Phantom:
"It's enough to listen to the train-barreling-down-a-mountainside
rhythms on "Sugar town" to want to hop on the North Mississippi
Allstar's 51 Phantom ride. A triumphant follow-up to the
group's muscular debut
(last year's (Grammy nominated) Shake Hands with Shorty)
51 Phantom finds the Dickinson brothers, guitars/vocalist
Luther and drummer/vocalist
Cody, chugging along through muddy electric Delta blues
with their legendary father, Jim Dickinson, producing.
obviously thrives on first
takes, making part of 51 Phantom a live-in-the-studio production.
Elsewhere, Southern parables, gutter rhymes, and Hendrixian
prayers for mercy elegantly
play out on the album's field of twinkling acoustic and
zipping slide guitars, bowed bass, electric washboard,
and cane fife. "Snakes
in my bushes hanging down
from the trees," Luther sings in a whiskey-burnt voice
in My Bushes,
a sleazy ZZ Topish boogie, while the title track, "Lord
Have Mercy on Me,"
and "Storm" teach a solid lesson in the old-time rock 'n'
roll recording style. Northern, Southern, no matter: these
boys are all-stars without a doubt."
- Enrique Lavin
ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE's
REVIEW: 51 PHANTOM *** 1/2 stars
"The NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS debut CD, Shake Hands with
Shorty, celebrated country blues as defined by R.L. Burnside.
They display a new
maturity on 51 Phantom's best tracks, "Storm" and "Leavin," which
have beautifully tapered melodies that sound right at home
on college radio.
They have learned that reinventing themselves is more important
than retracing old footsteps." -
Robert Santelli: RS 833/834
"With 51 Phantom the North
Mississippi Allstars not only hang on to their roots, they fearlessly dig
in deeper and come up proudly
covered in the mud of some of America's darkest secrets." -
"After taking tradition out for a ride on 2000's Shake Hands with Shorty
- a brash youth-man covers collection drawn mainly from hill-country
Mississippi Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside, - the salt-and-pepper
trio bring it all back home on the even nastier 51 Phantom." - Spin Magazine
The North Mississippi Allstars' second cd, 51 Phantom,
nominated for a Grammy in the BEST CONTEMPORARY BLUES
category by the National Academy for Recording Arts and
Enter DuWayne Burnside, son of world famous R. L. Burnside, reigning
monarch of the Hill Country Blues. Despite his heritage
or maybe because of it, the addition of DuWayne in the Allstars' line-up
blues trio into
a full-fledged Southern rock 'n'roll band.
first recording (the ALLSTAR's third C.D.), POLARIS. released September 9,
2003, on Tone-Cool/ATO Records, takes
circle back to the rock roots of the Brothers Dickinson.
If you still prefer the taste of Bar-B-Que and moonshine, you can buy
Tate County, North Mississippi Allstar's prequel to Shake Hands with Shorty.
Available only on this website. Click to visit the Store.
Luther and Cody toured the four piece North Mississippi Allstars like rock
' n' roll gypsies for two years, taking the Rising Star Drum Corps or the Dirty
Dozen Brass Band, sometimes both. This culminated at Bonnaroo, 2004, with the
NMA Hill Country Review, featuring the Rising Star Memorial performance of
the passing of Otha Turner, godfather of the Hills, and the King of the Hill
Country Blues, R. L. Burnside's official retirement performance, with Big Daddy
Jim Dickinson, Jojo Hermann from Widespread Panic, and Black Crow's Chris Robinson,
for good measure.
Luther does a little crowd surfing.
After this defining event, Duwayne Burnside quit the road to open a family
juke joint in Holly Springs, and the Allstars went back to their trio touring
In the early fall
of 2004, with Big Daddy Jim returning to official producer role, the band
began what would become the six month process of Electric Blue
Watermelon, their sixth album length CD, due for fall release, 2005, by ATO. Watermelon
is a return to form and concept for NMA. Luther came up with a strong variety
of material put together from Otha Turner's vocabulary of
wisdom and wit with some Furry Lewis on the side. Paying musical tribute to
the late-great Lee Baker, Otha Turner, and Mark Unobsky, Luther seeks to immortalize
his mentors and childhood influences as contemporary folk heros.
With special guest appearances by friends, Lucinda Williams, the incredible
Robert Randolph, old road buddies Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and the ever-present
syncopated rolling thunder of the Rising Star Fife and Drums, this theatrical
musical statement goes beyond Bonnaroo into the cosmos of collective imagination.
In athe middle of EBW, Luther and Cody (with Muscle Shoal Sound bass master.
David Hood, cut an album with John Hiatt. Their work on Master of Disaster,
the resulting cd, was so strong that it propelled them onto a summerlong tour
as opening act and back up band for Hiatt.
Electric Blue Watermelon was nominated for a Grammy in Best Contemporary
Blues category by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Science, 2005.
North Mississippi Allstars are continuing their never-ending world tour by
touring Europe in May and playing with John Hiatt, Summer, 2006.
In Loving Memory
of Otha Turner 1908-2003