Bio of Luther & Cody Dickinson
The North Mississippi Allstars

Cody & Luther as kids
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 friends.

Meanwhile, Luther 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 Antenna Club.

Every 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 Brown.

Kenny Brown, R.L. Burnside, Cedric Burnside, Luther Dickinson

But 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 and European record labels.

"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.

"Shake Hands 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". - Nick Tosches

"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 25,2000.

Ongoing side 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 band audience. Spencer Dickinson recorded with Jon Spencer at the Zebra Ranch was released only in Japan.

NORTH MISSISSIPPI 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. Papa Dickinson 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 on "Snakes 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." - Roberta Penn

"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 blues forefathers 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, was nominated for a Grammy in the BEST CONTEMPORARY BLUES category by the National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences!

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 made a blues trio into a full-fledged Southern rock 'n'roll band.

The quartet's first recording (the ALLSTAR's third C.D.), POLARIS. released September 9, 2003, on Tone-Cool/ATO Records, takes the band full 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 personality.

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

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