The last time EW covered the North Mississippi Allstars in depth was in 2006, in anticipation of their McDonald Theatre performance to support their sixth album, Electric Blue Watermelon. In the intervening years, much for the band has changed, but much has come full circle. In 2008, the band took a hiatus, and brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson pursued other projects. Luther formed a string band and a folk band. Cody contributed to several motion picture soundtracks like Black Snake Moan. Finally, the brothers came back together, and in 2011 released Keys to the Kingdom.
After time apart and the passing of their father, Jim, who insisted that the brothers were better together than they would ever be apart, the music of the Allstars has shifted slightly. Their “hill country” roots are ever-apparent, but some songs on Keys channel a gospel feel, others a bluegrass touch. Some aren’t quite acoustic, but they’re not quite plugged-in-electric blues either. Above all, the new music pays tribute to the influence of their father, through narrative lyrics and heartfelt emotion.
Despite the numerous influences on their sound, their roots bond has only strengthened. Recently, the band announced the first Roots Rock Revival, a music camp to take place over four days in June in New York’s Catskills. Organized by the Allman Brothers’ Butch Trucks, Oteil Burbridge and the Dickinson brothers, the event offers classes, jam sessions, performances and more. The Revival promises that attendees will “get an intimate look at the Southern blues rock movement and the music that transformed your idea of rock ‘n roll.” The North Mississippi Allstars are now leading that transformation.
The North Mississippi All Stars play with The London Souls at 8 pm Monday, Feb. 11, at WOW Hall; $18 adv, $20 door.