Guitarist Luther Dickinson reaches for his roots

Tuesday, 22 May 2012 12:00 AM Written by 

I don't usually point to other music reviews, simply because there are so many of them (but maybe I should re-think that).

I'm going to make an exception here, though, since it sort of relates to yesterday's post, and since I don't have any of the three CDs mentioned by guitarist Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars. And I also happen to think that Jim Fusilli, who writes here for the Wall Street Journal, is a fine music writer.

Here's the beginning of an article about Dickinson's three new CDs, released earlier this month. A link to the full piece is at the bottom.

Luther Dickinson celebrated the arrival of May by releasing three albums in a single day, and none of them had anything to do with his band the North Mississippi Allstars, his duo side project with his brother Cody or his role as lead guitarist in the Black Crowes.

The three: a solo acoustic instrumental album, "Hambone's Meditations"; "Go On Now, You Can't Stay Here" by the Wandering, an ad-hoc traditional folk-blues quintet; and "Old Times There…" by the South Memphis String Band, a four-piece unit that also includes Alvin Youngblood Hart, Jimbo Mathus and Justin Showah. The first two are on the Allstars' label Songs of the South, the last on Memphis International. 

The son of the late Jim Dickinson, who played with Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones, among others, the 39-year-old Mr. Dickinson said all three albums share a single influence: the authentic music of the American South, most notably the region that surrounds Memphis.

"So much of the culture is fading," Mr. Dickinson said during a visit here last week. "The small town I grew up in was a quaint little place. Now it's a suburb of Memphis. We were in the rural middle class, but I grew up on Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside." In addition to those north Mississippi bluesmen, he knew Otha Turner, the Mississippi-based fife player, and was introduced by his father to Furry Lewis, a blues legend from Memphis.

He decided to explore and expand on the region's acoustic folk and blues. "Acoustic music, that's my true love. It cuts through all the trappings of rock 'n' roll. It seems like a magic medium for me."

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