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North Mississippi All Star Band
Swinging the Blues Festival at Jacksonville Beach, Florida, April 3 & 4, 1998
by Gloria Pierce

Photo © 1998 by Gloria Pierce.
All rights reserved
Discovering Hill Country Boogie with a Twist

Feet Stomping, Feet Thumping, Feet Taping, Guitar twanging, slippin'- slidin', that Hill Country Boogie is running through your body. Luther Dickinson is working that slide, Cody Dickinson is working his arms & legs on the drum, and Chris Chew has his body swaying around his bass. AND if we are lucky enough, Papa Jim Dickinson is pounding those keyboards. The sounds move through your limbs, they move through your veins - into your heart and soul - your body starts to move with the beat - it is impossible to sit still - you become a part of the music - you become a part of the hill country boogie. Add to this the flavor of Gospel and it becomes a new recipe - delicious enough for us all to devour.

It was a recipe for success. The father - Jim Dickinson with a musician/producer's past that reads like a who's who of Blues and Rhythm & Blues. He grew up in the recording studio working with, recording with, and producing for the likes of Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Rolling Stones, Ry Cooder, and Arlo Guthrie. Most recently he played keyboards on Bob Dylan's 1998 Grammy winning CD "Time Out of Mind." In fact at the Grammy Awards, Bob Dylan remarked on stage "I want to thank my 'brother' Jim Dickinson down in Mississippi."

Jim was also at one time an assistant to Jerry Wexler; Vice President of Atlantic Records, who claims to have coined the phrase Rhythm and Blues. They worked on producing the early Aretha Franklin recordings. He recorded hundreds of keyboard sessions over the last 35 years. He raised his sons, Luther and Cody, to play music and they have not disappointed.

At 25, Luther Andrews Dickinson is already a serious accomplished slide guitar player, singer, and performer. Luther fronts the North Mississippi All Stars. He is such an energetic, exiting slide guitar player, singer and performer that he takes over the stage immediately -- the energy never stops until we see the lights go off on the amps. But his talents do not stop there, just recently, he produced the much-acclaimed Othar Turner fife and drum sessions.

At 21, Cody Taylor Dickinson is an exceptional drummer in the All Star band - but he immediately let me know that he plays guitar - that was his first instrument, and he writes his own music.

Both sons are so personable; it was a pleasure talking to them at the Springing the Blues Festival. Luther and Cody both started to play guitar as small children. Luther continued on guitar, while Cody, being the younger, needed to learn something else in order to play as a part of The Dickinson Family Band. So at 10, Cody started to play drums. Eleven years later, his talent and enormous energy shines.

Then there is Chris Chew, 24, bass player, family friend and schoolmate of Luther's. Chris grew up playing in the Gospel Church where he still performs every Sunday. He is a large presence on the stage - standing next to his friend Luther. He brings the added twist to this band. The Gospel influence creates a circular loop to the music. One song leads into the next as Luther leads the way and the band picks it up - changes tempo - up and down - around and around - the circle never breaks. The audience never gets unhooked - the energy goes higher and higher until there is that ending silence.

They live and grew up in North Mississippi Hill Country - Hernando, Mississippi. As the All Stars they have been together for 2 years. They bring the sounds, feelings, swings and sways of the hills to their stomping blues. This band made me jump up and yell wow! Don't miss these guys, they will be coming to a town near you soon.

Gloria Pierce
Miami, FL

Copyright © 1998 by Gloria Pierce, all rights reserved.

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Copyright © 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
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