North Mississippi Allstars
On the back of the Allstars' new Keys to the Kingdom it says "Produced for Jim Dickinson." The famed Memphis musician and producer, and father of Allstars Luther and Cody Dickinson, died in 2009. But his passing and the soon-after birth of Luther's first child inspired the Allstars' most intimate but hardly subdued album. The trio's raw and often raucous mix of rock 'n' roll and Hill Country blues is especially apropos for addressing questions of life and death, and the younger Dickinsons (plus bassist Chris Chew and a few key guests) achieve an acute balance of mournful respect and resilient spirit. The dirge-like "Ain't No Grave" (sporting evocative guitar work from Ry Cooder) yields to the jaunty, string-band tune "Ol' Cannonball" (with Alvin Youngblood Hart on vocals and harmonica) and then the comic zombie misadventures of "New Orleans Walkin' Dead." Spooner Oldham, another old Jim Dickinson running partner, has the last word, wrapping up the angelic cakewalk "Jellyrollin' All Over Heaven" with an otherworldly piano coda. Opening will be the Buffalo Killers, a first-rate Cincy trio whose influences run from Southern swamps to Topanga Canyon, applying a vintage psychedelic haze to a fine blues-rock mesh, suggesting the James Gang and another bison outfit, Buffalo Springfield. 18+.
Thu., Nov. 17, 6 p.m., 2011
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