North Mississippi Allstars: Brooklyn Bowl 7 April 2012

The southern USA weekend continues in full force. We move from the bayous of Louisiana to Memphis with a short roundabout detour through Texas.

rtb, violaleeblue, and I started the evening at Mable’s Smokehouse, which is next to the Brooklyn Brewery, which is next to the Brooklyn Bowl. The three of chose the pulled pork sandwiches and each of us had a different side. It was delicious and I can’t wait to go back and try the brisket.

As I’ve written before, the Brooklyn Bowl is huge. I was lost in the entryway and it took me a bit to figure out how to get to the bar in the main room. It’s like a maze and I don’t know how people navigate their way around when they’re drunk and the place is crowded. Lucky for us there were three barstools with a straight-ahead view of the stage. Once the place got crowded the view disappeared but there were screens so we could still see what was happening on stage. Just before the show someone came over to us and told us that he’s supposed to take away the barstools so that people can get to the bar more easily. Since we weren’t moving from those spots and we were going to continue drinking it didn’t make much sense for us to give up our barstools and I convinced him to let us keep them. They did finally take them from us just before the show ended but by then we didn’t care.

I’m ashamed to say that we didn’t pay much attention to Jarrod Dickenson. He was solo with an acoustic guitar and we did pay attention to his short soundcheck. The show wasn’t much – the music from most of the songs immediately reminded me of another song. Sometimes the Allman Brothers, sometimes someone else. There was nothing that stood out for me with the lyrics. The three of us were enjoying our conversation and there was nothing he sang that made us sit up and take notice.

While I was listening to the North Mississippi Allstars’ first song I realized how close they get to jam band territory and I was waiting because I knew it would happen and then violaleeblue asked me why I liked them when I hated jam bands. My answer? Because the blues are front and center in everything they do. And because when Luther Dickinson plays guitar there is not a single wasted note. There is not a single note where you wonder why he threw that in. Every note has a reason. The rest of the band is Cody Dickinson on drums and electric washboard and Chris Chew on electric bass. Chew took the lead on a few vocals and when he did you could feel that bass roll across the room and hit you in the stomach. Cody’s electric washboard is a wonder – it’s a psychedelic percussive theremin with a few wah-wahs thrown in. Luther also plays a cigar box guitar but this time he was playing the coils without the box and singing into the pickup. These aguys are truly master musicians and it’s an honor to be the same room with them.

By Carene Lydia Lopez