By far my favorite blues-rock album of the last few years is the North Mississippi Allstars’ Shake Hands With Shorty.
This ’00 CD by the young trio of brothers Luther Dickinson (raging slide guitars and vocals) and Cody Dickinson (drums and vocals) – sons of the great producer Jim Dickinson – and friend Chris Chew (bass and vocals), rocks as hard as anything out of Seattle or Minneapolis, but with the pure, authentic roots of the Mississippi Delta blues, proving once again that the blues spring eternal from that fertile Delta.
The Dickinsons grew up in the recording studio with their father, helping in the studio while their father produced the Replacements, Beck, and Mojo Nixon among many others. Prior to the Allstars, the brothers formed an alt-rock/punk group, D.D.T. Shortly thereafter they performed and recorded as Gutbucket, a tub bass, washboard, guitar and kazoo unit that amply displayed their love of Southern roots music.
The brothers toured with crusty Mississippi blues rockers T-Model Ford and R.L. Burnside, then decided to get serious and formed the Allstars with former schoolmate Chew on bass. They began playing various blues clubs and festivals in Memphis, Vicksburg, Clarksdale and elsewhere, and nowtheir CD on the Tone Cool label rocks down the house.
The songs on Shake Hands With Shorty were written by legendary Mississippi bluesmen – living and dead – including Mississippi Fred McDowell, R.L.Burnside, Furry Lewis, and Jr. Kimbrough. What they do with these jukejoint classics is whip and puree them through a high energy blender, and what pours out is rootsy but utterly modern, soulful and very real. Amazing.
They have a new release coming out soon on Artemis – keep your eyes open.