What's good, you might also ask...
The Lady decided to do a bunch of pledges at her radio station, WNRN. Among the premiums she ended up with were a pair of tickets to see North Mississippi Allstars at Starr Hill the night before last. Also included was a "meet & greet" with the band during their sound check.
And that was pretty cool, if not a little strange.
We showed up at Starr Hill around 5:45, and went up to the Music Hall, where we were promptly intercepted by someone from Starr Hill. The Lady explained why we were there and we were passed on to Mike, the band guy from Red Light Management. He let us know that we would get together with the band after the sound check.
The band was up on stage, doing their thing. The first thing you notice is that their bass player, Chris Chew, is a very big man. The stage at Starr Hill is not a large space, so it was pretty obvious. Chris has presence, to say the least. He finished his check first, and came over to introduce himself. Nice guy and outgoing, but he seemed pretty tired. He was dressed in gray sweats with a big gold cross pendant hanging out. He took us over to the back room where the bands hang out, collapsed on the couch. We heard about his computer problems, which Mike was trying to solve over his ever present, constantly used uber-cellphone/PDA. The band's road manager was on his cell trying to track down a piece of equipment he'd ordered a while back. Everybody was trying to figure out what the hell was going on for an upcoming festival gig in a town in Florida that was lacking in enough hotel rooms for all the bands performing. It was pretty interesting, from our standpoint.
Meanwhile, the other two members of the band, Luther and Cody Dickenson, are still doing their checks. After about 20 minutes, Luther comes on back. Chris has just finished signing some CD covers for us, and The Lady hands them over to Luther. Very nice; offered to set us up with tickets...
I gotta tell you, the Dickenson brothers do not look like fiery blues guys by anyone's stretch of imagination. It's a bit strange connecting their image to their music. Chris Chew? No problem. Blues guy written all over him. Luther and Cody? Well, they look more like they belong in a cubicle somewhere writing code.
Speaking of Cody. He was missing. Seems he went back to the tour bus. So Mike takes us out to the tour bus. Cody comes stumbling out of the bus to say hi and sign covers.
That pretty much covered the "meet & greet." Like I said; fun, but strange...
We decided to eat at Starr Hill and had a great dinner there. After eating, we decided to take a walk down to the Plan 9 on the Corner to kill some time before the show.
The opening act was Steel Train. They were ok, I guess. Didn't do much for me. Very young and enthusiastic.
NMAS came on, and a very strange thing happened. Luther and Cody no longer gave the impression of being geeks. They were in their element. Cody starts wailing away on his drums and just seems to lose himself in it. Luther knows from blues guitar. And Chris Chew is unreal. Huge, left handed bass player in a sport coat and bucket cap. These guys really put on a show. Fantastic music. They are the real deal. And how many shows have you seen where the guitarist gets on the drums and the drummer picks up an electrified freakin' washboard and goes to town on it in a way that would make Mickey Hart's heart go all pitter-patter. I was pretty slack-jawed at that.
You get a bit of everything from this band as far as influences. From gutter bucket juke joint styles to Allman Brothers jamming, they've got it covered. They even did a crowd pleasing cover of ZZ Top's La Grange that just flat rocked out. In fact, that's what lead into the electric washboard thing.
Two white guys and a black guy playing the best blues/rock/jams I've heard in a long time? That's good.