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Published: 2008/01/25
by Brad Farberman

Hernando – North Mississippi Allstars

Sounds of the South Records

Hernando is the name of the town in Mississippi where the North Mississippi Allstars grew up. Also, it’s the name of their new album (out now on their Sounds of the South Records). But what, pray tell, is in a name?

Well, inside this name (Hernando), there’s a brand new, raw-sounding rock album from the NMAs (their fifth to date). And, if that’s what you’re into, you’re going to dig it.

Produced by proud father (to two of the Allstars) and acclaimed musician/producer Jim Dickinson (he’s played with Bob Dylan and Los Lobos), Hernando sounds closest to a modern-day take on the sound pioneered by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in the ’60s and Stevie Ray Vaughan in the ’80s: dirty, in-your-face trio shit. No frills, no excess baggage. Just three cats and the blues.

Plus a pinch of irony, on one track at least. On a cover of Champion Jack Dupree's “I Want to be a Hippy,” bassist Chris Chew takes a jab at the Bonnaroo set with lyrics like “I’d love to be a hippy, but my hair won’t grow that long,” and a reference to “hippy pills.” Odd choice of words for a band that has made its name on the “jamband” circuit, and continues to play for those long-haired folk (note, too, that this song contains some rather tasteful guitar work from bandleader Luther Dickinson).

All hair lengths aside, however, this album has a certain appeal to it (an appeal that, in this reviewer’s opinion, was missing from their last studio effort). If one was looking for some new, bluesy rock, or looking to get into the NMAs, this might be a good place to start.

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