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Published: 2012/07/25
by Nancy Dunham

Luther Dickinson
Hambone's Meditation

Luther Dickinson Hambone’s Meditation
The Wandering The Wandering
The South Memphis String Band Old Times There…

Many guitarists likely would be content to play in a major band, as Luther Dickinson has since 2007 when he became lead guitarist for American roots rockers The Black Crowes. But Dickinson continues to delve into the Southern roots music that arguably brought him to prominence with the North Mississippi Allstars, the blues rock jam band he and his brother Cody and friend Chris Chew formed in 1996. Old Times There…, the release from The South Memphis String Band Dickinson formed with Alvin Youngblood Hart and Jimbo Mathus, is one of his rootiest contemporary albums in recent memory and one of four projects that he released in May. The banjo, guitars and vocals on Old Times make the sound as gritty as the mostly traditional songs such as “Can You Blame the Colored Man,” featuring lines such as making “dem goo goo eyes.” If your radar is set to sensitive, then you’ll likely be startled by some of the other traditional songs, too, such as “B-L-A-C-K.” Yet Dickinson and his bandmates contend it is important to recognize the “Old South” if one hopes to understand new challenges, not to mention new music. Although The Wandering —a release on which Dickinson performs with a quartet of distinctive female vocalists and musicians from Memphis and North Mississippi—includes traditional songs, the emphasis is more on Americana a la Kris Kristofferson and Ray Charles. Add in Dickinson’s other offerings, including the acoustic instrumental guitar record, Hambone’s Meditation and the Record Store Day release of songs including “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah/ Beautiful Dreamer,” which is part of a series of unreleased recordings on 78 rpm 10” vinyl formats from Tompkins Square. Listening to these is not only a sonic treat but also something of a glimpse into what inspires Dickinson’s roots rock groove.

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