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Published: 2006/11/04
by Lydia Cox

North Mississippi Allstars, The Showbox, Seattle, WA – 10/5

If the subject matter of a song is any indication of a band's interests then the North Mississippi Allstars like shaking it. They shake it on down, they shake 'em on down and they shake what their mamas gave them. Despite the fact that guitarist and backing vocalist Duwayne Burnside left the group in 2004, NMAS seem to be doing just fine as a trio once again.

Luther Dickinson’s slide continues to be a natural extension of his body, Cody Dickinson provides the oomph and energy of two drummers what with his double bass kickers and Chris Chew has comfortably moved to the microphone to offer his own falsetto. The Mississippi boys began their gig at the Showbox at a blistering pace and really didn’t slow down ‘til the encore, ripping through a set of dirty hill country blues, inevitably paying homage to the late R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough along the way.

Chew, while the size of two security guards, is more like a giant teddy bear who offers nothing but smiles and smooth grooves. When Luther rolled into "Snake Drive" Chew started dancing onstage, pretending to play the drums, interacting with members of the audience while Luther emitted sounds reminiscent of a DJ scratching before storming to the front of the stage to lean over the crowd during an extensive solo.

When Cody signaled the start of "Georgia Women" with his bass drum Luther yelled out "R.L. Burnside is with the angels in heaven!" and dedicated the cover to the man who inspired the majority of their music. A segue into the deep and heavy "Po Black Maddie" provoked plenty of air guitar from the crowd and instigated uproarious cheers. Chew used pedal effects to dump a phat bass solo while Luther laid a soaring anthemic sound over that, and Cody pounded away incessantly, the heartbeat of the group.

Stepping out from behind his drum kit, Cody strapped on his electrified Sunnyland washboard and scraped and thwacked through an atmospheric tune that sounded more like a keyboard than something you use to scrub clothes. Meanwhile Luther sat behind the drumkit, tearing it up with a sloppy grin on his face, whipping his head side to side. Cody took the spotlight again two songs later with the drivin’, bluesy "Hillbilly Holla," providing near spoken-word vocals in almost punk-like fashion.

Blue Merle’s Lucas Reynolds joined NMAS to close out the set with dueling guitars on "Bang Bang Lulu." The encore saw a carnival rendition of "Mississippi Boll Weevil" and the slide-crazy "Stompin’ My Foot," wherein the band’s favorite pastime was actualized as Luther sang out "I’m stompin’ my foot, you shakin’ that ass," the audience reciprocating with just what they asked for, plenty of ass-shakin’.

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