North Mississippi Allstars Bring The Hill Country To Los Angeles’ Teragram Ballroom (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS))

Luther Dickinson and Seasick Steve

Introducing their new songs from Up and Rolling, the North Mississippi Allstars brought their blues-influenced southern rock to the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles on February 13, 2020. 

Luther and Cody Dickinson have been the heart of that band, who have been together for over 20 years. The brothers’ deep roots in hill country blues always shine through whenever they perform live. At the Teragram, the Dickinsons and the rest of this talented group focused on Up and Rolling, the album they released in October 2019. Amazing guitar solos, impressive vocals, dynamic drumming and some wild electric washboard playing all combined to make the already enthusiastic audience go crazy with cheers and extended applause throughout the memorable night.

Luther and Cody Dickinson and Jesse Williams

There was no announced opening act, so when Luther Dickinson stepped out to the front of the stage with Seasick Steve (Steven Gene Wold), everyone was pleasantly surprised. Steve is an American blues vocalist and guitar master who gained notoriety in the U.K.; he developed his style in the South, particularly in Tennessee and Mississippi. Dickinson has done some touring with him over the years and at the Teragram show, the duo performed a short guitar set. Seasick Steve handled vocals and encouraged Dickinson as they took turns taking impressive solos. 

After a short break, the North Mississippi Allstars came out. Bass player Jesse Williams joined Luther and Cody onstage as the newest band member. After going through multiple bassists over the years, the band seems to have found a solid new player in Williams. His impressive background includes stints playing with Susan Tedeschi, Jimmy Vivino and Ronnie Earl and he has toured with Duke Robillard. 

Cody Dickinson on drums

The Dickinson brothers are incredibly talented and versatile musicians and the addition of Williams to accompany their sound made it a very entertaining show. It was a trip along their unique musical journey as new songs blended effortlessly with old ones. The band opened with the foot-stomping favorite “Going Down South” from their 2000 release Shake Hands With Shorty

It did not take long for Luther to introduce a few of the new songs from Up and Rolling. They played the title track and followed that up with “What You Gonna Do?” Luther dedicated “What You Gonna Do?” to Mavis Staples, who laid down the vocal tracks on the song for the album. He also played a scorching slide guitar solo at the end of the tune. Other songs from the new album that were successfully worked out at the show included “Otha’s Bye Bye Baby,” “Mean Old World,” “Drunk Outdoors” and “Bump That Mother.”

Jesse Williams on bass

The new songs have the band’s familiar hill country blues vibe and allowed Luther Dickinson to show off his soulful vocals and impeccable guitar skills. Cody Dickinson is an extremely talented drummer, who is also proficient on guitar. He is particularly adept at playing the electric washboard. In the middle of the show, he came out from behind his drum kit and strapped on the washboard for “Psychedelic Sex Machine,” a wild instrumental romp that shifts Luther Dickinson onto the drum kit.

Seasick Steve came back out to sing and trade guitar solos with Luther Dickinson on “Last Po’ Man.” Once Steve left the stage, Luther and Jesse switched to some interesting “old school” instruments. Luther played a two-string coffee-can guitar and Jesse played a two-string paint-can bass on a multi-song sequence that included sections of “Drinking Muddy Water” from Shake Hands With Shorty, “Run Red Rooster” from Prayer for Peace and the Muddy Waters’ classic “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” 

Cody Dickinson on washboard

Late in the show, Cody came to the front of the stage to play guitar and sing on “All Night Long,” another track from Shake Hands With Shorty, as Luther once again took over on drums. The set ended with Luther and Cody back at their regular instruments for “Po Black Maddie” and “Shake ‘Em on Down,” also from Shake Hands With Shorty. Luther played a psychedelic slide solo with a sustain effect that was coupled with some trippy, red stage lighting. Cody closed the show with a notable, lengthy drum solo.

The trio came back out for a brief encore as Cody played guitar instead of drums. Luther strapped on his guitar and along with Jesse on bass, the guys played an instrumental called “ML (Goin’ Home).” The song was a bonus track from their 2013 album World Boogie Is Coming. Luther and Cody took turns playing solos and eventually the song came to an end. 

The North Mississippi Allstars take traditional hill country blues and give it a unique, modern spin that blends southern rock, soul and country. Their Teragram Ballroom show introduced some excellent new songs and demonstrated that the band is enthusiastically keeping the blues alive.

Live photos courtesy of Andy J. Gordon ©2020.


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