North Miss hits its prime with new album
North Mississippi All Stars Electric Blue Watermelon ATO Records 4.5 out of 5
Electric Blue Watermelon, North Mississippi All Star’s most sincere album to date, is an all-star blend of Delta family roots, call-and-response shouts, sticky riffs and a faithful ass-shakin’ beat.
Jim Dickinson (one of the first white boys to bear the blues in the Delta) took his sons Cody and Luther Dickinson, along with bandmate Chris Chew, to Sam Philips’ studio — the birthplace of Elvis, B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf — for six months of bringing out the best.
According to Jim Dickinson, the name of the album is a reference to a Memphis blues-festival band led by Lee Baker in the ’60s called Electric Blue Watermelon, and it shows. North Miss. loves to pay homage to blues idols in their live shows while incorporating newer musicians into their music, creating collaborative energy in a sometimes-cliquey music world. “Hipsters, hippies and rock musicians historically interacted with Delta and Hill Country masters and the creative flow went in both directions,” said Jim Dickinson.
Jim Dickinson played on the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album and lets it show through his sons in the should-have-been-a-Stones’-classic, “Teasin’ Brown.”
“Mississippi Bollweevil” is reincarnated as a high-energy, sweat dripping, buzzed out version of the American folk classic.
Songs like the slide-saturated Hendrix callout “Stompin’ My Foot” features a slide guitar, a jubilant vibe and Al Kapone, the Memphis-based emcee featured in the movie Hustle and Flow. Al Kapone adds a hip-hop commentary to a high energy North Miss. gem.
The duet between Lucinda Williams and Luther Dickinson on “Hurry Up Sunrise” brings a level of femininity to Electric Blue Watermelon while the more intense “No Mo” brings bad boy antics to the foreground with deep-chested vocals, huskier riffs and a refrain by Kapone.
Other special guests include Robert Randolph, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Otha Turner and Rising Star Fife and Drums.
Electric Blue Watermelon is a prime example of a band in its prime.