All Over the Place

Surveying the Geezerville landscape

All Over the Place

As expected, last Friday’s North Mississippi All Stars show at Antone’s was a barn burner. Openers the Hill Country Revue – that’s the Mississippi hill country – stood in the old-style Southern rock camp. A side project for All Star Cody Dickinson, who steps out of his drummer’s seat to play some guitar, it also includes NMA bassist Chris Chew and some of their Mississippi friends. The difference in sound from the headliner was remarkable. These guys obviously have listened to some Allman Brothers in their time, though occasionally they reminded me of something grittier like Molly Hatchet. And yes that’s a good thing.

Towards set’s end they were joined by NMA guitarist Luther Dickinson, whose slide work pumped things up just a little more. Between sets, I popped over to the Lucky Lounge and caught a little of Uncle Bruno’s set. With the addition of Allen Sanders on trombone, they’ve expanded to a fivepiece since the last time I wrote about them and added a whole lot of confidence to their nimble and slinky jazz funk. Leader/sax player Damon Garcia promised a debut CD any day now. He’s been saying that for quite a while, however. (I kid.)

Back at Antone’s, North Mississippi All Stars jammed for more than two hours to the delight of the packed crowd. Things really took off when their friends from Hill Country Revue joined them for a rumbling take on Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round in Circles.” Later, an extended “Lovelight” had the Deadheads in attendance bouncing with joy.

I spoke to Joe Ely earlier this week for a story I’m working on about the Cactus Café’s upcoming 30th anniversary celebration. He surprised me with a story of the live recording he did at the UT venue last year. Ely said he only decided to record the performance the day of the show and had no intention of actually releasing it. He credited his wife, Sharon, with coming up with the idea of the taping during soundcheck and unlike his previous live discs there was no advance planning in terms of setlist or anything else. Not bad for a record that made my Top 10 of 2008.

I caught Erin McCarley for the first time a couple of weeks ago on Letterman and was intrigued enough to do some research about her. Then I discovered the young Nashvillian would be appearing at La Zona Rosa this Friday night, opening for Brett Dennen, and that her big buzz began after her performance at last year’s South by Southwest.

Unfortunately, McCarley’s debut, Love, Save the Empty (Universal Republic) is overly produced pop, just perfect for those cloying moments on Grey’s Anatomy (where her songs have already appeared). While lyrically the Dallas native distances herself from obvious influences like Fiona Apple and Aimee Mann, sonically she comes too close to a slew of similar artists to retain one’s interest. One can only hope that concert dynamics help set her apart. After all, that performance on Letterman led me to discover her in the first place.

Finally, the above graphic was taken from here. There's lots of fun to be had whether you’re an Obamanic or not. Here’s looking forward to four, hopefully eight, years of making the world a better place.

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North Mississippi All Stars, Joe Ely, Erin McCarley

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