Last Saturday night in Atlanta was a cold and rainy night, but the folks that packed the Buckhead Theatre could have cared less. The music was jamming as the North Mississippi Allstars and Lightnin’ Malcolm tore the place up.
The North Mississippi Allstars (NMAS) just keep getting better. Refusing to sit on their ass and keep offering up the same sound or same live shows they evolve with each album and show. Always built on the nasty southern blues that they were raised on, the band makes subtle changes that excite listeners and keeps the music fresh and new. This past Saturday night they rolled into Atlanta and dished out a set of tunes that lasted nearly three hours. They hit the stage hot with Cody Dickinson drilling the drums, Lightnin’ Malcolm thumping the bass, Stud (T Model Ford’s grandson) pounding a snare drum, Todd Nance (Widespread Panic) on drums and Luther Dickinson pounding a big ass bass drum. As their drumming became louder the crowed got jacked up, the drum assault was just a tease to what was ahead. They rolled through everything everybody wanted to hear with a set list that covered tunes from their albums and classic blues staples. This night the NMAS played songs that the crowd had seen them play many times before but like their latest record World Boogie Is Coming the boys from Mississippi put original twist and turns on them giving everyone there something different and unexpected. Luther’s guitar work was brilliant, which is to be expected, and Cody’s drumming sets the stage but what they added made the difference. Todd Nance supplied a second drum kit which added a bit more power to the sings, Stud made several appearances pounding a snare and Lightnin’ Malcolm’s bass player fit nicely in place of the big fella Chris Chew. A nice surprise was rapper David Banner joining the band for a bad ass version of “Snake Drive/Mississippi Party” With NMAS crushing the nasty blues Banner and Luther traded vocals, it was a nice compliment. This show may have been the best NMAS show I have ever been to. Instead of the trio blasting killer blues, the stage was always packed with musicians as they shifted instruments and took turns singing. Luther switched from guitar to bass drum to bass while Cody was all over the stage on drums, washboard and guitar and Lightnin’ Malcolm played guitar, bass and drums. Songs like “Po Black Maddie”, “Shake Em’ On Down” and “Rollin’ & Tumblin’” felt like you were hearing them for the first time. The new song “World Boogie” was a party waiting to happen, “Goat Meat” was just plain nasty and the cover of “Turn On Your Love Light” had a Grateful Dead feel to it. Stepping way out of the box, Luther strapped on the big bass drum while the other four grabbed a snare and the five guys left the stage and paraded through the crowd screaming the tune “Granny Does Your Dog Bite”, it was pretty damn cool. These guys just kept on playing and no one wanted them to stop. After saying goodnight 4 or 5 times they kicked into “White Lightnin’” finished and said thank you then the house music was quickly turned up thus negating any chance of more music.
Opening the show was Lightnin’ Malcolm, one damn fine guitar player. His music reeks of vintage Southern blues music as his influences are all over the songs. His songs conjure images of sweaty juke joints where the whiskey flows freely and the asses shake all night long. Joining him on stage was Stud on drums as the duo made a big sound for just two guys. The music was raunchy with music from his multiple albums. Songs like “Rough Out There" and “So Many Women” had people grooving and when they broke off “Stomp Yo Feet, Clap Yo Hands” the crowd went nuts.
I think Malcolm may have pulled of the most impressive performance of the night. Not only did he deliver a sweat drenched solo set clocking in at around an hour, he was on stage during the NMAS three hour marathon set. The man never left the stage and he never slowed down.
The North Mississippi Allstars continue to be one of the best live bands out there on the road today. A combination of great music and knowing what the fans want is a win/win for everybody involved. They set up shop in Atlanta on a miserable night and helped a packed house forget about all the rain and cold that was going on outside. If you dig good music, go listen to a NMAS album then catch one of their shows and you will be hooked.