Luther Dickinson, the guitarist and vocalist for the North Mississippi Allstars, has a sense of humor about the band’s longevity.
“A friend of mine says we’ve got a good scam going,” Dickinson says with a laugh. “So we’re going to keep it running.”
All joking aside, Dickinson and the group take their music seriously. They have put out more than a dozen studio and live recordings since their 2000 debut, Shake Hands With Shorty, and released their latest project, World Boogie Is Coming, in September 2013. Their music runs the gamut from rock to roots music, but has a solid foundation in hill country blues, and their love of this style of music is largely a product of growing up in northern Mississippi.
The Allstars’ music is “hill country blues that we learned from guys like R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Otha Turner,” Dickinson says. “But also, this is the repertoire that we learned from our father and his friends in Memphis. So it’s just something we grew into, playing roots music of the area.”
World Boogie Is Coming has an undeniably raw energy. From the bone-rattling bass and dirty electric guitar riffs of “Rollin’ ’n’ Tumblin’ ” to the blues-heavy rock of “Goat Meat,” the album is gritty and anything but overproduced. Dickinson’s scratchy vocals make for a fine accompaniment, especially when he starts howling like Mike Farris on “Snake Drive.”
Dickinson says the band is more focused now on staying true to their roots rather than exploring a variety of sounds, as they did on their second and third records, 2001’s 51 Phantom and 2003’s Polaris.
“In our youth, we were stylistically reckless,” Dickinson says. “Now, at 41, I can play a song I wrote when I was 25 with a fresh mindset. I don’t regret anything because we were living the dream, and we believed in those songs. People used to tell us that we would fuck things up, and we told them to fuck off. I don’t regret [any of] it, but I have learned.”
World Boogie Is Coming is the Allstars’ musical version of the story of the prodigal son. They have come full-circle as a band and have returned to the rootsy, bluesy, unpolished work of their youth that started it all, proof that Dickinson & Co. have indeed learned from their musical past.
“We may experiment with other things, but we owe it to the tradition that nurtured us to keep it going,” Dickinson says. “It’s the type of thing that once you start, you can’t stop.”
NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS
The State Room
638 S. State
Tuesday & Wednesday, Feb. 4 & 5, 8 p.m.
Limited no-fee tickets available at CityWeeklyStore.com