North Mississippi Allstars–Buckhead Theatre

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A holiday with the son at home from college... it made sense to look for a concert outing, giving some semblance of purpose to sleeping until 3:00 in the afternoon, I suppose.  Maybe.

It also helped that 2 for 1 discount tickets were offered by GoldStar, a discounter of Atlanta area entertainment events. 

I’d seen NMA twice before, more recently opening for Robert Plant with brothers Luther (guitar) and Cody (drums) Dickinson.  Before that they were opening for Drive-By Truckers around 2002, and included a bassist and the Rising Star Pipe & Drum Band.  The duo was okay, but the first hearing was awesome, an interesting mix of blues featuring blistering slide guitar that looked so simple that everyone should be able to play it.  I can say that because my concert and I were maybe 6’ away at the time.  But I hadn’t seen them in concert when they were headlining.

My son is also accustomed to getting close in, so we arrived at 8:30 to find our 2nd “row” spots, behind those who arrived only a bit earlier to claim the coveted railing.  The crowd was light at that point, but about 10 minutes after the scheduled 9:00 start, NMA’s bassist Lightnin’ Malcolm and counterpart Carl Gentle White aka “Stud” on drums, the grandson of T Model Ford, another MS bluesman.

Malcolm plays what is called “underground blues,” which to my ears were fairly traditional blues forms heavy on riffs and very little lead guitar.  The songs were fine, but Malcolm’s apparent joy in playing and attitude towards his career (“just wanting to make people dance”) added a good stage presence. 


The sadder realization was that, for the second time this year (and the second time in my concert going experience), the house sound system failed to deliver vocals to those down front.  You could hear a bit of it, but there it’s a serious gap and a major disappointment for an otherwise fine venue.

After 20-25 minutes, NMA came out.  And they would essentially stay out for the next two hours and 40 minutes.


A couple of things were quickly apparent.  Luther has expanded his guitar vocabulary, and the guy really enjoys playing for an audience.  Somewhat later, you find that the band is more than happy to change roles.  Cody, only observed in the past playing drums or electric washboard (hook up a wah pedal and probably a phaser pedal), has also stepped out – to include vocals and lead guitar.


The bassist will play drums, Luther will play bass, the bassist will sing lead, etc.  Also guesting on a second set of drums through much of the night was Widespread Panic’s drummer, Todd Nance, who provided a steady but low-key presence among all the other drums going on.

Such as the bass drum, which Luther went back to time and again.  And the snare drums, which they all picked up from time to time, including “Stud.”


Another observation is that while this band lets it all hang out, so does there staging... guitar cords getting caught in equipment, mics not set properly by amps, effects pedals not working...  I don’t think they really cared.   That kind of thing might set other musicians on edge.  But not this bunch.


The band played a pretty good set, including “Shake Em On Down,” but you don’t really have to know the songs to enjoy their music.  It’s more about the emotion and feeling, some of which is cut short in their shorter, straightforward songs.

But, when they extend them...


Well, that’s when the good stuff happens, and that’s apparently what an encore is for.   Nine of their 15 encore songs (yes, typed correctly), stretched over the 5 minute mark.

For those missing fingers or who have fingers that don’t bend, Luther played a cigar box guitar as well as a tin can attached to a pole with either one or two strings... and made them sound freaking awesome.  That’s just not fair to the musically challenged.



I’m not sure what the bird mask was supposed to represent, but Cody seemed to like it.


After 12 of those encore songs, the band started shaking hands with those at the front and exited... except Luther didn’t, and the bassist held back, and “Stud” moved to the drums.   I think this was unplanned as they seemed to be done, but the quality of the last three songs suggest otherwise. 

“Hear My Train A’Comin,” particularly, was the highlight of the show, and it sounded like Luther wanted to leave his best before exiting the stage.   That song was really well done, as he leaned into the crowd to get a sing along while playing great licks with a great tone.  “Peaches” and “Po Black Maddie” were also favorites.

The below shot is near the end of the show, which wrapped at 1:00 a.m.  After 5:30 hours of standing, Aleve came to the rescue when I returned home.


While we were leaving the theatre, I noted an obviously approved recording rig.  Happily, it’s already found its way to the web.   The whole show.

Audio Archive

4 of 5 STARS

Actually, it was a 3 Star experience due to the lack of vocals up front, but it was definitely a 4 Star show.  The venue and/or artists really need to make sure there are vocals coming off the stage, as the house speakers in the upper corners don’t get the job done.

Set list:

Shimmy She Wobble
My Babe
Station Blues
Turn Up Satan
Shake Em’ On Down
Meet Me In the City
Shake (Yo Mama)
Goat Meat
Psychedelic Sex Machine
Mystery Train
Mean Old Wind
Mississippi Bollweevil
World Boogie
Black Back Train
Snake Drive (vocals by David Banner, MS rapper)
Mississippi Party
Granny, Does Your Dog Bite

Rollin ‘N Tumblin
The Meeting
Let It Roll
Never in All My Days
Po Black Maddie
Skinny Woman
KC Jones
Lord Have Mercy
Turn On Your Lovelight
Goin’ Home ML
All Night Long

Extra Encore:
Goin’ Down South
Hear My Train A’Comin’
White Lightnin’

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