Dickinson + Hart + Mathus = SMSB

 

Now that’s one roots super
group… move over, Monsters of Folk!

 

By Blurt Staff

 

When Luther Dickinson, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Jimbo Mathus got
together to make music, it certainly wasn’t out of commercial consideration. 
This troika of roots-imbued musical pros coalesced through a shared vision and
consuming passion for the music of their forebears, most notably the
Mississippi Sheiks, Memphis Jug Band, Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers and other
practitioners of pre-blues era roots sounds. They dubbed themselves the South
Memphis String Band. 

 

Home Sweet Home, their first album, out on Memphis
International January 19th, showcases their passion for the old
timey tradition that is underscored by the group’s name: South Memphis String
Band.  South Memphis, of course, is that rough and tumble area of the Bluff City
extending from downtown to the Mississippi
border, and beyond.  It’s where Stax Records as well as, literally,
hundreds of churches thrived.  The sacred and profane, holy rolling and
dice rolling, were cheek by jowl in old South Memphis and its modern day
namesake reflects that ecumenicism quite brilliantly.  For Luther, Alvin
and Jimbo, South Memphis is more of a musical
state of mind than a specific geographical location.

 

They’ve been called a “regional
roots music supergroup” but the alliance of Dickinson (from the North
Mississippi Allstars and, of late, the Black Crowes), Hart (the Grammy winner
who is as equally adept at thrash rock as he is at country blues) and Mathus
(of the Squirrel Nut Zippers) is more like three good friends just putting it
down in a very traditional way. Mathus explained, “Luther, Youngblood Hart and
myself have been musical co-conspirators for over a decade. It is only fitting
that we should come together with acoustic instruments and perform Mississippi
music.” 

 

Michael Hoinski, writing in the
Austin American-Statesman witnessed
what’s so special about SMSB at a recent performance noting, “The American
experience is the main unifier of this slap happy yet sureshot trio… Each
player is principally a bluesman but also well-schooled in country, folk and
gospel.”

 

When asked about the subject matter of SMSB’s repertoire, Alvin responds without
hesitation, “Natural disasters, bushwackers, train songs…” Home
Sweet Home
‘s tune stack with songs identified with Gus Cannon, Blind Willie
Johnson, The Mississippi Sheiks, Carter Family underscores that thought with
titles like “Jesse James,” “Bootlegger’s Blues,” and “Bloody Bill.” The latter
song, along with  “Worry  ’bout Your Own Backyard” is an original but
is reflective of the old timey ethos that, thanks to the Luther, Alvin and
Jimbo, continues. Whether you hold a degree in ethnomusicologist or are just a
person who is moved by authentic acoustic American music, Home Sweet
Home
 speaks your language, in beautifully measured tones.  As
Jimbo notes, “We decided the South Memphis String Band will never be in a
hurry.”

 

 

Home Sweet Home tracklisting

 

1.     Jesse James

2.     Deep Blue Sea

3.     Old
Hen (3:23)  – Gus Cannon

4.     Worry  ’bout Your Own
Backyard 

5.     Things Is ‘bout Coming My
Way

6.     Let Your Light Shine On Me

7.     The Carrier Line

8.     Bloody Bill 

9.     Eighteen Hammers

10.  Bootlegger’s Blues

11.  Dixie
Darling

12.  Home Sweet Home

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply