After an early morning breakfast at the Magnolia Cafe, I parked my car downtown and set out walking across the bridge to Austin’s Butler Park, where there was an afternoon-long concert being held of Memphis music, scheduled to coincide with the film Take Me To The River, which was screened several times at South By Southwest this year. Despite the threat of rain, there was a decent crowd at the outdoor stage, and although rain started several times during the afternoon, it never continued long enough to run people off, and the day ended with the sun coming out. After an hour of so of DJ mixing from a really cool DJ, the show opened with a performance from the Hi Rhythm Section, and then a number of musicians featured in the film appeared, including Bobby Rush, Frayser Boy, Al Kapone, William Bell, Booker T. Jones, Charlie Musselwhite, Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson, Otis Clay, Iffy, Miscelllaneous Bosslife and Syl Johnson. Perhaps the high point of the day was when Snoop Doggy Dogg appeared without warning to join William Bell in a version of the classic “I Forgot To Be Your Lover.” It was actually a great day for Memphis and for Austin as well.
To close out the Memphis Recording Academy’s 40th Anniversary concert, Luther and Cody Dickinson’s North Mississippi Allstars came on stage along with bluesman Duwayne Burnside. Any North Mississippi Allstars show is great fun, and this was a rousing and appropriate way to close out the night.
The Sons of Mudboy perform their variation of W. C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues” also known as “Mr. Crump Don’t Allow It Here” at the Sid Selvidge Tribute Concert at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park, 6/25/13
The band Sons of Mudboy AKA Three-Legged Dog is the logical outgrowth of the super Memphis group Mudboy and the Neutrons, which I have discussed at length in the past. Sons of Mudboy consists of Steve Selvidge, Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson and Paul Taylor, and as such was the perfect group to close out Tuesday night’s celebration of the life and work of Steve’s dad Sid Selvidge. The band played an acoustic set, which was followed by a fairly lengthy documentary about Sid Selvidge in which the late singer-songwriter discussed the impact of Furry Lewis and Black culture on his music, and also where he discussed the origins of the name Mudboy and the Neutrons. Then the band Son of Mudboy came back out and closed out this most important night of Memphis music with a final electric set.
California bluesman Alvin Youngblood Hart has family ties to Carroll County, Mississippi and moved to Memphis a few years ago, which has been a tremendous blessing to our local music community. Having him perform at the Sid Selvidge Tribute at the Levitt Shell Tuesday night was especially appropriate, as Hart and Selvidge were both involved in the efforts to preserve the acoustic Delta blues style. Alvin is of course a versatile performer, as comfortable in his electric rock-oriented ensemble as in an acoustic setting, but on Tuesday night he kept it acoustic, being joined on a couple of tunes by Luther Dickinson on mandolin.
It was a cold and wet night in Oxford, but it was warm and joyful inside Proud Larrys as the venerable Oxford bar and music venue celebrated their 20th anniversary with an appearance from the North Mississippi Allstars featuring bluesman Lightnin Malcolm. The rain didn’t seem to hold down attendance one bit, and although tables and chairs were cleared out of the way, it was soon standing room only inside the venue. North Mississippi Allstars is the brainchild of Jim Dickinson’s kids Cody and Luther, and they play a form of indie rock that is deeply indebted to the Hill County blues styles of people like Junior Kimbrough and R. L. Burnside, as well as the fife-and-drum music of the Como and Senatobia area. The result is a unique musical sound that could have been forged only in Mississippi.
“The Dark End of the Street” is a classic Memphis soul song written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman that is forever associated with the legendary Memphis soul singer James Carr. Although there have been a number of covers over the years, few have surpassed the Carr version for sheer intensity and pathos. Son of Mudboy’s version Wednesday night was impressive, however, as they demonstrated clearly how Memphis’ style of indie rock is really infused with blues and soul.