“There are cool cats and there are cool Memphis cats but no one, not
Elvis, not Jerry Lee, not even the Wolf came close to epitomizing Memphis
and cool like Jim Dickinson did. He was the Top Cat Daddy, an
inspiration, a mentor and my friend.

If you knew his music and understood his role as one of the links between
black and white culture and between blues and rock and roll, you know what
I'm talking about. If he is unfamiliar to you, now's as good time as any
to get to know him, even though he's checked out of the motel.”

--Joe Nick Patoski

For more about Jim go to

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Review of "I'm Just Dead I'm Not Gone"

James Luther Dickinson and North Mississippi All Stars

I'm Just Dead I'm Not Gone
(Memphis International Records)

By Bill Bentley

There aren't many musicians who cast as wide a shadow as James Luther
Dickinson.  Around Memphis he was an instigator of countless escapades,
from early days pushing aging bluesmen to the front of the line, then as
keyboard player in the decidedly funky Dixie Flyers and producer non-pareil
of everyone from Big Star, the Replacements, Texas Tornados, John Hiatt and
onward. Some first found out about Dickinson from his aching piano on the 
Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses," which opened a lot of doors for someone who
wasn't shy about knocking them down if need be. He was Ry Cooder's 
co-conspirator for years, and even ended up on a Bob Dylan album a
decade ago. There was nowhere this man didn't go.

In the '90s his sons Luther and Cody Dickinson kicked up their own sand
after forming the North Mississippi All Stars. Needless to say, the music never
stopped around the Dickinson abode, and as he once explained, he had to 
"raise his own band," which the father definitely did. When he died in 2009, Jim
Dickinson had aptly reminded everyone beforehand, "I will not be gone as long 
as the music lingers." This live concert recorded at the New Daisy Theater on 
Memphis' famous Beale Street in 2006 captures the man and his sons in full 
glory, taking a blowtorch to roots music and fashioning something altogether 
their own. They had such an instinctual feel for these songs--music that was 
almost literally in their blood--that the sound feels like it comes from a down
 home frontporch with the ions thick in the summer night and the spirit of 
America in the air.

The set list is one that reflects where Jim Dickinson started, with classics by 
Sleepy  John Estes, Furry Lewis, B.B. King and J.B. Lenoir to cover the blues 
foundation. Then there's songs by Mack Rice, Buffy St. Marie, Bob Frank, 
Jerry West and Terry Fell that veer from swampy rockers to country stompers. 
Everything comes out with an unstoppable beat and bad boy attitude, 
something the Tennessee favorite son came by naturally. With a gruff voice 
that commanded complete attention, it sometimes seems like Dickinson might
have missed his calling as a preacher or a politician, but in a lot of ways that's
what he was too. He just did it from behind a piano, and let the notes fall 
where they may. There is no denying we won't see his like again, but once
more the Big Man was right when he predicted: he's just dead, he's not gone.
Thank God

No comments:

Post a Comment