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Music to My Ears

North Mississippi Allstars "Do It Like We Used To Do"The Derek Trucks Band "Already Free"

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03/01/2009 - Okay. You all know me by now. I'm predictable. I'm unoriginal. I know. But you know what else? I'm right, and I know good music when I hear it. Today I'm gonna turn you on to some great music. The theme for this issue is roots music. I'm talkin' about deep down in the mud, way down in your soul roots music. Stuff that makes your rump move and that can bring tears to your eyes. Of course, any time my rump moves, people are bound to cry, but that's beside the point.

Let's start our rump-moving, crying good time with the North Mississippi Allstars. "Do It Like We Used To Do" is a double-live album chronicling the previous ten years since the Dickinson boys fired the Southern Blues Rock Juggernaut up. Back in the late 90's, Luther and Cody's dad inspired them to put together a musical review comprised of a variety of blues musicians from the north Mississippi hill country. At the core of this ensemble was Luther, a ridiculously talented guitar player, and his brother Cody, who drives the music with his punchy, funky drumming. Once the brothers added bassist Chris Chew, recruiting him from a local church band, the trio was set, and multiple guests were invited to jam along on any given night. The fact that NMAs music is equal parts juke joint, church revival, and up-the-holler hill country blues speaks volumes about their sound.

For me what sets the band apart and makes them special is Luther Dickinson's fiery guitar playing. His phrasing and feeling is phenomenal, and when he plays with that slide on his finger, what comes forth is amazing.

"Do It Like We Used To Do" is full of both blues/gospel standards and originals, and it never disappoints. It drips with soul, and has a razor sharp bite. Personal favorites include "Someday Baby," "18 Hammers," "Sugartown," "Stay All Night/Have Mercy" (a Junior Kimbrough medley), and the rocking "Keep the Devil Down." Trust me folks, this stuff is close to perfect.

A bonus to the double-live set is the inclusion of a DVD highlighting live performances and a documentary about the band. The documentary is easily worth the purchase price all by itself. It's absolutely fascinating.

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Derek Trucks' new release is my other pick this month. Everything Derek touches is gold, and this album is no exception. Since you may not be aware, Derek Trucks is the nephew of Butch Trucks, one of the drummers from the Allman Brothers. Derek grew up around the scene, and he soaked it all up. In fact, he's one of the guitar players in the Allman Brothers nowadays (along with Warren Haynes!). He has become one of, if not the preeminent slide guitar player currently recording music. His style is otherworldly, evoking musical influences from all over the earth. He has the ability to transport the listener to other dimensions with his playing.

Where earlier DTB albums were showcases for Derek's enormous talent, "Already Free" is more relaxed, and more focused on songwriting and overall vibe. On this one, DTB takes ever-present blues roots and incorporates a fair amount of soul, rock and funk. The result is a pleasant-sounding, soulful album full of strong songs and excellent playing. Each song is punctuated by Derek's incredibly tasty guitar playing. Every lick he lays down is perfect.

This is a great album to put on while you have people over. It will raise the cool factor to very high levels in your house, or on your patio, or wherever you congregate. People will think you're awesome, and wonder why they didn't start hanging out with you long before.

Another way to cement your awesomeness in the minds of all with whom you associate is to regularly frequent Sonic Rainbow. You can shop for music or just hang out and soak up the vibe. If you don't find something you want to purchase, you can order just about any album you can think of, and they'll get it in within a couple of days. Seriously.

When you go to Sonic Rainbow, you'll not only be helping yourself out, you'll be supporting a small, locally owned business, which is a very American thing to do. So, be a patriot and go down to Sonic Rainbow. Buy these two albums and then read this column again next month to get your next assignment. Oh, and remember, I love you all

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Chris Walsh

Wyoming Medical Center

River-Rail Community FCU

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